The Political Is Personal. Why?

A while back I blogged about shaming, civility, tolerance, etc.: Pax Dickinson: Thought Crime, Public Shaming and Thick Liberty in the Internet Age.

I've wanted to revisit the topic because I have more to say, but most of the events I've seen that would serve as a trigger / a convenient peg to hang my hat on have had a flaw: they've all been right-wingers getting their oxes gored in front of an audience of millions.

While, culturally, I lean more to the right than to the left, my take on this topic is content and viewpoint neutral, and so I've really not wanted to uncork while defending another righty, lest my point be buried under the appearance of always sticking up for members of the Coke party.

Today I have a few minutes to spare and an internet bullying victim who is on the left.

So.

Let's talk about "#pajamaboy".

We all know the background: yesterday President Obama tweeted an ad designed to encourage people to tupperware-party his signature healthcare law to captive friends and family.

As a quick aside, this is one of the most catastrophically tone-deaf pieces of propaganda I've seen since…well, since most of the other Obamacare ads I've seen. But that's neither here nor there.

The internet erupted in a tizzy. As predicted, photoshops ran wild.

…and then something really weird and, to my mind, unsettling happened.

People started doxing the model in the ad.

It quickly turned out that he is an Obama partisan and an employee at Organizing For Action, so this isn't quite as weird and wrong as possible.

…but it's still weird and wrong.

The Washington Examiner not only gave the model's name (which I, as a point of principal, will not repeat), pointed to his personal twitter feed, they screen-grabbed pictures he uploaded to Facebook.

Jamie Wearing Fools pulled his linked in resume.

Politico, Hot Air, etc. have all mocked him.

A site that I won't even link to has dug up his home address, Google streetview stalked him, and concluded based on the price of the house he lives in and the minivan parked out front that he lives with his parents.

My question, put succinctly, is: What. The. !@#$?

PajamaGuy clearly has politics different from mine. He's in favor of socializing healthcare in the US. He's even in favor of using force to do so: he likes the idea of a mandatory fine if I don't get my healthcare in the way he wants, and – presumably – he's in favor of State violence against me if I refuse to pay that fine.

So let us mock the ad if we want. Let us mock and debate the policy.

…but why in the name of all that's holy would we try to shame him? Specifically, shame him for being some twenty something nerdy man-child? I think it's safe to say that none of the people hurling this abuse has ever met the guy. We don't know if he's nerdy. We don't know if he's a man-child. And even if he is: so what? What has he done to deserve the weight of the entire internet raining abuse down on him?

One of my favorite political and economic writers, Megan McArdle, wrote recently (in a different context):

I’ve been trying to cut down on the snark…

why? Out of pity for my victims? Oh, sure, that’s a factor…

[ but ] the main reason I avoid the joys of snarky takedowns is that it’s not very good for you. Snark is immense, immense fun…

Whatever the ostensible subject of the snark, you’re always really saying the same thing: “Look at me! I am so smart and funny! Not like this stupid person I am making fun of! You should think less of them and more of me!”…

(By the way, it's one of Megan's better pieces, and given the high quality of her "average", that's saying a lot. Go. Read.)

So, anyway, this is why I defend Pajama Guy and suggest that – no matter how much he pushes the cultural buttons of those on the right – they should leave him – the real him, the actual human being him- alone:

1) It would be better for all of us to live in a culture where we can take political positions without being doxed, without having our personal pictures grabbed from social media and used to illustrate to an audience of millions how we are complete and utter failures.

2) It would be better to have a cultural norm where we can achieve step #1 via manners, instead of draconian privacy controls on social media and document sharing (think of the children deadweight loss!)

3) Using snark as a tool is like eating cookies for every meal. It's utterly delicious…and not only are you doing bad things to yourself, but you'll feel bad

4) Not a single one of us would (a) enjoy having the weight of the internet come down on us, nor (b) would we look particularly cool if the other side had infinite resources to pick over our online presence and cherry pick items to make us look bad.

