The Times Demonstrates Why Vetting Is Fundamental
February 14, 2018 7:44 AM   Subscribe

On Tuesday afternoon, the New York Times announced that they had made a new hire for their opinion pages: Quinn Norton, a tech journalist who had written for several notable publications such as The Atlantic and Wired. However, it did not take long for critics to point out a lot of aspects of Norton that made her hiring questionable - her ties to major figures in white supremacy, her casual use of bigoted slurs in her tweets, and overall a number of very questionable positions that had many asking the Times a simple question: how did she pass vetting?

By 10 pm that same day, the Times had announced that Norton had been fired.

But even that really didn't stop the questions, because the announcement of the dismissal raised further questions about the vetting process at the Times, given the ease her critics had found everything in her Twitter history. In addition, this shone yet another light upon the fact that the Times has had a number of questionable hires for their op/ed page, such as Bret Stephens.
posted by NoxAeternum (462 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
I suspect that, were it not for the bigoted slurs, they would not have fired her - unless the ties to white supremacists caused enough people to cancel their subscriptions, I suppose.
posted by thelonius at 7:46 AM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]


I've been skeptical of Quinn Norton for years. There are great reasons to be, in addition to twitter-scraping.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:47 AM on February 14, 2018 [20 favorites]


The Times Demonstrates that they are amazingly lazy.
posted by Melismata at 7:47 AM on February 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


Hypothesis: the people doing the hiring at NYT don't care about hiring white supremacists -- might even actively want to hire white supremacists -- as long as nobody complains loudly enough.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:48 AM on February 14, 2018 [64 favorites]


I really don't get the Times' strategy of late. You think you need more conservative voices, that's certainly a decision to make, but okay. You keep writing apologia for the administration and its voters, alright. But you go right out and start grabbing literal Nazis that don't even make an effort to hide it?

They don't need to hire fascists. They need to hire someone that doesn't treat getting off Manhattan as an adventure into the deepest heart of an unexplored continent.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:48 AM on February 14, 2018 [61 favorites]


My money's on Norton resurfacing in a News Corp. property; perhaps a Damore-style editorial in the WSJ on why the anti-fascists are the true fascists, or a column in Louise Mensch's troll sheet or something.
posted by acb at 7:50 AM on February 14, 2018 [11 favorites]


I really don't get the Times' strategy of late. You think you need more conservative voices, that's certainly a decision to make, but okay.

Norton doesn't really work as a conservative voice either; her friendship with Nazis and because-free-speech slur-hurling is the opposite of the conservative ideal of status-quo-preserving decorum. If anything, it's a sort of horseshoe-theory gonzo-fringeism on libertarian crack.
posted by acb at 7:52 AM on February 14, 2018 [14 favorites]


Okay, so firstly: there’s is no way they didn’t know about her being mates with Nazis. She was hired because she was mates with nazis. Her two medium pieces I’ve seen whicg are presumably what got her hired are two of the most NY-Timesy “be nice to nazis” pieces I’ve ever seen.

We are just lucky that she habitually uses the word “fag” on Twitter because while Nazi-cuddling is absolutely fine by The NY Times you must be absolutely polite whilst doing it, because “impoliteness” is the core of their argument against anyone who doesn’t like nazis.

It’s still a hugely messed up value system.
posted by Artw at 7:53 AM on February 14, 2018 [92 favorites]


There are so, so, SO many great writers - liberal, conservative, anywhere you like in between - out there who don't use bigoted slurs, pal around to any extent with white supremacists, etc. who would kill to have a regular gig writing for the New York Times and would be a net plus to the paper's intellectual content and standing. And yet.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:53 AM on February 14, 2018 [24 favorites]


The New York Times on her hiring, and on their subsequent reversal of that decision.
posted by dywypi at 7:54 AM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Well, to paraphrase Ralph Kramden, Ol' Norton, reliable ol' Norton, working 17 years in the sewer. And now everything's down the drain.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:54 AM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Predictably enough, she had a whole heart-rending Twitter thread, philosophically examining why it's not really fair, what happened to her, and exhorting everyone to examine their lives, or some such thing. I'm actually beginning to think that every single crypto-white supremacist has a pre-written Twitter thread prepared for when they finally get caught out.
posted by holborne at 7:54 AM on February 14, 2018 [19 favorites]


Her two medium pieces I’ve seen whicg are presumably what got her hired are two of the most NY-Timesy “be nice to nazis” pieces I’ve ever seen.

The ones about the invention of whiteness in America?
posted by acb at 7:54 AM on February 14, 2018


I love the reframing of blatant bigotry and neonazi ties as a cute personal quirk, and objections to such as staid and cowardly.
posted by inconstant at 7:57 AM on February 14, 2018 [42 favorites]


Secondly, as pointed out on Twitter, her first article was absolutely going to be one complaint about how rude everyone was for complaining about her Nazi chumminess.

And lo and behold: In an email to The Daily Beast, Norton said she’s likely write a story about the incident later this week.

Scum always rises to the top.
posted by Artw at 7:58 AM on February 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


The ones about the invention of whiteness in America?

One about how the best way to deal with nazis in your family is to politely engage with them, and one on how her vague Native American heritage and having once had a Jewish boyfriend makes her uniquely qualified the complex morality of how there is good and bad in every Nazi.
posted by Artw at 8:00 AM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


Both siderism didn't win? Huh...
posted by Chuffy at 8:00 AM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


yet in the link the man of twists and turns posted to a previous Norton story, MeFi seemed to like Norton.

(In this current light, Norton definitely does not come off sounding like a nice person.)
posted by k5.user at 8:01 AM on February 14, 2018


You people are all so lame to not understand. It's obvious that the Times only hired her ironically, which makes it fine.
posted by rokusan at 8:01 AM on February 14, 2018 [16 favorites]


(Also, given her tenure was approximately 6 hours, one Norton is 1/44th of a Scaramucci.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:02 AM on February 14, 2018 [96 favorites]


This whole thing has made me question whether we're all working with the same definition of "friend". Like, she is a progressive activist, but still is friends with a legit evil person who is against everything she stands for, and she won't apologize for it. But, what are friends if not good people we want to be around . . . ? I don't know what is what any more.
posted by Think_Long at 8:02 AM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]


You people are all so lame to not understand. It's obvious that the Times only hired her ironically, which makes it fine.

You're thinking of VICE.
posted by acb at 8:03 AM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


The people who own, operate, and are employed by the Times are the typical 21st century Western elite; glib nihilists who deliver a product to an audience and collect from both the audience and the producer. In this light, Norton is a perfect fit.
posted by selfnoise at 8:04 AM on February 14, 2018 [12 favorites]


But, what are friends if not good people we want to be around . . . ? I don't know what is what any more.

Your definition is right. Norton needs to learn that if she's friends with a leader in the white supremacy movement, that tells a lot of people that she's not really all that bothered by white supremacy.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:05 AM on February 14, 2018 [28 favorites]


This was the straw that broke my back with the Times. When I called to cancel my subscription, they looked at the current rate and offered to drop it. Me: “sooooo, you think I’d be ok with Nazi supporters if only I didn’t have to pay so much for them? HA HA NOPE.”

I get the feeling they were getting a LOT of calls. The very nice customer service people sounded extra tired and genuinely apologetic.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:06 AM on February 14, 2018 [87 favorites]


Goddamn, you can’t be friends with a Nazi without accepting, on some level, Nazism. You just can’t. It’s not rocket science. I just...

(Also, given her tenure was approximately 6 hours, one Norton is 1/44th of a Scaramucci.)

The imperial system is really getting out of hand.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:07 AM on February 14, 2018 [75 favorites]


question whether we're all working with the same definition of "friend".

Quinn's a shitlord. She clearly believes in the alt-right's concept of "free speech" and thinks that weev's Nazism is just talk. He may or may not want to kill everyone that's not a white anglo-saxon protestant, but he's not actually doing it so it's okay, she thinks. She can still have a beer with her friend, the racist, because it doesn't affect her. She's a shitlord with a history of trolling, herself. It is -- still -- all about the lulz.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:07 AM on February 14, 2018 [45 favorites]


The very nice customer service people sounded extra tired and genuinely apologetic.

i mean
they have to do this *a lot*
yet the times keeps on doing... this
posted by halation at 8:07 AM on February 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


She approvingly retweeted someone referring to Obama as the n-word in 2009. I guess progressivism had a different definition then.
posted by xyzzy at 8:08 AM on February 14, 2018 [10 favorites]


Non-garbage people don't have friends who want to shove ethnic minorities into furnaces.
posted by acb at 8:09 AM on February 14, 2018 [60 favorites]


yet in the link the man of twists and turns posted to a previous Norton story, MeFi seemed to like Norton.

It's not her writing, per se, that MeFi or any one else is upset about (although she does have some pretty hideous takes). If my favorite writer in the world was found to pal around with Nazis or be a pedophile or have some other racist, sexist or transphobic views that they are proud to profess, I am going to stop reading their work. I am not about to read the ramblings of someone who is friends with a guy that would happily exterminate me.

Also, when is the myth of the ordinary German going to die? Do we actually need another Holocaust, or nah?
posted by Sophie1 at 8:09 AM on February 14, 2018 [26 favorites]


yet the times keeps on doing... this

It's days like this when I feel as if we're in that episode of the Twilight Zone, where the aliens say to each other at the end: "you see? All you have to do is get them to fight one another, and the rest will be easy."
posted by Melismata at 8:10 AM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


> When I called to cancel my subscription, they looked at the current rate and offered to drop it.

I recently cancelled my Harper's subscription and it couldn't have been easier; they made no attempt to talk me out of it after I explained why (Katie Roiphe) and refunded me the money outstanding almost immediately (which I didn't even ask them to do). It was like they were not only expecting me to cancel, but wanted me to.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:14 AM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


and one on how her vague Native American heritage and having once had a Jewish boyfriend makes her uniquely qualified the complex morality of how there is good and bad in every Nazi

Aside from the extreme dubiousness of the premise, what struck me about that one was the pointlessness. It read like it was written by a smart high schooler trying on identities and experimenting with edginess. It didn't even rise to a Ross Douthat-level of emo navelgazing. It's possible that Norton is in a position to make observations worth hearing now and then. Pretty sure the opinion page of the NYT isn't the place I want to read them.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:15 AM on February 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


MeFi seemed to like Norton.

Note use of the past tense. There have been numerous posts over the last year, especially, about people for whom the blue (collectively and individually) has had changes of heart about.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:17 AM on February 14, 2018 [11 favorites]


In an article last year, a black reporter wrote about befriending KKK members, and over several decades changing one of their minds away from their bigotry. He did not get fired, have his credentials called into question, or get otherwise thrown under the bus by a pitchfork mob.

In light of that story, it seems particularly uncomfortable to me to declare a friendship as relevant to hiring/firing a reporter. Why is her friendship with a white supremacist unacceptable instantly, when the black reporter’s friendship with a white supremacist was accepted without question?

This is not intended as an argument that NYT was right or wrong, and I’m not questioning their decision. I don’t have complete evidence and I offer no defense of anyone’s words or actions. I just don’t understand why “friendship with evil people” was just recently okay for a guy but somehow not okay for a gal.

(The other supporting evidence makes a lot better case to build upon - she’s a prolific writer and has been speaking openly for decades. I’m kind of horrified by some of it, independent of the above point.)
posted by crysflame at 8:17 AM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


The one about her Jewish boyfriend is even worse than is being said here- it's a break in the middle of a larger article attempting to rehabilitate Nazi official Walter Rabe to talk about how horrifying Purim is and how awful Jews are for drinking and celebrating it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:17 AM on February 14, 2018 [12 favorites]


It's possible that Norton is in a position to make observations worth hearing now and then.

Given that she seems unable to comprehend that decent people don't have Nazi friends, I doubt even that.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:19 AM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]




In an article last year, a black reporter wrote about befriending KKK members, and over several decades changing one of their minds away from their bigotry. He did not get fired, have his credentials called into question, or get otherwise thrown under the bus by a pitchfork mob.

In light of that story, it seems particularly uncomfortable to me to declare a friendship as relevant to hiring/firing a reporter. Why is her friendship with a white supremacist unacceptable instantly, when the black reporter’s friendship with a white supremacist was accepted without question?


There's a big difference between a black man engaging with white supremacists in a cautious way to understand how they tick and a white woman palling around with Nazis who thinks being friends with them will shield her from their violence.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:21 AM on February 14, 2018 [81 favorites]


I just don’t understand why “friendship with evil people” was just recently okay for a guy but somehow not okay for a gal.
Did this black reporter you reference also have a twitter feed full of homophobic and racist slurs?
posted by xyzzy at 8:23 AM on February 14, 2018 [59 favorites]


In light of that story, it seems particularly uncomfortable to me to declare a friendship as relevant to hiring/firing a reporter. Why is her friendship with a white supremacist unacceptable instantly, when the black reporter’s friendship with a white supremacist was accepted without question?

Because the black reporter was clearly not only not making excuses for their friend's bigotry, but was actively trying to help them abandon that legacy of hate. Meanwhile, Norton doesn't care that her friend is a leader in a movement that abuses and murders people for thinking that minorities should be treated as equals.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:23 AM on February 14, 2018 [73 favorites]


...that episode of the Twilight Zone, where the aliens say to each other at the end: "you see? All you have to do is get them to fight one another, and the rest will be easy."

Oh, is this the new election thread?
posted by rokusan at 8:23 AM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]



In light of that story, it seems particularly uncomfortable to me to declare a friendship as relevant to hiring/firing a reporter. Why is her friendship with a white supremacist unacceptable instantly, when the black reporter’s friendship with a white supremacist was accepted without question?


If I want to be friends with a homophobe because I think I can educate him, that's my apres midi. If a straight person wants to be friends with a homophobe because they basically think he's a swell fellow and by the way maybe he'll change his mind someday, that's another story. If a straight person wants to be friends with a homophobe and get amply paid to write a bunch of articles about how very, very wrong and sad it is that gay people won't pal around with him, and how it's basically our fault that he's a homophobe because of our terrible, terrible shunning, well, that's basically Norton except her issue is race anyway, so who cares?

Norton isn't coming in after the fact and saying "here is how I used my friendship to win weev away from being a neo-nazi, it was a struggle but I think it was valuable", she is saying "I have an ongoing friendship with a genocide advocate and you're all too mean to him, that's the real problem".
posted by Frowner at 8:23 AM on February 14, 2018 [163 favorites]


Thanks, Nox and Frowner, for explaining the big difference. That makes sense to me, and leaves me very sad. I appreciate the non-sarcastic reply.
posted by crysflame at 8:25 AM on February 14, 2018 [37 favorites]


In light of that story, it seems particularly uncomfortable to me to declare a friendship as relevant to hiring/firing a reporter. Why is her friendship with a white supremacist unacceptable instantly, when the black reporter’s friendship with a white supremacist was accepted without question?

I...

You really don’t see a difference between someone who is a target of a particular bigotry deciding that they have the emotional reserves and the strength to attempt the feat of extraordinary moral courage that is attempting to redeem and change a goddamn bigot who wants you dead

And someone who is not the target of that bigotry laughing it off because free speech and “he has some good qualities”?

Norton accepts white supremacy. She’s not trying to change it. She’s not working to do a goddamn thing. When she explores the humanity of bigots — because bigots are still human, is the terrifying, obvious thing — it’s to help excuse or soften or redeem their bigotry, just as it is.

When someone who does not accept bigotry explores the humanity of people who are happily bigoted, it is to illuminate the nature of evil, not explain it away as something else.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:25 AM on February 14, 2018 [25 favorites]


Oh wow, this thing:
In my work, dealing with everything from old trolls and novice internet users, it’s not hard to understand that me calling a /b/tard Faggot, a term of art on 4chan, is a different act than me calling a gay thirteen-year-old that just got his first Twitter account earlier today Faggot.
"Privilege: it's what's for dinner."
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:29 AM on February 14, 2018 [52 favorites]


Schadenfrau, I’m not as familiar with this issue as you, and I’m trying to learn about what’s going on by asking a comparison between two seemingly-similar events with different reactions. Several comments (including yours) helped me understand why they’re very different in ways I didn’t realize. I regret asking now because it’s being interpreted as supporting her somehow. I’m just half-autistic and trying to keep up. I will not ask any more questions on this thread, apologies to anyone I’ve offended.
posted by crysflame at 8:29 AM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]


"Context collapse" my foot. If you're going to lay with Nazis and 4channers, you're gonna get fleas.

If Quinn Norton is going to hang around with those folks, she should have at least had the courtesy to use an alt account, like, you know, every researcher who pokes around those spaces does.
posted by SansPoint at 8:29 AM on February 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


weev is not even just abstractly a Nazi on Twitter or whatever but who's never actually done anything to anybody. He might not personally be killing anybody, but he has a history of harassment campaigns against people he doesn't like, particularly the completely horrific stuff that happened to Kathy Sierra. How many times does someone have to intentionally, publicly attempt to ruin someone else's life to not be considered friend material? Anybody who's friends with weev isn't just someone with terrible judgment. They are, themselves, dangerous.
posted by Sequence at 8:31 AM on February 14, 2018 [41 favorites]


Speaking of Kathy Sierra, the way the hacker community Norton is so proud of being a part of gaslit her into supporting Auckheimer was utterly revolting.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:34 AM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


There is no industry that has to be drug kicking and screaming into the 21st century more than the publishing industry. Less than 10 minutes searching on Google and Twitter would have revealed this person's true nature. While the Times has the internet's users to thank for preventing a shit ton lot of future embarrassment, their HR department should be made to feel the sting of the internet having to do their job for them.
posted by prepmonkey at 8:34 AM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


you can’t be friends with a Nazi without accepting, on some level, Nazism

So, I am distance-friends with a guy who I am constantly in the Schroedinger’s Cat scenario of whether or not he’s a fucking Nazi, even as I assist with intelligence work against Nazis. So I kind of stand on the side of it being possible to be friends with people who may be Nazis while still being conflicted and confused about it. At least from my experience, these people who may or may not be terrible humans always insist that they are not, and muddy the waters pretty badly.

My friend insists that I’m getting the wrong impression from his public social media posts, points out he’s Jewish and had family members killed in the holocaust, says he’s just talking to get these guys to expose their horribleness, or just to be a troll. I’ve known him for ten years. He always delighted in breaking taboos, but never seemed mean. I agonize almost every day about what the fuck is going on in his head. I fight with him, hare, about the shitty things he keeps saying. He calls me, again, and tells me it’s just a joke. And he’s coming to visit someone else and wants to see me. I feel the compulsion look in his eyes, face-to-face to see what the fuck is real. I am terrified of it.

None of this incredibly horrible experience seems to be what Quinn is going through. She doesn’t seem to be conflicted at all. She publicly calls people incredibly hurtful slurs, and defense it as “just IRC”.
posted by corb at 8:35 AM on February 14, 2018 [17 favorites]


And of course it's the responsibility of that gay thirteen-year-old to understand this context when they see this tweet on a public forum.
posted by papercrane at 8:35 AM on February 14, 2018 [18 favorites]


Have you ever had a friend who just debased their entire identity because they wanted to impress a crush? Please, Times, don't tattoo that swastika on your face. They'll never love you back.
posted by adept256 at 8:36 AM on February 14, 2018 [23 favorites]


I’m sorry that I flamed you, crysflame. As partial explanation (not excuse), I’ve had a number of aggravating conversations on MeFi (and around the Internet generally) that have all centered around how we dehumanize each other, or accept the dehumanization of others, so I think right now it’s a sore spot for me.

And the irony is that it is, in a way, a very human failing to dehumanize other people. Which again is an explanation, not an excuse.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:36 AM on February 14, 2018 [45 favorites]


It’s okay. This is really hard for me too.
posted by crysflame at 8:37 AM on February 14, 2018 [35 favorites]


or just to be a troll

At some point, we (as a society) are going to have to confront this particular elephant in the room. Trolls should not be accepted in polite company. They themselves do not want acceptance in that polite company, so why should any of the rest of us give them any air-time whatsoever?

If you're about the lulz, go fuck yourself until you cease to be.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:37 AM on February 14, 2018 [68 favorites]


I think Quinn Norton is all kinds of problematic but she deserves more benefit of the doubt and respect that she's being given here. She is not "a literal Nazi that doesn't even make an effort to hide it". I accept her use of "fag in the context of 4chan". She's written some interesting and insightful bits about Internet culture, particularly around security.

Still she was a terrible choice for the NYTimes. I like the way a friend of mine put it: "the way she comports herself online with some truly awful people in a way that only philosophers can understand". I think I get what she's trying to do but it is hugely fraught with peril and rife for misunderstanding. Also you better deliver some really sharp insights as a result of your partying with hate groups and I'm not sure her writing is up to that level.

The bigger problem to me is in 2018 Trump America it's no longer possible to be nuanced or subtly thoughtful about racism and hate groups. We have literal White Supremacists working in the White House and a president who praises literal Nazis a day after they murdered someone at their rally. Our country is in more peril than ever before and there's no more room for philosophical debates about free speech or "I can be friends with Nazis without being a Nazi".
posted by Nelson at 8:43 AM on February 14, 2018 [38 favorites]


In an article last year, a black reporter wrote about befriending KKK members, and over several decades changing one of their minds away from their bigotry. He did not get fired, have his credentials called into question, or get otherwise thrown under the bus by a pitchfork mob.

In light of that story, it seems particularly uncomfortable to me to declare a friendship as relevant to hiring/firing a reporter. Why is her friendship with a white supremacist unacceptable instantly, when the black reporter’s friendship with a white supremacist was accepted without question?


While I don't know for sure, I would put money on the difference being this: Black reporter walks into his editor's office and says, "I have an idea for a story. I'm going to befriend KKK members..."

Something tells me Norton being friends with the Daily Stormer dude was not revealed in the interview process.
posted by prepmonkey at 8:45 AM on February 14, 2018


Early this morning she wrote, in response to comments critical of her ties to neonazis:
yes, that's true. but if you're not willing to kill them back, how to you approach dealing with the problem? i don't see a non-violent path forward other than engagement.
If we're to take this comment at face value (ignoring her penchant for trollery), it speaks to a particularly large liberal blind spot. You are not going to convince nazis. It's generally worthless to even try. You have to delegitimize them, deny them access to platforms, render them toxic to public discourse, because that is the only way to stop their recruitment. They are a minority of hateful assholes, but their main goal is radicalize others. You have to cut that off at the root. Engagement merely allows them to spread their message, to recruit.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:45 AM on February 14, 2018 [69 favorites]


think Quinn Norton is all kinds of problematic but she deserves more benefit of the doubt and respect that she's being given here.

Nope.
posted by Artw at 8:46 AM on February 14, 2018 [60 favorites]


corb: If this friend is trying to counter-troll Nazis, they shouldn't be doing it on their main account. Either they're an idiot, or they're a sincere Nazi supporter, hiding behind bullshit.
posted by SansPoint at 8:47 AM on February 14, 2018 [10 favorites]


She is not "a literal Nazi that doesn't even make an effort to hide it".

No, she's just Nazi-adjacent and untroubled by it. That's a difference without distinction from where I sit.

I accept her use of "fag in the context of 4chan".

You shouldn't. Soft bigotry is soft bigotry, period.

She's written some interesting and insightful bits about Internet culture, particularly around security.

And her conduct has destroyed the credibility that her writing once had.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:47 AM on February 14, 2018 [68 favorites]


I think Quinn Norton is all kinds of problematic but she deserves more benefit of the doubt and respect that she's being given here.

No, she really doesn't. "It's okay on 4chan" is never an excuse because that's a trash place with trash people and I don't really care if she's homophobic or just a shitty troll who thinks it's edgy to use the word.

Sick and tired of nazis and nazi lovers getting the benefit of the doubt when their victims never get it.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:48 AM on February 14, 2018 [119 favorites]


Engagement merely allows them to spread their message, to recruit.

Yep. It's the same issue with colleges inviting Charles Murray to speak, thinking that they'll "win" by debunking him. Nope, because he doesn't care that you dressed him down, he won the moment you gave him the spot on the stage. To quote a wise computer, "the only winning move is not to play" - you have to deny them legitimacy.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:51 AM on February 14, 2018 [46 favorites]


Also sick and tired of seeing a brave man dragged as an excuse for somebody who's all "tee-hee some of my best friends are nazis but I call them silly".
posted by MartinWisse at 8:51 AM on February 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


Trolls should not be accepted in polite company.

Yeah, I am long over this idea that trolls are somehow an exception or okay or "just" whatever anything and it excuses the behavior. Because...they don't mean it? They're just having fun? AT SOMEONE ELSE'S EXPENSE. IN BAD FAITH. And there is no "white hat" trolling, there's only water-muddying to pretend you're important and cool. There's no cause served. You've just increased ambiguity and reinforced the narrative that nobody ever actually means well or means what they say.

There absolutely is an option other than engagement: disengagement. Don't help them make money, don't let them see their grandchildren, don't give them the pleasure of your company or help when they are struggling because it's hard to be a horrible human being. Anyone who has the ability to safely do that - not everyone does, or not in every quadrant of their lives - should be doing it, or you have made a choice about which side you're actually on regardless of which one you want to pretend you're on.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:53 AM on February 14, 2018 [43 favorites]


Trolls should not be accepted in polite company.

And yet the King of All Trolls currently occupies the Oval Office. In a sense, we're stuck with them.
posted by zarq at 8:57 AM on February 14, 2018


Was very glad to see “being a troll is punk!” get shot to pieces on the blue the other day.
posted by Artw at 8:58 AM on February 14, 2018 [22 favorites]


Just because we're stuck with trolls doesn't mean we should condone or normalize them.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:00 AM on February 14, 2018 [11 favorites]


Just because we're stuck with trolls doesn't mean we should condone or normalize them.

Well, duh?
posted by zarq at 9:02 AM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Again, I have to reject the original framing here, which I see repeated several times in the comments.

The problem is not that the Times failed to investigate Quinn's social media activities or previous writing. You know who loves social media the most out of everyone in the whole world? Fucking journalists, they're addicted to that shit. Why do you think every single fucking Trump tweet during the election got spun into a major news story? The Times knows exactly how social media works the same way a heroin junkie knows how needles work.

