Reason: How Cancel Culture Violates Intellectual Freedom

Criticism is expressing an argument or opinion with the idea of rationally influencing public opinion, through public persuasion, interpersonal persuasions.

Canceling comes from the universe of propaganda, not critical discourse, and it’s about organizing or manipulating a social environment or a media environment with the goal or predictable effect of isolating, or deplatforming, or intimidating and ideological opponent.

Jerry Falwell Jr. Taking Leave of Absence From Liberty University

Mr. Falwell, the college’s president and a supporter of President Trump, agreed to a request by the school’s board of trustees.

Elizabeth Dias reporting for the paper of record:

Jerry Falwell Jr., one of President Trump’s most prominent and controversial evangelical supporters, will take an indefinite leave of absence from his role as president and chancellor of Liberty University, the board of trustees announced on Friday.

The news comes days after Mr. Falwell posted, and then deleted, a photograph on Instagram of him posing alongside a woman with his pants unzipped and his arm around her.

[…]

In the photograph, both Mr. Falwell and the woman have their pants unzipped. His hand is close to her chest. “More vacation shots,” the post said. “Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass.”

Unzipped pants with his arm around her? Yeah, that sounds like the kind of “religious” leader that would support this President.

Mr. Falwell has been involved in a number of controversies in recent years.

In May he tweeted Blackface and Ku Klux Klan imagery, prompting demands for his firing and resignations of at least four Black faculty and staff members.

Yeah, solid religous leader there.

Trump Wasn’t Invited to Throw Out First Pitch

The paper of record:

An hour before Dr. Anthony S. Fauci threw the first pitch at the season opener between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals, President Trump stood on the briefing room stage at the White House and declared that he, too, had been invited to throw out his own opening pitch.

“Randy Levine is a great friend of mine from the Yankees,” Mr. Trump, referring to the president of the baseball team, told reporters on Thursday as Dr. Fauci was preparing to take the mound. “And he asked me to throw out the first pitch, and I think I’m doing that on Aug. 15 at Yankee Stadium.”

There was one problem: Mr. Trump had not actually been invited on that day by the Yankees, according to one person with knowledge of Mr. Trump’s schedule. His announcement surprised both Yankees officials and the White House staff.

No surprise here. I’ve known people who lie as chronically as the President does. What happens is, they get to a point where they just can’t tell the difference between the lie that they’ve made up, and the reality that it never happened (or didn’t happen that way).

Just more bullshit from the Liar-in-Chief.

Trump: “I haven’t seen him lately”

The paper of record:

President Trump’s national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the administration said on Monday. [..]

It is unclear when he was last in physical contact with Mr. Trump, although he joined the president on a July 10 trip to Florida.

Speaking to reporters before departing the White House on Monday afternoon, Mr. Trump said he had heard about Mr. O’Brien but did not know when he had tested positive. “I haven’t seen him lately,” the president added.

Uh, okay, so the President is not in regular contact with his National Security Advisor? Really? The National Security Advisor? Doesn’t the National Security Advisor have an office just a few steps from the Oval Office? Doesn’t that tend to indicate that it’s a pretty important position? Does this make anyone feel good?

“Oh, I’m so relived that the President doesn’t have much to do with the National Security Advisor…” That just doesn’t sound right, does it?

I’d expect a President of the United States — any President of the United States — to be in at least regular contact, if not daily contact with the National Security Advisor… Holy fucking shit!

Grant Imahara, Former Mythbuster, Battlebots Champion, Dies at 49

The Discovery Channel:

We are heartbroken to hear this sad news about Grant. He was an important part of our Discovery family and a really wonderful man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Grant Imahara was an electrical engineer who dedicated his life to using his skills to make people smile. Beyond his time with the Discovery family, Grant was one of the few officially trained operators for famed droid R2-D2 within the Star Wars universe, he also engineered the Energizer Bunny’s iconic rhythmic beat.

Grant was part of the Mythbusters team for 10 years, where his dedication to his craft and his ability to bust myths with the best of them brought tech to life for his fans.

