April 4, 2016

Sometimes the best inclusion is done by exclusion.

I'm trying to read this column "The Day Free Speech Died at Harvard Law School":
In late 2014, during my second year at Harvard Law School, a student group called Students For Inclusion created a blog entitled Socratic Shortcomings. Its commitment, we are told, is to “[foster] productive and contextualized conversations on matters related to race, gender and class.” The site allows students—and anyone really—to post anonymously about events at Harvard Law School.

The site quickly picked up steam, as students gravitated toward a safe and faceless forum, where they could voice their displeasure. For a short while it appeared that the site might encourage open dialogue and actually inspire change.

However, soon thereafter, students began to complain about submissions vanishing into thin air. The moderators, we eventually learned, were selectively publishing submissions and denying others without further explanation. It seems that the Students For Inclusion only wished to include some students....
Isn't this a case for: Get your own damned blog?

The blog is moderated. It doesn't "allow" "anyone" to post there. You can see how it's operated. That's what it is. It's a blog that takes anonymous submissions and has a point of view or a set of points of view that it publishes. Here's the submission page as it looks right now. It "reserve[s] the right to maintain this blog" as "a safe space." There are moderators, and they have standards. They have a vision of the place and they mean to preserve their speech by excluding those who interfere with their idea of the place. That's not anti-free speech. Free speech didn't die.

It's not like Twitter kicking Robert Stacy McCain out of Twitter (which is discussed in the column) because Socratic Shortcomings is on Tumblr and nothing prevents the voices excluded from Socratic Shortcomings from setting up another Tumblr account and inviting submissions and putting them all up without moderation or moderating them to put up exactly whatever they think is excluded from Socratic Shortcomings — the shortcomings of Socratic Shortcomings. Start something like that of your own and you may gain some appreciation for the speech that is furthered by selectivity.

Subtraction is part of creation....



What you don't say is part of what you say. Speech doesn't "die" by editing. It lives. Ask the reader. And get your own damned blog.

43 comments:

Laslo Spatula said...

"Subtraction is part of creation...."

Great photo choice illustrating the point.

Nice.

I am Laslo.

Paco Wové said...

"Socratic Shortcomings is on Tumblr"

A warning sign if ever there was one.

traditionalguy said...

Oh no. Boundaries are back. I blame idiot Populist clowns so hated by all migrating border crossers but loved by The Border Patrols the world over and their motto: " Get your own country. This one is taken."

TCom said...

The editors of society are pompous blowhards who also happen to be idiots.

We will complain ALL WE WANT. This blog referred to in the post is just yet another SJW outpost, and it is being exposed. 'Get another blog'? When people do that, that blogger is attacked for crimethink. Telling us to sit down and shut up isn't going to work anymore.

I know you love to analyze every situation in a vacuum, Althouse, but other people think more holistically.

rhhardin said...

Nature abhors a broom.

damikesc said...

Given what college is churning out, the First Amendment doesn't have long left. These snowflakes are being taught that feelings should trump it.

Robert Cook said...

"'Get another blog'? When people do that, that blogger is attacked for crimethink. Telling us to sit down and shut up isn't going to work anymore."

What are you on about? Why would a blogger be attacked for "crimethink" for getting another blog? Why should the blogger care if he or she is attacked for crimethink?

samanthasmom said...

I have no problem with a blog owner being selective about what gets published on her blog or doesn't get published. I would have a problem if someone solicited reviews for something and then only published positive reviews unless it was clearly stated somewhere that the blog or website was promoting the product. I wouldn't expect the Harvard University Law School website to put up negative reviews of the school from students who were unhappy with their choice. But if someone created a "Rate your law school" site and eliminated any negative feedback on Harvard, the site would be pretty useless. Before I take any blog or website too seriously, I always look to see if there any inherent biases, and I read it through that lens. Or I move on.

Fernandinande said...