So what happened here is that they actively and knowingly recruited somebody who pals around with white supremacists. Because they didn't think that was a problem until people complained. Because the white supremacy is coming from inside the fucking house.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:03 AM on February 14, 2018 [95 favorites]


Also, on the argument of slurs being different in context, that really isn't the case. Calling someone the "f-word" on 4chan is very much ensconced in the same hate as when it's being thrown around elsewhere.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:03 AM on February 14, 2018 [21 favorites]


> I accept her use of "fag in the context of 4chan"

Nope, especially when she's using it in obviously non-4chan contexts like Twitter and she gets all whiny when people call her out on it. Yes, she can use it with whatever intent or context she imagines, but that doesn't grant her the right or privilege to use it without consequences - like being called out for it, or having job offers rescinded. Too fucking bad.
posted by rtha at 9:04 AM on February 14, 2018 [61 favorites]


In general, I reject any possibility that the NYT didn't know about Quinn Norton's nazi buddies and general shitty behaviour: that's the whole reason this mildly competent writer got hired.

Because as you know Bob, the NYT's Cold War nickname was The Pradva on the Hudson, as it always was an establisment mouthpiece, politically centrist (rightwing), percieved as liberal because it cares arts and stuff, but only rich people's art and has some sympathy for homosexuality as long as it's the quirky non-threatening arty type of homosexuality.

(That's also where the whole Clinton bashing comes from: some Arkansas yokels in our White House? Never!)

Now the NYT is owned by one of those creepy billionaire families and these always go fascist sooner or later, so now it's trying to become the Volkischer Beobachter on the Hudson, which is why you got one columnist defending pedophilia if it's done by a NYT favourite and the hiring of nazi lovers like Norton.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:04 AM on February 14, 2018 [43 favorites]


"I only use bigoted terms when I hang out with my bigoted buds!" isn't really the most sound defense I've ever heard but I guess she's thinking, what the hell, it's 2018, they've heard worse.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:06 AM on February 14, 2018 [62 favorites]


(worse defenses of terrible behavior)
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:06 AM on February 14, 2018


The one about her Jewish boyfriend is even worse than is being said here- it's a break in the middle of a larger article attempting to rehabilitate Nazi official Walter Rabe to talk about how horrifying Purim is and how awful Jews are for drinking and celebrating it.

Wait- so in an article where she uses a past Jewish boyfriend as a shield, she directly parrots Nazi talking points about the disgusting-ness of Jewish Holidays? And people are questioning whether she's a Nazi herself? I would think that proves it!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:15 AM on February 14, 2018 [25 favorites]


Quinn is a friend, has been a friend for nearly two decades, and I'm not going to renounce that friendship. I suppose that makes me a "literal Nazi" by the sophisticated cooties criteria on display over the past couple of days, so feel free to project whatever opinions are convenient for me to have, regardless of whether I share them.

She was writing at length about Anonymous and 4chan and the darknet and online mob culture before Gamergate and the 2016 election and the embrace of online mob culture by nearly all social media. (Yeah, ironic in a non-Alanis sense, and yeah, maybe double-check how quickly you could be damned by selective quotation of your posting history here.) Most of the tweets that were passed around in decontextualised screenshots by the True Wokeness Is Searching For Bad Words On Twitter crowd are from that period.

weev is a terrible person. It is hard for me to understand how anyone could remain on friendly terms with him after his treatment of Kathy Sierra, and that was before he went full white supremacist, but Quinn believes that disengagement from terrible people encourages them to bond together and get more terrible. I respect that belief, even if I don't share it (or her free speech absolutism), because it's a decent explanation of what has happened over the past handful of years.

Perhaps, as Nelson suggests upthread, she was not a good fit for the NYT's institutional identity. But at a time when the dystopian elements of tech's intersection with culture and privacy and politics and actual fucking democracy are in the foreground, I would have liked somebody who has covered that domain in detail for a long time to be in a position to talk about it. And if you're going to say "well, how about someone who isn't friends with weev?", then attach a name or two.
posted by holgate at 9:17 AM on February 14, 2018 [30 favorites]


> Quinn is a friend, has been a friend for nearly two decades, and I'm not going to renounce that friendship.

What, specifically, are you doing to get her to recognize how awful her defense of people like weev is? Her defense is that "disengagement from terrible people encourages them to bond together and get more terrible" so what are YOU doing to to actually engage with her in the extremely problematic areas of her views, audiences, and associations? Do you question her? Challenge her? Argue with her?
posted by rtha at 9:21 AM on February 14, 2018 [50 favorites]


To quote The Specials, “If you have a racist friend, now's the time for the friendship to end.”
posted by acb at 9:22 AM on February 14, 2018 [38 favorites]


I would have liked somebody who has covered that domain in detail for a long time to be in a position to talk about it. And if you're going to say "well, how about someone who isn't friends with weev?", then attach a name or two.

If a domain has literally zero experts who aren't eternal buddies with people who want to murder me and my family, then the domain is fucked and the NYT does not need to hire for that beat.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:24 AM on February 14, 2018 [52 favorites]


And if you're going to say "well, how about someone who isn't friends with weev?", then attach a name or two.

How about the people weev and 4chan have targeted

Anita Sarkeesian

Zoe Quinn
posted by Existential Dread at 9:27 AM on February 14, 2018 [88 favorites]


Quinn is a friend, has been a friend for nearly two decades, and I'm not going to renounce that friendship.

Dude, you have terrible tastes in friends.

Not only does she seem to think being a nazi is a quirk on a par with liking Chicago style pizza while living in New York, she throws around homophobic slurs, belittles actual victims of actual nazis and in so many ways makes clear she's a terrible person.

What, she cooks a mean enough chili that it's worth staying friends with her?
posted by MartinWisse at 9:27 AM on February 14, 2018 [46 favorites]


Quinn is a friend, has been a friend for nearly two decades, and I'm not going to renounce that friendship.

If you lie down with dogs, however, you get up with fleas.
posted by acb at 9:30 AM on February 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


holgate: It's entirely possible that Quinn isn't a Nazi. But she's expressed clear anti-Semitic views, is normalizing homophobic slurs, and palling around with one of the most horrible Internet Trolls known to humanity. She's a shitty person, and defending her shittiness isn't going to earn you any brownie points.
posted by SansPoint at 9:32 AM on February 14, 2018 [37 favorites]


Most of the tweets that were passed around in decontextualised screenshots by the True Wokeness Is Searching For Bad Words On Twitter crowd are from that period.

Please, tell me in what context is the use of bigoted slurs okay in any way, shape, or form? If you're going to argue that we're wrong for removing the context, then you should have an answer for that simple question.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:33 AM on February 14, 2018 [24 favorites]


Hi Holgate, thanks for sticking your neck out here.

Most of the tweets that were passed around in decontextualised screenshots by the True Wokeness Is Searching For Bad Words On Twitter crowd are from that period.

The one I found most damning was linked by Pope Guilty above, and it’s hard for me to imagine an exculpatory context. She laughs off a friend’s use of a swastika in the most awkward way possible, like being a Nazi is an eccentric personal foible and really, you’re all the idiots for not having picked up on this quirk earlier “I am a friend of @rabite’s. I can’t believe it took a picture of a swastika for y’all to notice his whole white pride trip. He’s not subtle.”
posted by chappell, ambrose at 9:35 AM on February 14, 2018 [25 favorites]


One little thing to consider: a highly degreed employment lawyer I know says that the practice of vetting a potential employee by looking at their social media can expose the hiring company to all sorts of liabilities, as things such as religion, sexuality, marriage status, and other things can easily come to light. If someone is not hired, then they may sue if they know their social media was checked. So, he and many employment lawyers advise companies to *never* check a potential employees' social media.

I don't agree with it, but it could partially explain the Times' failure.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:37 AM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]


Can anyone point to some of Norton's best work, like specific articles, not just "her work on Occupy"?

It's easy to find her offensive tweets, but surprisingly hard to to find the work that presumably got her hired at the Times to begin with.
posted by smelendez at 9:37 AM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


I only know her name from here. Ugh.
posted by mecran01 at 9:38 AM on February 14, 2018


Most of the tweets that were passed around in decontextualised screenshots by the True Wokeness Is Searching For Bad Words On Twitter crowd are from that period.

How do you feel about these ones? No bad words but seems pretty shitty to me.
posted by edeezy at 9:39 AM on February 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


There is a time to stop being friends with people, and that is when they become Nazis.

Why am I living in a world where not only do I have to keep repeating this, people demand I come up with supporting arguments for it?
posted by emjaybee at 9:42 AM on February 14, 2018 [57 favorites]


Also, let me just say that describing bigoted slurs as "bad words" is arguing in bad faith.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:42 AM on February 14, 2018 [59 favorites]


They hired her seriously, not literally.
posted by Kwine at 9:43 AM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


If you want other names for this position: Leigh Alexander. Has talked and written intelligently and extensively about technology for years, is a mixed-race woman, and is not remotely a Nazi apologist. In fact she's fought against and been the target of online hate since the earliest days of Gamergate.

Admittedly, her domain is more 'intersection of popular culture and technology' than 'intersection of privacy and technology.' How about Sarah Jeong, then? Has a law degree, has written books on technology, has written technology columns for the EFF and Motherboard, is a woman of color and immigrant, and is also not remotely a Nazi apologist.

I don't even follow technology journalism, I certainly don't work in media, and I can give you names. The NYT needs a different excuse.

feel free to project whatever opinions are convenient for me to have

The two opinions that I believe you hold is that it is normal, though distasteful, for a person to count as a friend- not an acquaintance, a friend- someone that has written in gruesome detail about how he'd like to carry out the mass genocide of people of color. It also normal, though distasteful, for someone to casually and repeatedly use an awful slur against a group she herself is not a part of for absolutely no reason that I can discern. I ask in genuine good faith, how am I misconstruing the situation?
posted by perplexion at 9:44 AM on February 14, 2018 [84 favorites]


a highly degreed employment lawyer I know says that the practice of vetting a potential employee by looking at their social media can expose the hiring company to all sorts of liabilities, as things such as religion, sexuality, marriage status, and other things can easily come to light. If someone is not hired, then they may sue if they know their social media was checked. So, he and many employment lawyers advise companies to *never* check a potential employee's social media.

This makes sense if you're hiring an accountant or engineer or someone who will serve anonymously, but not when you're hiring someone who will be part of the public face of one's organisation, who is to be a public figure.
posted by acb at 9:47 AM on February 14, 2018 [17 favorites]


Homo neanderthalensis: Wait- so in an article where she uses a past Jewish boyfriend as a shield, she directly parrots Nazi talking points about the disgusting-ness of Jewish Holidays?

Yes.

Worth nothing that Julius Streicher's last words included an accusation that his execution was "Purim 1946." It wasn't just that the Nazis thought Jewish holidays were disgusting. They believed Jews were plotting against the rest of humanity, and were the source of wars, greed and conflict in the world. Streicher's speeches, newspaper and books relentlessly portrayed Jews as a subversive, subhuman group that had destroyed entire countries to further our supposed aim of world domination.

All of these are common talking points for White Supremacists.

holgate: Most of the tweets that were passed around in decontextualised screenshots by the True Wokeness Is Searching For Bad Words On Twitter crowd are from that period.

Her Medium article defending Rabe was not taken out of context. It exists in its entirety online. Adding Purim to the mix and praising Jews for being "on both sides of the knife" can be seen in a very different light to anyone who has studied the Nazis, the Holocaust, their writings, antisemitism, history and ideology.

If she's ignorant, then she shouldn't be writing about such a delicate subject. But she does not sound ignorant. She sounds like she's picking up talking points from white supremacists and trying to present them in palatable tones to readers who will take what she is writing at face value without awareness of their greater context.
posted by zarq at 9:48 AM on February 14, 2018 [48 favorites]


but Quinn believes that disengagement from terrible people encourages them to bond together and get more terrible. I respect that belief, even if I don't share it (or her free speech absolutism), because it's a decent explanation of what has happened over the past handful of years.

No, you shouldn't respect it, because it isn't a good explanation at all. These people were creating these communal cesspools regardless of how other people were or weren't engaging with them, because they were opposed to a world where they no longer got the benefit of their race and gender.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:49 AM on February 14, 2018 [18 favorites]


One little thing to consider: a highly degreed employment lawyer I know says that the practice of vetting a potential employee by looking at their social media can expose the hiring company to all sorts of liabilities, as things such as religion, sexuality, marriage status, and other things can easily come to light. If someone is not hired, then they may sue if they know their social media was checked. So, he and many employment lawyers advise companies to *never* check a potential employees' social media.

I wasn't aware of that, but surely that seems weird when a lot of reporters frequently engage on social media as part of their employment?
posted by corb at 9:51 AM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


As for the, oh it's normal to use that word when you're on 4chan excuse- ignoring the fact that she was not actually on 4chan when using it-

My thirteen year old brother who plays multiplayer shooters daily knows that it's unacceptable to use those words, no matter how commonly they're used by those around you. Quinn Norton is over forty.
posted by perplexion at 9:52 AM on February 14, 2018 [27 favorites]


It seems like Norton has a lot of friends in the scifi/hacker/progressive space. A lot of people who regularly call out Trump and his ilk were offering her their congratulations. I have no problem at all believing that she's managed to compartmentalize this part of her life, or that she's a delight to meet in person but an edgelord online.

But the response I'm seeing from her friends isn't "Oh god my friend is a bigot I had no idea." It's "Well I know she's not really a Nazi and we need context to really understand what she's been saying online."

If she was just pals with Weev? If she was just open about befriending some of the literal Nazis she's written about? If she was just writing about how gross Jewish holidays are? If she was just causally throwing around the R word and the N word and the F word as slurs and insults? Maybe, just maybe, you could try and contextualize one of those.

But there are so many receipts. So much hot garbage. Best case scenario - your friend is at heart a 12 year old edgelord that just lost the gig of her life because she's not actually 12 and as an adult should face consequences for her actions. Worst case - your friend is a Nazi. Either way that's something that would make me regret ever being friends with someone like that, and my first reflexive response in finding out would be horror not looking to excuse it.
posted by thecjm at 9:53 AM on February 14, 2018 [56 favorites]


I've been a subscriber since 2011. I'm on my lunch break and I just cancelled my subscription. I made sure that the person I was speaking to noted I was displeased with many of the recent articles that sympathized with and profiled white nationalism, nazis, and the KKK movement.

Subscription cancelled.
posted by Fizz at 9:55 AM on February 14, 2018 [30 favorites]


If you're going to argue that we're wrong for removing the context, then you should have an answer for that simple question.

The context (as Nelson noted) is that she was working for WIRED on Anonymous and *chan culture and was engaging with channers on Twitter where they had a more stable online identity.

There are perhaps two separate questions here. The first is "is it possible to write informatively about the dirty underbelly of the internet without being on friendly terms with weev?" to which I think the answer is "yes". (See also: Laurie Penny's relationship with M*l*.) The second is "is it possible to cover the dirty underbelly of the internet without some people being willing to spend time in those spaces and engage with the people who inhabit them to communicate their mentality?" For that, I think the answer is "no".

I would like to survive the flood of *chan shit that started washing over everything a few years ago, and doing so involves understanding where it comes from.
posted by holgate at 9:59 AM on February 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


But the response I'm seeing from her friends isn't "Oh god my friend is a bigot I had no idea." It's "Well I know she's not really a Nazi and we need context to really understand what she's been saying online."

The "context" excuse is the one that amazes me. As I said above, my response to that is to simply ask "so, what context makes it okay?" And invariably this causes a pause, because they almost always realize that they have no good answer for it.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:59 AM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]


I wasn't aware of that, but surely that seems weird when a lot of reporters frequently engage on social media as part of their employment?

Reporters' use of social media does intersect with their professional lives, in ways that are hard to compartmentalise. I knew a (business) reporter who was personally quite liberal but worked for a major conservative-leaning financial newspaper, and her terms of employment prevented her from making political statements on social media (such as opining about Brexit, which was not connected to her beat). The most political she got was posting the occasional link to articles about gender inequality in the workplace. She ended up leaving that publication; I don't know if political differences contributed to this, though from what I've heard about the publication's editorial policy, it sounds plausible.
posted by acb at 9:59 AM on February 14, 2018


If we're to take this comment at face value (ignoring her penchant for trollery), it speaks to a particularly large liberal blind spot. You are not going to convince nazis. It's generally worthless to even try.

Probably accurate for weev, and certainly something to be very very careful about. But deprogramming white supremacists is a thing that can happen (e.g. previously on Metafilter) and something we as a culture are going to need to figure out how to do.
posted by feckless at 10:02 AM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]


As TMBG put it almost 30 years ago: "can't shake the devil's hand and say you're only kidding."
posted by teraflop at 10:04 AM on February 14, 2018 [41 favorites]


And invariably this causes a pause, because they almost always realize that they have no good answer for it.

If you're going to set a strict 15-minute timer before you're allowed to pontificate, then perhaps mention this in advance.
posted by holgate at 10:04 AM on February 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


The second is "is it possible to cover the dirty underbelly of the internet without some people being willing to spend time in those spaces and engage with the people who inhabit them to communicate their mentality?" For that, I think the answer is "no".

First off, your argument started off being in bad faith by using the term "bad words" to describe bigoted slurs, a clear attempt to diminish the argument being made.

Second, it is quite possible to report and research these sorts of cultures without falling into the abyss. In fact, that is an occupational hazard for researchers and journalists, and credible ones take steps to make sure it doesn't happen, or if it does, they have some way to be pulled from the brink.

So no, her writing a story on chan culture does not excuse her slinging around bigoted slurs on Twitter.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:07 AM on February 14, 2018 [49 favorites]


So Norton investigating and writing about chan culture was like the undercover cop movie where the gang makes them take drugs to prove they're not a cop?

"We'll talk to you about 4chan but only if you call 50 people F****t and make 3 N****r jokes on twitter to prove you're bad enough to hang with us."

Is that seriously the argument that's being made to excuse the disgusting edge-lord language found in her twitter history?
posted by thecjm at 10:07 AM on February 14, 2018 [59 favorites]


I have absolutely no doubt that they vetted her, quite extensively in fact, because they were trying to hire someone like her. Nazi apologia makes money, because angry pageviews are still pageviews. You'll note they only fired her once they saw proof that they were losing subscription money over her hire.
posted by capricorn at 10:09 AM on February 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


Ashley Feinberg's posted a redacted transcript of NYT reporters' internal reaction to the first social media blunder of yesterday, and opens with this:
In 2016, James Bennet left his esteemed job at The Atlantic to run the editorial pages for The New York Times. His op-ed page became a sped-up version of his Atlantic, and the essential nihilism of either endeavor was laid bare. Ideas are valued to the extent that they provoke, and because both outlets sit within a broadly liberal consensus, special value was assigned to provocations from their right flank.
I don't know who Person B from the transcript is, but I wish they were given the freedoms afforded others at the Times. They sound worth listening to.
posted by rewil at 10:13 AM on February 14, 2018 [18 favorites]


But deprogramming white supremacists is a thing that can happen (e.g. previously on Metafilter) and something we as a culture are going to need to figure out how to do.

I think it's definitely viable to attempt deprogramming on Nazis who are rank-and-file entry-level edgelord kids or are only in the movement due to familial ties (like Black in the previously above). However it's beyond useless to try it on people whose identities and livelihoods are 100% dedicated to being Nazis.

Weev, for example, has left his family and home country to live in Transnistria and Abkhazia, surviving entirely on donations from Nazi fans and the FSB. No friendship will change his mind. Any established Nazi with name-recognition will only be empowered by friendship and allyship.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:14 AM on February 14, 2018 [16 favorites]


So I spent a lot of time on 4chan nearly a decade ago (time I mostly regret now). The "I was only speaking their language" excuse doesn't work at all, no matter how generous you are with the context of those posts. It's true that the F slur has been a major component of the subculture's lingo, but there were plenty of people in my experience who quietly or conspicuously avoided it (yes, really, on 4chan). And it's entirely possible to speak in the tone and style of the chan discourse without using slurs.
posted by skymt at 10:15 AM on February 14, 2018 [29 favorites]


(See also: Laurie Penny's relationship with M*l*.)

I actually think that's a good comparison! Laurie Penny has also interacted civilly with the face of evil in order to understand the root of that evil and potentially change it. She has done so without ever actually adopting Milo's behavior or language, and without considering him a friend, and in doing so demonstrated that those things are not actually necessary.

And in any case, the result of Penny's relationship with Milo was an intelligent article breaking down how Milo attracts and works with his disciples. As far as I can tell the result of Norton's relationship with weev was an article that suggested Nazis are morally ambiguous and Jews are no angels.
posted by perplexion at 10:16 AM on February 14, 2018 [61 favorites]


but Quinn believes that disengagement from terrible people encourages them to bond together and get more terrible

And, you know, I only know (a little of) Norton's work, so maybe it's presumptuous of me to even write this, but if I had a friend who was friends with people who were into some kind of bad scene and their excuse was that they had to have those friends to keep them from getting even worse, then I'd take that as a warning sign itself. IMHO, that sounds like a savior fantasy that's only going to end badly.

I mean, Christopher Farnsworth, in the exchange linked earlier pretty much stakes out my position on this. Lots of people write about antisocial subcultures; lots of people engage with people in those subcultures. Calling them "friends" is another decision entirely.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:20 AM on February 14, 2018 [20 favorites]


In 2016, James Bennet left his esteemed job at The Atlantic to run the editorial pages for The New York Times. His op-ed page became a sped-up version of his Atlantic, and the essential nihilism of either endeavor was laid bare.

I did not realize there had been a change in how the NYT's op-ed department was run, and, in retrospect, that's some helpful context for (say) the Bret Stephens hiring and the removal of the public editor position. And in that context, this:
Person G: i wasn’t here when we had a public editor, but i understand how it worked. it was clear. what i don’t understand now and now what’s unclear is what’s supposed to happen when the same mistakes keep getting made again and again. at what point is the company willing to take the responsibility off the public for calling this stuff out? will the reader center step in? is that even what the reader center is for? i genuinely don’t know!
(emphasis mine).

One takeaway from this is that the NYT needs to fire not (only) some of its op-ed writers (viz., Stephens, Weiss, &c.), but needs real reform of the entire editorial department from the top down.
posted by cjelli at 10:21 AM on February 14, 2018 [18 favorites]


Weev, for example, has left his family and home country to live in Transnistria and Abkhazia, surviving entirely on donations from Nazi fans and the FSB. No friendship will change his mind. Any established Nazi with name-recognition will only be empowered by friendship and allyship.

Weev is definitely an extreme case, and I very much doubt anyone could deprogram him. I was pushing back against the blanket statement that we're never going to convince Nazis, and it is a "liberal blind spot" to try. We should try, and we have to try. I don't think that's incompatible with resisting Nazis and white supremacists in any and all other ways, and I sense some folks here do think that.
posted by feckless at 10:21 AM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


White women cuddling up to white supremacists and publicly saying that friendship will protect them is an old old song and I don't know people pretend it's new every time or that "no, really, this white woman is different!".

yet in the link the man of twists and turns posted to a previous Norton story, MeFi seemed to like Norton.
it was only a couple years ago where many mefites were still loudly proclaiming that weev is a troll not a sincere nazi - and this was after the swastika tattoo (although if norton and i agree on one thing it's omg how did it take people until the swastika tattoo to realize he's a fucking nazi?!?! now of course, that made me avoid him at every turn not become buddies, but we all make our choices i suppose).

but Quinn believes that disengagement from terrible people encourages them to bond together and get more terrible.
by all accounts, including hers it seems, weev has gotten more and more publicly terrible, so, uh, how's that working out for her?
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 10:24 AM on February 14, 2018 [42 favorites]


And if you're going to say "well, how about someone who isn't friends with weev?", then attach a name or two.

Gabriella Coleman author of Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy

Parmy Olson author of We Are Anonymous

Barrett Brown (okay, Brown might have some of Quinn's problems, I haven't dug far enough into his story to confirm)

And that's just on my lay knowledge. Quinn is not special.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:25 AM on February 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


McSweeney's has some timely parody.
Here at the New York Times, we believe that all sides of the story should be tolerated and explored, from white supremacists being actually kinda cool if you think about it to people who believe that saying college campuses should be less PC is somehow an interesting use of 1,000 words. That’s why we’re expanding our editorial staff to include more dipshits.
posted by Nelson at 10:26 AM on February 14, 2018 [59 favorites]


if you're going to say "well, how about someone who isn't friends with weev?", then attach a name or two.

Most people on the planet are not friends with Weev.
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on February 14, 2018 [30 favorites]


but Quinn believes that disengagement from terrible people encourages them to bond together and get more terrible.

—by all accounts, including hers it seems, weev has gotten more and more publicly terrible, so, uh, how's that working out for her?


Imagine how bad he'd be without her moderating influence!
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:31 AM on February 14, 2018 [11 favorites]


I was pushing back against the blanket statement that we're never going to convince Nazis, and it is a "liberal blind spot" to try. We should try, and we have to try. I don't think that's incompatible with resisting Nazis and white supremacists in any and all other ways, and I sense some folks here do think that.

Deprogramming only works if the subject is willing. We need to give them escape hatches to use, but beyond that, you're going to have little success in convincing someone who doesn't want to be convinced.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:31 AM on February 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


I would like to survive the flood of *chan shit that started washing over everything a few years ago, and doing so involves understanding where it comes from.

Oh, for fuck's sake.

Everybody here knows white supremacists. We go to work with them. We go to school with them. We have them in our families. I know about Pepe because a teenage member of my extended family is going Nazi as I type this, and I don't know what else we can say to him. My SO and I spent a Thanksgiving dinner some years back politely debunking the birther conspiracy over turkey for a FOX News watching grandpa once while his POC grandkids played in another room. I went to Japanese class at college with a young man openly and vocally planning to go into teaching history to indoctrinate students in racist philosophy.

Most of us understand this problem just fine because we are immersed in this. For Quinn Norton, this an edgy lulzy trollfest. It's something she can come to when she wants and disavow later. For most of us, this is just life. We understand the context just fine. You're the only ignorant party in this exchange, and the best policy there would be to listen to us instead of acting like any flavor of fascism is this trip to fucking Mars that needs specialized language and training to suss out.

Indeed, insistence that there's something special to understand here is part of what gives Nazis cover, because it allows them to hide behind irony, pretend to be moderate and so on while going about their work.
posted by mordax at 10:34 AM on February 14, 2018 [82 favorites]


I ask in genuine good faith, how am I misconstruing the situation?