Put down your stones of personal reputation destruction and mockery. Do it even if you think the other side (whichever side that is) is living to a lower standard. It's good for your soul.

Last 5 posts by Clark

Comments

  1. jdgalt says

    I agree that the specific tactic of revealing the spokesman's (or any political opponent's) home address (or data from which it can be inferred) is evil, and indeed ought to be against the law. "Doxing" someone in this way exposes them to dangers ranging from harassment to "SWATting" to assassination, and can only be morally justified if the target is a serious, violent criminal who is beyond the reach of legal redress (such as a police officer who misuses his powers).

    But let us not conflate that tactic with the others that "Pajama Guy's" critics employ. If a guy is a hypocrite, a paid shill, or a loser who lives with his parents, and he chooses to become a public spokesperson, he deserves all the ridicule those facts will bring.

    Especially if the campaign he supports has the effect of butting into other people's private affairs, as ObamaCare certainly does.

  2. JeffM says

    This is your standard trope: no consequences for the speech of a person. The problem is that to prevent such consequences, you must preclude others from speaking. No one forced this person to make a clown of himself: he either volunteered or was paid. In either case, HE made a choice. It is my freedom to mock him, expose him, make him feel the obloquy of his own fatuousness. I shall make my own moral decisions, thank you very much. You may say that I ought not do that, that all speech is to be respected. What that means is that you believe I should self-censor or be censored. Nonsense. Broad freedom for A means restricted or no freedom for B, C, D, etc.

    I'd be more sympathetic to an argument about privacy, but pajama boy also waived his right to privacy by making a very public statement. He intruded himself into the public sphere; the consequence is that he has forfeited any right to privacy.

  3. sinij says

    Is posing for an ad is really a form of speech? It was likely his participation was limited to "put these pajamas on and pose for the picture". Still, assume he volunteered with a full knowledge, is this "speech vs. more speech" situation? Clearly not. Doxing someone is modern-day equivalent to stalking, and what is done to him is very clearly spills into physical action in our digital world.

    Mocking ad is fine. Mocking policies represented/supported by the ad is fine. Going after a model is just being a cog in the internet outrage machine. Remember this time when YOU get steamrolled by the internet outrage for some real or perceived slight that was blown out of proportions.

  4. Ashera says

    but pajama boy also waived his right to privacy by making a very public statement.

    Do all models give up their right to privacy when they are photographed for an ad?

  5. Aaron says

    @Clark

    Put down your stones of personal reputation destruction and mockery.

    Where do you come down on this issue with respect to Charles Carreon, whose main coherent complaint is "People are raping my reputation"? Sure, the internet has mocked him, and although this is a direct result of his actions, but brought in things from his past like his previous Bar suspensions.

    I disagree with JeffTM, since you're not asking for legal consequences for doxing and mockery, just advising it's best not to partake in it. And, I agree, it's often best not to partake in it, and it shows the least hubris.

    But it's hard for me to articulate a stance against it that doesn't favor the first speaker over subsequent speakers in what I think are more-speech solutions, and so I am not against it except on an "I probably won't mock people myself without good reason" basis.

  6. says

    If @pajamaboy was just some model, no one would really care.

    But he's not just a model. He's a political operative, who is supporting an effort to intrude (in a spectacularly expensive and expansive manner) upon my privacy.

    **THAT** is what makes him fair game.

  7. JeffM says

    Do all models give up their right to privacy when they pose for an ad?

    Yes, indeed they do. They have gone public themselves voluntarily. It is ridiculous to say, "I'm a private person and deserve my privacy" when the person speaking quite obviously is not expecting privacy.

    Is posing for an ad really a form of speech? This is a matter of semantics. I shall concede for sake of argument that it is not speech, but it certainly is an action. No one (presumably) compelled pajama boy to be photographed in his pajamas and to agree to have such a photograph released publicly. No one (presumably) stole a photograph of pajama boy relaxing in his own house. No one has explained why deliberate, voluntary actions are to be free of consequences. It is implied that he perhaps was unaware of the import of his actions. So what: the oblivious are to be given extra rights over the aware?