The Guilty Dog Barks the Loudest

Brian McCullough on the Techmeme Ride Home for 2 July 2020:

Sometimes, you fear the most the thing you suspect in others that you know you’re guilty of yourself.

This concept was known to our parents and grandparents generations as, “The guilty dog barks the loudest.”

It’s why spouses who cheat, come to believe that their spouse is also cheating. It’s why people who lie and cheat, like our President, come to believe that everyone else also lies and cheats.

Of course, we all remember about a year ago the myriad stories about how President Trump cheats at golf and has for years, for example, this from golf.com: How and why President Trump cheats at golf — even when he’s playing against Tiger Woods

Trump doesn’t just cheat at golf. He cheats like a three-card Monte dealer. He throws it, boots it, and moves it. He lies about his lies. He fudges and foozles and fluffs. At Winged Foot, where Trump is a member, the caddies got so used to seeing him kick his ball back onto the fairway they came up with a nickname for him: “Pele.”

“I played with him once,” says Bryan Marsal, longtime Winged Foot member and chair of the coming 2020 Men’s U.S. Open. “It was a Saturday morning game. We go to the first tee and he couldn’t have been nicer. But then he said, ‘You see those two guys? They cheat. See me? I cheat. And I expect you to cheat because we’re going to beat those two guys today.’… So, yes, it’s true, he’s going to cheat you. But I think Donald, in his heart of hearts, believes that you’re gonna cheat him, too. So if it’s the same, if everybody’s cheating, he doesn’t see it as really cheating.”

Precisely. The cheater comes to see everyone as a cheater, and then, lacking good character in the first place, they justify their bad behaviour.

Understanding ‘Defund the Police’

I’m tired of hearing people who assume they know what “Defund the Police” means terribly mischaracterize it, without even spending two minutes to read a little about it and find out for themselves. I’m tired of hearing our air-conditioner repair man turned Governor of Tennessee continue to either ignorantly or intentionally mischaracterize it.

Unsurprisingly, it always seems to be the so-called Conservatives who intentionally mischaracterize the, admittedly less-than-perfect, terms and slogans adopted by those seeking Freedom and Equality in this nation (radical ideas to be sure!).

So, it’s sadly not at all surprising that the same people who read “Black Lives Matter”1 and — due to their own biases, implicit or otherwise — manage to hear2 “ONLY Black Lives Matter”, instead of what has always been the clear meaning of the phrase, which is that “Black Lives ALSO Matter”, are today reading “Defund the Police” and seeing “close all the police departments”, instead of what the actual meaning is.

Now, to be clear, there are a few people who want just that, to get rid of all police departments and police, but even so, it doesn’t mean they want a nation of chaos where no one at all even attempts to enforce the law. Regardless, these calls — with which I do not agree — are being made by an extremely small number of people.

No, “Defund the Police” is simply the recognition that police officers are being asked to do too much in modern America.

As John Oliver pointed out in his show of 5 June 2020 (linked here), the issue that today is being called “Defund the Police” was actually explained perfectly well four years ago by then Dallas Police Chief David Brown during a press conference on Monday, 11 July 2016, after a gunman and U.S. Army veteran of the Afghan War, shot and killed five Dallas police officers, and wounded nine others, after the conclusion of a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration — just one of a number of protests held across the country on the night of 7 July in the wake of the killings by police officers of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, just days before — and just as a peaceful march was taking place just several blocks from Dealey Plaza.

We’re asking cops to do too much in this country. We are, we’re just asking us to do too much. Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, “let the cops handle it.” Not enough drug addiction funding, “let’s give it to the cops.” Here in Dallas, we got a loose dog problem, “let’s have the cops chase loose dogs.” You know, schools fail, “give it to the cops.” Uh, seventy percent of the African American community is being raised by single women, “let’s give it to the cops, to solve that as well.”

That’s too much to ask; policing was never meant to solve all those problems. And I’ll just ask for other parts of our Democracy, along with the Free Press, to help us. To help us, and not put that burden all on law enforcement to resolve.