Students For Inclusion

Misusing a name like that is virtue signaling, as is saying "I knew that this school was a stronghold of white supremacy, but seriously, what the fuck, Harvard?" because they're both obviously false but sound virtuous to some group of goofy peers.

"But if you are a teen-ager, what are you doing reading this book? Shouldn't you be out organizing a protest against something?" - Intro to Alfred Hitchcock Presents A Month of Mysteries.

tim maguire said...

True, but ghosting is still a problem--excluding people in a way that prevents them from knowing they've been excluded. It is still a form of censorship if the nature of the suppression isn't made clear.

They may have a right, but that doesn't make them right.

buwaya puti said...

Tcom is right re holistic thinking.
Political blogs are fair game, minor targets as they are, and limited value comments have anyway.
Even Althouse. Blogs are of course free to limit comments.
An excellent blog with excellent comments would have posters of every opinion that engage and argue reasonably in good faith, pretty much as a good university should, but both seem rather scarce these days. In many ways parts, at least, of Usenet were better, in its day.

Laura said...

The name of the group hosting the blog should be edited for more truth in advertising.

Students for Selective Inclusion seems more appropriate, but maybe just to those of us who attended state schools.

buwaya puti said...

"Why should a blogger care"
See Mencius Moldbug.
A specialist in exotic computer languages who gets disinvited from conferences because political opponents organize boycotts.
Anything an identifiable person says online is a professional risk IRL. That's a big reason many private sector heavy hitters in public policy prefer to keep quiet.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

...but isn't the accusation that the Tumblr owners made people think it was a truly open/unmoderated forum (except for actual threats, spam, and the like) when in fact it was moderated based on viewpoint acceptability?

I mean, you're correct that the solution is to start another blog, obviously. But it is still a betrayal of a sort if the original blog owners "sold" it as a place where others could post without censorship when in fact they censored certain viewpoints/posts, right?

buwaya puti said...

In Moldbugs case, in his political avocations, he is sort of what Russell Kirk would be like had he been born 50 years later.
It's a huge shame that the modern world is turning into such a constricted place.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

As usual, these kids could learn a thing or two from Animal House.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Also, "contextualized conversations" smells so strongly of bullshit I'm not sure how one reads on without holding one's nose.

[What conversation takes place w/o a context? What would a decontextualized conversation be? You're having a conversation! It's not like saying "well we studied issue X or Y but didn't put it in context of Z;" that's a complaint, sure, but how could that apply to a conversation one is actually having?!]

Michael said...

OK, fine. It's not the fact of the blog or the opinions expressed or suppressed that is so offensive. It's the swingeing hypocrisy of claiming the moral high ground of promoting "productive and contextualized conversations" while actually promoting a single point of view. Like certain metropolitan dailies claiming to provide all the news that's fit to print while in fact filtering to serve the Progressive narrative. It's not how they tack; it's the false flag on the mast that's a problem.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

buwaya puti said...It's a huge shame that the modern world is turning into such a constricted place.

My dear buwaya, surely you jest! You can hold any number of positions and still be a member in good standing of our civilized society--you can be anything from radically Left to lightly moderately Left and no one will give you a problem.

You can support South American Leftist terrorists, the North Vietnamese during the war, domestic terrorists like the Weathermen or the Earth Liberation Front, or you can even defend "freedom fighters" in the Middle East who blow up Israeli cafes and chop off heads as a way to fight Western colonialism. All of these are acceptable positions--I don't know what you can possibly mean by "constrained!"

khesanh0802 said...

@Michael Absolutely. The key indicator is the phrase "safe space". "If you would like to share a personal experience when you were made aware of your “diversity” in a way that made you uncomfortable, please describe the situation below." An open invitation to whine about how hard life is - at Harvard Law School? You're kidding. Try Parris Island if you want hard. What if you had an experience that made you comfortable with your "diversity" would that be edited out?