I personally don't think Quinn's stated approach to friendship -- that if you have friends with beliefs you find abhorrent, you should stay engaged and tell them that instead of walking away -- is "normal", which is probably why I don't share it. But I also don't think that is inherently damning as a principle. There are consequential problems at the "actual terrible nazi" level, but it's one way for people interact with racist older relatives.

by all accounts, including hers it seems, weev has gotten more and more publicly terrible, so, uh, how's that working out for her?

Well, how's it working out for all of us? However you choose to characterise the broader response (both from the bottom and the top) to the shitlordification of everyday life over the past four years, it seems like the shitlords have had the upper hand.
posted by holgate at 10:34 AM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Most people on the planet are not friends with Weev.

Now I'm just hearing the phrase "friends with Weev" over and over in my head being sung to the tune of the Rentals song "Friends of P". So thanks for that!
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:35 AM on February 14, 2018 [16 favorites]


I suppose that makes me a "literal Nazi" by the sophisticated cooties criteria on display over the past couple of days, so feel free to project whatever opinions are convenient for me to have, regardless of whether I share them.

Holy shit, reconsider engaging like this.
posted by maxsparber at 10:38 AM on February 14, 2018 [68 favorites]


it seems like the shitlords have had the upper hand.

since norton has a track record of tweeting like a shitlord, and since she is friends with shitlord nazis, and since her reaction to the 'hey these are shitlord activities' criticisms she received did not seem particularly self-reflective, maybe not having another shitlord on the op-ed page of the new york times is a good thing, then?
posted by halation at 10:42 AM on February 14, 2018 [31 favorites]


Deprogramming only works if the subject is willing. We need to give them escape hatches to use, but beyond that, you're going to have little success in convincing someone who doesn't want to be convinced.

I would encourage you to go back and read the story of Derek Black I linked to. Assuming the story is reasonably accurate (other articles, his own comments, and comments from folks who were at New College at the time confirm the basic outlines), a small number of brave people actively reached out before there was any indication that he was wavering in his views and gave him a path. Which he in the end took.

So I do think active engagement -- even before it's clear that someone might want to be convinced -- can be a useful, if risky, tool. It might not have worked. Probably in many cases it wouldn't have. But my admiration for those brave students is huge. I think it is both morally and strategically important to leave room for that approach.

Again, would this apply to weev or similar folks? Doubtful -- his extremism has amped up over time.
posted by feckless at 10:43 AM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


White women’s public support is pretty central to white supremacy. It requires white women to put their race above their gender, but that’s hardly unusual. In a way, white women are a perfect example of a “model cultural minority” in that we’re socialized to support and love white men even while they diminish and abuse us.

White supremacy and misogyny go hand in hand, but there’s always a subset of those targeted by both who have learned to leverage their singularity for a kind of power within that context. The internal psychology of women in this context could be interesting, but I think their use as a normalizing system for white supremacy and misogyny is more important right now.
posted by Deoridhe at 10:44 AM on February 14, 2018 [64 favorites]


Quinn believes that disengagement from terrible people encourages them to bond together and get more terrible. I respect that belief, even if I don't share it (or her free speech absolutism), because it's a decent explanation of what has happened over the past handful of years.

I've certainly had acquaintances with people who were awful in some ways. I didn't think of them as friends but I'll cop to the idea that some of them might have thought of me more fondly than I did them (or maybe not!). So I won't hang this all on the idea that perhaps one should avoid calling pro-genocide individuals friends.

To me the thing that makes Quinn's behavior unacceptable is taking the time to publicly praise said awful people. I look askance at say what you want but he made the trains run on time! sort of shit and I like it even less when it's exculpatory towards a person.

Corb mentions someone who is in a questionable space in her life; I'd say that's the divider between when it's possibly okay and flat out not okay: Corb is not out there, based on her description, doing things to make this person more acceptable.

You want to make a defense of engagement with horrible people because you believe they're reachable? Okay. You want a bright line on when it's possibly okay and definitely not? Let me tee you up:

Other person: "You exchange emails with [awfulperson]? They say we should kill all the freems!"

Do you say

"I think everyone is capable of redemption and that's why I don't cut them off; I'm hoping they can leave their hate behind them someday."

or do you say

"They have a lot of other unrelated positive qualities."

Personally I think having to explain that I am aware of X's awful and I'm tolerating it in order to do the lord's work sounds way too unpleasant. I think that when you do that you'd better be prepared for people to be skeptical about whether you're being honest. But when you go ahead and do things to make it sound like those people are in any way okay or there's reasons to look the other way beyond the idea of making them not be hatemongers then yeah, you're at least a useful idiot if not an enabler or conspirator.
posted by phearlez at 10:46 AM on February 14, 2018 [16 favorites]


I have spent most of my life living just down the road from one of the more infamous KKK strongholds. I have struggled with finding out people close to me were falling into their family's way of thinking. I have convinced people close to me why that way of thinking was not only broadly harmful but actively stupid. I was once offered revenge on a (white) man who sexually assaulted me from someone who didn't agree with his KKK cousins, but knew they were always eager for a jumping (I, of course, declined because even as a young teenager I knew getting protection from white supremacists is fucking depraved. ahem).

Some of us have been trying to work out what to do about white supremacists for a lot longer than four years. Also weev isn't a shitlord or a troll or any other minimizing language. He's a nazi.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 10:46 AM on February 14, 2018 [50 favorites]


The second is "is it possible to cover the dirty underbelly of the internet without some people being willing to spend time in those spaces and engage with the people who inhabit them to communicate their mentality?" For that, I think the answer is "no".

There's a lot of stretch from "engage with" to "use the same slurs" to "defend publicly."

I mean, this is not at all a new or unknown problem in journalism, although the accessibility of old Tweets is new.

I know journalists who have interviewed people who have ordered or participated in genocides and in order to do that they very well may have had to show some respect for that person while they were in the room together and smile along a bit but they don't tend to come home and say the genocide was not really that bad and they count the dictator as a friend and throw slurs to get along with the gang.

I guess what I'm saying is that when someone is covering a story or a beat in a professional way, they remain aware of the difference between the story and themselves as a reporter and a human being. This doesn't seem to be in that realm, really, and I don't think this can be counted as a defense.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:48 AM on February 14, 2018 [27 favorites]


I would encourage you to go back and read the story of Derek Black I linked to. Assuming the story is reasonably accurate (other articles, his own comments, and comments from folks who were at New College at the time confirm the basic outlines), a small number of brave people actively reached out before there was any indication that he was wavering in his views and gave him a path. Which he in the end took.

Yes, that's what's meant by leaving an escape hatch - you reach out and show there's a way out. (See also: the concert t-shirts that revealed a hotline number after being washed.) But in the end, you can't pull someone through it - you have to let them walk through of their own accord.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:50 AM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


The second is "is it possible to cover the dirty underbelly of the internet without some people being willing to spend time in those spaces and engage with the people who inhabit them to communicate their mentality?" For that, I think the answer is "no".

You know, lawyers for these kinds of people have to spend a lot of time with them and defend them in public,
as part of their job, for the length of the retention
. Like, literally, they have an ethical obligation to avoid speaking ill of their client, be he Nazi or child molester or druglord, and may even need to praise their clients' actions. Yet most of them who do not actually agree with their clients' views do not go on, in their later lives, to praise the unrelated good qualities or whatever of those people.
posted by praemunire at 10:54 AM on February 14, 2018 [16 favorites]


Look, if some of you want to be untrained, unprofessional, volunteer social workers for white supremacist terrorists, god bless you.

Don't ask me to do that work. Don't imply it is a superior decision. Don't boast about your relationship online. And if I get even a whiff that you are failing, that what you are, in fact, doing, is acting as an accidental support network, tacitly normalizing white supremacy by maintaining a friendly relationship with a white supremacist, therefore showing them that they can advocate genocide and not suffer socially more than some disapproval from otherwise dedicated friends, I will be done with you.

I will not work with you, I will not hire you, I will work to get you fired.

Because this is an immediate, real, existential threat for me. And, honestly, it bothers me that so many people are more concerned with surrounding murderous white men to try to save them with love than they are in protecting the people those white men want to murder. This whole fucking dialogue is about white people and their feelings, and I think it's time to maybe focus on somebody else. Somebody who doesn't respond to the slightest de-centering by tattooing their chest with a swastika.
posted by maxsparber at 10:56 AM on February 14, 2018 [165 favorites]


MeFi seemed to like Norton.

That was 2014 and the world has changed quite a bit since then hopefully we've learned something about not giving people who say terrible things the benefit of the doubt.
posted by octothorpe at 11:13 AM on February 14, 2018 [16 favorites]


> Well, how's it working out for all of us? However you choose to characterise the broader response (both from the bottom and the top) to the shitlordification of everyday life over the past four years, it seems like the shitlords have had the upper hand.

It's not "shitlordification" - it's Nazification! And it's working out like shit, as you may have noticed. I personally draw a direct line that starts with way too many people (all over the country, the internet, and right here on metafilter) dismissing the harassment and hate spread by online groups like the *chans as "trolls" and "they're just joking and trying to get a rise out of people" and "don't respond, that just encourages them" and continues right through to the election of the current president and his employment of actual white supremacists in our government.

So for years, lots of you told us not to engage. I'm going to figure that was the method you employed, even if you didn't convince everyone to do the same. And this is where we are. How's that method worked out?
posted by rtha at 11:15 AM on February 14, 2018 [37 favorites]


At some point, we (as a society) are going to have to confront this particular elephant in the room. Trolls should not be accepted in polite company. They themselves do not want acceptance in that polite company, so why should any of the rest of us give them any air-time whatsoever?

Highlighting this important and more general point. Trolls are simply online vandals.

And like most vandals, they are spoiled, privileged nihilist kids seeing how much crap they can get away with before their privilege stops protecting them. There is absolutely nothing redeeming or OK about that kind of behavior.
posted by msalt at 11:16 AM on February 14, 2018 [15 favorites]


Not kids. Many of them haven't been kids in decades.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:19 AM on February 14, 2018 [23 favorites]


Many of them haven't been kids in decades.

There exists a type of person that grows quite old while never moving on, constantly reliving the glory days of their youth. For some, that is the time they scored the winning touchdown for the senior homecoming football game. For others, it's that time they sent the SWAT team to someone's house because of a video game.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 11:23 AM on February 14, 2018 [14 favorites]


The privilege in this case is the ability to compartmentalise “my friendship with this neo-Nazi” from “this neo-Nazi’s abhorrent views”, because you’re lucky enough to be unaffected by the views. It’s hard to be friends with someone who actively wishes you dead.

Norton sorta kinda recognises this privileged position (read her weak piece on “white shunning” and how bad it is) but doesn’t ever seem to ask herself what the cut-off is for being friendly with someone who is an evil piece of shit. Is it ok if they only espouse these views in private? In public too? If they act on them?

As far as I can see, in Norton’s view there is no cut-off point for when they stop being her friend.

(Holgate, I have no idea of your background, but you may also wish to consider this.)
posted by chappell, ambrose at 11:27 AM on February 14, 2018 [25 favorites]


I think that for a very long time, many radical tech thinkers decided that Nazis were not really dangerous. In fact, people who critiqued Nazis were much more dangerous, because neoliberal consensus and threats to free expression were real issues, whereas Nazis were a joke. And it should now be very clear that Nazis are a real threat, but some people aren't ready to recognize that. And those aren't people really people who I want on editorial boards. I'm sure that Norton has interesting things to say, because she seems to be widely admired by people I respect. But her lapses in judgement are such that I don't think she's qualified for the job for which she was hired.
Not kids. Many of them haven't been kids in decades.
Quinn Norton appears to be 44 or 45. She's not a kid. She wasn't a kid when she was throwing around homophobic and racist slurs on Twitter.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:28 AM on February 14, 2018 [50 favorites]


Referring to overwhelmingly white men as kids is a thing and it helps people broadly minimize their actions. It's important that we don't think about the rise of alt right/white supremacist/bigoted/manosphere/swatting groups as kids.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:28 AM on February 14, 2018 [45 favorites]


Some people were asking for the context around the "I can't believe it took a swastika" comment -- at the time Weev was getting out of jail for "hacking" at&t and was a tech martyr who was defended by a bunch of notable people. Prior to jail he hadn't really been a nazi, just a "normal" shitty person. After jail, he started being a nazi, but a lot of people just assumed it was Weev being "edgy" or something, not a sincerely held belief.

Then he got a swastika tattooed on his chest and all the people that had defended him in the at&t trial were like "wait, wtf?" -- this is Quinn's audience for that comment, and the context surrounding it.
posted by yeahwhatever at 11:30 AM on February 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


It's important that we don't think about the rise of alt right/white supremacist/bigoted/manosphere/swatting groups as kids.

I don't think of them as "children" so much as "failed adults".
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 11:32 AM on February 14, 2018 [15 favorites]


Weev absolutely was well on his way to being a nazi before prison, he just wasn't publishing it on the Daily Stormer.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:35 AM on February 14, 2018 [12 favorites]


Weev’s prior 'normal shittiness' including being monumentally shitty to Kathy Sierra of course.

( I still think that on balance the ACLU was right to defend him on the crimes he was actually accused of, but he should have been charged with a laundry list of other crimes & understand those who would prefer that the ACLU had left him to twist in the wind.)
posted by pharm at 11:37 AM on February 14, 2018 [12 favorites]


Getting back to the New York Times: yeah, they're like the IOC and the phone company and everyone else who has such a monopoly on their product that they just sleep with their money bags and couldn't give a shit about anything else. And it's not new. I remember a time in the 1980s when they were busy taking "by eminent domain" small parcels of land in Manhattan, from people who had owned them for generations.

The postwar years were indeed a golden age for journalism. They had figured out how to make money from classified ads, and were strong enough to take down a president. But they don't have any money anymore, and there are better writers who can just take to the internet and write. It's pretty clear that the NYT is still being run by a bunch of old people who still don't get the whole social media thing. * Instead of continuing to make themselves look like idiots, which they do on a daily basis with their headlines of "OMG the president is not acting presidential!", they should instead just go back to being a regional paper, or something, and let the millenials take over. Won't happen for a while, alas.

* Not a new phenomenon either; My father was a reporter for the Boston Globe in the 1970s; I remember how he had to be dragged kicking and screaming to take a weeklong class on how to use the new word processing system.
posted by Melismata at 11:43 AM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


I kind of can't believe discussion is over whether or not Quinn is truly in her heart of hearts a bad person, rather than what the fuck is going on at the NYTimes

It was a long time coming but I just cancelled my subscription. The only reason I got a subscription in 2011 was ideological... I wanted to support actual real journalism in an age of blogs and twitter and hot takes. This is not that.
posted by danny the boy at 11:43 AM on February 14, 2018 [28 favorites]


Getting back to the New York Times: yeah, they're like the IOC and the phone company and everyone else who has such a monopoly on their product that they just sleep with their money bags and couldn't give a shit about anything else.

UHHH what. The NY Times is like every other newspaper, struggling to survive in a world where no one pays for anything. They constantly sent me letters written by their actual reporting staff that sound like they're asking me to support a starving child in Africa.

This isn't cluelessness to social media. This is editorial policy. Court controversy (pageviews) by being "balanced".
posted by danny the boy at 11:47 AM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


The privilege in this case is the ability to compartmentalise “my friendship with this neo-Nazi” from “this neo-Nazi’s abhorrent views”, because you’re lucky enough to be unaffected by the views. It’s hard to be friends with someone who actively wishes you dead.

I posted it upthread but she literally thinks being friends with Nazis will keep them from victimizing her. That is literally what a collaborator is.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:48 AM on February 14, 2018 [52 favorites]


This isn't cluelessness to social media. This is editorial policy.

Por que no los dos?
posted by Melismata at 11:51 AM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


I kind of can't believe discussion is over whether or not Quinn is truly in her heart of hearts a bad person, rather than what the fuck is going on at the NYTimes

We were talking about how shitty the Times was on this site in the run up to the Iraq War... that was fifteen years ago. Some of us are just sick and tired of talking about it. Just assume when someone on metafilter talks about cancelling their subscription I just make the Drew Scanlon meme face and move on.
posted by selfnoise at 11:51 AM on February 14, 2018 [11 favorites]


Metafilter: I just make the Drew Scanlon meme face and move on.
posted by valkane at 11:54 AM on February 14, 2018 [10 favorites]


It was a long time coming but I just cancelled my subscription.

Despite the fact that publish a lot of nonsense and despite the fact that they appear to be a pretty dysfunctional organization, I still find the paper a resource worth supporting. And besides, how can I threaten to cancel my subscription if I don't have a subscription to cancel?
posted by octobersurprise at 11:57 AM on February 14, 2018


As Tom Scocca points out re: Bari Weiss/Megan McArdle: the people making these decisions believe they are playing a game. That's what this all really boils down to.
posted by acidic at 11:57 AM on February 14, 2018 [12 favorites]


maxspbarber, I'm having a hard time with your comment. You're saying that engaging in a constructive way with white supremacists is something you approve of (but don't want to do yourself). Then, you say that if someone does that (that thing you approve of) and appears to you to be failing, you will spend your time and effort to work to get them fired?
posted by 4th number at 11:58 AM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yes.
posted by maxsparber at 11:59 AM on February 14, 2018 [28 favorites]


The NYT is frustratingly similar to the DNC in that it's almost irreparably compromised, but in many ways the only game in town, and the efforts people make to signal their displeasure or anger at its bad choices weaken the institution in a way that ends up paradoxically encouraging it to double-down on the bad choices, further alienating those who support it (and whose support it needs) and further damaging the general state of affairs.
posted by halation at 12:01 PM on February 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


> xyzzy:
"She approvingly retweeted someone referring to Obama as the n-word in 2009. I guess progressivism had a different definition then."

I have zero insight into her intentions and I wouldn't use the word, but it's pretty apparent that the original tweet by John Perry Barlow was sarcastic and a criticism of racists.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 12:01 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Sorry if that seems weird to you, but my girlfriend works at a synagogue where they literally have a safe room, have to deal with regular phone threats, and have monthly meetings with security professionals because of the threat of antisemitic terror. A friend of my family was gunned down in an antisemitic incident, a woman I had known from childhood.

So, yes. You engage with antisemities at your own peril. I have a zero tolerance policy for Nazis and their supporters, and, as far as I am concerned, a lot of the people who think they are positively engaging with white supremacists are functionally collaborators.
posted by maxsparber at 12:02 PM on February 14, 2018 [91 favorites]


This only further confirms my theory that the NYT would hire David Duke before they would let an unapologetic black socialist write a single paragraph under their masthead.
posted by smithsmith at 12:02 PM on February 14, 2018 [36 favorites]


I have zero insight into her intentions and I wouldn't use the word, but it's pretty apparent that the original tweet by John Perry Barlow was sarcastic and a criticism of racists.

i thought even in 2009 that if you're not black, you really shouldn't be using the n-word at all, let alone with a hard-r? not even if you're singing along to a rap song right next to your best friend who's black? fuck, this was even in the first fucking episode of scrubs, which first aired in 2001?

who the fuck cares if it was "sarcastic", that john perry barlow fucker isn't black, is he?
posted by anem0ne at 12:03 PM on February 14, 2018 [29 favorites]


I totally get it. Either you really are a double agent and you bring down the cartel, otherwise you’re just selling crack.
posted by valkane at 12:04 PM on February 14, 2018 [20 favorites]


in many ways the only game in town

Uhm.. 2017 and 2018 have seen that mantle rightfully passed to The Washington Post. Granted, they're also doing terrible things (i.e. Megan McArdle), but they seem to have taken an actual stand, instead of bothsides-ism. The NYT can slink back to the local beat for all it matters anymore; there are plenty of other contenders for "The Paper Of Record" now: WaPo, The LA Times, Rolling Stone, Buzzfeed, Teen Vogue... take your pick.


As for maxsparber's comment, I didn't read it that way at all, 4th Number. I read it as "Go ahead and try to rehab a Nazi if that makes you feel better, but if you do it in a way that looks like you're giving aid and comfort to the enemy, then I want nothing to do with you." That's how I read it. If that's how Max meant it, then I agree completely.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 12:08 PM on February 14, 2018 [30 favorites]


No, I tried to get Quinn Norton fired. I contacted the paper and tweeted at them and said she should be fired.
posted by maxsparber at 12:09 PM on February 14, 2018 [49 favorites]


The NYT is frustratingly similar to the DNC in that it's almost irreparably compromised, but in many ways the only game in town, and the efforts people make to signal their displeasure or anger at its bad choices weaken the institution in a way that ends up paradoxically encouraging it to double-down on the bad choices, further alienating those who support it (and whose support it needs) and further damaging the general state of affairs.

What kind of abuser logic is this? The only way to support journalism is to keep paying money to an institution that doesn't really do journalism anymore? You know there are other newspapers out there, right? Even in the United States!
posted by danny the boy at 12:10 PM on February 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


I mean, I won't take credit for her getting fired, but I'm not not taking credit.
posted by maxsparber at 12:11 PM on February 14, 2018 [29 favorites]


She literally thinks she's protected from nazi violence because they're her friends. If someone is "rehabbing" nazis in a way that ends like that, hell yes they should be fired (ideally never hired) from the opinion section of a national newspaper. Also, "queer activists" who say "you are laying waste to your own fucking ideals, you shit eating hypersensitive little crybaby fag" shouldn't write for the paper of record. Oh. Wait. That's the same fucking person.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 12:11 PM on February 14, 2018 [31 favorites]


you know, like maxsparber said, if you want to do something about this that is centering white people, there are like a million anti-racist efforts all across the country that are working right to combat some symptom of pervasive white supremacy (some more accountable than others)

anecdotally, it was two years ago that I went from a stay-at-home agoraphobic and depressed nerdo to being someone who is pretty actively involved in the scene. I've since learned that commitment is a real thing in activism. burn-out is high because the work is slow, thankless, and a grind and it takes a lot of effort to remove a deeply embedded symptom of white supremacy. so we are never not wanting for more people to join in
posted by runt at 12:19 PM on February 14, 2018 [22 favorites]



What kind of abuser logic is this?


'Abuser logic' is a puzzling choice of term, here. Please note also that I am not approving of the behaviour of the NYT, simply pointing out that many people want to support the reporters who work there, get frustrated by the shenanigans of Editorial, cancel subscriptions because of that frustration, explicitly state their reasons for cancelling and the NYT responds by... doubling down on the op-ed shenanigans, because somehow that'll help. And there is very little that anyone can do to convince management to stop doing that, it would seem, even as the problem is repeatedly pointed out to them.
posted by halation at 12:19 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


I totally get it. Either you really are a double agent and you bring down the cartel, otherwise you’re just selling crack.

alternatively: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
posted by runt at 12:21 PM on February 14, 2018 [34 favorites]


oops, *not centering

why would I want to center white people, they do this enough already
posted by runt at 12:25 PM on February 14, 2018


I mean, the job she got fired from was being on the editorial board of the most influential newspaper in the country. Her ideological positions are kind of relevant to the job.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:25 PM on February 14, 2018 [27 favorites]


[A few comments deleted; let's not make this about what individual people in this thread do or hypothetically would do, there's no way to go from there but down. Plenty to talk about with Norton and her deal, or the Times and its deal, without continuing toward individual personal evaluation of commenters in the thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:28 PM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


She got fired from a normalizing Nazis position for saying “fag”. The Nazi normalization osirion remains open and will be filled.

Claims that the weren’t hiring her to normalize Nazis seem severely misjudged.
posted by Artw at 12:28 PM on February 14, 2018 [25 favorites]


and the NYT responds by... doubling down on the op-ed shenanigans

well, I mean, the #1 reason why institutions deserve to be and are toppled is because of shitty, terrible leadership, isn't it? I don't want to sound mean but I'm actually fairly certain that talented reporters who do great work will find work elsewhere. overthrow the monarchy and the population of people will still go on doing their day-to-day. you might have a lot of guillotining in the meantime but it'll all work out in the end
posted by runt at 12:29 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


> anem0ne:
"i thought even in 2009 that if you're not black, you really shouldn't be using the n-word at all, let alone with a hard-r?"

I think you'll find I didn't say one should (the opposite even!), but I also don't endorse drowning people and still think the Jesse Farrar scandal from last week was dumb.

Anyhow, this is a derail and I'm not shedding any tears for QN.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 12:31 PM on February 14, 2018


I absolutely disbelieve that they didn't know her writing history, her ideological background, and who her internet buddies are. They just didn't realize people would care enough to mention it, much less get loud about it. Once she shifted from "the new edgy internet-savvy columnist" to "the homophobic Nazi on staff," she was a liability.

The quick firing tells you how much the NYT stands by its decisions - they must be desperately trying to find a way to maintain their conservative base audience and not be labeled "Fox News in Print" by enough people to actually lose them subscriptions.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:32 PM on February 14, 2018 [10 favorites]


I think you'll find I didn't say one should (the opposite even!)

I didn't say you were supportive of it. I was taking aim at the poor "clearly sarcastic" defense explanation you put in.

Who the fuck cares of it was "sarcastic" and "satirical"?
posted by anem0ne at 12:34 PM on February 14, 2018


They just didn't realize people would care enough to mention it, much less get loud about it.

Yes, this. A thousand times this. The NYT knew what they were buying. They'll try again later with some other edgy shitlord you might not recognize so immediately.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 12:35 PM on February 14, 2018 [24 favorites]


Personally I read her tweet about the odds of being targetted by nazi violence as being 50/50 as a consequence of her cosying up to them as being about how it was at least as likely to make things worse for her as it was to provide any kind of positive outcome.

But this whole thread has been a demonstration of how easy it is to read the same communication in multiple different ways.

This is not a defence of the language she used - there’s no ironic way you can use those terms and not still be using the term itself: Edgelordism will eventually come back to bite you on the behind. The whole cosying up to Nazis thing is also deeply unsettling: It feels like QN has spent far too long in the company of Nazis and some of their ideology has rubbed off on her, even if she thinks that isn’t the case.
posted by pharm at 12:36 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


I wasn't aware of that, but surely that seems weird when a lot of reporters frequently engage on social media as part of their employment?

Which is why many organizations require their staff to have company-only accounts, like @MoNickelsNBC7 or @MoNickelsNYTStyles or similar. Others don't, but that doesn't mean the most-free use of social media is the most-right use of social media.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:36 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


They'll try again later with some other edgy shitlord you might not recognize so immediately.