    The digital and virtual are physical? Nonsense. Nor is my moral freedom constrained by the possibility that someone else may abuse his moral freedom. I am not stalking anyone. I am not physically threatening anyone. I am in fact neither contemplating nor inciting any such thing. If A stalks B, blaming C is silly unless C has incited A to do so. I shall not restrict my actions on the basis that someone else might independently do something immoral. This is not even a heckler's veto; this is a veto by a figment of the imagination.

  8. Xenocles says

    I've long ago come to the conclusion that, contra Clausewitz, politics is war by other means. This is a good thing most of the time; it's generally better to have control of the sword of state decided by ballots rather than by bullets. But how far does this analogy extend? Who are the soldiers in this alternate form of war? What weapons are acceptable? What tactics? At some point you cross the line back into actual war, but where is that, and when is it appropriate?

  9. Suedeo says

    XBradTC, you've now made a public statement supporting an effort to intrude upon that flannelclad citizen's privacy, for reasons you feel are justified. By extension, any other supporters of this health care plan should be doxed and shamed as well, correct? What's the difference in conduct between this model and other supporters that the President did not tweet about?

    If someone (like me kthx) believes you are dead wrong, does that make you "Fair game"?

    "Fair Game" means different stuff to different people.

    I agree with Clark, appreciate this article, and feel that some of these comments really lack empathy. Fear of backlash for merely taking a position has been chilling my Internet speech for years.

  10. James Pollock says

    No one has explained why deliberate, voluntary actions are to be free of consequences.

    Perhaps nobody has explained this because nobody has argued this to be true?

    Rather, the argument is that the consequences should be proportionate. Pajamaboy posed for an ad; the argument on the table is that proportionate response falls short of tracking him back to his home (whether online or in person). Noted political operative Dick Cheney was allowed to retreat to an undisclosed location from time to time; we knew his home address because the people of the United States provided it to him. I don't know (or care) where he lives today, and I think a lot of Americans agree that we don't care, and he was in a LOT more ads. (Granted, many of them were not for candidates of his party, but still.)

  11. Wharrrrrrgarbl says

    The question we have to ask ourselves is, "How far should we go in our activism?" I am very comfortable asking Pax Dickinson's employers if they want him representing them in the public sphere – the dude had his company's name right next to his tweets about "niggers raping Jesus". I am similarly comfortable letting this guy's employers know that he posed for an Obamacare ad.

    I am not okay with finding Pax Dickinson's address and publishing it for any whackjob to see. I am not okay with publishing this guy's address. I think as a society we basically agree (at least, if we think for two seconds) that threats to your physical safety are forbidden. Posting photos of this dude's house cannot possibly serve any purpose in a debate over policy, or even whether people want to associate with this dude. Its only purpose is to threaten his physical safety.

  12. James Pollock says

    Suedo, so you're arguing that learning the details behind political advocacy is verbotten?

    Which details? What the ad advocates, and who benefits and who does not from its existence or effectiveness? Or the home address of the model who's in the ad?

    Feel free to differentiate looking up and posting the name, home address, and contact information from political ads from posting names, home addresses, and contact information in revenge porn.

  13. says

    I would agree that personal consequences should ensue, but only if he wrote the ad copy. If not, well, he just posed for an ad, and was paid as a model. Even if his politics match up with the ad, he didn't write the ad, and didn't pay for it's propagation. It's NOT his speech, it's just a picture of him.

  14. Wharrrrrrgarbl says

    Dan, even if you think that, do you agree that there are lines which should not be crossed in political activism? Living in shame because you have been revealed as an asshole to the world is different from living in fear because where you sleep has been revealed to every asshole on the internet.

  15. sinij says

    @JeffM

    I am not stalking anyone. I am not physically threatening anyone. I am in fact neither contemplating nor inciting any such thing.