If you are going to discuss your own experiences that's fine, but guaranteed to be distorted., Anyone who has ever been through a divorce knows that there are, at least, two sides to every story.

Ann Althouse said...

"The name of the group hosting the blog should be edited for more truth in advertising."

It's an age-old tradition to use naming — of a group, of a statute, etc. — to make your argument. If you have an argument against the argument made in the name then make your argument. You could even form a group with a name that makes your argument. That's why I suggested "the shortcomings of Socratic Shortcomings."

boycat said...

Get your own damned blog

Get your own damned bakery! We could do a lot of these.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...That's why I suggested "the shortcomings of Socratic Shortcomings

Not bad, not bad, but that blog'd need to be set up and run anonymously, of course, lest its owners catch a charge for hate speech or microaggresing against the good folks who run Socratic Shortcomings.
Hyperbolic? Maybe, but if saying "All Lives Matter" in response to "Black Lives Matter" is enough to get law school FACULTY up in arms...

I Callahan said...

Althouse gets this one absolutely wrong.

Free speech and the first amendment are not synonyms - the latter is a subset of the former. Free speech IS being squelched here, because the blog moderators advertised their blog as being open and anonymous, then deleted opinions they didn't like. If they had honestly advertised their intentions, prospective commenters would at least have known what was expected at the blog. This is no different than being invited to do a speech, and when you get your chance to speak, getting out-yelled by hecklers.

It's not a matter of "get your own blog"; it's a matter of false advertising. The guy has a legitimate gripe.

jr565 said...

Isn't this a case for: Get your own damned blog?

While I agree that is the remedy, the point is, thats what THIS blog was supposed to be. The whole reason people gravitated towards it was because they assumed it was in fact their blog.
"Its commitment, we are told, is to “[foster] productive and contextualized conversations on matters related to race, gender and class.” The site allows students—and anyone really—to post anonymously about events at Harvard Law School."

So, if the assumption is that anyone can post to it aonymously to foster a debate on race, gender and class, then I can see why someone might be annoyed if that in fact is not open to all. Or wont post certain discussions about race, gender or class, that the moderator doesn't like.
It sounds like false advertising. So, yes, he should now get his own blog. But screw this blog for pretending to actually want to foster a debate and saying its open to various view points, but then turns out to be a blog about a specific viewpoint in the guise of an inclusive blog.

Roughcoat said...

boycat @10:21 AM wins the thread.

Nyamujal said...

The internet makes it easier for people to select communities they want to belong to and who they let in to those communities. Of course that creates an echo chamber in which people can shout down anyone they disagree with and affirm each other's views which leaves no room for intellectual growth. I'd rather argue with someone I disagree with than spend all my time nodding in agreement. I've come to realize that not everyone is like that.
Do people even talk face-face with someone they disagree with anymore or do they just go online to vent and release their frustration?

William said...

I've muddled through life without jail, bankruptcy, or rehab. I've worked responsibly at responsible jobs, paid my taxes, showed up for jury duty and military service during wartime. It's discomfiting to learn that many of my opinions are not just wrong but immoral and that decent people have a duty to keep my views out of the marketplace of ideas. Perhaps that blog site should be renamed the Woodrow Wilson Site for Progressive Social Opinions.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

What Michael and boycat said.

Sure, someone else can get their own damned blog, of course. More speech, etc. The bigger picture/bigger problem is of yet another writhing mass of lawyer larvae who can't handle opinions other than their own. These people are going to be setting policy and applying law that controls the public space that I in my dotage and my children and grandchildren have to live in. That's reason enough to object to their nonsense.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

William said...
I've muddled through life without jail, bankruptcy, or rehab. I've worked responsibly at responsible jobs, paid my taxes, showed up for jury duty and military service during wartime. It's discomfiting to learn that many of my opinions are not just wrong but immoral and that decent people have a duty to keep my views out of the marketplace of ideas.


