Popehat: The Problem of the Preferred First Speaker—Noted
So now Jennifer Finney Boylan self-cancels for signing the Harpers letter, and Emily van Der Werff says that Matt Yglesias's signing it makes her feel "less safe" at vox.com—thus putting Vox Media's Human Resources Department on notice that other employees may be creating an environment unsafe for her.
And she promptly gets cancelled, massively, by a mob at least partly directed by Jesse Singal, in spite of Matt Yglesias's pleas that people leave Emily alone
My first reaction to the letter was "in the world of Trump, of COVID-19, of global warming, of the murder of George Floyd, of the clearing of Lafayette Park of peaceful protesters with tear gas so the President accompanied by the CJCS can walk through—this is the type of action in the public sphere you think you should take? What's wrong with you?" But my second reaction is turning into: "Well played, John R. MacArthur, well played!":
Popehat: ‘I like and respect many of these people https://twitter.com/Popehat/status/1280662627014721536[who signed "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate"]. But I continue to struggle with the concept. The distinction between “silencing” and more/responsive/critical speech eludes me. I see instead the problem of the preferred first speaker. “The problem of the preferred first speaker” is the tendency to impose norms of civility, openness, productiveness, and dialogue-encouraging on a RESPONSE to expression that we do not impose on the expression itself. On the other hand, some of the reactions to this seem absolutely devoted to making its point. Ugh. No seriously, now I wonder if the letter was crafted to make its point not in its text but through the anticipated reactions. Good Lord above people. I mean if that was their intent—to illustrate their proposition through anticipated reactions—I have to compliment them on their craft, even if I don't agree with them entirely.
Jennifer Finney Boylan: I did not know who else had signed that letter. I thought I was endorsing a well meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming. I did know Chomsky, Steinem, and Atwood were in, and I thought, good company.
Also, "public shaming and ostracism" are free speech and association, and I guarantee you that you support them—you just disagree with me about when they should be used. Be suspicious of free speech philosophies that require you to refrain from speaking to promote speech…
.#noted #publicsphere #2020-07-07