As Dave Chappelle touched on in his remarkable and seemingly improptu performance, “8:46” (linked here), the shooter was a Black military veteran, one in a line of Black military veterans involved in the shootings of police officers in recent years.

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1 For more on the meaning and importance of “Black Lives Matter”, please see the truly exceptional YouTube series, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, by Fox Sports Analyst and former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho. Both Episode 1, and episode 2 (with Matthew McConaughey), deal specifically with “Black Lives Matter” and Acho’s explanations are clear, concise and unequivocal.

2 Not at all unline the classic “he said, she heard” (or vice-versa) scenario.

On Conservatives and Conservatism

Today’s self-described1 “Conservatives”, while not actually practicing what our parents or grandparents generations would have recongnized as Conservatism2, certainly have become unbelievable adept at deflection and self-delusion.

The cornerstones of what I today refer to as “traditional” American Conservatism have always been: maximizing individual freedom, limiting government, financial responsibility, and free markets. Each of which, let’s be honest, has been abandoned by “modern” so-called Conservatives, especially during the current administration.

Of course, a lifelong Democrat who suddenly decides to call himself a “Conservative”, or at best a man whose stated political allegiance has flip-flopped repeatedly from Democrat to Independent to Republican and back and forth and back and forth as the wind blows, does not a Conservative make.

Much like “traditional” American Conservatism, “modern” so-called Conservatism also has cornerstones. However, the cornerstones of “modern” American Conservatism, are vastly different, from those described above, and in fact, are not terribly unlike the cornerstones of American Liberalism: hypocrisy, lying, vast overspending, increasing both the size and reach of the government, and what can only be described as, “who cares what’s good for the country so long as we can stick it to the other side of the aisle.”

These are the current hallmarks of self-described “Republicans” as well as self-described “Conservatives” (including those who self-describe as “Non-Republican Conservatives”).

If Freedom is the right to swing my arms how I see fit, with the understanding that my right to swing my arms ends where another man’s nose begins3, as the saying goes, then we can readily see that the first cornerstone of “traditional” American Conservatism, maximizing individual freedom, has been consistently eroding at least since that faith-based initiative that we refer to as “9/11”.

Likewise, with the other cornerstones, limiting government, financial responsibility, and free markets, we too see consistent erosion — especially since “9/11” — and scarcely a word from so-called Conservatives.

The national debt4 doubled under President Bush, and doubled again under President Obama, and it ain’t looking any better under President Trump.

President Reagan embraced free trade. He made free trade a part of his 1980 campaign and went on to negotiate and sign the Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement, which ultimately led to the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Trump is scared of free trade, so much so that he declared NAFTA “perhaps the worst trade deal ever made” despite President Reagan still being the hero of Conservatism5. And what has he given us in its place? the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, which may in fact be “a terrific deal for all of us” (only time will tell), but which is also a zillion miles away from free trade. And let’s not forget his disatrous decision to engage in a losing trade war with China — one that his own administration’s numbers make clear has cost this country dearly.

Now, “traditional” American Conservatism is certainly not dead, nor even on its death bed. But it has clearly been abandonded by the Republican party, and is no longer being practiced by so-called Conservatives.

When asked why he or she would support a policy that is clearly contrary to the principles of Conservatism, a modern so-called Conservative will almost always answer with an attempted rationalization that amounts to either: the two wrongs fallacy (“they did it first”), consequentialism (“the ends justify the means”), or the false equivalence fallacy (“comparing apples to oranges”). Let’s be clear about one thing: the routine use of any of these forms of flawed reasoning is evidence of, at best, ignorance, and at worst, a lack of good character6.