What's PewDiePie up to these days?
posted by acb at 12:36 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


It's not that she (repeatedly) said fag, this isn't a "bad words ban" that some people try to turn it into (luckily ~knock on wood~ not here), this isn't "context collapse." It's the context and the other words she's used around it that was fucked up.

I do totally agree she was fired more for that, and/or for the reaction to her hiring, than being fired for her nazi coddling and that NYT will find someone else to write the "but what if nazis were like cuddly puppies??" columns.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 12:39 PM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


well, I mean, the #1 reason why institutions deserve to be and are toppled is because of shitty, terrible leadership, isn't it? I don't want to sound mean but I'm actually fairly certain that talented reporters who do great work will find work elsewhere.

totally agree on the first point. the second point is more complicated, because a lot of places journalists might work are being bought out by billionaires who then use the papers to control coverage about themselves or push conservative media narratives. the times is a mess, and it has been a mess for a long long while, but as more outlets fold or get bought by the Sinclairs and the Adelsons of the world, who then use the power to force skewed coverage and kill stories they don't want reported, and as the Mercers continue propping up competitive conservative outlets, it gets harder to find places to work that have the resources to support quality journalism and that don't have owners who literally bought them so they could avoid negative coverage about themselves.
posted by halation at 12:41 PM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


Put it like this, if the next nazi-coddler doesn't use slurs on twitter they're going to stick.
posted by Artw at 12:45 PM on February 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


All I can say, or know, is that something fishy is, or is pretending to be, going on.

Carry on.
posted by Baeria at 12:45 PM on February 14, 2018


> anem0ne:
"I was taking aim at the poor "clearly sarcastic" defense explanation you put in."

Yeah…not defending or explaining. Just trying not to do the same thing I criticize others for. Plenty of other egregious QN tweets.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 12:46 PM on February 14, 2018


(i mean it could be argued that the NYT soft-focus-nazi push of late isn't so different from sinclair's forcing their local affiliates to run certain pieces, giving them a veneer of Real News, for sure)
posted by halation at 12:46 PM on February 14, 2018


Hey guys, just letting everyone know if you don't already, if you're interested in fighting Nazis, your local General Defense Committee is probably desperate for help, and that can include many different ways!
posted by corb at 12:47 PM on February 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


but Quinn believes that disengagement from terrible people encourages them to bond together and get more terrible.

Quinn might want to stop and read that slowly.
If you engage with terrible people you bond together and get more terrible.

I really do think there is a large ego, savior thing in play for a lot of people who make engagement arguments. Like there's an amount of having the correct opinion that shields you from corruption.
posted by bongo_x at 12:48 PM on February 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


This was the straw that broke my back with the Times. When I called to cancel my subscription, they looked at the current rate and offered to drop it. Me: “sooooo, you think I’d be ok with Nazi supporters if only I didn’t have to pay so much for them? HA HA NOPE.”

I get the feeling they were getting a LOT of calls. The very nice customer service people sounded extra tired and genuinely apologetic.


It's almost enough to make me regret that I have but one subscription to cancel. I had finally made my call to the NYT on Monday after the Bret-Stephens-defending-Woody-Allen thing, and when I mentioned (on top of Stephens being Stephens and Bari Weiss being an all-purpose ding-dong and the generally friendly coverage of Nazis) that I really couldn't stand the thought of putting another cent in the pockets of David Brooks, because boy is that guy an asshole, the customer service rep agreed with me and said that was the best thing he'd heard all day, so...yeah.
posted by naoko at 12:51 PM on February 14, 2018 [20 favorites]


Who the fuck cares of it was "sarcastic" and "satirical"?

Maybe people who read all three of the tweets in that thread:

"If God had meant a n----r to talk to our schoolchildren, He would have would have made him president. Oh, but wait… Um…" (1)

"It's time to call a spade a spade, so to speak. This idiotic furor over the President's speech is about racism. Period." (2)

"It is morally toxic in the most insidious way to eliminate the "n-word" and retain the sentiment it represents." (3)

This was written in the context of the right wing losing its collective mind over Obama taping a speech to be played at schools, because INDOCTRINATING OUR CHILDREN. Is it a good idea to use the vile language of the people you're mocking when mocking them? Well, probably not in this case. I'm not going to defend it, anyway. And he's dead, so he can't. I don't think he made his point well, and I wouldn't have retweeted it myself. But I do think that characterizing her retweet as "approvingly retweeted someone referring to Obama as the n-word" is an oversimplification, and maybe not the best example of why she shouldn't be writing for the NYT.
posted by hades at 12:51 PM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]


Weird. I feel like being cautious with hate language and being able to effectively contextualize it is a basic skill for someone in the media.
posted by maxsparber at 1:01 PM on February 14, 2018 [21 favorites]


maybe not the best example of why she shouldn't be writing for the NYT.

I would think one's ability to clearly present their point of view without ambiguity or confusion would be kind of relevant to one's qualifications for a major paper opinion writing job. She's the writer, she's the tweeter; she gets to choose the words that are affiliated with her name. No one forced her to retweet that message. She literally wants to be paid for what she writes; what she writes (including the words of others she chooses to quote) is exactly what they should be evaluating.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:01 PM on February 14, 2018 [17 favorites]


One little thing to consider: a highly degreed employment lawyer I know says that the practice of vetting a potential employee by looking at their social media can expose the hiring company to all sorts of liabilities, as things such as religion, sexuality, marriage status, and other things can easily come to light. If someone is not hired, then they may sue if they know their social media was checked. So, he and many employment lawyers advise companies to *never* check a potential employees' social media.

This is true and makes sense if you are vetting applicants from a pool. If applicant B has experience and qualifications equal or similar to applicant A and the job goes to applicant A, applicant B might be inclined to make the argument that they were discriminated against.

Inviting a writer to serve on an editorial board is a completely different situation from evaluating an applicant pool and choosing the one you think is the right fit.

Whether the did or didn't vet her social media postings is something I'm not sure we know yet, but if they didn't it isn't because they were afraid of being sued -- it's because they didn't do their due diligence.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:02 PM on February 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


Ironic/hipster/"but context" use of slurs is still use of slurs. It doesn't mean we need the context explained to us. It means we don't think it's ok to use those words ironically, sarcastically, or like you're part of the in-group when you're not.
posted by Mavri at 1:02 PM on February 14, 2018 [16 favorites]


It's really remarkable to me that at the stroke of a pen, someone can become a celebrity such that hundreds or thousands of strangers will be interested in dissecting anything public from the last ten years of their life, trying to figure out what they were thinking.

It seems like as a feedback loop for evaluating whether you are OK with having a public life, it's very bad, since the magnitude of the result is so discontinuous -- nobody cares about your tweet for eight years and then all of a sudden everyone cares. It makes me wonder whether somehow we could change things to reduce "fame inequality".
posted by value of information at 1:08 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


just a thought but maybe people could avoid this thorny social situation by not being gross bigots
posted by poffin boffin at 1:10 PM on February 14, 2018 [52 favorites]


[Reminder, please don't use the edit function to add or change content; it causes confusion.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:10 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


from the last ten years

When that circumstance presents itself, I will entertain this discussion. But the person we are discussing is friends with a fascist right now, today.
posted by maxsparber at 1:13 PM on February 14, 2018 [12 favorites]


I'm wondering if you all think we're better off, for not having her sharing any of her perspectives on any issues in the NY Times.
posted by Baeria at 1:13 PM on February 14, 2018


i don't understand why people think that bigots might possibly have such magnificently profound thoughts that we must accept their bigotry in order to revel in their wisdom, as though other people who are not bigots don't have equally, or more, important things to say.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:15 PM on February 14, 2018 [65 favorites]


Yes, we are better off for not having her views in the New York Times.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 1:15 PM on February 14, 2018 [39 favorites]


I'm wondering if you all think we're better off, for not having her sharing any of her perspectives on any issues in the NY Times.

Yes?

But another one like her will be along in a minute.
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on February 14, 2018 [23 favorites]


The context (as Nelson noted) is that she was working for WIRED on Anonymous and *chan culture and was engaging with channers on Twitter where they had a more stable online identity.

Her own post explaining that when I speak to communities, I used their language to do it suggests that she endorses the use of slurs rather than merely adopting them to communicate with particular communities in their own vernacular.

Her piece on Anonymous from Wirded claims that In this, it has a kind of innocence and purity. Terms like 'nigger' and 'faggot' are common, but not there because of racism and bigotry - though racism and bigotry are easily found there. Their use is there to keep you out. These words are heads on pikes warning you that further in it gets much worse, and it does.

I think there's an internal contradiction here the Norton may not be aware of because she shares some of the same prejudice as the people she's writing about. As she describes it, people writing on /b/ use language that's bound to be distressing to the people who have been victims of its employment as terms of abuse because it's useful to them. And they don't care enough about those victims to stop using the terms just because they know that the terms are abusive. What matters is that they want to use that language, and that's all that matters.

The idea that the feelings of certain people don't matter, certainly don't matter to enough for more privileged citizens to change their own behavior even in terms of avoiding abusive language is racism and bigotry.
posted by layceepee at 1:16 PM on February 14, 2018 [27 favorites]




Their use is there to keep you out. These words are heads on pikes warning you that further in it gets much worse, and it does.

Glad she stopped (maybe?) before she got to performative paedo support.
posted by Artw at 1:18 PM on February 14, 2018 [12 favorites]


It's really remarkable to me that at the stroke of a pen, someone can become a celebrity such that hundreds or thousands of strangers will be interested in dissecting anything public from the last ten years of their life, trying to figure out what they were thinking.

The "stroke of a pen" in this case was her signing an offer letter to become one of a handful of opinion writers for one of the world's most prominent newspapers in exchange for compensation. If the compensation package was not enough to compensate for the consequences of the prominence of the position, she could have turned it down or requested more money. Again, no one forced her to take this job. Plenty of people pass up jobs and careers because they don't want to have such a public life.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:18 PM on February 14, 2018 [15 favorites]


I'm wondering if you all think we're better off, for not having her sharing any of her perspectives on any issues in the NY Times.

sure every thought not aired is a loss in some sort of way, i guess.

i'm wondering if you think we're better off, for not having pretty much a lot of any other marginalized person's perspectives on any other issue in a paper of record.
posted by anem0ne at 1:19 PM on February 14, 2018 [12 favorites]


I'm seeing a lot of clueless shit here, and so here's another attempt to simplify this.

In a situation where a person uses hate speech, there are two major groups impacted:
A) The people spewing hate speech. Whatever their intention, context, secret feelings in their heart, they initiated this act.
B) The people hurt by their actions. They have done nothing to deserve this treatment.

If the only group you can even visualize is (A) - if you immediately find yourself in their shoes, wondering 'will I be fired if I say the wrong thing,' and you forget all about (B), considering them beside the point?

You have work to do, starting with trying to remember group (B) are actual human beings, and that hate speech normalizes all manner of other discriminatory actions, up to and including murder, as cited in this actual thread by people who have actually had to live with the fallout from this.

Seriously: if the only party you can even consider in a situation like this is the bigot, reconsider.
posted by mordax at 1:21 PM on February 14, 2018 [76 favorites]


I'm wondering if you all think we're better off, for not having her sharing any of her perspectives on any issues in the NY Times.

The New York Times has 2.6 million online subscribers. Domestic print circulation is between 600,000 and 1.2 million, depending on what source you use. Overall subscription revenue is over $1bn. Monthly visitors across all New York Times properties: around 95 million.

Personally, I do not think she deserves that big platform, no. We are not collectively poorer for it. She hasn't been silenced. She has a dedicated audience and the notoriety that being hired and fired so quickly from the NY Times will no doubt bring her additional eyeballs and fervent followers. As will her upcoming grievance tour, which I'm sure will be filled with defensive "I am not a bigot" essays that cast blame on everyone while absolving her of responsibility for the things she actually wrote.
posted by zarq at 1:24 PM on February 14, 2018 [15 favorites]


[A few comments deleted; again we're not making this about individual people in this thread, that is way not the point, and also let's just elect not to throw "a Jew did something wrong" stories in here for i-would-hope-obvious reasons.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:27 PM on February 14, 2018 [14 favorites]


Thank you, LM.
posted by zarq at 1:28 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


I...

No, the “context” in which Norton uses slurs does not fucking matter, and by her own admission, she used them as shibboleths to gain acceptance by people who use them as fucking intended, to abuse the victims of those slurs. She used them to abuse people, because to her, the people she might hurt weren’t important. Because when people tell her that bigoted language hurts people, she does not think the pain of those people is important enough for her to just...not do it.

That makes her a fucking bigot too. It makes her a stupider, less self-aware bigot than those she claims to study like some perverse Jane Goodall of the Nazis, but it still makes her a bigot.

Same for that goddamn essay about Purim. (Are you kidding me with that?) same with quoting someone else’s use of a slur. There is literally no fucking reason to put more of that out there in the world.
posted by schadenfrau at 1:29 PM on February 14, 2018 [32 favorites]


Ironic/hipster/"but context" use of slurs is still use of slurs. It doesn't mean we need the context explained to us. It means we don't think it's ok to use those words ironically, sarcastically, or like you're part of the in-group when you're not.

i actually think "a slur is a slur" is not a great attitude to have since it elides the fact that slurs used in anger against people who have been the victims of lynchings and genocide and slavery are very real and very intended threats of lethal violence implicitly. Look, I am all on board with calling out fake irony or merely apathetic irony - most evil in the world is born from apathy more than malevolence. But I think the line needs to be that these words carry with them a real threat of violence. If you use that language, the burden is on you to prove that you are absolutely opposed to racism in all forms in the context surrounding it.

Mind you, in practice, that's pretty much never in a public setting. And yes, I'm probably being pedantic here, but with so much empty bullshit out there, I really feel that it is important to argue for the why of things, too.
posted by Zalzidrax at 1:30 PM on February 14, 2018


But I think the line needs to be that these words carry with them a real threat of violence.

well, given that online spaces are now crashing directly into meatspace, what with swattings, coördinated harassment, and the like, many of them originating at places like 4chan...

coupled with the fact that these online spaces are precisely where more white dudes get radicalized into terrorists who then go out and murder people...

i think there is a fairly legitimate threat of violence there?
posted by anem0ne at 1:34 PM on February 14, 2018 [14 favorites]


there is no reason, ever, for any person who is not a member of a group to use a word referring to that group that non group members use to incite violence against that group. the end, good day.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:38 PM on February 14, 2018 [36 favorites]


She didn't "just" use the slurs. She didn't do it ironically. She used the slurs in the way they're often used, to demean and lessen and insult. What she said in the tweets when she was trolling for lulz and eventual essay fodder are exactly the ways I have had faggot, queer, dyke, etc screamed at me (with very much the threat of up to actual violence). The fact that she might identify herself as queer doesn't change the context or content of her hate speech. And that's just the group of slurs she's claimed ingroup usage of.

It's not just the slurs, it's absolutely the way she used them.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:41 PM on February 14, 2018 [24 favorites]


The "stroke of a pen" in this case was her signing an offer letter to become one of a handful of opinion writers for one of the world's most prominent newspapers in exchange for compensation

On the specific topics involved, too. I am not unsympathetic to the idea that anyone who has an extensive public record of writings is vulnerable to having it flyspecked, in ways that are not always useful and can even sometimes be gratuitously harmful--but how a writer on tech interacts with and approaches someone like weev is directly relevant to an evaluation of her work.

(Also, just to be clear, I don't think "making sure someone hasn't used a specific severe slur in the last five years or so" counts as flyspecking.)
posted by praemunire at 1:42 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to defend all of her words. I honestly don't think there is a human being alive or dead that I would do that for.

But I'll defend one slur that she used, it stood out to me. If you think it's use is an example of her being a terrible human being, well, okay I guess.

A retweet of John Perry Barlow: "If God had meant a n***** to talk to our schoolchildren, He would have made him president. Oh, but wait... Um"

Was that an example of bigotry? If so, perhaps everyone should run back to the John Perry Barlow thread and start condemning him.

Is she anti-semetic because she is friends with people that are? It makes me wonder how far that transitive property goes, as I know I have friends that are friends with weev. Should every 'progressive' person purge everyone in their lives that holds viewpoints they find troubling?

As far as the NYT goes, Quinn tweeted (in part) "Ultimately, they need to feel safe with how the net will react to their opinion writers." Oh shit, that ship has sailed long long ago, for me.

I just wish the blue would be as upset at the NYTimes troubling hawkish positions that have bodycounts associated with them, in my mind they've enabled far more troubling behavior than Quinn's worst critics in this thread have accused her of.

(disclaimer: I've met Quinn, liked her, didn't get to know her to the point I'd call her a friend)
posted by el io at 1:42 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Most people on the planet are not friends with Weev

A lot of people defended weev back when he was a guy who seemed to be getting a shitty deal from the Feds. But most of us realized that was a mistake at some point, certainly after he announced his Official Nazidom in 2014 or so - not that he wasn't likely a pretty shitty dude long before that but that seems about as far as you can go before everyone knows it. More than anything Norton seems like a holdover from that brief era of mainstream media being infatuated with 4chan, and given the turn that took and her seeming lack of insight into that she seems like a really poor choice for a technology editor for today.
posted by atoxyl at 1:43 PM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


UHHH what. The NY Times is like every other newspaper, struggling to survive in a world where no one pays for anything.

Point of order: for pretty much all of newspaper history the people paying were never the subscribers. There was a price for purchase or subscription of the paper but that was at least 75% to indicate that readers were serious about consuming the paper; subscription numbers of people who were actually interested enough to read it that they'd drop a nickel were important to convince advertisers that those numbers actually represented eyeballs on their ads.

For pretty much a century newspapers had a constant stream of advertiser money and they were so rolling in it that they often spent unwisely on capital outlays and were purchased and sold in leveraged deals that left them in serious trouble once their unique advantages started to disappear. And as they started to disappear, rather than aiming an eye even vaguely at the future, newspapers shoved their heads in the sand, neglected online opportunities and expansion, and continued to spend despite the reaper closing in on their tail.

Once they fucked up pretty much every other angle, then suddenly they got some religion on subscribers and we've spent the last 10-15 years with ever increasing shrillness about nobody wants to pay for anything as if that was the problem that got us here. This is hard to take seriously from an industry that, in the previous decade, was repeatedly sued over the fact that they were including in their subscription numbers to advertisers the papers they were giving to high schools for free.

Yes, we should support journalism with our dollars and subscriber models may well be the only way it continues. But don't ignorantly parrot their talking points without knowing that they made their bed and crawled in and pulled the head over their covers for a long time.
posted by phearlez at 1:44 PM on February 14, 2018 [19 favorites]


Is she anti-semetic because she is friends with people that are? It makes me wonder how far that transitive property goes, as I know I have friends that are friends with weev.

01 yes, she is

02 those friends are bad people
posted by poffin boffin at 1:46 PM on February 14, 2018 [52 favorites]


If you have friends who are friends with weev, you should reconsider your friendship with them. Anyone who regards weev as anything other than toxic garbage is almost certainly a liability in many ways.
posted by acb at 1:48 PM on February 14, 2018 [19 favorites]


Is she anti-semetic because she is friends with people that are?

It feels like a symptom of a larger problem.

The morality of John Rabe, by Quinn Norton.

Defending a Nazi as one of the good guys by using Jews and a religious Jewish holiday to make it appear as if being a Nazi is somehow complex and deep feels a wee bit antisemitic, yes. At the very least, it's problematic. She's parroting a known Nazi talking point to try and give legitimacy to her essay.
posted by zarq at 1:48 PM on February 14, 2018 [21 favorites]


If you have friends who are friends with Weev, I am going to assume that you probably are not in direct danger of white nationalist attack, and forgive me if I am unimpressed by your magnanimity in being able to maintain relationships with the support network for right wing violence.
posted by maxsparber at 1:49 PM on February 14, 2018 [57 favorites]


Is she anti-semetic because she is friends with people that are? It makes me wonder how far that transitive property goes, as I know I have friends that are friends with weev. Should every 'progressive' person purge everyone in their lives that holds viewpoints they find troubling?

People can hold shitty views about things without you being required to repudiate them. But if somebody joins a violent subculture with a long history of terrorist attacks AND THEN starts calling for the violent deaths of children of marginalized groups? Yeah, you should be accountable for your continued support of that person.

One of my best friends from college fell down the rabbithole of Nazi radicalization. I tried to hang on to that friendship as long as I could, argued with him, tried to convince him. It was a terrible idea that failed completely and tore our friendship apart. I would not now, and did not at the time, attempt to defend his views to other people in my life, and they rightly called me out for continuing our friendship. At the time I wasn't aware of how far and fast Nazi radicalization was spreading on the internet. Had I known then what I know now, I would have cut him out of my life much sooner.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:49 PM on February 14, 2018 [20 favorites]


It makes me wonder how far that transitive property goes, as I know I have friends that are friends with weev.

The transitive property goes as far as people who are friends with someone who has advocated genocidal violence against children.

Should every 'progressive' person purge everyone in their lives that holds viewpoints they find troubling?

Please read the link above and then come back and tell us if you still think weev's views are just "troubling."
posted by Mavri at 1:50 PM on February 14, 2018 [21 favorites]


It makes me wonder how far that transitive property goes, as I know I have friends that are friends with weev. Should every 'progressive' person purge everyone in their lives that holds viewpoints they find troubling?

I get very very tired at seeing, every time a topic like this comes up, someone artlessly wondering if now we're setting a standard whereby everyone within six degrees of connection of someone who once called someone else a doodyhead in an email should be exiled to a remote island. It's the position of someone used to operating with impunity who can't even imagine that it's possible to restrain their freedom in any way without the world collapsing into totalitarianism. It's reaching the point where I find it hard to presume it's being offered in good faith. The slope of the slope is not 1, for heaven's sake. You can decide it's morally reprehensible under most circumstances to be a friend and defender of actual professed Nazis without demanding that anyone associated with someone who disagrees with your stance on taxation needs their name on an ostrakon.
posted by praemunire at 1:50 PM on February 14, 2018 [38 favorites]


I take a dim view of the NYTimes, because they're always been so manipulative in their practice of including "token conservatives" in their editorials. It makes them complicit in the bullshit of manufactured empathy for people who engage in othering, oppression, and hatred.

To fix that, there needs to be more journalistic coverage and voice-giving to truly diverse groups. That follows from a stance of positive ethics.

That said, the idea of a journalist having basically guanxi (because simply "friend" cannot possibly be the meaningful term to use) almost like how an anthropologist might—it is not that far-fetched. There should be skepticism and questioning of such a methodology, because of the possible harms. On the other hand, some progressive groups and I suppose even some sociological and social psychological research do seriously consider that some "engagement" can be a way to intervene or to even create change. Maybe the specific issue here is that those ideas aren't applicable or overextended in this case.

I would also consider the old idea of "keep your friends close but enemies closer". Like, maybe it could apply to what's going on here. Personally, I don't care about someone like Norton enough to figure that out. I think as a journalist she should not waste time defending herself; if she really believes in her philosophy, then wake us when there's a breakthrough.
posted by polymodus at 1:52 PM on February 14, 2018


Is she anti-semetic because she is friends with people that are?

I suppose that depends on how you define antisemitism. If it is the feeling people have in their hearts, well, maybe yes, maybe no, I can't see into her heart.

If you define antisemitism as a behavior that is hateful to Jews, and systems that support that behavior, well, she does that.
posted by maxsparber at 1:52 PM on February 14, 2018 [25 favorites]


Weev doesn't just have "troubling" viewpoints -- if he were able to acquire the necessary power, he would straight-up become the next Hitler. There is nothing redeemable there.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:53 PM on February 14, 2018 [22 favorites]


Weev is not simply "antisemitic." He is an avowed and proud neo nazi. You should wonder why your friends are so comfy around swastika tattooed white supremacists. I mean, maybe it's that some people here didn't grow up around a variety of white power communities, but as soon as a friend is friends with people who have tattoos that are meant to be racist threats I ask them what the fuck is up and if they think it's not a deal breaker then I'm not friends with them anymore. This isn't actually hard or some sort of narrow line purity test.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:54 PM on February 14, 2018 [43 favorites]


I just wish the blue would be as upset at the NYTimes troubling hawkish positions that have bodycounts associated with them

Seriously?
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:55 PM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


White nationalism also has a bodycount. Let's stick to the topic at hand, please, and if you want to discuss Hawkish positions at the Times, maybe start a new thread.
posted by maxsparber at 1:57 PM on February 14, 2018 [29 favorites]


A retweet of John Perry Barlow: "If God had meant a n***** to talk to our schoolchildren, He would have made him president. Oh, but wait... Um"

Was that an example of bigotry? If so, perhaps everyone should run back to the John Perry Barlow thread and start condemning him.


A soft form, yes, especially considering that in the following tweet, he used a phrase that also has racist roots. That's sort of the problem with soft bigotry, and why it's insidious.

(And I intentionally stayed out of the Barlow memoriam thread because I don't have as high an opinion of him as others do, and in fact think his manifesto is in part why we're struggling with several issues regarding speech online today. But that's a discussion for another thread.)

Is she anti-semetic because she is friends with people that are? It makes me wonder how far that transitive property goes, as I know I have friends that are friends with weev. Should every 'progressive' person purge everyone in their lives that holds viewpoints they find troubling?

Can we please stop with the bad faith arguments? A belief that led to the murder of millions and to this day still claims lives and forces people to live in fear is not fucking "troubling", and it is an insult to the people who have been and are harmed by it to refer to it as such. And yeah, if her friend operates one of the largest anti-Semitic websites in the world, one that takes its name from a paper run by a man executed for crimes against humanity, and that she doesn't seem to have too much of a problem with it - yeah, I'd say that makes her an anti-Semite.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:59 PM on February 14, 2018 [37 favorites]


I just wish the blue would be as upset at the NYTimes troubling hawkish positions that have bodycounts associated with them, in my mind they've enabled far more troubling behavior than Quinn's worst critics in this thread have accused her of.