    I disagree with "inciting" part. By (presumably) making pajamaboy's personal information available and very public you are greatly increasing his chances of facing adverse action by less rational parties (aka the crazies). In this way such response stops being a speech act and crosses over into action.

    Such actions are the equivalent of leaving a loaded gun on a table and uttering "It would be a darn shame if someone shot that guy while I am looking away".

  16. Josh C says

    @Xenocles,

    Perhaps you should re-read Clausewitz.
    The point he makes is essentially that wear must always support some goal, and that the actions you take must also support that goal. Contrast this with e.g. Jomini, who somehow believed that the ne plus ultra of war was to confront and defeat opposing armies (clearly ridiculous in hindsight: see Marion's campaign in SC, the Pacific campaign of WWII, or anything labelled 'terrorism').
    It's important, because the questions you raise are exactly the questions Clausewitz provides a framework to answer.

    (original translation here: http://www.clausewitz.com/readings/OnWar1873/BK1ch01.html . If you get into reading it though, I really, really recommend grabbing a copy of the Everyman's Library version instead: the framing essays are helpful, and, more so for On War than anything else I have ever read, the typography makes or breaks it)

  17. Xenocles says

    Josh-
    I understand all that; that's not the part I disagree with. I think if anything Clausewitz took too civilized a view of human history – war is the norm, not the exception, which is why I reverse his famous dictum.

  18. 205guy says

    Speaking of Obamacare propaganda, did anyone see Elysium, the movie with some big Hollywood stars in it? I know Hollywood is supposedly full of lefties, but this movie could only have been made if somebody in the white house called a few friends in LA and asked for a blockbuster that encouraged people to be be upset about non-universal healthcare. There is no way a movie on that subject with that timing was a coincidence. Even though I support Obamacare and thought the movie was OK, it still felt manipulative.

    As for the subject at hand, I don't think any of the model's defenders are going that far out on a branch when they say that the models in political ads shouldn't be targets of the politics. Those who say they should be are the ones I'm worried about. Or let me put it this way: if you don't want to do business with anyone you disagree with, the US economy is going to tank tootsweet.

  19. Matthew Cline says

    While I neither condone nor look forward to it, it seems inevitable that, in the future, someone appearing in a conservative political ad will be doxxed. And (though I doubt this applies to anyone commenting here) it also seems inevitable that some of those supporting or defending the doxxing of Pajamas Man will object to the doxxing of Hypothetical Man from the in potentia conservative ad. But I do look forward to, like a little kid eagerly awaiting the dawning of Christmas morn, their excuses for as to why the two situations are completely different.

  20. Sami says

    Regardless of his involvement in politics of any kind, the dividing line between "decent" and "indecent" response is fairly clear-cut, and applies across the political spectrum:

    You can say what you want attacking his opinions. By being politically active, he has made his opinions public and therefore an acceptable target.

    Attacking him personally is wrong.

  21. Suedeo says

    I'm in favor of learning details, and I am super hella in favor of fact-checking political statements; but in this case some bad actors have overstepped the bounds of "investigating" and are doing harm. I fear rabid partisanship may be to blame.

    "Finding out more about Pajama Boy" is acceptable. "Doxing Pajama Boy" is unacceptable. I suppose one just needs to know where to stop; the line of decency isn't clear enough for everyone to understand, which is leading to confusion about what is appropriate and what is beastly.

  22. Overcaffinated says

    Wow, I have to unlurk for this one. So is there an upper limit to this being unacceptable? This is actually not meant to be a hyperbolic question, does anybody remember the publishing of names and addresses of people that signed the petition to get prop 8 on the ballot in California? Seattle was experimenting with that bit of fun before I escaped from that locality. I'm all for abject mockery and I'll be the first one to tell Pajama Boy I think he's a statist tool when I see him but it definitely makes my skin start to crawl when I see peoples home info splashed about online.

  23. C. S. P. Schofield says

    On the one hand, publicizing this poor schmoo's address is way over the top.