Now some modern so-called Conservatives will attept to argue that hypocrisy, lying and the overwhelming desire to simply stick it to the other side are just human nature. Well maybe, but as anyone who has ever raised children will tell you, picking your nose and scratching your butt are certainly “just human nature”, because all children do it. But, as we grow up, we are tasked with overcoming, and fully expected to overcome, these examples of “just human nature” and limit them to situations where we are alone in private, like say, in the restroom. And the same is true for all the other forms of bad behavior I’ve detailed above. For exampe, being more interested in “winning” an argument than in arguing truthfully7, may well be human nature, but as rational adults, we are expected to overcome this impulse and adhere to our good character.

People who want to self-identify as Conservative, should be willing to learn what Conservatism actually is and isn’t, and if they don’t agree with the principles of American Conservatism (again, what I today refer to as “traditional” American Conservatism), there’s nothing wrong with that. Go right ahead supporting a President who was running trillion dollar budget deficits before the pandemic, is scared of free markets and loves to engage in trade wars that nobody wins, would gladly further limit individual freedoms (and has in fact, threatened to use the United States Military to do just that), and has no intention of reducing the size of or limiting the powers of the federal government. Go right ahead, that doesn’t bother me a bit. Really.

Just don’t call yourself a Conservative, because you most certainly are not one.

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1 I prefer the term “so-called” for reasons which will become obvious.

2 For more on what Conservatism actualy is, please refer first to the excellent book, “The Conscience of a Conservative,” which of course was written by Ronald Reagan’s hero, and the father of American Conservatism, Barry Goldwater. It’s an old book, sure, but with the exception of roughly one-third of the book that deals specifically with issues of the day (1960), it is still a remarkable and concise book that details the cornerstones and finer points of American Conservatism.

Secondly, please refer to George Will’s, “The Conservative Sensibility,” a truly excellent book written by a man whose Conservative bona fides are beyond question. Will details how the Republican party and so-called Conservatives have lost sight of what Conservatism actually is and today just want to “stick it” to the Dems, a sad transmutation of what was once the party of Lincoln.

3 The original quote: “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins” was made by Zechariah Chafee, an American judicial philosopher and civil libertarian, in “Freedom of Speech in Wartime”, 32 Harvard Law Review 932, 957 (1919). Various permutations of this quote have incorrectly been attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., among others.

4 In all fairness, on the first day of Ronald Regan’s presidency, the United States was the largest creditor nation on Earth, and by the end of his presidency, the United States was the largest debtor nation on Earth.

5 Of course, let’s not forget that Donald Trump was no fan of President Reagan. Sure, he praises the man today, but that’s just a recognition on his part of how revered Reagan is amongst his base. In his book (where by “his book” I mean the book written by liberal journalist Tony Swartz, and credited to both Trump and Swartz), “Trump: Art of the Deal”, published at the end of Reagan’s presidency, Trump cited President Reagan as someone who could “con people” but couldn’t “deliver the goods.” He wrote that Reagan’s charm “won over the American people” but that at the conclusion of his presidency, “people are beginning to question whether there is anything beneath that smile.” Donald Trump: Reagan was con man who couldn’t ‘deliver the goods’

And don’t forget that “to promote the book, Trump launched a political campaign that tore into Reagan’s record, including his willingness to stand up to the Soviet Union.” When Donald Trump Hated Ronald Reagan The subhead reads, “The GOP front-runner praises the conservative icon now, but in 1987 Trump blasted Reagan and his team.”

Don’t be fooled by his tendency to “tell ’em what they want to hear” — Donald Trump is no fan of Ronald Reagan.

6 What is character? Character is the habitual pattern of thoughts, actions, words and feelings that a person displays over time. Someone with good character understands that they should make good choices and they always endeavor to do just that.

Making good choices means making choices that adhere to behavior that is commonly accepted as “good”, like being honest, responsible, fair, caring and respectful, as opposed to choices that adhere to behavior that is commonly accepted as “bad” or “wrong”, such as lying, cheating, stealing, being deceptive, hurtful, or disrespectful. A person with good character shows over time that they almost always do make good choices.

Of course, everyone makes mistakes, and making a mistake does not mean you lack good character. But a person with good character not only learns from their mistakes, but actively tries to minimize future mistakes. And most importantly, when a person with good character makes a mistake, they take responsibility for it.