I will shock you by stating that I can in fact do both and chew bubblegum and walk, all at the same time. I would get myself a youtube channel and demonstrate this for the views and sweet ad money if only I was racist enough to be a modern youtube celeb.
posted by phearlez at 2:00 PM on February 14, 2018 [15 favorites]


A retweet of John Perry Barlow: "If God had meant a n***** to talk to our schoolchildren, He would have made him president. Oh, but wait... Um"

I don't think one could reasonably argue that this was anything but the peculiar Lenny Bruce-era-sort-of-thing of white people showing how not-racist they are through ironic use of a slur. But uh, that is also not a thing people are generally okay with anymore. At least guy who originally said it was like 70 (and also may have had the sense to delete it?).

Similar thing goes for the "f**" 4chan stuff. I absolutely know the context behind that, I know plenty of people who part of that culture at some point - what concerns me about Norton's attitude is that she's in her 40s and still seems unable to let go of thinking her infatuation with that stuff was really great. She doesn't seem like she's really grown out of it. In general if you take a look at things she's written online about nazis or race or sexism, much of it doesn't seem to be as outright toxic as even, you know, Bret Stephens - but it has a serious naiveté that doesn't play well for a publication that wants to take on these issues.
posted by atoxyl at 2:01 PM on February 14, 2018 [10 favorites]


i just don't know how to engage with someone who could even look at a person like weev without loathing and disgust, much less openly call him a friend. the fact that people here are casually mentioning they are friends with people who are fine with having him in their social circle is like. i don't know what to do with this information. you're okay with befriending people who have no problem with antisemitic genocide. that's not a friendship dealbreaker for you. that's not normal. it is fucked up.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:01 PM on February 14, 2018 [60 favorites]


White nationalism also has a bodycount. Let's stick to the topic at hand, please, and if you want to discuss Hawkish positions at the Times, maybe start a new thread.

Er, this thread is about the New York Times.
posted by Melismata at 2:02 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


All right, let's discuss their film reviews!
posted by maxsparber at 2:03 PM on February 14, 2018 [17 favorites]


If we took archives of the last 100 years of a national newspaper, and from that history we worked to understand what would have helped to cause the most valuable perspectives to surface sooner, what criteria would have emerged, as the most helpful?
posted by Baeria at 2:03 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


I listened to 30 seconds of an interview with Weev and he was all "MINORITIES ARE IRRELEVANT TO THE FUTURE OF THE WHITE RACE" and how can anybody even with the guy, he's evil
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:03 PM on February 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


Also when you hear her association with Aaron Swartz brought up, remember that she actually maybe-kinda-sorta-maybe-kinda-accidentally-if-you-want-to-be-generous sold him out.
posted by atoxyl at 2:04 PM on February 14, 2018 [19 favorites]


All I can say, or know, is that something fishy is, or is pretending to be, going on.
Carry on.

I'm wondering if you all think we're better off, for not having her sharing any of her perspectives on any issues in the NY Times.

If we took archives of the last 100 years of a national newspaper, and from that history we worked to understand what would have helped to cause the most valuable perspectives to surface sooner, what criteria would have emerged, as the most helpful?
Do you have a point to make?
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 2:06 PM on February 14, 2018 [17 favorites]


Is she anti-semetic because she is friends with people that are? It makes me wonder how far that transitive property goes, as I know I have friends that are friends with weev.

I have a friend who used to be internet pals with one of the Gamergater people. They're not friends anymore. You do not have to have the geek social fallacy ("nerds get excluded unfairly, therefore excluding anyone for any reason is wrong!!!") going on just because you're an internet person.

Weev is literally a professional Nazi. Like, that is literally his job description. I am just not getting how "don't be friends with people who make their living by being literally Nazis" is complicated. This is not "I have a friend who sometimes says some stuff that is a little ignorant but nothing really hateful" or "my great-grandfather says "O*******l" instead of "Asian" and gets pissy if you ask him to stop" or something. (Not that those things are acceptable...but you might feel legit conflicted about how to act.)

Look, I had to drop a friend because of their beliefs. It was hard. It took me longer than it should have. If you have a friend who soft-pedals their less savory beliefs, or who seems not to act on them (ie, they say crummy stuff about a group but are nice to those people in the flesh as far as you can tell), or if they're a great person in many ways but have one set of toxic beliefs, it can be hard. This is particularly true if it's a long-standing friendship with someone who changed, so you still kind of believe that this isn't "really" them. You think you'll change them, or that they "don't really mean it".

I will say that my other friends supported me through dropping this friendship. They did not drop me, but whenever the whole "I am so conflicted about this friendship" thing came up, they said pretty clearly "why are you friends with this person, this person's beliefs are not that great". I think they might have legitimately dropped me if I'd been all "actually this friend is a great person". I appreciated that they recognized that ending a long-standing friendship was hard, and that it's not always a matter of taking five minutes and saying "I am a rational person who clearly sees that you will never change, here are your presents back, goodbye the end".

(Also, my former friend was not a weev-level person, though, either in terms of power and commitment or toxicity of beliefs.)

But seriously, I think it's legit to support someone as they break it off with a toxic friend, but it's really pretty troubling to be pals with someone who is all "weeeeeeeelllll, I'm okay with being friends with a Nazi so basically let's leave it at that".
posted by Frowner at 2:09 PM on February 14, 2018 [38 favorites]


I’m sorry, people are complaining that fucking Nazism doesn’t have a high enough “body count”?

I mean, I don’t know, maybe Stalin is a challenger. Mao?

But good fucking Lord, if you’re looking for a metric by which “hires a Nazi collaborator” can somehow be favorably judged (and why the fuck do you want to do that?), perhaps “bodycount” is not the one you want.
posted by schadenfrau at 2:10 PM on February 14, 2018 [37 favorites]


Is she anti-semetic because she is friends with people that are? It makes me wonder how far that transitive property goes, as I know I have friends that are friends with weev.

1) all white people are complicit in systemic white supremacy, a system on which this nation was built and much of the rest of the world colonized and plundered. if you have white privilege, you are benefiting from white supremacy. that is what privilege is - benefits from an oppressive system. in this case it's white supremacy providing you with benefits for your whiteness

2) if you are not actively dismantling white supremacy, you are supporting the structure of white supremacy. wealth/health/education/etc are intergenerational things. if you are benefiting from stolen wealth and do nothing to give it back then you are actively keeping it from the people it was stolen from. this, in effect, makes you an active participant in white supremacy - a white supremacist

3) the one thing overt white supremacists have on all white people is they at least admit to #2. the problem with them is when they start actively organizing to keep these institutions in power in more ways than they currently exist

4) the same rules apply for the patriarchy, ableism, cishet hegemony, and so on. if you are not actively, in your day, working to dismantle and counteract these axes of oppression then you are complicit in keeping these oppressions in place

in conclusion - you are a white supremacist, Quinn is a white supremacist, Quinn likely is helping to support white supremacy in more ways than most, and yes, while that does make her a reprehensible human being, it's likely that she's only a few notches down the white supremacist spectrum from well meaning white people (ie white supremacists) who think they are better than her
posted by runt at 2:12 PM on February 14, 2018 [25 favorites]


atoxyl:Also when you hear her association with Aaron Swartz brought up, remember that she actually maybe-kinda-sorta-maybe-kinda-accidentally-if-you-want-to-be-generous sold him out.

Wow. Shitty takes'r'us. It’s clearly lets rag (deservedly so) on Quinn Norton day on the internet today, but this is bullshit.
posted by pharm at 2:13 PM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


"Also when you hear her association with Aaron Swartz brought up, remember that she actually maybe-kinda-sorta-maybe-kinda-accidentally-if-you-want-to-be-generous sold him out"

Wait, by mentioning that the target of the FBI investigation had written that manifesto? So the prosecuting attorneys would have us believe that they didn't google his name and find this on their own? *Maybe* that's true, but informing the government of something he put on his own webpage and signed with his own name isn't what I'd call selling him out. Selling him out would involve giving them prosecutors information that wasn't already very public.
posted by el io at 2:14 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


It's really remarkable to me that at the stroke of a pen, someone can become a celebrity such that hundreds or thousands of strangers will be interested in dissecting anything public from the last ten years of their life, trying to figure out what they were thinking.

Let's not pretend that this is some sort of senseless gossip mongering. This is a person that was pretty happy to throw around antisemitism and homophobic slurs, who really should've been called on this a long time ago.

Also, for most of us, such a dissection would at most find some intemperate remarks, not a sustained campaign of being as awful and Jew hating as possible.

Heck, the worst you can find about me is that I'd watched some pretty terrible anime or that I would like to see Paul Ryan ritually drowned in a keg of the same beer he pledged to destroy medicare over as part of the inaugaration ceremony for single payer health care once the Democrats take Congress back.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:16 PM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


It appears that the prosecution did not know about about the Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto, despite the fact that it was published on Swartz's blog and widely circulated within the open-access community, until Norton herself told them about the document during her meeting with prosecutors. As Norton details, she did not think it was possible that the Manifesto was news to the government, but it seems that it was.

bye
posted by poffin boffin at 2:16 PM on February 14, 2018 [12 favorites]


(I pity anyone who gets caught up in the FBI prosecution machine frankly. Thinking the FBI will 'do the right thing, if only I can just explain things to them' is the Nerd 101 way to find you or your friends in prison for <your felony of choice>.)
posted by pharm at 2:17 PM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]


Going to the prosecutors at all, especially with her background and supposed knowledge, is either the most naive thing I've ever heard or selling him out. Which ever one it is, I don't want her takes on things related to law and technology. Don't talk to the cops/government/prosecutors is activism 101. Actively seeking them out is a whole other step beyond that.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 2:18 PM on February 14, 2018 [31 favorites]


I don't think one could reasonably argue that this was anything but the peculiar Lenny Bruce-era-sort-of-thing of white people showing how not-racist they are through ironic use of a slur. But uh, that is also not a thing people are generally okay with anymore.
EXACTLY. If I could favorite this 12332434 times, I would. Notice that most people around these parts weren't cheering and leaping to the defense of Bill Maher when he used the n-word on his show. This kind of thing is just not ok, and I don't care how ironic or woke you think you're being, white people shouldn't be using the n-word on twitter unless we're talking use-mention. And even then, it should be done very, very carefully.
posted by xyzzy at 2:18 PM on February 14, 2018 [17 favorites]


A retweet of John Perry Barlow: "If God had meant a n***** to talk to our schoolchildren, He would have made him president. Oh, but wait... Um"

I mean, Mefi has a policy of not allowing "ironic" slurs or "examples of what those godawful racists would say about you" and I think it's a pretty decent policy that even clapped out Internet gurus should adhere to.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:18 PM on February 14, 2018 [17 favorites]


As an aside, it seems to be worth nothing that it's unclear that John Perry Barlow ever actually said that about Obama. It appears his account was @JPBarlow, not @JohnPerryBarlow, and at one point he tweeted about the latter account being controlled by a bot.

Other people going back years also seem to also imply the @JohnPerryBarlow account was a spam bot.
posted by smelendez at 2:19 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


This is not "I have a friend who sometimes says some stuff that is a little ignorant but nothing really hateful" or "my great-grandfather says "O*******l" instead of "Asian" and gets pissy if you ask him to stop" or something. (Not that those things are acceptable...but you might feel legit conflicted about how to act.)

On reflection, I realized that the very things where I was all "this is not..." are actually in fact pretty bad! So actually, being friends with weev (or overt racists generally) is beyond pretty bad. What I wrote was minimizing and it really made me realize that I fell into the typical white person habit of minimizing the pervasiveness of racism, as if "just" saying ignorant stuff is "not that bad". Tolerating "ignorant stuff" is how we got to where we are, and I need not to forget that.
posted by Frowner at 2:22 PM on February 14, 2018 [17 favorites]


Other people going back years also seem to also imply the @JohnPerryBarlow account was a spam bot.

oh man this thread is now diamonds
posted by poffin boffin at 2:26 PM on February 14, 2018 [19 favorites]


Wait, by mentioning that the target of the FBI investigation had written that manifesto? So the prosecuting attorneys would have us believe that they didn't google his name and find this on their own? *Maybe* that's true, but informing the government of something he put on his own webpage and signed with his own name isn't what I'd call selling him out. Selling him out would involve giving them prosecutors information that wasn't already very public.

Wow. Shitty takes'r'us. It’s clearly lets rag (deservedly so) on Quinn Norton day on the internet today, but this is bullshit.

You mean my take is the shitty take? I don't really mean to suggest she did it on purpose or with malice, and I don't know how much of a difference it made to the case. If she's written a lot about how it weighs on her maybe it isn't quite fair for me to bring it up like that. Mostly it's just the "sure I'll talk to the prosecutor, what could possibly go wrong?" attitude which seems symptomatic of the same sort of naïvité I see in her approach to other topics.
posted by atoxyl at 2:29 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


smelendex: The offending Tweet was from the JPBarlow account. (Twitter makes it completely impossible to actually navigate people’s old tweets as far as I can tell, so I can’t see what was offensive about the following tweet mentioned above.)
posted by pharm at 2:30 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Thanks pharm, I stand corrected!
posted by smelendez at 2:31 PM on February 14, 2018


my diamonds

:(
posted by poffin boffin at 2:33 PM on February 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


If she's written a lot about how it weighs on her maybe it isn't quite fair for me to bring it up like that.

Even if she hadn’t (clue: she has) it would still have been a shitty thing to say.
posted by pharm at 2:33 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


SO she doensn't know how to do a manual RT properly too, some cyber-guru.
posted by Artw at 2:34 PM on February 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


Twitter allows you to change your username. When you do so, all your tweets from your old username get attributed to your new username, retroactively, because Twitter is awful. Or at least that's how it has worked in the past. When Norton retweeted him, he was probably @JohnPerryBarlow. At some later point he became @JPBarlow. His tweets came with him. In conclusion, diamonds for everyone. Except Twitter.
posted by hades at 2:38 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Twitter didn't even have retweets then! That'd be funny, though.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 2:40 PM on February 14, 2018


At this point, the occasional Nazi-pillorying is good for us. Maybe, one day, when we don't have Nazis in the White House and pseudoracism and its dog whistles are taught in every classroom as unadulterated evil that we do not allow in a free, fair society, open revolt against media that platforms Nazi-adjacent people would be a bit much, but right now? The fact that, specifically, publicly associating with white supremacists gets you banned from the NYT editorial page because of public outrage is cause for hope. I'm very okay with this.
posted by saysthis at 2:44 PM on February 14, 2018 [19 favorites]


Going to the prosecutors at all, especially with her background and supposed knowledge, is either the most naive thing I've ever heard or selling him out.

OK, so, assuming that the Atlantic described the situation in a technically correct way...a "proffer offer" is not you just walking into the FBI office and saying, "Boy, do I have a story for you!"

A "proffer offer" is when you are already being targeted by a prosecutor and you agree to tell them the truth in return for a plea bargain or nonprosecution agreement.

So (again, assuming technical accuracy) she didn't just "go to the prosecutors." She was already in their cross-hairs. I think that's a meaningful nuance in judgment on this topic, though, again, I was yelling at the EFF for fondly referring to weev several years ago, I think it shows very poor character to be his friend now.
posted by praemunire at 3:01 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


So (again, assuming technical accuracy) she didn't just "go to the prosecutors." She was already in their cross-hairs. I think that's a meaningful nuance in judgment on this topic, though, again, I was yelling at the EFF for fondly referring to weev several years ago, I think it shows very poor character to be his friend now.

If we were talking about weev or one of her other Nazi pals, this is the part where everyone laughs about how tough they are on the internet but as soon as their is the threat of real consequences they roll right over.
posted by thecjm at 3:06 PM on February 14, 2018


Maybe it's just because I've seen some of the workings of this system, but I think this is one of those things you had better only boast about being able to handle better after you've actually done it.
posted by praemunire at 3:11 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


honestly all the fbi would have to do to roll me is threaten to publicize a web history of how many times i've had to ask google to do extremely simple basic arithmetic for me
posted by poffin boffin at 3:13 PM on February 14, 2018 [32 favorites]


For the record, I don't think she did it to screw anyone over but I do think she was dangerously naive (to protect herself or whatever she was protecting on her computer). Deciding that talking to the FBI is the way to do that doesn't align with what she claims is her area of expertise. I don't think she intended to screw Swartz over, but that's why you don't offer info to the FBI.

For whatever it's worth, I've been look askance at her since that. I believe her reaction to that, and how things unfolded, is entirely sincere. I just think it's also part of a long list of things that disqualifies her for the position at the NYT.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 3:17 PM on February 14, 2018 [10 favorites]


honestly all the fbi would have to do to roll me is threaten to publicize a web history of how many times i've had to ask google to do extremely simple basic arithmetic for me

FWIW, I had a very shady employer, who -- because I'm special -- decided I wouldn't get stiffed on pay-day when he didn't have money in the bank to cover payroll, he'd give me, say, 200$ in a check, and $400 cash.

I would go to the photocopier, slap down the check and the cash and copy them for my records, planning that when the NYS Tax and Finance or IRS came around, I'd sing like a canary, and hand them the folder full of transaction records.
posted by mikelieman at 3:18 PM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


"friends with weev"
This really needs to become the lame euphemism it's screaming out to be:

"You're not one of those Nazis, are you?"
"Uh, no, I'm just … uh, 'friends with weev'."
posted by Pinback at 3:21 PM on February 14, 2018 [28 favorites]


So (again, assuming technical accuracy) she didn't just "go to the prosecutors." She was already in their cross-hairs. I think that's a meaningful nuance in judgment on this topic

To be clear I didn't mean at all to imply otherwise she went out of her way to harm Swartz. I assumed she was a scared person who said too much, and given that she seems to have been pretty open about having fucked up here maybe it was a cheap shot on my part. I mostly just thought there was kind of a parallel between her apparent outlook going into that:

I didn't want a deal, I didn't want immunity, I just wanted to sit down and talk about the whole terrible business, to tell them why this case wasn't worth their time, and Aaron didn't deserve their attention. I didn't need a deal, and in fact, given that I had nothing to offer the government's case, I didn't think I even qualified for it.

and her outlook about some of the more questionable people she's associated with. After re-reading her piece on that I think I went too far insinuating things, and perhaps my feeling that she should have known better (I still feel that, if maybe not quite as strongly) is not fair, I don't know.
posted by atoxyl at 3:27 PM on February 14, 2018


To be clear I didn't mean at all to imply otherwise she went out of her way to harm Swartz.

"didn't mean to imply otherwise *or* that she went out of her way..."
posted by atoxyl at 3:43 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


I suppose it's probably easier to be friends with Nazis when you're not of an ethnicity on the "To Be Cleansed" list. I, however, think that all humans are equally human. If somebody thinks my Jewish/Black/other non-White friends/cousins/fellow humans are somehow lesser, then they can get fucked. I want nothing to do with them.

If some other friend says to me, "well, I know he wants to ethnically cleanse your brown cousins and friends, but he's still my friend, and I can't believe it took you so long to realize he thinks your cousins are subhuman," that other friend can also get fucked.

I had friends who were friends with weev. I stopped spending time around them, and haven't spoken to them in many years. Nothing was lost.
posted by curiousgene at 3:49 PM on February 14, 2018 [31 favorites]


The argument that QN isn't fit to join NYT's editorial team is interesting to me insofar as I honestly can't remember a time when their opinion section hasn't been mostly garbage. Would she (slurs removed) be that out of place among the likes of Bret Stephens, Ross Douthat, David Brooks, Bari Weiss, etc?

I wouldn't hire her (or the others), but it shows how much people have bought into the "newspaper of record" hype. It's like their own shitty friend that they just can't abandon. Some people have apparently canceled their subscription multiple times this year. Even those who actually did the deed are likely to keep checking in.

What place does the NYT occupy in your minds? I certainly used to see it as something like a public utility. Less so since the election.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 3:56 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Would she (slurs removed) be that out of place among the likes of Bret Stephens, Ross Douthat, David Brooks, Bari Weiss, etc?

No, but this incident is basically the peak (to date) of left-of-center folks online being generally increasingly furious at the NYT, and can't be separated from that anyway.
posted by atoxyl at 3:59 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


One thing that struck me about this was that my first gut reaction was to see my worst self in Norton. I'm not friends with Nazis but I know there are probably receipts out there of (inarguably) terrible things I wish I could unsay. Then my second gut reaction was to say, this first reaction is something I was trained to have. Why am I so much more afraid of this, than for all the people in this thread and out who have to live in a constant fog of fear that maybe the people they thought were friends aren't? People they thought they could rely on to be there, when you really need them, turn out actually to be fairweather allies. I'm not trying to single out anyone in this thread but it's clear I have some internal work to do.

Another thing that got to me was that it would be one thing if Norton were the Last Human On Earth who could write about technology. But she's not. Someone up thread (multiple someones?) posted some names of tech journalists who are not currently on friendly terms with genocidaires. There are loads more writers in this country, especially writers from marginalized communities, who are better stylists and have more interesting things to say than Norton even if you could put aside who she hangs out with (which you can't, I don't think). Why didn't the NYT hire someone like that? Why not find journalists who can write incisively about how the tech scene interacts with white supremacy/classism/other -isms in this country and nourish and develop them? I mean, I know why. But it's disheartening. (There's my first-gut-reaction again, that I can still be naive enough in any way to be surprised or disappointed by this kind of thing.)
posted by threementholsandafuneral at 3:59 PM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]


I would prefer the NYT didn't employ those people as well.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 4:00 PM on February 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


Would she (slurs removed) be that out of place among the likes of Bret Stephens, Ross Douthat, David Brooks, Bari Weiss, etc?
I don't think any of them are actually on the board. They write op-eds, which reflect their (odious) personal opinions. The editorial board writes the editorials which are the official opinions of the paper. Here's the current editorial board.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:00 PM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


I just think it's also part of a long list of things that disqualifies her for the position at the NYT.

We’re all fixated on the elephant in the room (her friendship with nazis and other horrible dipshits) but nobody is talking about the hippo over in the corner - her articles aren’t actually very good, either.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 4:00 PM on February 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


We’re all fixated on the elephant in the room (her friendship with nazis and other horrible dipshits) but nobody is talking about the hippo over in the corner - her articles aren’t actually very good, either.

It's all interconnected. I was trying to read her piece on context closure, and kept wanting to throw my phone as it kept veering into apologia for trolling and abuse.

I do think Norton is going to get an even bigger wakeup call when she publishes her piece on all this. People are looking now, and they're not going to take apologia lightly.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:08 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


In terms of the retweets and the language: Honestly, she may be queer but I don't feel super great about her using a slur that is used against gay men or men who are attacked for not being "masculine" enough. There are tons of slurs used against various GLBTQ people that I would not use in jest/in reclamation because they're not used against me, and I feel a little weird about some of the stuff I've seen where she is all "well, I'm queer so therefore". It's like, sure, you're queer but you're a cis woman with a relatively gender-normative gender presentation; you are extremely unlikely to be called a f*g.

Ugh. This whole thing has made me feel like I need to do better.

One thing I feel like about myself since the election: my politics have gotten coarser, stupider and kinda more...centrist isn't the word, exactly? But I should not be thinking that it's my left gesture to say "being a Nazi is bad"; I feel like the horizon of my politics has become "denouncing things that are obviously terrible" rather than "trying to understand white supremacy and white complicity more deeply in order to do better".

We're spending this whole thread arguing that being friends with Nazis is bad, and on the one hand it's a necessary argument to make, but on the other hand I feel like "as a white person I have a better political position than a friend of a professional Nazi" is not what I should be spending my time working on.
posted by Frowner at 4:13 PM on February 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


They're all part of the editorial department, though, which seems like its own organism walled off from most of what we'd identify as the Times. What's the intersection? Sulzberger?
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 4:21 PM on February 14, 2018


I'm wondering if you all think we're better off, for not having her sharing any of her perspectives on any issues in the NY Times.

Yes. That's exactly the point.
I don't care whether or not she's a bad person, I don't know her, there are lots of bad people.
I'd rather she not have a platform at the NYT.
I don't want her to be punished, I want her to not have that job.

A lot of this conversation speaks to something I've brought up before; As a society we've become centered on trying to guess what other people are "really like" on the inside instead of just judging their words and actions. It's a weird and harmful perspective. It's especially weird that the Right has really taken this to heart.
posted by bongo_x at 4:26 PM on February 14, 2018 [37 favorites]


As a society we've become centered on trying to guess what other people are "really like" on the inside instead of just judging their words and actions. It's a weird and harmful perspective. It's especially weird that the Right has really taken this to heart.

Totally agree, and I think it's just a rhetorical trick to maintain a viewpoint that is not supported by facts. Obama's church membership doesn't matter if you know in your heart he's a Muslim who hates America. Hillary Clinton's record of authoring and supporting legislation for the 99% (including authoring an aggressive Minimum Wage act as a senator back in 2006) can be dismissed if you know in her heart she's only in politics out of personal ambition and financial greed. Trump cheating on his 3rd wife after the birth of his 5th child with a porn actress is a "mulligan" if you know in your heart he's a good man. Etc Etc
posted by mrmurbles at 4:44 PM on February 14, 2018 [22 favorites]


Good lord, it’s not like “don’t be friends with Nazis; they are literally the worst people on Earth,” should be a controversial statement or difficult idea. A guy I was a friendly aquaince with a long time ago was outed as a pedophile; I (and my friend group) dropped him like a radioactive turd; this was not a difficult moral choice. Doing the same to Nazis shouldn’t be, either.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:53 PM on February 14, 2018 [42 favorites]


"It's especially weird that the Right has really taken this to heart."
Less "really taken this to heart" than "weaponised it" (which is also more than just using it as a "rhetorical trick").

When you start seeing it that way, it's not weird at all. What is weird is that they can weaponise it as a strength while at the same time deploring it as a weakness in their opponents.

That's on us for accepting their usage without (effective) pushback in the first place, and on the media for their part in normalising it ('both-sides'-ism, etc). Which, at the heart of it, is what this post is all about…
posted by Pinback at 4:54 PM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


And, just to be clear: I don’t think I was doing anything noteworthy by shunning a pedophile who had actively harmed children; that is a really low bar to clear and falls under “being human.”
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:57 PM on February 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


Many victims of many things are told the perpetrators are good in their hearts. Those of us close to the extreme end of christianity have been seeing it for at least 40 years, probably longer.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 4:58 PM on February 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


As a society we've become centered on trying to guess what other people are "really like" on the inside instead of just judging their words and actions. It's a weird and harmful perspective. It's especially weird that the Right has really taken this to heart.

It's not weird at all, given that it's a core function of a lot of religions, and being on the right is more correlated for religiousity. 'Judge not, lest ye be judged' and all that.

