1. On news of Slate’s suspension of Mike Pesca, my thoughts on a similar episode still pertain: nymag.com/intelligencer/… Just to add a few more point, a thread--
My preference is to allow mention while treating use as a firing offense. I agree with Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy’s argument about the pedagogical value of quoting the word: reason.com/volokh/2020/06…
3. However, the purpose of language is to communicate, and if parts of your audience are emotionally affected by a term, that inhibits communication, so if we have to change the norm to prohibit mention of the slur along with use, that’s ok.
4. Joel Anderson tells the NYT, “For Black employees, it’s an extremely small ask to not hear that particular slur and not have debate about whether it’s OK for white employees to use that particular slur.” I agree with that. nytimes.com/2021/02/22/bus…
5. But it’s important to maintain a distinction between use and mention, even if you prohibit both, it’s simply wrong to try them as the same thing requiring the same or similar punishment.
6. Most importantly, if you change policies, you can’t do it retroactively. While it may be an extremely small ask to stop enunciating or quoting a slur, going back and punishing staffers who violated the standard before it existed is a huge ask.
Defector’s story, citing Pesca’s history of infractions, includes his reporting on the subject for NPR and describes it as “use” of the slur:
8. Here we have both a collapse of the use/mention distinction and retroactive enforcement taken to the point where his NPR reporting is held up as evidence of insensitivity that justifies punishment.
9. Many progressive institutions are reacting to the societal crisis of racism in ways that create a great deal of injustice while doing little if anything to alleviate the true problem.
10. To fix that, we need to return to liberal norms, which take accusations of racism seriously while still requiring they be held to standards of evidence. The norm of “allyship,” which includes never challenging an accusation of racism, is a comprehensive failure.

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More from @jonathanchait

21 Feb
Wanted to correct some disinformation I've seen floating around social media, and which was repeated by a Slate podcast, regarding Gina Carano's firing. (Thread).
There's a revisionist claim that Carano was not fired for the post comparing political hatred to treatment of Jews in Germany: slate.com/transcripts/N0…
Now, if you read literally any report on Carano's firing when it happened, it cited this post as the cause. ie: hollywoodreporter.com/news/the-manda…

or apnews.com/article/gina-c…

or any other article that reported the firing.
Read 8 tweets
17 Feb
Here @karpmj combines a misleading fact with a completely invented motivation to mislead his audience. Thread: jacobinmag.com/2021/02/the-po…
@karpmj It's true, I initially believed a Trump nomination would disrupt the GOP's plutocratic structure
@karpmj But then a few weeks later, paying closer attention to his views, I said i was wrong and renounced that: nymag.com/intelligencer/…
Read 7 tweets
30 Jan
Last night I watched "Mr. Jones" a recent film about Gareth Jones, a reporter who at great personal danger exposed the forced famine in Ukraine. Gripping movie, and now reading more about Jones' remarkable career.
I have a simple 3-part test for 1930s political and intellectual figures. Did they realize:

1. Hitler was bad
2. Stalin was bad
3. FDR was good?

Many people fail one or more of these. Jones passed all three easily.
You can read his work, which grasped the stakes on all three with remarkable clarity: garethjones.org
Read 4 tweets
12 Jan
I've seen a lot of praise for this Kevin Williamson piece on Trump and the GOP. I obviously agree with the "Trump is bad" sentiment, which accounts for its popularity among Never Trumpers. However.... nationalreview.com/the-tuesday/th…
There are a couple massive flaws worth highlighting, because they're characteristic of the poisons that inhabit even many species of anti-Trump conservatism.
The first his Williamson's whitewashing of William F. Buckley's support for white supremacy:
Read 11 tweets
18 Nov 20
1/ A few months ago, I had an online run-in with @EoinHiggins_, a left-wing writer. It has since taken a rather bizarre turn. Thread:
@EoinHiggins_ 2/ It began in August, when I wrote a column arguing that Trump’s authoritarianism is an outgrowth of a deeper trend within his party. It’s a theme I’ve been making over and over throughout the Trump era: nymag.com/intelligencer/…
@EoinHiggins_ 3/ Higgins wrote a piece citing it, claiming I argued Trump “is an aberration within the Republican party--a bug, not a feature.” newrepublic.com/article/159158…
Read 20 tweets
6 Nov 20
[thread] One progressive tic that I'd like to see go away is "X constituency won the election." We’ve seen this in a lot of elections, most memorably (for me) the Jones special election in Alabama.
If the point is to give a gold star to people who voted for your candidate, then the gold stars go to… everybody who voted for your candidate. You don’t deserve less credit for voting Democratic simply because fewer members of your demographic also voted Democratic.
One of the problems with this habit is that it reduces people to their race, or sometimes race+gender. Most voters are cross-pressured by multiple factors: education, religion, geography, etc. Seeing voters as undifferentiated ethnic blocs is terrible politics.
Read 5 tweets

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