A person with good character will make good choices even when it’s challenging or downright hard to do so, and even when no one but themselves will ever know.

I’ve always tought my children a helpful shorthand: good character is doing the right thing, even when no one will ever know if you do the wrong thing. And, if that sounds like a pretty fair, or even pretty close, definition of “values” or “morality”, well, you’re not mistaken.

7 And let’s not forget, winning an argument does not require dishonesty if the facts are actually on your side.

Mississippi to remove Confederate emblem from flag

ABC News:

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi lawmakers voted Sunday to surrender the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag, more than a century after white supremacist legislators adopted the design a generation after the South lost the Civil War.

This is good. However…

A commission will design a new flag that cannot include the Confederate symbol and that must have the words “In God We Trust.”

So, kinda one step forward and one step back. They are replacing one type of exclusionary symbolism with another, so it’s kind of a lateral move. However, given the fact that this is Mississippi we’re talking about for fuck’s sake, any movement that isn’t a direct step backwards is probably, on balance, not a bad thing.

As a non-religous person myself, I can say — speaking only for myself — that the slogan “In God We Trust”, while certainly exclusionary, and certainly contrary to our “first freedom” — the freedom from religion guaranteed by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment — and very clearly running contrary to our forefather’s ideal of a nation of “rugged indiviualists1,” it does not carry the same centuries-old history of racism, hatred, and oppression as the various forms of Confederate flags and/or symbolism2.

So, again, given that this is Mississippi we’re talking about — and we all know that Mississippi is rarely “not the last” at anything most people would consider good3 — I’m going to take this as a provisional “good sign”. Maybe more of a west-northwesterly move than purely lateral.

NOTE: Mississippi is the last state to remove the “Confederate battle emblem”4 from its state flag, but it is not the last state with Confederate symbolism contained in its state flag. The flags of the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Georgia5 all have varying degrees of Confederate sybolism in their state flags.

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1 Why would a collective of individual states populated by rugged individualists want, much less need, a “national motto” anyway?

2 That’s not to say that religous-based prejudice, hatred and oppression do not have a long and shameful history in America, for they clearly do.

3 Likewise, we all know that on those rare occasions that Mississippi isn’t last, it tends to be their neighbor Alabama that is last. Not that my birth state of Louisiana or home state of Tennessee are ever very far ahead of either Mississippi or Alabama, for fuck’s sake!

4 The “Confederate battle emblem” is essentially a square version of what is commonly referred to as the “Confederate flag”.

5 Georgia’s state flag, is literally the first national flag of the Confederate States of America with one small addition in the ring of stars. When adopted in 2003, the legislature saw fit to give voters a choice between this design, which I doubt they promoted to voters as the first national flag of the Confederacy, and the previous flag of 2001 which still contained the Confederate battle emblem. A choice between a shit sandwich made of horseshit and a shit sandwich made of bullshit.

Bubba Wallace: You won’t see Confederate flag ban protesters tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets

AL.com (a part of the Alabama Media Group):

Bubba Wallace, a vocal advocate in getting the banners banned, was unfazed by the demonstrations outside the racetrack.

“It’s their right to peaceful protest my man, so it’s part of it,” Wallace said on FOX Sports. “But you won’t see them inside the racetrack where we’re having a good time with the new fans who have purchased their tickets, purchased their favorite driver’s apparel. You won’t see it flying in there. Outside they’re just going to be making a lot of noise. You know, it’s part of it. It’s exactly what you see on the flip-side of everything going on in cities as they peacefully protest. But you won’t see cops pepper spraying them and shooting them with rubber bullets, will you?”

Talk about a man who understands — and respects — America and what it means to be an American!

It’s their right to peaceful protest my man, so it’s part of it.

Indeed.

It’s exactly what you see on the flip-side of everything going on in cities as they peacefully protest.

Yeah, come to think of it, it IS exactly what you see in the peaceful protests across the nation. Not, to be fair, in the incredibly small number of instances where peaceful protests have turned violent, but in the vast, vast, vast majority of protests that have remained peaceful.

