Whither whether which what

August 20, 2017 § 55 Comments

“Free speech” and “limited free speech” are intrinsically dishonest phrases, because they treat the question of what restrictions there ought to be on speech as if it were a question of whether there ought to be restrictions on speech.

You have the right to remain silent

August 20, 2017 § 13 Comments

Liberals are firmly committed to free speech, as a core value.

Free speech doesn’t mean absolutely free speech.  Absolutely free speech is an obvious straw man, positing no middle ground between manifestly insane absolute rights and nice tame rights within due limits. Everyone who is committed to free speech agrees that there should be some limits on speech. We just don’t want to live under an inquisitional speech restricting tyranny.

Free speech means that permissible speech should be permitted, while impermissible speech should be suppressed and punished.  It means we should take a live and let live approach to regulating speech.

So free speech, at least as understood by reasonable liberals, is restricted speech: speech circumscribed within limits.  The terms “free” and “restricted” are interchangeable.  For reasonable non-ideological liberals, free means the same thing as restricted.

Limits on speech which should be in place are called “limits on free speech”.  (Everyone agrees that there needs to be limits on free speech).

Limits on speech which should not be in place are called “political correctness” (with an ironic inflection).

Now even though the terms “free” and “restricted” are interchangeable, the term “free” must be used when describing free speech. It is unfair and ridiculous to propose that we stop calling free speech “free speech”.  It is not advisable to use the term restricted speech to refer to free speech, even though they are really the same thing.  Using the term “free” focuses attention the the fact that some speech is permissible and allowed, while minimizing the fact that some speech is impermissible and punished.

If someone points out that by free speech we mean restricted speech, the best course is to scoff and point out again that of course every sane person believes that there are limits on free speech (which we shall continue to call “free speech”).  The term “free” attaches the configuration of speech empowerments and restrictions that we prefer to the liberal slogan “freedom”.  Everyone supports freedom!  People who don’t support reasonable freedoms – as well adjusted people understand them – are bad people, nazis or worse.

Freedom, of course, means crushing dissent from the configuration of empowerments and restrictions our society considers good – or that our team is convinced society ought to consider good – under the boot of emancipation.

Don’t blame the Low Man on the scapegoat

August 19, 2017 § 14 Comments

Human beings like to have explanations for why things don’t go the way they think things ought to go, and this sometimes manifests itself as scapegoating.  A scapegoat is an innocent victim who absorbs the blame for things being the way they are, even though the scapegoat is not in fact the reason for the way things are.

The Low Man, in contrast, is a person or group of people who in fact do interfere with a particular faction of liberalism’s understanding of how things ought to be, and thus must be absorbed or destroyed.  Unborn children in fact do interfere with the emancipated enfranchised feminist life plan, etc.

The concept of scapegoating is a popular explanatory trope in tradition-leaning blogs and publications, but it seems to me that it most often obscures the underlying reality rather than illuminating it.  The perception that SJW tranny freaks have of traditionalists standing in the way of their vision of the world is accurate.  They are absolutely correct that metaphysical realists and the reality in which we believe obstruct their vision of a free and equal new man, self created through reason and will, occupying a neutral and tolerant public square emancipated politically from the conflicts of tradition, nature, religion, class, etc.

SJW’s are not scapegoating metaphysical realists and the reality in which we believe. Those things in fact do stand in the way of their incoherent modernist hopes and dreams.

Dismissing leftists and SJWs and the like as scapegoaters is therefore a mistake, a mistake which obscures our ability to gain a dispassionate grasp of what they sincerely believe and how they sincerely perceive themselves.  And scapegoating theories ironically produce enough obscurity to enable right liberals to cling to their own incoherent defenses of political freedom, thus ensuring the perpetuation of liberalism.

We are free to disagree that I am punching you in the face

August 19, 2017 § 8 Comments

Take a contentious dispute between A and not-A, and suggest that people are free to disagree on the question.

Present a bunch of arguments why someone might believe not-A.

Personally attack anyone defending A with actual arguments by suggesting that in asserting A they violate the free to disagree principle.

Studiously ignore the fact that if asserting A violates the free to disagree principle, then asserting not-A also violates this principle.

Free speech means editing my comments

August 19, 2017 § 49 Comments

Just for the record.

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 3.54.43 PM

UPDATE:  I cropped the screen grab in a bit to make it more readable.

UPDATE 2: Two days in, all of my chopped up and modified comments have now been deleted from the Orthosphere thread, and from the earlier “PC” post. Comments are (hilariously) closed on the Free Speech post.

Alexander the great scrappy rebel alliance

August 13, 2017 § 93 Comments

Oz conservative asks why liberals always see themselves as anti-establishment, despite the fact that liberalism has comprehensively dominated politics for centuries.

One reason is that as an incoherent doctrine which (precisely because it is incoherent) reduces the good in politics to will – to whatever any given group of liberals happen to unreflectively want and expect – liberalism necessarily produces opposing factions. Different groups of people want and expect different things. Each faction, understanding itself to be in possession of the authentic implications of political freedom, sees its competitors as subhuman tyrants who must ultimately be either converted or killed.

Tyrants of course are the establishment. If they weren’t the establishment they wouldn’t have the power to be tyrants. Liberals from their own perspective are scrappy rebel underdogs seeking freedom and (concomitantly) equality for the brotherhood of those who are oppressed under the established order. So another reason liberals see themselves as anti-establishment is because they ultimately have to see themselves that way. Liberal governance justifies its own exercise of discriminating authority on the basis that its own governance frees those who would otherwise be oppressed.

And this provides additional insight into the reason why a nice tame liberalism – the sort in which right-liberals or conservatives still believe despite centuries of uninterrupted defeat – is not possible. Liberalism always needs to find new “establishment” tyrants to destroy, or else its very reason for existence disappears.

Endless revolution is always and necessarily baked into the doctrine that pursuit of freedom is what justifies the concrete exercise of authority.

Biting the logic bullet

August 11, 2017 § 122 Comments

In general there is a lot of resistance to morally evaluating the means we choose to accomplish our ends in their own right, independent of those ends. Modern people resist evaluating behaviors in themselves against objective moral criteria.

It is certainly true that, in order to be morally evil, a particular objective kind of behavior must actually be chosen by a moral agent in an act of the will.  It is also true that choices of behavior are preceded by the formation of interior subjective plans, intentions, mentalities, and dispositions, all of which are themselves subject to moral evaluation. Later behaviors are often preceded by earlier behaviors, carried out in preparation for the later behavior. And it is possible for a moral agent to suffer from an error of knowledge: for the person making the choice to be mistaken, to think that the kid waving a toy gun is actually a criminal waving a real gun.

A subjective error of knowledge is of course (and obviously) entirely different from the person making the choice having a malign subjective opinion that it is morally acceptable to shoot children waving toy guns. Malign subjective opinions don’t change objective moral reality. Subjective opinions don’t in themselves change objective reality at all, although disordered preferences can certainly give rise to disordered behaviors.

Once we accept the premise that good ends don’t justify evil means it follows that we must be able to morally evaluate means in themselves, independent of ends, and reject those means which are morally evil. We’ve already stipulated a good end. It further follows that we can’t start with the principle of double effect and reason our way backward from the good end to conclude that the chosen means is not evil.

The means we choose to achieve our ends must always, first, and foremost be evaluated morally in themselves, independent of those ends.

And this is a logic bullet that most people just aren’t willing to bite.