I wish there were a better way of saying 'you can punish people for their actions without Judging Their Soul' that was pithy and made sense. Because nobody wants to judge souls! That's for God! Nobody can ever know what's inside someone's soul! Everybody walks their own road! But at the same time it's perfectly reasonable to ask people to stop shitting on the floor and you're not judging why they're a floor-shitter when you do so.
posted by corb at 5:35 PM on February 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


They're all part of the editorial department, though, which seems like its own organism walled off from most of what we'd identify as the Times. What's the intersection? Sulzberger?

Yes - the Editorial Page Editor at the NYT reports directly to the publisher, rather than to the Executive Editor. The Editorial Page Editor is responsible for managing the editorial board and delivering the Editorial, op-ed and letters sections.

The Times is extremely scrupulous about separating news and opinion, but that does mean that Opinion is indeed somewhat walled-off, by design.

(james Bennet was on the news side in his first stint at the NYT, and his return as Editorial Page Editor sparked rumors that he was on the fast track to be appointed Executive Editor, because it was a senior role that reported directly to the publisher. However, since then the Managing Editor role has been reinstated, with Joe Khan in that role and probably into pole position to succeed Executive Editor Dean Baquet - Baquet himself was Managing Editor under Jill Abramson.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:39 PM on February 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


But at the same time it's perfectly reasonable to ask people to stop shitting on the floor and you're not judging why they're a floor-shitter when you do so.

OK, but if someone is going to come to my house, it matters why they shit on the floor, because that's how I can determine what they might do at my house. It's not true that everyone who ever shit on a floor is then equally likely to antagonize me later, regardless of why.

(I certainly believe in trying to figure out what people are "really like" and this is why.)
posted by value of information at 5:47 PM on February 14, 2018


This small farm in Northern Virginia has a roadside sign, and they put ‘Resist White Supremacy’ on it. Raise your hands if you're surprised there's been backlash.

“Resist white supremacy is not an inclusive message,” complained Patty Weston Meizlish, who lives in Louisa, Va. “When you single out a group of people you exclude them. This is a sad message.”

posted by rtha at 5:47 PM on February 14, 2018 [28 favorites]


As a society we've become centered on trying to guess what other people are "really like" on the inside instead of just judging their words and actions. It's a weird and harmful perspective.

Yeah, I see a lot of this nonsense from nice white folks, and I just blink in incomprehension. I don't give a fuck what's in rando racist's heart of hearts: I care about what they do. I care about how they vote, I care about what they say, I care about the kind of people they lend their moral, financial, and vocal support to. And I care about all that not because I'm looking for reasons to get angry or whatever, I care about it because that all has an actual impact on my and my family's and loved one's personal safety. You're friends with Nazis? You're not safe for me to be around. That's it, full stop. This isn't an emotional response, it's a rational one. This isn't a goddamn thought experiment for a lot of us.

I know we're all marinating in the stew of white supremacy here, so I've got to pick my battles and not give the cut direct to every single Trump voter I might come into contact with, but like, come on. One degree of separation away from Nazis = unsafe person who should not be given a national platform with which to make even more people unsafe.
posted by yasaman at 5:49 PM on February 14, 2018 [44 favorites]


Stopping to think about the pain that might have made a Nazi turn to Nazism is reeeeeaaallly only something you can do if the Nazi hasn’t stated their preference for you to be exterminated

I mean, yes, when talking about say minor slights, or bad interpersonal habits — they get kinda mean-sarcastic when they’re frustrated, say — it makes sense to put some effort into why, so long as they’re willing to engage with you about this problematic behavior and agree that it should change. (Otherwise it’s pointless anyway!)

But that’s a luxury. A privilege, you could say. Of not being in mortal fear of death by mean sarcasm.

Being a Nazi, or an otherwise genocidal supremacist, is not like other things.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:00 PM on February 14, 2018 [14 favorites]


I wish there were a better way of saying 'you can punish people for their actions without Judging Their Soul' that was pithy and made sense.

Yeah, a lot of that was unspoken, but part of what I meant. I've often said I could forgive someone for a crime, but that has nothing to do with what I think their sentence should be. A lot of people seem to not be able to separate the two things.

The teachings of most religions are about forgiveness. But the history of religious conservatives has not been non-judgemental. That's what I find odd.
posted by bongo_x at 6:23 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


I posted it upthread but she literally thinks being friends with Nazis will keep them from victimizing her.

I think you may be misreading your link. The exchange goes
@onekade: @quinnnorton wow that's…something. must be nice to not fear that they'll beat you up or kill you because you're gay or black

@quinnnorton: @onekade I think there is even a chance they won't do those things so much because I am their friend.

@onekade: @quinnnorton I thinkkk that's delusional but do you, friend of fascists
She seems to be saying that she thinks her friendship will somehow reduce the risk of her friends assaulting/killing other people because they're gay or black. That's a confused and likely harmful and self-serving belief, but at least ostensibly more altruistic than explicitly collaborating with thugs for personal protection

FWIW, I have no interest in her, her work, the NYT, or the defense of either of them (but having trouble tearing my eyes away from the trainwreck.)
posted by Coventry at 6:42 PM on February 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


(I certainly believe in trying to figure out what people are "really like" and this is why.)
posted by value of information at 8:47 PM on February 14
Eponysterical!
posted by Coventry at 7:11 PM on February 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


I mean, we all have to figure out individually where we draw lines, but the original Nazis were, you know, people. They had friends and liked a drink and told jokes and played the clarinet and had families and enjoyed movies and came home from work and ate dinner just like everybody else. It's just that the work they were coming home from was wiping millions of human beings off the face of the earth, and torturing them, and oppressing them, etc. along the way. Oh well, nobody's perfect.

Nolan's bro is not just having a cool edgy thought experiment or "troubling views." He is professionally seriously working every day to implement white supremacy and genocide in the real world. But that's OK, because Quinn makes sure she tells him his racism is "stupid" when they talk, which should be super-helpful. I'm sure he'll see the light anytime now. (Btw, a dumb choice is when your friend likes [annoying band] or wears too much bad perfume. If they work on the Daily Stormer, they're an actual no-shit menace to society.)

I'm not even going to weigh in on the level or non-level of moral culpability. But Jesus Christ, someone that dense or shallow or gullible is a pretty poor choice to be given an broad international platform from which to influence public opinion.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:26 PM on February 14, 2018 [26 favorites]


Because nobody wants to judge souls! That's for God! Nobody can ever know what's inside someone's soul!

I guess I would agree if I thought there were souls, or a god. Since there aren't, though, I don't worry about it too much. I'm comfortable with judging people's minds, based on their actions and words, and punishing people for their actions without getting too caught up in what a Bronze Age schizophrenic would or wouldn't do.

Quinn, here, says she's friends with a Nazi, even though she's knows he's a Nazi. From this I gather that she either doesn't find this ideology repellent enough to stop talking to the Nazi, or she's thinks he maybe doesn't really mean it, per that maybe he does, but at least she will be safe.

I judge her to be at best a Nazi collaborator, and at worst a closet Nazi herself. Anywhere in that spectrum makes her an actual existential threat to my loved ones.
posted by curiousgene at 8:01 PM on February 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


She seems to be saying that she thinks her friendship will somehow reduce the risk of her friends assaulting/killing other people because they're gay or black.

I think you're seriously misreading her tweet. She's not saying that being friends with her will make them less likely to target others. She's saying they won't target her because she's their friend.
posted by Lexica at 8:12 PM on February 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


That only makes sense if you drop "so much" from what she said.
posted by Coventry at 8:18 PM on February 14, 2018


Heh, if you apply "so much" in the way Coventry suggests, she's saying that her friends beat and kill people, and she's just hoping that they won't do it as often because it bothers her but not enough to stop being friends with them. Somehow that feels like not much of a semantic victory.
posted by xyzzy at 8:23 PM on February 14, 2018 [14 favorites]


Wall Street Journal just upped its hideous Nazi op-ed column game by several million percent: Forget the Media Caricature. Here’s What I Believe - a bizarre mix of self pity, self aggrandizement and outright lies by hideous alien overlord and enemy of democracy Rebekah Mercer.
posted by Artw at 8:27 PM on February 14, 2018 [9 favorites]


nyt: ha ha we're the biggest nazi paper
wsj: hold my beer
posted by poffin boffin at 8:40 PM on February 14, 2018 [33 favorites]


There have been many things to complain about over the years, but 2018 has been especially terrible. You have to wonder whether the new publisher, no doubt hired on his own merits, is behind some of the stupidest moves.
posted by etaoin at 8:43 PM on February 14, 2018


So, on the same day - Bari Weiss composed a "tweet" misidentifying child of immigrants Mirai Nagasu as an immigrant, calling it "poetic license" in order to reference the popular musical Hamilton. In response, internal NYT communications were leaked to the Huffington Post (which is maybe now HuffPost?).

So some NYT faction ran a goddamn information op in a rival content outlet. ACCELERATE!
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:28 PM on February 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


Quinn, here, says she's friends with a Nazi, even though she's knows he's a Nazi. From this I gather that she either doesn't find this ideology repellent enough to stop talking to the Nazi, or she's thinks he maybe doesn't really mean it, per that maybe he does, but at least she will be safe.

This reminds me of something I've suspected for a while: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" in the context of defending the free speech of Nazis is probably bullshit (other than its providence, of course). We know that people's brains react to certain views being challenged in the same way they'd react to a surprise tiger. There's a range of views we are willing to make peace with, even if we don't like them, and then there's views we see as a threat. So if it's a view you're willing to make peace with in the interests of peaceful co-existence, it's not that strong of a disagreement; and if it's a threat to you, you're not going to react with peaceful co-existence.

Essentially, I assume that anyone who pulls out that faux-Voltaire quote only disapproves of the tone, not the content.

(I'm also happy to make that distinction because I'm reasonably convinced free speech only works in the context of some culturally-agreed norms, including ones that encourage public debate.)
posted by Merus at 9:44 PM on February 14, 2018 [10 favorites]


I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" in the context of defending the free speech of Nazis is probably bullshit

It’s probably just misused. The right is not and has never been “to say it unopposed”. It’s “the right to say it without being hauled off to jail and disappeared.” Which is not even in question right now. No one is arguing we should legally oubliette these fuckers. People are just saying that they don’t want to buy newspapers that contain their columns. Voltaire doesn’t even come into it.
posted by corb at 10:25 PM on February 14, 2018 [21 favorites]




Bari Weiss composed a "tweet" misidentifying child of immigrants Mirai Nagasu as an immigrant, calling it "poetic license" in order to reference the popular musical Hamilton.

Ah yes, that nonsense was an obvious idiot saying something idiotic expecting praise then doubling down when she got criticised, but as a white Dutch person that hit home for me.

Because, you see, we do have the nasty habit here in the Netherlands to continue to distinguish between autochtone ("native") and allochtone ("foreign") inhabitants of our country. Which means that even 3rd or 4th generation Moroccan-Dutch people are seen as immigrants/allochtoon, as foreign elements.

It's one of the greatest blindspots of white Dutch people, the ease with which certain population groups are written off as foreign or not really from here.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:58 PM on February 14, 2018 [18 favorites]


and not give the cut direct to every single Trump voter I might come into contact with

Bless you for redeeming this shitshow tale of mediocrity, entitlement, unexamined privilege and white supremacy with an allusion to my very favorite social-control modality of all time. (I myself do happen to feel it's the appropriate response to any and every Trump voter, because having voted for Trump is functionally and consequentially an endorsement of racism and misogyny, and I wish more people would deploy it skillfully. But YMMV.)

With respect to the topic itself, I have very little to say here that people haven't already said except for this: This is very close to home for me. What saddens me the most isn't Quinn Norton's behavior, because I've never cared for her or her work, and never expected any better from her. What saddens me is the number of dear friends I have who are defending her, on the grounds of personal acquaintance and a willingness to see the "nuance" and "complexity" in her situation.

We've all been trained not to Godwinize, to the point that I have a near-Pavlovian aversion to it, but, y'know, as many moments in the past eighteen months have reminded us, it's not falling afoul of Godwin when you're talking about actual, self-proclaimed Nazis. And searching for "nuance" and "complexity" in the hearts of people who have stated their intention to eliminate you and those you love from the face of the Earth is beyond a fool's errand. It's Weimar-level decadence, the insulation of privilege and an impressive degree of historical blindness all rolled up into one toxic shitball of a sentiment.

So for me, the question isn't "would you remain friends with weev" at all, and never has been. It's "can you remain friends with people capable of defending Quinn Norton." And that weighs much more heavily. Perhaps foolishly, I didn't think there were all many ways 2018 could get any shittier, but forcing me to reëxamine long-cherished friendships on the basis of whether or not people are even capable of seeing the lethal mechanics of fascism when they play out before our very eyes? That sure wasn't one of them.
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:23 AM on February 15, 2018 [24 favorites]


it's not falling afoul of Godwin when you're talking about actual, self-proclaimed Nazis

This, a thousand times.

Godwin's Law is an artefact of a gentler age, when actual Nazism was something in black and white footage on the History Channel and Seinfeld could have a Soup Nazi without anyone blinking. Nazism in real life was so vanishingly rare and unviable that comparing _ to it was almost certainly a false positive. Now that the bacilli of Nazism have defrosted and gone viral, automatic application of Godwin's Law would result in false negatives, all the way up to people being herded to a new Auschwitz by “robustly traditionalist free-speech advocates” or other people who are Of Course Not Nazis.
posted by acb at 3:00 AM on February 15, 2018 [23 favorites]


Goddamn, you can’t be friends with a Nazi without accepting, on some level, Nazism. You just can’t. It’s not rocket science. I just...

I... I have some bad news about rocket science.
posted by um at 3:35 AM on February 15, 2018 [71 favorites]


You think the stark lesson of the 20th C — “if a group says they want to annihilate you when they are out of power, they will definitely try to do so when they get in to power” would be more firmly engraved in people’s minds. The genocidal rhetoric of modern Nazis and their fellow travelers is never “just being edgy;” it’s testing the waters. History is a thing.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:38 AM on February 15, 2018 [27 favorites]


The thing that annoys me the most is that by hiring people like Norton, they're not hiring better, more interesting writers. They could have hired Lauren Duca or stolen Jamelle Bouie from Slate but that had to go with a stale troll left over from the '90s.
posted by octothorpe at 4:49 AM on February 15, 2018 [16 favorites]


1. I'd like to thank TMBG as well, "Can't shake the devil's hand and say you're only kidding" is one of those phrases which has stuck in my head all my adult life, probably partly because I listened to that album several thousand times at a formative age but anyway.

2. Mike Godwin has clarified: "By all means, compare these shitheads to Nazis. Again and again. I'm with you."
posted by nickzoic at 5:03 AM on February 15, 2018 [26 favorites]


Godwin's Law is an artefact of a gentler age, when actual Nazism was something in black and white footage on the History Channel and Seinfeld could have a Soup Nazi without anyone blinking.

I've been thinking about this, and I think we were wrong. I think we assumed that Naziism wasn't a big deal while people were stockpiling guns. I remember doing this myself, even when I was hearing through channels about the neo-Nazi resurgence in northern Europe. I think we generally and white people particularly ignored a lot of things that should have pinged our radar - Gamergate most recently and obviously, but I can think of things in the punk scene and in fandom from ten, fifteen years ago.

The other thing is that basically genocidal policy was normalized under the guise of "welfare reform", etc etc. Not that, like, the US has ever been an awesome tower of anti-racism, but I think those of us only marginally affected by events since the eighties minimalized and normalized them out of some misplaced sense of...I dunno, "Republicans live on my street, so they must not really be that bad". (I also assume that some unthinking Republicans did not really understand where things were going.)

The attacks on the social safety net have always been intensely racialized. They've always boiled down to "We don't exactly want you to die, at least not yet - we just don't want you to have enough to eat, or a place to live, or access to doctors, or the same life expectancy as white people, or the same schools, or protection from being murdered, whether by civilians or pollice, or the right not to be cheated and abused at work, or the right not to live in a bug-infeested rathole". This is de facto genocidal policy. It was present in welfare "reform", it has been present in every attack on the safety net. That's not to say that white people won't be killed too, but we're basically collateral damage.

Most non-conservative white people rolled with this both because we'd been brought up to only rock the boat a little bit if anything and because we live in an abuse culture where "this is fucked up and skeevy, isn't it" is met with "you can't know what's in someone's heart".

We should have been cutting off conservative voters a long time ago. These have never, ever been trivial policy disputes, at least not in my lifetime - they've always been "should we kill the poor, especially people of color" disputes. We didn't stop the rot in 1980 or 1996, and now the whole damn place is full of mold and bugs.
posted by Frowner at 5:10 AM on February 15, 2018 [37 favorites]


A case in point: Politico advances an idea that is basically indentured servitude for immigrants as a way to "boost the incomes" of US citizens by up to $20,000 per year - in essence, they propose a "visa" (which is barely worthy of the name) which allows you to make someone live in your basement and pay them below minimum wage while taking their earnings.

This is obviously something that was already happening in some places on a moderate scale, but the proposal to legitimate it and make it policy like it's a good idea is new.
posted by Frowner at 5:38 AM on February 15, 2018 [29 favorites]


Jesus, Frowner, I saw that but thought it was an Onion article.
posted by corb at 6:08 AM on February 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


I saw it linked on The Root and was hoping I'd click over and they'd be all "this was our elaborate troll to see whether anyone freaked out", but no, tenured white male citizen professors on a website that is right-wing Democrat made that proposal. People who would, presumably, be serenely untroubled by having a bunch of folks living in their basements and getting "compensated" by not being starved to death.

Labor organizers worked so hard to get away from this stuff, to de-normalize it. Prior to WWI in Europe and the US, servants lived in the basement kitchens, sleeping on the floor with the bugs and mice, and this was totally normal. Left-leaning rich people did this to servants and didn't think twice.

People worked so hard to make this shameful, not normal, and now these two garbage bags are busy undoing that.
posted by Frowner at 6:18 AM on February 15, 2018 [23 favorites]


These have never, ever been trivial policy disputes, at least not in my lifetime - they've always been "should we kill the poor, especially people of color" disputes. We didn't stop the rot in 1980 or 1996, and now the whole damn place is full of mold and bugs

I’m annoyed that I only have one favorite to give this entire comment.

Any progressive who tries to run on expanding the social safety net without addressing this shouldn’t be trusted, because they don’t see the entirety of the evil they’re trying to fix. And that suggests they’ll just perpetuate it.

A case in point: Politico advances an idea that is basically indentured servitude for immigrants

Oh my fucking God.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:19 AM on February 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


I’m going to turn into one of the goddamn Furies.

From Frowner’s link:
Editor’s note: This article, and particularly its original headline (“What If You Could Get Your Own Immigrant?”), was offensive to many readers. We changed the headline on Tuesday night to better reflect the authors’ intent, and asked them to respond to the criticism, but they declined.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:23 AM on February 15, 2018 [14 favorites]


A case in point: Politico advances an idea that is basically indentured servitude for immigrants

Damon Young: So ... Um ... I Think Politico Just Published an Argument for Slavery. In 2018 (Yes, That Slavery)
Anyway, I read the entire piece so you don’t have to. Below are the 10 worst (and whitest) things about this idea.

1. It’s slavery.

2. No, seriously. Its slavery.

3. It’s not even slavery-adjacent.

4. Or “slavery-flavored”—which is what I call black licorice.

5. Nah, this is fucking slavery.

6. I mean, it includes the line, “Sponsors under this program would be exempt from paying minimum wage.” So you could, conceivably, pay a migrant in bite-sized Snickers if you chose to. Which would be delicious. But it would be delicious slavery.

7. “Wait,” I hear you asking, “are you saying that Politico published a piece in two thousand fucking eighteen arguing for fucking slavery?”

8. Yes. I am saying exactly that.

9. “Why would they do such a thing? Who approved this? Who commissioned it? Who are their editors? Who raised these feckless fucks?”

10. White people.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:36 AM on February 15, 2018 [48 favorites]


Good lord, it’s not like “don’t be friends with Nazis; they are literally the worst people on Earth,” should be a controversial statement or difficult idea.

We're arguing about whether it's okay to be friends with friends of nazis, not the nazis themselves. Try to keep up.
posted by phearlez at 6:37 AM on February 15, 2018


the Politico article about the slave visa can only be published in a society where the nanny visa exists - the slave visa is only a few steps back down the historical path we are already on to indentured servitude. the paradigm shift for this sort of thing is already normalized in our society
posted by runt at 6:42 AM on February 15, 2018 [11 favorites]


The authors of the Politico article co-wrote a book being published this year called Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:43 AM on February 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


One psychological factor in favour of the indentured servitude visa, Uber, Fiverr and other exploitative systems: if they get normalised, then there is less danger of white folks being hit with the reparations bill for actual slavery. As such, a lot of people have an incentive to regard such ideas as fine.
posted by acb at 6:48 AM on February 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


If you cozy up to nazis, I'm just going to think you're a nazi so this "friends of friends" thing is a moot point to me. I don't mind judging people by the company they keep if that company loudly advocates for genocide.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 6:56 AM on February 15, 2018 [17 favorites]


"I suppose that makes me a "literal Nazi" by the sophisticated cooties criteria on display over the past couple of days, so feel free to project whatever opinions are convenient for me to have, regardless of whether I share them."

In my book, it does not make you a literal nazi, but it does makes you the sort of conveniently clueless person who would feel mildly uneasy but passively move on with their lives if people like Weev ever drag me to a concentration camp.

You operate as if taking genocidal tendencies seriously were an option, not a duty. If you can't be my ally when the stakes are so low, I sure as shit don't expect you to be on my side when the shit hits the fan.
posted by Tarumba at 6:58 AM on February 15, 2018 [48 favorites]


And it’s sold as a story of entreprenuarial capatilism. She could afford to “expand her business” if she just didn’t have to pay people! And the “migrants” are grateful!

It’s very literally, very openly, advocating slavery as a policy solution.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:59 AM on February 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! - yeah I should have used a sarcasm tag or something.
posted by phearlez at 7:08 AM on February 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I should add: the problem they think they’re solving isn’t at all clear. Except “even non-rich white people should have access to de facto slave labor.”

Like they look at the private prison system and the thirteenth amendment and think the real injustice is that Mary from Virginia can’t take advantage of all that free slave labor, too.

Like they’re proud of themselves for this.

Jesus Mary and Joseph.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:09 AM on February 15, 2018 [17 favorites]


Politico advances an idea that is basically indentured servitude for immigrants

It's worth noting that one of the authors, Eric Posner, law professor at the U of Chicago, is the son of federal judge Richard Posner who is a libertarian abomination in his own right. You may recall that Richard Posner argued that sending white collar criminals to jail was a waste and that jail was only appropriate for blue collar criminals because they were less useful to society.

Seems the apple didn't fall far from the tree.
posted by JackFlash at 7:19 AM on February 15, 2018 [14 favorites]


Damon Young: So ... Um ... I Think Politico Just Published an Argument for Slavery. In 2018 (Yes, That Slavery)

A perfect example of somebody else that the Times could hire instead of the people they do. On the other hand, they're so tarnished now that I doubt that he'd accept a job there.
posted by octothorpe at 7:20 AM on February 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


With the Politico article, the whole "give poor white Americans access to slave labor" thing has a lot of class weirdness as you can tell by the whole "this hypothetical person lives in a poor area, got laid off and has a growing dog-walking business" - there are so many expanding dog-walking businesses in, like, ex-milltowns. It's just that they think they can render this "palatable" (which is a pretty warped assumption) by saying "poor Americans would benefit" rather than "people like us, who can afford to import, manage and house chattel slaves, would be the big beneficiaries". It would be a monstrous and vile idea no matter who benefited, but the fact of the matter is that what they're talking about is mostly an investment opportunity for people like themselves, because they have the capital. What they mean is that they would import and house desperate, impoverished immigrants and keep them as chattel, and that they advocate this for the bourgeoisie.
posted by Frowner at 7:39 AM on February 15, 2018 [21 favorites]


Thinking that the indentured servants will be walking good-boy doggos rather than, say, scrubbing shit off toilets or something also makes it more palatable to people who don't revel in being supremely callous Randian alpha-sociopaths. In fact, it would be possible to support this and consider oneself a good, fundamentally socially liberal person, if one's not in the habit of making trouble and looking too closely at the premises.
posted by acb at 7:53 AM on February 15, 2018 [13 favorites]


Editor’s note: This article, and particularly its original headline (“What If You Could Get Your Own Immigrant?”), was offensive to many readers. We changed the headline on Tuesday night to better reflect the authors’ intent, and asked them to respond to the criticism, but they declined.

I saw that earlier in the week under the original headline and dismissed it as Swiftian satire because no one in their right mind could possibly be seriously proposing it.

The author of the piece, Eric Posner, is a lawyer who is also the author of "The Twilight of Human Rights Law (Inalienable Rights)". Amazon includes a line from a review of the book from Reason: "Posner makes a strong case that human rights law needs to be approached with more care, more humility, and less hubris."

Has anyone checked his basement for pods?
posted by zarq at 8:22 AM on February 15, 2018 [11 favorites]


I should add: the problem they think they’re solving isn’t at all clear. Except “even non-rich white people should have access to de facto slave labor.”


They want to increase the political feasability of increased legal immigration, because they think that international income inequality is a main driver of human rights violations (and human suffering).
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:36 AM on February 15, 2018


In fact, it would be possible to support this and consider oneself a good, fundamentally socially liberal person, if one's not in the habit of making trouble and looking too closely at the premises.

Disagree. To be ok with this, there has to be something about disenfranchised brown people working for white people who wield almost complete power over them in exchange for room and board, and being grateful for the opportunity, that seems right and true and not completely fucking ridiculous to you. Which is pretty racist.

It’s pretty obviously slavery. That it fits so well into popular economic arguments that it’s almost seamless is, agreed, an utter mindfuck. But it’s obvious what it is.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:40 AM on February 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


It's worth noting that one of the authors, Eric Posner, law professor at the U of Chicago, is the son of federal judge Richard Posner who is a libertarian abomination in his own right. You may recall that Richard Posner argued that sending white collar criminals to jail was a waste and that jail was only appropriate for blue collar criminals because they were less useful to society.