But you won’t see cops pepper spraying them and shooting them with rubber bullets, will you?

No you won’t. And why is that? Hmmm. Let me think…

I haven’t followed NASCAR in over 20 years. I was a NASCAR fan for even longer, but when I stopped following NASCAR (about the same time the then Tennessee Oilers were playing their only season at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis), my guy was “Crusty” Rusty Wallace, king of the short tracks and 1989 Winston Cup Champion (that was an awesome season!). I also, revelled in Tennessee’s own Sterling Marlin winning, if I’m not mistaken, the ’94 and ’95 Daytona 500s. Ah, those were the days.

But nothing — NOTHING — has ever made me prouder of NASCAR, or made me want to actively follow the sport again, like the events that have transpired since June 10, 2020, the glorious day when NASCAR, of all sports, banned the flying of the racist1 Confederate Flag.

Technically, what some wrong-minded Southerners2 like to fly, incorrectly referring to it as the “Confederate Flag,” (some slightly more informed yet still wrong-minded Southerners commonly refer to this as the Confederate “battle flag”), is in fact an elongated version of the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia (which was square) used by the Army of Tennessee from 1863-1865.

And of course, small details like the fact that the “Confederate flag” above never — NEVER — officially or non-officially represented the Confederate States of America as a country, and the fact that the flag above was never — NEVER — officially recognized as one of the CSA’s national flags, seem to escape these more undereducated and wrong-minded Southerners.

Think for a moment about the American Flag. Do we still fly the American Flag that had only 48 stars?

Or the original US flag representing the original thirteen colonies, that actually had no stars?

Sure, we display them in museums, but we don’t fly them on Flag Day, and we don’t fly them on Independece Day, do we? Of course not, we fly the most recent American Flag, the one with 50 stars.

Following the same logic, and for the same reasons, if you insist on flying a flag representing the Confederate States of America3, you should fly the most recent flag of the Confederacy, the flag chosen by Confederate General in Chief, Robert E. Lee, as his Surrender Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. A white linen dish towel which was used as the Confederate flag of truce at Appomattox and which was carried by one of Lt. General Longstreet’s staff officers into the lines of General Custer4:

If, for some reason, you’re proud of your Southern heritage of cessession5, surrender and loss, and want to be true to the history you so often say you’re honoring, then get yourself one of these excellent modern replicas of the last official flag of the Confederacy:

and fly that flag with pride.

yeah, in a minute…
1 To my fellow White Americans, I can only say, you really — really — do not want to be on the wrong side of history on this particular issue. As I’ve posted before, I have said for decades that in much, if not most of American life (and almost regardless of the cause or movement, whether it be “save the whales” or “illegal immigration”), you can be part of the solution, you can be part of the problem, or you can just be a part of the fucking scenery. However, in the case of Freedom, Equality and/or Equity — racial or otherwise — just being part of the scenery is being part of the problem.

I think far too many White people think that because they “don’t use the ‘n’ word,” that they are part of the solution, but as Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, author of the excellent and enlightening book How to Be an Antiracist, has so clearly explained, it is not enough for a White person to self-identify as “not a racist”. To be a part of the solution, you must be antiracist, and that starts with learning more about the issue, instead of just shrugging it off as so much more nonsense.

If nothing else, understand this: THERE IS NO NEUTRAL POSITION ON RACISM — full stop.

2 Yeah, yeah, I’m a Southerner too, but first and foremost I’m an American and patriot.

3 The Confederate States of America, the citizens thereof, and especially the members of the military thereof, of course, depending on your interpretation of the legality of cessession (and I won’t force the correct interpretation — history’s interpretation — down your throat), were either: (1) a foreign nation (and foreigners) who took up arms against the United States of America, or (2) American traitors — guilty of treason — who took up arms against their own nation, the United States of America.

4 Yes, that General Custer: Major General George Armstrong Custer.

5 Or treason, if you prefer, see footnote 2.