    On the other, I am just a trifle weary of being asked to play nicer than the Political Class. Their cries of "Politics has become so DIVISIVE!" always sound, to me, like what is really meant is "We used to control the debate, and we liked it that way, and we're going to drum our heels on the floor and hold our breath until the others stop being as mean to us as we are to them."

    Politics is USUALLY divisive. Politics has USUALLY included personal attacks. The only times this hasn't been true are those occasional periods when one faction had some kind of clamp on things, and those periods don't come off well in history. In general, if you aren't prepared to have your species, ancestry, and morals smeared you have no place in politics.

    Oh, well. Good post. Good points. I'm a grouch. Sorry.

  24. Jacob H says

    For those of you who are defending the doxxing based on the fact that he was a political operative: well, ok, perhaps that's fair, but what about that "face of Obamacare" lady, the one whose stock photo used to be on healthcare.org's homepage? She also faced some pretty ugly online treatment, but she really was just a stock photo model. At least I think she was…Anyway, can we agree that that was pretty out-of-bounds?

  25. HandOfGod137 says

    Clark is clearly right (which I am amazed to find myself typing). What purpose does outing this chap's home address serve? If there should be "consequences" to his eschewing a particular view, then surely they should take the form of publicly expressed opinion. Making someone's identity and address public is clearly an attempt to intimidate by threat of violence.

    Thank FSM I live in a country with socialised medicine, rather than the profit-driven clusterfuck you chaps need to deal with.

  26. Not the IT Dept. says

    Going after the model in a photo is just the kind of ridiculously irrelevant stunt that many conservative bloggers/tweeters would do. Anything's better than coming to grips with the fact that the ACA passed and is law now. No, obviously the time has come for childish "I gonna hold my breath until I turn purple just because I'm really, really, reeeaaaalllllly maaaaaad!" gestures. As opposed to, oh I don't know, pointing out the flaws and making concrete suggestions to make things better or offer realistic alternatives?

  27. says

    With regard to the incident in question: doxing the schmuck in the picture is out of line.

    But as a matter of general principle: "Sauce for the goose, Mr. Saavik."

  28. J says

    "He's in favor of socializing healthcare in the US."

    He is against the healthcare model he is modeling for? You still have private health insurance, there can be no doubt healthcare has not been nationalized/socialized.

  29. Tarrou says

    I'm gonna throw in with Cline here.

    Ideally, we should not target persons about their politics. Ideally, we would all reasonably debate the subject, stay on topic, reach a conclusion or compromise and move on. Guess what? People aren't reasonable. And as fun as this is as an exercise in feeling better than other people, we all violate certain moral norms in the pursuit of our political goals. And neither side is going to unilaterally disarm in the War of Internet Snark.

    Just as my Facebook feed was blowing up with mockery of pyjama boy, the hate-stream had started against some bearded hick from A&E, who (gasp) believes that homosexuality is a sin. Quick, my smelling salts Jeeves, I feel quite faint!

  30. Demosthenes says

    @ Clark: I lean more to the right than you do, and I agree with every single word you have written in this article about this poor guy. Whatever political disagreements I have with anyone should not preclude my acknowledging when they have been shamefully treated.

    @ jdgalt: No, I don't think Clark was saying that this conduct ought to be against the law. I think he was saying that it would be nice if we left the personal and the political separate. Just because you have the right to do X doesn't make X the right thing to do.

    @ JeffM: I think your error-ridden response is worth quoting —

    This is your standard trope: no consequences for the speech of a person. The problem is that to prevent such consequences, you must preclude others from speaking. No one forced this person to make a clown of himself: he either volunteered or was paid. In either case, HE made a choice. It is my freedom to mock him, expose him, make him feel the obloquy of his own fatuousness. I shall make my own moral decisions, thank you very much. You may say that I ought not do that, that all speech is to be respected. What that means is that you believe I should self-censor or be censored. Nonsense. Broad freedom for A means restricted or no freedom for B, C, D, etc.