Seems the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

Eric Posner is not a libertarian in any meaningful way. The Radical Markets book advocates the abolition of private property & argues that social media monopolies should be forced to compensate users for their data.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:41 AM on February 15, 2018


Disagree. To be ok with this, there has to be something about disenfranchised brown people working for white people who wield almost complete power over them in exchange for room and board, and being grateful for the opportunity, that seems right and true and not completely fucking ridiculous to you. Which is pretty racist.

It’s pretty obviously slavery. That it fits so well into popular economic arguments that it’s almost seamless is, agreed, an utter mindfuck. But it’s obvious what it is.

I'm happy to agree with this, but I'm also confused by the widespread acceptance of the Au Pair program (as well as the widespread acceptance of companies sponsoring visas, which seems pretty fucked up too)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:42 AM on February 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Disagree. To be ok with this, there has to be something about disenfranchised brown people working for white people who wield almost complete power over them in exchange for room and board, and being grateful for the opportunity, that seems right and true and not completely fucking ridiculous to you. Which is pretty racist.

You should see some of the things people do whilst still considering themselves decent, socially liberal people. From snorting cocaine to holidaying in Dubai, the human capacity for rationalisation and compartmentalisation is extensive.
posted by acb at 9:08 AM on February 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


This reminds me of something I've suspected for a while: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" in the context of defending the free speech of Nazis is probably bullshit (other than its providence, of course).

I think the more fundamental issue here is that free speech absolutism is and has always been more interested in protecting the powerful than the powerless. To even be in a position to be complaining about e.g. how the king won't let you say whatever you want in your newspaper is to be complaining from the 2nd or 3rd rung down about how mean the guy at the top is (while ignoring the million rungs beneath you). The people arguing against e.g. hate speech laws can do so because they have the privilege of knowing hate speech rarely if ever will be directed at them.

Free speech with reasonable limits is a worthy thing. Absolute free speech is a smokescreen for all sorts of bullshit that societies have no obligation to condone or allow.
posted by tocts at 9:20 AM on February 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


"From snorting cocaine... "

I don't ever bring it up to them because I know our extremely liberal friends would bite my head off, but, being Peruvian, it brakes my heart a little when people talk about cocaine like it's some harmless hobby, like murder, torture, and the destruction of the rain forest is worth their fun Saturday night.

And don't get me started on the number of times I've heard hilarious and not at all repetitive jokes about how I can hook them up with some good shit. Like my parents back home have to live their lives afraid of kidnappings and gruesome deaths but cocaine is such harmless fun!
posted by Tarumba at 9:22 AM on February 15, 2018 [37 favorites]




You may recall that Richard Posner argued that sending white collar criminals to jail was a waste and that jail was only appropriate for blue collar criminals because they were less useful to society.

Seems the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

Eric Posner is not a libertarian in any meaningful way.


I think the point was that he (Posner the Younger) doesn't recognize people who aren't white collar workers as fully human, not (specifically) that he's a libertarian.
posted by Anita Bath at 10:18 AM on February 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Read, or at least dip into, her account of Life Inside the Aaron Swartz Investigation.
posted by Baeria at 10:23 AM on February 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


After the Hovater profile I wrote the Times that I'd be cancelling my subscription if they remained in the business of normalizing Nazis.

...and now I've cancelled my subscription.
posted by Zed at 11:25 AM on February 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


On the subject of trying to "convert" or "educate" Nazis in the hopes of winning them over and reducing Nazism:

Don't. Making friends with Nazis will do the opposite of reducing Nazism. When you pal around with fascists, you are:

a) alienating targets of fascism from not only you, but from any feeling of safety with allies, at a time when they already feel the status quo doesn't give a shit about them. You are supposed to be on their side!
b) making fascists believe that their genocidal intent is not a deal breaker for friendship, even friendships with supposed progressives, which
c) is normalising Nazis as "just ordinary folks with a different point of view", which
d) opens the door for people to come to power who would march you and your loved ones up to the wall without a second thought. So with all this in play, you are pretty much
e) bolstering and supporting fascism.

You actually want to fight fascism? Get closer to the targets of fascism. Stand up for and defend them to whatever capacity you can. Make them feel they have more and more people on their side, and that you will not in any way shape or form tolerate those set on killing them.

The bottom line is: alllllll the effort you expend trying to coax one Nazi over into not-a-shit-person territory could comfort and protect so many more people that Nazis would have exterminated. Supporting and protecting the marginalised against fascism is how you fight fascism. Being pally with Nazis is how you boost Nazism.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:04 PM on February 15, 2018 [34 favorites]


Here's the thing as well: Nazism is a death cult. It has an almost unbroken record of violence, because it is an activist genocidal worldview.

But Nazis don't just kill the people they hate, although they do that. They also kill each other, their families, and their friends.

Death cults aren't super discriminating about who they turn their violence on. Whatever good you think you're doing by being friends with neo-Nazis or white supremacists or whatever, for every example of someone who was talked out of being in it, I bet I can find you 50 examples of someone who was brutalized for their relationship.

It's putting a target on your back in front of a person who is desperate for a target.
posted by maxsparber at 12:44 PM on February 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


Wow, that Wired piece was horrible. Just a bunch of apologia for being horrible.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:46 PM on February 15, 2018 [4 favorites]




Probably in light of the Slack leak, James Bennet has asked his NYT colleagues that all criticism stay private. (Link goes to a WaPo media reporter's twitter because lol of course and good for whoever sent it along.)
posted by rewil at 4:29 PM on February 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


They want to increase the political feasability of increased legal immigration, because they think that international income inequality is a main driver of human rights violations (and human suffering).

I'm trying to imagine this line of reasoning: "Man, that international income inequality sure does encourage and facilitate human rights violations. I know! If we simply move some of those people at the bottom end of the income inequality into the same house as those higher up on the income inequality scale, but allow them to be slaves and thus maybe even more unequal, with the higher up people having direct individual power over other individuals, that will fix all of the potential human rights issues!" It's like, they looked at the phrase "international income inequality" are said, "clearly the problem here is that it's international rather than intra-national"?!
posted by eviemath at 5:17 PM on February 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


They want to increase the political feasability of increased legal immigration, because they think that international income inequality is a main driver of human rights violations (and human suffering).

I wanted to respond to this from upthread and to articulate why I think this line of reasoning is both wrong and self-serving.

First, consider another world problem - violence by young men who are too poor to marry and form households and who are therefore both displaced and demoralized. You might look at this and say "well, the solution to this is to force women to marry, and in societies where marriage is controlled by the family, to force families to marry their daughters to the first askers. Then men will have households and the sense of status that comes with them and so they won't become violent extremists or easily be recruited into paramilitary forces - everyone wins, because then the women will not be murdered by extremists!" Similarly, you could say, "social support systems are facing a crisis where there are too few workers to support retirees; the solution is that every woman who is capable of giving birth will be required by law to bear at least two children. Problem solved - after all, those women will also benefit from the preserved social safety net!"

Of course, to do that you have to construe the problem in a convenient way, just as you do with "chattel slavery will alleviate global poverty!" - you have to assume that underlying oppressive systems either don't exist, don't matter or can't be changed. So there's no way to deal with economic inequality through redistribution, or to deal with the patriarchy/inequality mix except by creating more patriarch - you pretend that the only way to win is to make an oppressive system function at maximum effectiveness.

You also need to pretend that you don't stand to benefit as a rich white male academic.

And you need to assume that when an oppressive system is functioning at maximum, there are no additional costs - it's not important that you have a society which degrades everyone but rich white men, and it's not important that you are intensifying violent, horrible, corrupt social relations. The harm done to the fabric of society by slavery - or by forced birth or forced marriage - doesn't matter. The coarsening and increased violence of family and social life don't matter because that's hard to put into numbers, and of course social violence and coercion against marginalized people don't matter, because that too is hard to put into numbers. The only thing that matters is making the capitalist machine run with as few inconvenient disruptions as possible.

The idea that chattel slavery - or forced birth, or forced marriage - don't degrade private life is an idea only possible to someone who is rich, white, male and already able to command a lot of bowing and scraping, someone who has made his peace with inequality because he's at the top of the heap.

It's a disgrace, and no amount of "but people would be even poorer if they lived at home with their families as non-slaves instead of being servants and sending remittances" makes it any better.
posted by Frowner at 5:25 PM on February 15, 2018 [17 favorites]


I'm also reminded of how in England before the wars, many many working class people articulated very clearly to early social work types that they'd rather live in some run-down cottage with hardly anything to their names than go and be house servants, always on call and always controlled. The idea that you're some kind of incredibly magnanimous person because you offer to hire someone at poverty wages to live in your house on your suffrance as your inferior is not always shared by the people you are fixing to help.
posted by Frowner at 5:31 PM on February 15, 2018 [19 favorites]


So, the head of the Times' op/Ed page has distributed a rather self serving memo about his hiring. The thing is a joke, given his track record - you can't say you believe in empiricism and then hire Bret Stephens.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:43 AM on February 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


Of course, to do that you have to construe the problem in a convenient way, just as you do with "chattel slavery will alleviate global poverty!" - you have to assume that underlying oppressive systems either don't exist, don't matter or can't be changed. So there's no way to deal with economic inequality through redistribution, or to deal with the patriarchy/inequality mix except by creating more patriarch - you pretend that the only way to win is to make an oppressive system function at maximum effectiveness.

First, no one said that chattel slavery would alleviate global poverty. This isn't chattel slavery (although I agree with you that assuming it would not run the risk of becoming, essentially, chattel slavery is ignorant). Fixing global poverty is a pretty big job, and so is preserving human rights for the global poor.

That said, what way do you see for dealing with global economic inequality through redistribution? It's a much more difficult problem than dealing with economic inequality within a single political unit (eg, the US). Here in the US it doesn't work because people don't want it to work, but we have all of the political and bureaucratic mechanisms in place. Globally, that's not the case. There's no single taxing/spending authority. So what obvious idea are they missing?

(All of this said, this specific idea is dumb as hell, but the idea that facilitating legal, relatively safe labor migration might be an overall net good for the global poor is not actually a dumb idea. Illegal, unsafe labor migration already happens, and it benefits most of the people in this thread --- perhaps all. Given that, the "rich white prof who wants to benefit" thing is more than a bit ironic. These profs already benefit from the exploitation of migrant labor, as do you.)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:08 AM on February 16, 2018


I'm trying to imagine this line of reasoning: "Man, that international income inequality sure does encourage and facilitate human rights violations. I know! If we simply move some of those people at the bottom end of the income inequality into the same house as those higher up on the income inequality scale, but allow them to be slaves and thus maybe even more unequal, with the higher up people having direct individual power over other individuals, that will fix all of the potential human rights issues!" It's like, they looked at the phrase "international income inequality" are said, "clearly the problem here is that it's international rather than intra-national"?!


You don't have to imagine their reasoning, it's here.
If the OECD countries copied the migration policies of the GCC countries, they would reduce global inequality by much more than their welfare systems do within their borders. For example, if OECD countries welcomed migrants in proportion to their GDP at the same rate and from the same poor nations as Qatar does, this would reduce global inequality by about twice the amount that eliminating all internal inequality in the OECD countries would—and by twice the rate that taxes and transfers in these countries reduce global inequality. If they adopted the same per-citizen rate at which the UAE takes migrants, they could accomplish much more. By taking in the 60 percent of the global population who make less than the bottom five percent in the United States and paying them $5,000 per year, the U.S. and Europe would reduce global inequality by roughly a third.

We citizens of OECD countries take pride in our political and civil rights, and our generous welfare systems. Yet we maintain our high standard of living by giving no rights and trivial money to people who live outside our arbitrary borders. While we fuss over whether we should raise or lower our marginal tax rates, we ignore the plight of the most desperate people in the world. And yet we are surprised that leaders of China and the GCC accuse us of hypocrisy when we criticize their records on human rights.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:13 AM on February 16, 2018


This is not to say that migrant workers in GCC have it easy—not by any stretch. Those in monarchical Qatar, for instance, do not enjoy even the limited rights of Qatari nationals. But reducing inequality will require uncomfortable tradeoffs. Qatar would not welcome so many migrant workers if it had to give them generous political and civil rights; in fact, Gulf states explicitly seek non-Arab, dark-skinned migrants so as to minimize the risk that nationals will sympathize, fraternize, or intermarry with migrants (who would then demand permanent residence, if not citizenship). Indeed, almost all of the massive historical migrations from poor to rich countries have occurred on such economically and politically unequal terms.

That is some Karl Rove grade we make our own reality right there.
posted by maniabug at 9:36 AM on February 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


(All of this said, this specific idea is dumb as hell, but the idea that facilitating legal, relatively safe labor migration might be an overall net good for the global poor is not actually a dumb idea. Illegal, unsafe labor migration already happens, and it benefits most of the people in this thread --- perhaps all. Given that, the "rich white prof who wants to benefit" thing is more than a bit ironic. These profs already benefit from the exploitation of migrant labor, as do you.)

"The actual problem is very hard, so let's propose something that will go disastrously off the rails but which can be verbally associated with actual solutions" seems to be what they're doing, then. "Also, if you don't support this terrible idea, you must be against immigration," I guess they're adding.

"We all benefit from cheap, unprotected illegal labor" is pretty different from "In addition to benefiting in a diffuse way from cheap, unprotected illegal labor, I can have a worker in my own home who I can house in my basement, feed on my slops and pay in scrip, as long as they're desperate enough to take the deal and I can pony up the thousands of dollars in start-up costs". Rich white men with big houses and lots of spare cash - and no moral qualms - are the people who can do that.

I also think we're totally underplaying the effects of normalizing this kind of day to day social violence - even its effects on the people who nominally benefit. On the one hand "bad things happen to people I don't know far away so I don't pay attention" is pretty bad. But "bad things happen to people I see every day, perpetrated by my family or the families of my friends, and I learn not to care even when I see it right in front of me" is worse. To my mind, an awful lot of the way white identity is constituted in this country (the coldness and isolationist/individualist mentality) derives from hundreds of years of learning to look at the suffering of our fellow human beings and not see it - and it's not like we need that tendency strengthened.

This is just very, very typical top-of-the-heap libertarian garbage - "here are some people who are starving - that means that I'm super generous if I give them a shit sandwich - unlike you selfish people! Why, morality itself requires that we provide shit sandwiches!"

Welcome, welcome
I would give you the freedom of my own home
And you may sit in my kitchen
Between the hours of five and six

posted by Frowner at 9:49 AM on February 16, 2018 [12 favorites]


This article probably sums up my feelings about the underlying policy proposal.
Posner and Weyl are surely well-intentioned. The notion that liberalizing immigration (if not in the way the authors propose) would have important poverty-reducing effects on a global scale has strong support in the literature, for example in the work of Dani Rodrik. The authors also want to ensure that the benefits of immigration to extend to non-elites rather than being captured by shareholders of companies that hire immigrants, which is a laudable goal.

But the proposal seems to tolerate or even embrace various practices that labor migration scholars and worker organizations have roundly condemned, including restrictions on migrants’ ability to leave abusive employment relationships, and toleration of migrants’ purchasing the right to enter the country. As a result, the proposal would not actually grant migrants any real freedom to enter and compete in our labor markets. Indeed, many could end up having to pay off a debt through work — which is the legal definition of peonage, or debt servitude.
I also think we're totally underplaying the effects of normalizing this kind of day to day social violence - even its effects on the people who nominally benefit. On the one hand "bad things happen to people I don't know far away so I don't pay attention" is pretty bad. But "bad things happen to people I see every day, perpetrated by my family or the families of my friends, and I learn not to care even when I see it right in front of me" is worse. To my mind, an awful lot of the way white identity is constituted in this country (the coldness and isolationist/individualist mentality) derives from hundreds of years of learning to look at the suffering of our fellow human beings and not see it - and it's not like we need that tendency strengthened.


Right, I mean this attitude is predicated on the assumption that people will become used to abuse. I don't think that is an improbable result. But I also would be surprised if you actually thought that was a valid reason for maintaining alienated economic-social relationships between consumers & labor.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:19 PM on February 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


In today's "NYT people on Twitter" controversy, reporter Eric Lipton remarks on how "articulate and well educated" the school shooting victims from Florida are.

And after Lipton's series of increasingly ill-advised and misspelled tweets attempting to extricate himself from the dank pit of self-ownage -- including a stunningly enraging non-apology apology -- things finally calmed down a little . . . right up until America's Sweetheart Bret Stephens stepped into the fray to defend Lipton's honor, leading to a predictable renewal of hostilities.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:03 PM on February 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm surprised Stephens found the time with all the important defending pedophiles work he has yet to do.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 7:05 PM on February 16, 2018 [9 favorites]


And (of course?) Wired defends her because
She’ll no doubt continue to write, but the Acela corridor still prefers the Times and the Post to Medium. Those people need to understand what’s happening on the internet, from brightest open spaces to darkest corners.
posted by sirshannon at 7:27 AM on February 17, 2018


I guess since I haven't really read her work, I don't know anything about the Internet. It's a pity, I heard it was a cool place.

* Runs her Information Science degree through the shredder while sending a Snap with one hand and a Polo with the other. *
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:57 AM on February 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


She’ll no doubt continue to write, but the Acela corridor still prefers the Times and the Post to Medium. Those people need to understand what’s happening on the internet, from brightest open spaces to darkest corners.

That just underlines what a bullet we dodged then TBH.
posted by Artw at 8:52 AM on February 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


And of course Young Conor doesn't understand why people are pissed at the Times op/ed staff. Why an act of othering based on race has a number of people's hackles up. And most importantly, why James Bennet pushing "I'm feeding you bullshit for your own good" is a load of crap that needs to be pushed back on.

But it's not surprising, though - Bennet hired him at The Atlantic for that very purpose.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:33 AM on February 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


LGM has an excellent takedown of the push to support contrarianism as something good:
These people want to have it both ways — to place a much higher value on whether arguments are PROVOCATIVE than whether they’re true/well-informed/well-reasoned, and then whine profusely when the audience is provoked. Sorry, but you have to pick a lane. If you want to troll your core readership by CHALLENGING THEIR ASSUMPTIONS — and not by hiring actual experts who might have some different priors, but with glib, uninformed high-school-forensics bullshit like “have you considered that all lives matter?” or “durr, how can wind power work when the wind doesn’t always blow, durr” — you can’t then complain when people take the bait. Guess what, people online might not react to having their intelligence insulted with perfect civility. This is the business you’ve chosen.

The key text to understand what’s going on here is Scocca’s “On Smarm.” There’s this whole series of bad faith performative gestures (“But your tone!” “Who are you to criticize a PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING COLUMNIST?” “You can’t criticize a movie unless you’ve made one!”) whose purpose is to 1)shield powerful institutions and/or privileged individuals from accountability and 2)preempt privileged individuals from being criticized on the merits. And the punchline — as is particularly evident in the cases of Stephens and Weiss — is how often these arguments-from-status are used to protect people with no discernible expertise about anything they write about, sometimes from criticism from actual experts. It’s a nice racket.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:40 AM on February 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


Reading that article has led me to reread On Smarm, which I really should do at least once a year. It is a good companion piece to the argument in the current politics thread about "intention". Calling on belief in someone's good intentions is clearly smarm of the first order.
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:26 AM on February 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Charles Murray on the Times' editorial page:
I'd go further. The NYT op ed page isn't just improved. It has become a model, the best page anywhere for diverse topics as well as diverse viewpoints. Editor James Bennet has done wonders.
So, um, mission accomplished?
posted by octothorpe at 9:53 AM on February 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Nazis will still never love them.
posted by Artw at 10:00 AM on February 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


New York Times Editorial Board: Person Published by Times a Week Ago Is 'Disreputable' and Untrustworthy
Remember last week, when the New York Times ran an op-ed from the gun ‘researcher’ John Lott, who has been thoroughly and consistently debunked by basically everyone else who researches gun violence?

Apparently, the Times —yes, the people wot run the bad op-ed in the first place—does not remember! The paper issued an editorial today on criminal justice reform, which included this paragraph dunking on Lott:
Perhaps the most insidious part of the Trump administration’s approach to criminal justice lies in its efforts to link crime to its broader crackdown on immigration. In a speech last month, Mr. Sessions said undocumented immigrants are far more likely than American citizens to commit crimes, a claim he found in a paper by John Lott, the disreputable economist best known for misusing statistics to suit his own ideological ends. In this case, it appears Mr. Lott misread his own data, which came from Arizona and in fact showed the opposite of what he claimed: Undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than citizens, as the vast majority of research on the topic has found.
I would like to note that I also linked to that same Cato Institute debunking of Lott’s racist fake research, which tells me the Times editorial board is reading my posts. Hi!!! You should all resign!!!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:03 PM on February 20, 2018 [18 favorites]


And now the Time leadership has issued this memo pleading for civility.

Fuck that noise. I'm tired of people insulting and demeaining others to their very face, then making calls for "civility" when called out on it. The problem isn't that people aren't being "civil", it's that James Bennet thinks that shoving pisspoor writers down my throat because they have contrarian views that aren't thought out well is "good for me", and that noise can kindly go fuck off.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:32 AM on February 21, 2018 [10 favorites]


Mike Isaac of the NYT notes that civility is a two-way street.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:04 AM on February 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


Huh. Isaac's tweet has been deleted. I guess some forms of speech may be more free than others.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:48 PM on February 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


As long as the Times Op-Ed page gets clicks and ad views by publishing this shitty content, they're going to keep doing it. You want them to stop, either stop clicking and linking, or tell their advertisers to stop buying ads. There's been a pretty sustained effort to get companies to stop advertising on Breitbart. Why don't we do the same for the Times?
posted by SansPoint at 5:56 PM on February 25, 2018


“The Newsroom Feels Embarrassed”: Backfires and Explosions at The New York Times as a Possible Future Chief Re-Invents the Paper's Opinion Pages

let it be known as long as mediocre white man bennet remains at the nytimes they will never see a subscription from me
posted by anem0ne at 10:49 AM on February 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


There's been a pretty sustained effort to get companies to stop advertising on Breitbart. Why don't we do the same for the Times?

I think I have an answer to that - or at least an answer to why it doesn't work as an idea for me. Breitbart does what it does actively and throughout its entire content range - from its news reporting (FSVO etc) to its opinion pages.

The Times is, fundamentally, a newspaper. It's doing what it claims to do, and generally doing it pretty well. It has a lot of good reporters. I might cancel my subscription over the quality of some of its op-eds, but that's an acknowledgement that it is not a paper I want to buy, not that it isn't a paper at all.

Maybe that is itself an unforgivably centrist take, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:28 PM on February 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


If the Times wants different and astute op-ed voices not afraid of being politically incorrect, and not locked into standard right/left narratives, how about a standup comedian or two? Kamau Bell, George Wallace, Sarah Silverman, Ian Karmel, Steve Marmel, Jackie Kashian, Solomon Georgio, Amy Miller, Chris Titus, Shane Torres, etc. etc. There are probably hundreds who would do a great job.
posted by msalt at 5:50 PM on February 26, 2018


The Times is, fundamentally, a newspaper. It's doing what it claims to do, and generally doing it pretty well.

Counterpoint: The news section is obsessed with "Nazis: What Are They REALLY Like?" features, and also ran the more-ludicrous-by-the-day "Investigating Trump, FBI Sees No Clear Ties To Russia" story despite having much of the same information on what the investigation turned up from Page etc. that's now seen as pretty damning at least for the campaign staff if not the candidate himself.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:00 PM on February 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


msalt, W. Kamau Bell had a couple of opinion pieces in the NYT last year.

Net Neutrality: Why Artists and Activists Can’t Afford to Lose It

Expand Your World, Go to the Beach in Alabama
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:50 PM on February 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


Leak: How NYT Editor James Bennet Justifies The Op-Ed Page To His Own Paper

Is this blood in the water? I hope this is blood in the water. This guy needs to be out of his job soon as possible and his replacement needs to be very aware what happened to him.
posted by Artw at 8:29 AM on February 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Quinn Norton regurgitated her woe is me tweet storm in an article for The Atlantic
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:25 AM on February 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Enjoy the hate clicks, fuckers. Hope you choke on them.
posted by Artw at 11:39 AM on February 27, 2018 [1 favorite]




Norton seems to be conflating the three distinct (though related) concepts of pacifism, ahimsa, and nonviolent action in that Atlantic piece. Her definitions of all three seem to be ... a little different from many of the better-known practitioners of each.
posted by eviemath at 11:52 AM on February 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


She also didn't mention at all the "some people call me a nazi/nazi enabler bc of a post I wrote about how great this one nazi was while discussing how terrible this Jewish holiday is, and btw i claim native ancestry based on my dad's say-so" thing. I'm not surprised at all, but I am still a little amazed she was being hired for her ability to write clearly and convincingly.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:54 AM on February 27, 2018 [10 favorites]


What's great about this article is that she not only doubles down on stupid shit that got her fired/un-hired (what's the line there?) but also proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is a terrible persuasive writer.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:56 AM on February 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


@jonbernhardt:
I had no idea who this Quinn Norton person was last week, but "incredibly tedious writer and incredibly unimpressive thinker who believes her friendship with a Nazi is a positive teachable moment for the masses" is so on-brand for NYT's op-ed page I'm astounded they caved.
posted by Artw at 12:12 PM on February 27, 2018 [11 favorites]


(leaves me wondering if they wil find some way to redeem Kurt Eichenwald as a replacement)
posted by Artw at 12:13 PM on February 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


I read the Atlantic piece in spite of myself. I think the concept of "context collapse" is a useful one; Twitter encourages me to read and react without much context or perspective, and I find it to be not the best reflection of me in doing that. It's a medium attuned to the kneejerk.

However, her inability to own up to her failings tanks this essay right from the start.
I was accused of homophobia because of the in-group language I used with anons when I worked with them.
You've got to be fucking kidding me. At least own up to the fact that the 'in-group language' (as she so antiseptically phrases it) is deeply homophobic in origin, and trying to fit in doesn't excuse the deeply hurtful impact it has on LGBT folks. Her defensiveness has not gone away with a few weeks of perspective.
I was called a Nazi because of my friendship with the infamous neo-Nazi known on the internet as weev—his given name is Andrew Auernheimer; he helps run the anti-Semitic website The Daily Stormer. In my pacifism, I can’t reject a friendship, even when a friend has taken such a horrifying path. I am not the judge of who is capable of improving as a person.
I'll defer to those with more knowledge than me about pacifism and ahimsa, which she links to in these sentences. However, you can't have your cake and eat it to. If truly living by the principles you define for yourself means continuing to pursue a friendship with a neo-Nazi who advocates for the slaughter of children, then you have to accept the title of Nazi sympathizer. You can't support someone like that AND claim your personal philosophy exempts you from association with their actions.
posted by Existential Dread at 12:49 PM on February 27, 2018 [10 favorites]


Norton is not a gay man. The idea that she can throw around a slur that is pretty much never used against queer women out of some kind of transitive property of queerness is garbage, also I am suspicious that she's saying it as more of a channer thing anyway, because that makes just as much context sense IMO. They too toss that one around as a synonym for "weak and inferior". Her whole "I'm queer so I can say it" thing smacks of after-the-fact justification to me.