William, come now, put some thought into it. WHO are you? What demographic groups do you belong to? Do your opinions align with those of people in the correct demographic groups? If not then you definitely need to work on that, yeah.

Fernandinande said...

boycat said...
'Get your own damned blog'
Get your own damned bakery! We could do a lot of these.


Heh. But the bakery scam would be more analogous to forcing people to post stuff on a blog.

n.n said...

The elite only descend from their ivory towers and depart from their gated sanctuaries to enjoy carefully regulated public spaces.

jr565 said...

"I've muddled through life without jail, bankruptcy, or rehab. I've worked responsibly at responsible jobs, paid my taxes, showed up for jury duty and military service during wartime. It's discomfiting to learn that many of my opinions are not just wrong but immoral and that decent people have a duty to keep my views out of the marketplace of ideas"
Stop mansplaining and/or whitesplaining.

Nyamujal said...

@William, I think of that blog as a private event. You can protest it and voice your displeasure, but the people holding that event are within their rights to kick you out. Non-violently of course.

If I create a space on the internet by buying a domain, I don't have an obligation to let anyone use it to voice their opinion. I'd be very narrow-minded if I just invited like minded people to participate, but that's a different discussion... Besides, some journals, magazines and blogs exist to perpetuate or lobby a specific point of view. That's fine too. I don't expect the National Review to publish someone from Jacobin.

jr565 said...

They should put up a website called "socratic shortcomings shortcomings"

Char Char Binks said...

They say they're so cratic, but they're not as cratic as they think.

buwaya said...

" I'd be very narrow-minded if I just invited like minded people to participate, but that's a different discussion."

That pretty much is the discussion - "Id be very narrow-mined". Its certainly possible to set up a silo, as self-defined by the person or group setting it up. But it is not good sportsmanship, on an intellectually-presuming site, to limit on-topic comments to those that one agrees with.
One can honorably, without playing dirty pool, block posts/posters for such matters as boorish behavior, indelicate language, being off topic, general incoherence or irrationality, or any such problems, but on-topic disagreements require, in the interest of honor, that one play the game according to the rules, unwritten though they be.
If one says X, but an objector says "but the data says Y", then one is obligated to reply with substance, and for that matter the objector is likewise required to reasonably address your rebuttal.

Unknown said...

Hairybuddha thinks Prof. Althouse may be conflating two separate columns. The first, written by Avrahm Berkowitz, talks about the blog "Socratic Shortcomings" but most of his animus seems to be directed towards a group ostensibly for inclusion that has shut down a common area of the law school and is actively policing the signs and demonstrations to fit its point of view. The second column, written by Cathy Young, addresses the twitter ban of Robert Stacy McCain. Hairybuddha agrees with Prof. Althouse that the remedy to the "Socratic Shortcomings" would be to get your own damn blog. But what is the remedy for the more carefully reported story of the viewpoint censorship going on in the Harvard Law School common area?

Mark Nielsen said...

Roughcoat says: "boycat @10:21 AM wins the thread."

100% agree. Shut it down. Nothing more to say.

Ann Althouse said...

"It's not a matter of "get your own blog"; it's a matter of false advertising. The guy has a legitimate gripe."

Free speech includes false advertising.

And lying and distorting.

Get your own damned blog and bitch about other people's false advertising.

Ann Althouse said...

@unknown

The column I linked to could have used some editing, which is part of my point.

I stopped reading when I get anoyed.

Jonathan Graehl said...

Agree w/ Althouse. I enjoy identifying+mocking dishonest advertising. That people pull this crap only entertains and stokes my delusions of moral+intellectual superiority. I really wish they wouldn't, though. I'm bad enough as it is.

mikee said...

A student group started this student run, and hence school funded, blog. Freedom of association and free speech precedents indicate that any other student group, with any other viewpoint, should also be able to obtain identical funding from the student government to perform their own censored blogging. Viewpoint neutral, don'tcha know!