    You know what, actually, upon reading that, I retract my "error-ridden" statement. There ought to be consequences — social, public, and major — whenever a person says something stupid. No one is forced to beclown themselves. Some speech should not be respected. You are absolutely, 100% right, and I commit myself to following your example.

    On a related note, what's your name and address?

    @ Tarrou:

    Guess what? People aren't reasonable.

    Then why are you trying to convince us of your perspective?

  31. BBnet3000 says

    The insurance mandate is socialism? Under what definition of socialism does that fall, other than "anything having to do with the government"?

    Having a public health insurance plan we could all get on (though it wouldnt have stopped you from getting private insurance as well, or perhaps instead of) was the better idea all along, and what we got was a horrible middle ground that nobody particularly likes, brought to you by The Heritage Foundation, Gingrich, Romney, and Reid and Pelosi.

    Are the French and Swiss less free because they have a right to life that includes keeping you alive, rather than a right to life that means a right to drop dead if you cant afford to keep yourself alive? Are elderly people on medicare less free?

  32. Dan Weber says

    I don't think any of the actions of pajama-boy's critics are illegal. (As far as I've seen.) But they are uncivilized. We need to keep a separate fence for behavior that is legal but socially disallowed.

    I agree with Clark that few people (who aren't already allied with a media empire) could survive under the crush of 10% of the Internet deciding they suck and should FOAD.

  33. BBnet3000 says

    I should add, I dont know if you know anybody in their 20s who hasnt gotten a great professional career yet, but chances are they HAVE spent a holiday at home with their parents talking about health insurance. This is the only developed country in the world where getting sick or injured means going broke for some people (yes, this includes many people who do have health insurance that just isnt good enough).

  34. ZarroTsu says

    I suggest we hold a stand-up mic night and invite everyone involved in doxing and shaming pajama guy. Put them all up on-stage and let them run wild trying to be funny.

    Then we secretly put professional comedians they've never heard of (read: any of them) in the audience to heckle them.

    It would be glorious.

  35. Demosthenes says

    @ Dan Weber

    We need to keep a separate fence for behavior that is legal but socially disallowed.

    Exactly. The "It's your right, but it's not right" fence.

  36. says

    @205guy Not speaking of civil rights propaganda, did anyone see Night of the Living Dead, the movie with some random black guy in the lead? I know the film industry is supposedly full of lefties, but this movie could only have been made if somebody in the white house called a few friends and asked for an underground hit that encouraged people to be be upset about the treatment of the coloreds. There is no way a movie on that subject with that timing was a coincidence. Even though I support civil rights and thought the movie was OK, it still felt manipulative.

  37. says

    @Dan Weber "I don't think any of the actions of pajama-boy's critics are illegal. (As far as I've seen.) But they are uncivilized."

    They are the inevitable fallout from systematically painting your political opponents as The Other for decades. If pajamaboy isn't really an American, and maybe not even really human in the same way that we are, then anything goes.

  38. Decline to disclose says

    I come from a country with (semi) universal healthcare, so I don't really have a dog in the Obamacare fight. That said, I think this is pretty obscene. As others have noted, he has a right to privacy that has not been presumptively waived. Doxing like this serves no purpose in the debate other than to intimidate. This is not more speech, it is thuggery. Private thuggery, rather than state supported, but thuggery none the less.

    And to counter some of the other posters: no he was not a public figure. Being a low level political operative does not make you a public figure unless you want to claim that anyone who has volunteered in a political campaign deserves to be doxed. Similarly, merely being a model in an ad does not make him a public figure. Even if it did, this goes well beyond the realms of acceptable and into stalking and intimidation.

    As for those saying that this is a free speech issue: intimidatory speech ought not be protected. "Gee, what a nice office. It'd be a shame if something were to happen to it" is not protected speech. Neither should this be.

    @205guy:
    Odd, I thought that movie was about (illegal) immigration.

  39. Tarrou says

    @ Demosthenes,

    Then why are you trying to convince us of your perspective?

    My perspective is "yeah, it's shitty, but both sides do it and they aren't stopping, so I'm enjoying the hypocrisy".