Like, I am a queer transmasculine person and I would feel super weird calling any of my gay male friends that, particularly in a "don't be one" way that actually reinforces the meaning - that's not really a typical cross-gender/cross-orientation/cross-cis/trans pattern of speech IME. I'm not saying that some people don't have the type of chummy relationship where it would feel normal, but that seems extraordinarily unlikely over Twitter.
posted by Frowner at 1:00 PM on February 27, 2018 [8 favorites]


She's still friends with weev.

Shoot her into the moon.
posted by Yowser at 1:02 PM on February 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


It's basically "I hang out with trolls, therefore I talk like a troll, oh god don't call me a troll."

She's a fucking troll.
posted by Artw at 1:02 PM on February 27, 2018 [13 favorites]


I too read the Atlantic piece.
I was accused of homophobia because of the in-group language I used with anons when I worked with them.
You mean the homophobic slurs you used.
I was accused of racism for use of taboo language, mainly in a nine-year-old retweet in support of Obama.
You mean retweeting the n-word.
Regardless of who I am and what I’ve done, there is now a Nazi-sympathizing and homophobic “Quinn Norton” out there
This is certainly the case. For some reason, the Atlantic is publishing her.
In late 2015 I woke up a little before 6 a.m., jet-lagged in New York, and started looking at Twitter. There was a hashtag, I don’t remember if it was trending or just in my timeline, called #whitegirlsaremagic. I clicked on it, and found it was racist and sexist dross. It was being promulgated in opposition to another hashtag, #blackgirlsaremagic. I clicked on that, and found a few model shots and borderline soft-core porn of black women. Armed with this impression, I set off to tweet in righteous anger about how much I disliked women being reduced to sex objects regardless of race.
[...]
I didn’t know there was a story I could have gone and looked up to understand this. I later apologized in a post about all of this, but still too defensively. I realized I was wrong quickly in the torrent of feedback, but it felt unfair to me that I didn’t have a path to finding out what was going on in my bleary morning.
I cannot imagine how she could possibly have found a path to figuring out what a hashtag meant other than looking at the most recent three tweets, or what options she had but to respond immediately and angrily to a hashtag she happened to see. If only she could find a technology writer to explain the internet to her.
posted by jeather at 1:04 PM on February 27, 2018 [9 favorites]


So her two excuses when being confronted with past internet shittiness are:
  • She wasn't being shitty, she was being faux shitty, but we're too dumb at internet to realize the difference
  • She wasn't being shitty, she was making a valid point, but she was too dumb at internet to realize that's how it made her look
but she seems to have overlooked the third option:
  • She is shitty and also dumb at internet
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:16 PM on February 27, 2018 [10 favorites]


I have been called the slur Quinn used when presenting as a queer woman as a slur/a threat. I have used that slur for myself and have used it jokingly with other queer people, including gay men, who all understood the contexts I used it in. I have never, ever used it in the way Norton has and I'm completely baffled why she thinks being queer excuses her channer codeswitching to use it exactly in the threatening awful way. Reasonable people can disagree about reclamation of slurs, but her usage wasn't reclaiming in any way, it was just the regular ole homophobic usage and being queer doesn't shield or disarm that.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:31 PM on February 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


I have never, ever used it in the way Norton has and I'm completely baffled why she thinks being queer excuses her channer codeswitching to use it exactly in the threatening awful way. Reasonable people can disagree about reclamation of slurs, but her usage wasn't reclaiming in any way, it was just the regular ole homophobic usage and being queer doesn't shield or disarm that.

It's her excuse so she can look at herself in the mirror in the morning, without coming to terms with her actual conduct. Hence the discussion about her "doppelganger" upon which all these sins have been placed - it's her construct that allows her to refuse to acknowledge that what she was actually presented with was a mirror.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:39 PM on February 27, 2018 [7 favorites]


"I identify politically as an anarchist pacifist."
The Dude: And, you know, he's got emotional problems, man.
Walter Sobchak: You mean … beyond pacifism?

What's great about this article is that she not only doubles down on stupid shit that got her fired/un-hired (what's the line there?) but also proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is a terrible persuasive writer.

AND HOW. Beyond all the rest of the burning garbage, it's really remarkable how anyone could mistake her for a writer even competent enough to stir shit at the NYT. She's the worst kind of hippy-dippy con-artist and she should be writing her fucking fairy tales in a facebook group somewhere.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:42 PM on February 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Yowzer: What did the moon do to deserve Quinn Norton?
posted by SansPoint at 1:46 PM on February 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Speaking of half-bright, attention-seeking, internet edge-lords embarrassing themselves for posterity:
Far-Right Troll Chuck Johnson Tried Out for ‘Survivor.’ Here’s His Audition Tape.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:44 PM on February 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Just for the record, Quinn's allegation that on Purim Jews are "celebrating slaughtering 75,000 people in one day" is tendentious nonsense, on par with claiming that Americans celebrate a war against Great Britain on the 4th of July.

IMO there's no chance that Aaron Swartz (who allegedly lent her the Book of Esther and would therefore undoubtedly have read it himself) would have agreed with it. It's not supported by even a casual reading of the text and I can only suppose she got it from someone like her buddy weev.

The Jewish festival of Purim starts tonight (in Australia) and and I hope everyone celebrating it has a great time.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:58 PM on February 27, 2018 [9 favorites]


Just for the record, Quinn's allegation that on Purim Jews are "celebrating slaughtering 75,000 people in one day" is tendentious nonsense, on par with claiming that Americans celebrate a war against Great Britain on the 4th of July.

I've attended religious classes where this was discussed at length and the question was asked: when you celebrate a victory in war against genocide, are you celebrating the deaths of those who wanted to exterminate you?

They were celebrating freedom of oppression and of the saving of their lives, which was obtained by hanging Haman and slaughtering some 75,800 people who wanted to commit genocide against them. We celebrate life. We rejoice that we weren't wiped out. Are we then celebrating the deaths of those who tried to kill us? No. But we aren't encouraged to mourn them, either.

IMO there's no chance that Aaron Swartz (who allegedly lent her the Book of Esther and would therefore undoubtedly have read it himself) would have agreed with it. It's not supported by even a casual reading of the text and I can only suppose she got it from someone like her buddy weev.

I think this is probably a better text for Megillat Esther. It shows the Hebrew alongside an English translation.

The holiday is taught to children as a celebration of tables being turned. The darker parts are presented, but as being entirely justified.
posted by zarq at 8:35 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


The Jewish festival of Purim starts tonight (in Australia) and and I hope everyone celebrating it has a great time.
posted by Joe in Australia 13 hours ago

Aww crap, now I need to go find some hamantaschen.
posted by k5.user at 8:40 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


k5.user: Dang it, I need some Hamantaschen too. Fortunately, they're not too hard to find around here.
posted by SansPoint at 8:42 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


They are surprisingly easy to make, btw. I keep meaning to make them with this filling, but usually wind up just buying a small container of the stuff.
posted by zarq at 9:44 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]




the man of twists and turns: Oh, neat! I'm curious to see
"Civil is building a platform for financing and distributing journalism using the blockchain and its own cryptocurrency..."
*closes tab*

*considers how his life has ended up like this.*
posted by SansPoint at 2:28 PM on February 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


Paste Magazine is not having it.

Norton argues that the view of her as a racist and Nazi is untrue. I agree with her. Having read many of her pieces, as far as I can tell, she is neither a white supremacist nor a fascist. Rather, she comes across as insensitive, careless, unkind, and tone-deaf. When the Internet describes her as a clueless, glib, and shallow thinker, they are correct. As a writer, her trademark is a proud, obtuse haughtiness that delights in oversimplification.

I have related the bare facts of Norton's termination. What I have not fully communicated is the defensiveness and lack of empathy demonstrated by Norton at every stage of this process.

posted by tofu_crouton at 12:19 PM on March 1, 2018 [14 favorites]


They were celebrating freedom of oppression and of the saving of their lives, which was obtained by hanging Haman and slaughtering some 75,800 people who wanted to commit genocide against them.

I was going to give Norton the benefit of the doubt but reconsidered. Her choice of subject was weird in the first place. She's not a historian or anything; she presents herself professionally as a reporter on current trends and culture. So what bit of current culture inspired an article on an historical figure? Well, it's about a Nazi and she's friends with Nazis, so. And that would also explain the odd intrusion of an allegation about Jews into a story that otherwise doesn't involve them.

Before going on, I should point out that Norton's reference to Purim isn't necessarily making a statement about historical events. A lot of academic historians would say that the Book of Esther is entirely fictional but for our purposes this makes no difference: what Jews do today is based on what it says in the Book of Esther, and Norton is making a claim about the text. What does the text say?

The Book of Esther is short and the relevant section is chapter 9 of 10: the Persian King Ahasuerus had authorised the genocide and despoilation of the Jews on the 13th day of the month of Adar, and although this decree could not be rescinded (another thing Norton is wrong about) the Jews received a partial reprieve from a new decree authorising them to fight back. On the 13th day of Adar the Jews did fight back, aided by Persian officials (who presumably could see which way the wind was blowing). On the day after the battle the surviving Jews were no longer under threat of genocide so the 14th day of Adar was established as a day of celebration. Purim is commemorated on that day, not the day of the battle Norton calls a massacre.

So Norton's claim that Jews celebrate a massacre is false, despite her twin appeal to authority based on her studies and the alleged agreement of her Jewish boyfriend. Anyone who knows anything about Purim celebrations knows that anyway - if kids dress up as figures from the Book of Esther it's in formal dress as Queen Esther or her cousin Mordechai, not like, figures with bloody swords.

I don't actually think that it would be immoral for Jews to celebrate the deaths of their persecutors any more than it would be immoral for people to celebrate a slave revolt, but Norton apparently does, so she makes a false contrast between Jews today and a "good" Nazi official. Her hagiography excludes the most culpable parts of John Rabe's life and focuses on period between the time he left Germany and the time he returned. It excludes, for instance, the fact that he was working in Siemens' headquarters during the Holocaust, at a time when Siemens was literally and deliberately working 50,000 slave laborers to death. It's worth noting that the only person she expresses sympathy for is the Nazi, not victims of the Nazis and certainly not the Jews of ancient Persia.

As I said, I was initially going to give Norton the benefit of the doubt, but this settled it for me. It isn't just that she praises a Nazi official (albeit for what was a praiseworthy act) but that she minimises his culpability and sympathises with him. And it isn't just that she's factually wrong about what Jews do but that it's somehow relevant in thus context. I really do think Norton has gone full-Nazi.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:29 PM on March 1, 2018 [10 favorites]


Again, I don't really know much about her, but I've got $100 that says she eventually settles with "well I wasn't a Nazi, until you people MADE ME BE ONE!"
posted by bongo_x at 10:47 PM on March 1, 2018 [14 favorites]


It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Norton's always been much more sympathetic to her nazi friends than she's admitted and that she saw a NYT column as an opportunity to continue to normalize them. Or that she's the kind of "anarchist" who, while not "actually" a nazi, regards them as a lesser evil in the fight against whatever kind of boogieman she imagines she's fighting. Or that she has no coherent position at all on any of this and she's simply as dumb as she looks.

Or all of the above. It isn't necessary to choose.

Apropos of the NYT op-ed page, Timothy Noah's remarks from a few days ago seem largely on the mark to me (regardless of his opinions of the individual columnists).
posted by octobersurprise at 7:03 AM on March 2, 2018 [8 favorites]


octobersurprise: Quite honestly, I think the simplest, and most likely explanation, is that Quinn Norton takes up whatever position is going to generate her the most revenue. By being "controversial" and a "contrarian," she shows she's able to rack up page views to her articles, which means more ad views for any site that publishes her work, and therefore, more paid publishing opportunities for her. She doesn't give a shit. She's friends with weev because weev is controversial, and writing about him makes her money.
posted by SansPoint at 8:45 AM on March 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


Quite honestly, I think the simplest, and most likely explanation, is that Quinn Norton takes up whatever position is going to generate her the most revenue.

I don't think money is what drives her contrarianism. There's a longstanding culture of contrarianism in the "free thinker" set, a sort ideological exercise in demonstrating one's bona fides.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:56 AM on March 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


NoxAeternum: Good point, though I'm not going to rule out the financial motivation as a factor.
posted by SansPoint at 11:13 AM on March 2, 2018


Quinn Norton takes up whatever position is going to generate her the most revenue.

Yeah, having a career as a freelance pundit, I don't doubt that Norton is aware that controversy sells. That she's not (yet) a very successful pundit suggests that contrarianism-for-pay isn't her sole, maybe not even her driving, motive here. On the topic of Norton herself, Jason Rhode's profile in (of all places) Paste magazine is a pretty insightful appraisal not just of Norton, but of the circumstances that make her possible:
"As a writer, her trademark is a proud, obtuse haughtiness that delights in oversimplification."
The key insight, IMO, is the degree to which Norton insists on reporting on everything through the perspective of herself, to which the most important aspect about every instance is how Quinn Norton chooses to engage with it and, fundamentally, how it makes Quinn Norton feel. That's a rhetorical style that can yield results in a writer talented and empathetic enough to wield it—and a style that may come instinctively to writers on and of the internet—but a style that, handled by Norton, becomes
a strange combination of scolding, faux-wokeness, and straw-manning, all delivered in the smuggest possible tone. It's the special kind of patronizing that grows from superficial thinking.
The problem with Norton, as a writer and a person, is that it's all about her. It's quite possible that Quinn Norton thinks it's fine to befriend and write about nazis not because she shares their beliefs—tho that possibility isn't wholly out of the question—but simply because they're Quinn's friends.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:13 PM on March 2, 2018 [11 favorites]


Yes, but why are they her friends? I thought the same thing when Chelsea Manning was being criticised for turning up to Mike Cernovich's party. How does it happen that there's a circle of opinion-formers and journalists and friends that includes all sorts of bright young things and, oh, a good percentage are literally neo-Nazis?
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:15 PM on March 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


Manning is possibly a more complex case but I’d guess a contrarian or conspiracy minded world view or a willingness to exploit the same in others is the unifying factor.
posted by Artw at 1:46 PM on March 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


So, I've been meaning to respond to this comment earlier:

( I still think that on balance the ACLU was right to defend him on the crimes he was actually accused of, but he should have been charged with a laundry list of other crimes & understand those who would prefer that the ACLU had left him to twist in the wind.)

No, they were wrong in doing so, because their defense was based on a lie - that Aurenheimer was a "security researcher". He was nothing of the sort - he was (and is) a troll and online vandal, who destroyed lives. I remember looking at that lie in astonishment, wondering how people could believe that. I do think there were some people who bought the argument, but I think the majority fell into one of two camps:

One, that while he may not be a security researcher, he was close enough that actual researchers were worried that his prosecution would set precedent that would affect them. And while I get the argument, I think it says something unsettling if the work of an abusive troll could be compared to how a legitimate field conducts itself. And then, of course, there's the sense that some saw him as a kindred spirit for for entirely different and wrong reasons.

Two, there were people who saw AT&T as the enemy, and as such were willing to ignore the lie to stick it to the man. That's a lot less defensible - while the above has an understandable logic to it, this one is just "let's lie about what he is because hey, the other side's horrible."

Now, I think we've moved beyond that to some degree - we're better about understanding the damage that trolls do and as such are less willing to compare them to legitimate reserchers because of that. But I also see that there are people who want to downplay the sort of damage that these individuals do, for a few reasons. And it's because of that downplaying that they don't see anything wrong with keeping ties to these people - and why they get surprised when other people do.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:14 AM on March 4, 2018 [13 favorites]


@jscros:
bari weiss's latest column features stellar reporting on the "intolerant left," like these two hyperlinks, which go to tweets from a fake antifa account that buzzfeed debunked in may 2017
posted by Artw at 3:19 PM on March 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


How the hell is James Bennet not fired yet?
posted by Artw at 3:23 PM on March 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


Now now, let's not burn Bari Weiss at the stake here
posted by Existential Dread at 3:41 PM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


bari weiss's latest column features stellar reporting on the "intolerant left," like these two hyperlinks, which go to tweets from a fake antifa account that buzzfeed debunked in may 2017

The column has since been updated:
Editors’ Note: March 7, 2018
An earlier version of this essay cited criticism of the commentator Dave Rubin as an example of left-leaning attacks on liberals in the public sphere, and linked to tweets that described him as a fascist. Those tweets came from an account that has been reported to be fake. Therefore the example and the links have been removed.
You could probably copy-and-paste Bennett's response to pushback on Bret Stephen's climate change op-eds here, to the effect that Bennett cares (seemingly) less about truth and more about
whether the questions Bret’s raising and the positions he’s taking are outside the bounds of reasonable discussion.
It seems profoundly broken to ask'is this reasonable?' rather than actually making an effort to determine if what is reasonable is also true: neither Weiss nor Stephens (nor Bennett) seem particularly interested in discussion leading to understanding or truth; discussion is and end to itself.

Anyway, Bennett should be fired and until he's out I don't have high hopes for the editorial pages improving (whether or not Weiss stays).
posted by cjelli at 8:19 AM on March 8, 2018 [3 favorites]


It seems profoundly broken to ask'is this reasonable?' rather than actually making an effort to determine if what is reasonable is also true: neither Weiss nor Stephens (nor Bennett) seem particularly interested in discussion leading to understanding or truth; discussion is and end to itself.

It's been pointed out that Bennett believes that liberals need to be exposed to "contrarian views" to improve their thinking - a sort of mental vegetable eating. It's an absolutely ridiculous notion, further amplified by the fact that he seems incapable of finding good writers with those views.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:56 AM on March 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


And somehow, "these aren't vegetables, the chef just took the bumper off a 2003 Honda Civic and painted leaves on it" is dismissed as anti-free-cooking intolerance.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:59 AM on March 8, 2018 [8 favorites]




More on her pal Sommers: New York Times Op-Ed Column Defends White Supremacy Radio Guest

On the off chance Weiss does actually believe Sommers is a "feminist" and a 'liberal" then I guess we can at least say she is very, very stupid and incompetent rather than a nazi sympathizer, because it takes about two minutes to turn any of this up. Like Quinn Norton it doesn't really matter which she is in regards to whether she should be fired.
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on March 8, 2018 [6 favorites]


You can always tell they don't consider themselves or their subjects feminists by they way they always use the label "self described feminist" as if to say "fuckin no one else would agree."
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 10:27 AM on March 8, 2018 [6 favorites]


The same column also calls her a "registered Democrat," as if that description doesn't also sweep in pre-2017 Jim Justice, the guy who writes those "I'm a Democrat but Republicans are right about [everything]" articles on Fox, or my late, lamented grandfather who was a straight-ticket Democratic voter but registered GOP in 1980 to vote against Reagan in the primary and never changed back.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:44 AM on March 8, 2018 [5 favorites]


@AmandaMarcotte:
Remember: Bari Weiss calls herself a “classic liberal”, the favorite term of alt-righters who mistakenly think they’re cleverly fooling you.
posted by Artw at 10:53 AM on March 8, 2018 [8 favorites]


If You Truly Care About Speech, You Will Invite Me to Your Office to Personally Call You a Dipshit:
It is absolutely necessary, for the sake of democratic ideals, that the staff attend my talk, and they must listen politely (and quietly) as I condescendingly dismiss their idiotic worldviews and personally insult them. They cannot yell at me or express indignation in any way. For them not to allow this to happen would be an alarming sign of the decline of liberalism in the West.

It’s not enough that I have the right to criticize Bari Weiss, James Bennet, and Bret Stephens here at the web publication I work for, or on Twitter, or really any other platform I have access to. The problem is that there is a platform I don’t have access to—the offices of the New York Times, specifically the opinion section—and, therefore, I have no way to personally and directly criticize the people I find objectionable. That is a clear-cut violation of the principle of open and lively democratic debate.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:20 PM on March 8, 2018 [10 favorites]


Now now, let's not burn Bari Weiss at the stake here.

OK. Can we just expose her as a duplicitous idiot?
posted by msalt at 11:47 PM on March 8, 2018 [4 favorites]


Fucking hell, another one.

@davidklion:
If you're a normal educated news consumer, you probably try and fail to keep up with two dozen major stories a day in the Trump era. If you're a NYT Opinion columnist, there is only one story that matters: the time undergrads were mean to fascist provocateur Christina Sommers.

How many times are they going to milk “being mean to a Nazi is the real being a Nazi”? Surely there’s a limit to how much they can recycle a busted hot take?
posted by Artw at 5:41 AM on March 9, 2018 [8 favorites]


Best bit.
posted by Artw at 8:38 AM on March 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


Brooks has written himself so far into a rhetorical corner by now that all he can do at this point is to yell at the college kids to get off his lawn.
posted by octothorpe at 9:46 AM on March 9, 2018


Earlier today, I wrote this on FB:

The New York Times should just dump its Op-ed section. Most of the writers are mendacious idiots, and the Internet has completely eradicated barriers to getting a person's opinion out to the world. Providing rigorously fact-checked journalism is a big public good; giving space and legitimacy to Bari Weiss and David Brooks bleating about disrespectful undergrads is not.

Got back to my desk after a meeting and a coworker immediately started shit with me about it (my office is one of those unfortunate situations where there was a mass-FB-friend-acceptance before everyone recognized the enormous downsides of such a thing), saying that David Brooks is great, he's her favorite Republican ("I mean, I'd never vote for him if he ran for something, but I really respect the way he doesn't back Trump!"), he's so reasonable, how could I try to silence him, etc. I got pretty heated in response, and now I'm just sitting here amazed that the biggest work dustup I've been involved in for quite a while resulted from someone going to bat for David fucking Brooks.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 10:27 AM on March 9, 2018 [7 favorites]


Oh god. I'd never have anyone at work as a Facebook friend. That's a sure path to hell.
posted by octothorpe at 11:11 AM on March 9, 2018 [7 favorites]


How many times are they going to milk “being mean to a Nazi is the real being a Nazi”? Surely there’s a limit to how much they can recycle a busted hot take?

As the tweet in the Splinter News article I posted says, it's a racket. Right wing groups create chapters at colleges, which then invite far-right speakers with links to all sorts of bigotry to speak. Students understandably react with ire over having said speakers spew their garbage at them, and in turn the Very Serious People tut-tut them for not just sitting there and taking the venom being hurled at them in their own "home".

That's why that piece resonated with me - it pointed out that if these people are going to condemn students for taking a stand against having bigotry dumped into their front yard, then they should be willing to accept the same being done to them. (The unsaid point, of course, is that no, they would never allow that to happen, which illustrates their hypocrisy.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:41 AM on March 9, 2018 [4 favorites]


The Times tech columnist ‘unplugged’ from the internet. Except he didn’t. [Dan Mitchell, Columbia Journalism Review]
So many writers have produced “I went offline, and here is what I learned” stories that they became a tedious cliché years ago. Cliché or no, however, those stories had one thing in common: the writers of them all actually went offline. Farhad Manjoo, technology columnist for The New York Times, took a different tack. He didn’t go offline at all: he just said he did, in a widely discussed column. Manjoo wrote about what he learned from his two months away from social media, and dispensed avuncular advice to his readers about the benefits of slowing down one’s news consumption.

But he didn’t really unplug from social media at all. The evidence is right there in his Twitter feed, just below where he tweeted out his column: Manjoo remained a daily, active Twitter user throughout the two months he claims to have gone cold turkey, tweeting many hundreds of times, perhaps more than 1,000. [...]

A Times spokesperson said the paper doesn’t view his assertion as a falsehood, and won’t be issuing a correction.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:44 PM on March 9, 2018 [9 favorites]


That is so fucking lazy.
posted by bq at 2:58 PM on March 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


NY Times columns renamed “the land of imagination”, consist entirely of how uninformed people think things might be.
posted by Artw at 3:08 PM on March 9, 2018 [4 favorites]


hey, does anyone remember the time the nytimes shitcanned a reporter for just making up shit outright way back in aught three?

those were the days. looks like the nytimes doesn't do that anymore to anyone.
posted by anem0ne at 3:40 PM on March 9, 2018 [5 favorites]




And Salon's companion piece: Higher Ed has 99 problems-- and the New York Times is one: New York Times’ lefty-punching op-ed page ignores real problems in academia.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:06 AM on March 10, 2018 [5 favorites]


The folks over at LGM discuss the continuing hypocrisy of the defenders of the NYT op/ed punditry, as well as how Bari Weiss continues to be unable to take what she dishes out.

You know, this would be laughable, if not for the fact that these people have been given a seat at one of the premier journalistic outlets to opine.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:51 AM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]




oh hey isn't it interesting that in those charts, the only group whose trendline is going up w/r/t wanting to let racists speak... are extremists?

who'da thunk that?

fucking extremists racists
posted by anem0ne at 9:20 AM on March 12, 2018 [4 favorites]


And really, Weiss deserves all the kicking that she's been getting. To complain that people being provoked by her "provocative message" and stating that it's a threat to free speech is a contemptible position in of itself, but then to try to harm someone's career for using profanity is just...how fucking petty do you have to be?

And let me say this - if you're complaining about outrage, you don't actually give a shit about free speech.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:30 PM on March 12, 2018 [4 favorites]


Bill Maher and Joe Scarborough's show both gave Weiss a huge platform, and didn't challenge a single one of her many, many errors and hypocrisies, instead preferring to give her a figurative tongue bath.

I'm not sure what's worse, friends-with-Nazis (and user of nasty swear words, which is probably the real reason the out-of-touch NYT Opinons canned Quinn) or brazen hypocrite.
posted by Yowser at 7:17 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]


Maher is a constant whiner about not being allowed to be mean enough to minorities do unsurprising.
posted by Artw at 7:40 AM on March 13, 2018 [6 favorites]


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