    I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything, other than that this is my opinion. You'd have to be pretty paranoid to think I'm lying for some unknown reason (Jews!).

    On a more serious note, people can be convinced, just not reasonably. Dual process theory. You don't change someone's mind by hitting their System 1 logic circuits. If you are capable of it, you target their System 2 instinctual midbrain. Which is why things like Pyjama Boy are so popular, they appeal to the part of the brain that deals in unrealistic stereotypes. "Do you want to be (or sleep with) the sort of guy who looks like THAT?" Alternatively, "do you want to hold the same sort of opinions as a hate-filled, wild-eyed hick who wears rubber boots with a suit?" These manufactured BS memes are memes for a reason, and they will motivate more people than all the logical arguments in the world.

    There, now I've tried to convince you! Sweet dreams!

  40. says

    Enjoying my view of the crazy from over here in a country with more than two major political parties and fully "socialised" (ha, what a weird word) health care.

    A lot of this crazy seems to be due to people with limited understanding of the detailed issues picking a tribal side and then reacting in a way that maybe would have made sense in a village of 120 people, but which is unbelievably politically ineffective nowadays. And also dickish.

    I am *way* to the left of Clark, but I generally find points of agreement with him. Again, he's right: stalking a guy for looking like a smug prick in his pyjamas is not worthy political discourse.

  41. Tarrou says

    @ scav,

    A lot of this crazy seems to be due to people with limited understanding of the detailed issues

    So, everyone eveywhere.

    picking a tribal side

    Everyone who ever lived.

    and then reacting in a way that maybe would have made sense in a village of 120 people,

    So, Homo Sapiens.

    but which is unbelievably politically ineffective nowadays.

    Here we part ways. There's nothing to suggest this is ineffective. In fact, fear, hatred and tribalism are the bread and butter of politics, I would argue.

    And also dickish.

    Back with you, but see also: Humanity.

  42. Gabriel says

    OK, so at an intuitive level I completely agree that the reaction is over the top, inappropriate, and violates my expected norms of propriety in a functional civil society.

    However, the posters above who are decrying "inciting the crazies" are pushing a button for me. I am extremely hesitant ever to hold Speaker A accountable for Bad Actor B's behavior. People talk about "the crazies" as if they are boulders rolling down a hill rather than human beings with agency.

    If I were to say something which some bad actors took as inspiration to commit bad acts, I would feel regretful but not responsible.

    IP law has the concept of "substantial non-infringing use": if a device or system has applicability to some lawful purpose it is not violatory in and of itself even if it can be (and even if it frequently is) used for purposes of infringement. While I don't think publishing the guy's address was polite, measured, or appropriate, it could just as easily be an invitation to send him disapproving mail as an incitement to harm. If there are bad actors out there who take this information as enabling to unprovoked violence, that is solely the responsibility of those bad actors.

  43. James says

    The Washington Examiner not only gave the model's name (which I, as a point of principal, will not repeat), pointed to his personal twitter feed, they screen-grabbed pictures he uploaded to Facebook.

    Jamie Wearing Fools pulled his linked in resume.

    The hypocrisy is strong with this one.

    "I'm too righteous to actually print the guy's name, but here's a link to the most egregious example of doxing I could find."

    You could easily have declined to provide the link. Let those who take pleasure in the gratuitous outing do their own search.

  44. says

    Gabriel, the problem is that, based on my reading of your comments here, more than 2/3 of the US population is stupider than you. And throwing meat to the wolves is good sport for those who don't live with the wolves. The doxers, the left and right who whip up their respective bases, COUNT on the fact that there are a large number of people who will react predictably.

  45. Passerby says

    To everyone saying that "Pajama Guy" is a legitimate target because of his participation in the ad, I've gotta ask:

    How exactly does that help anything?

    So he's a "nerdy loser who lives in his parents". Do you think that if you discredit the model in the ad, Obamacare is just going to automatically roll back and the massive amount of damage it's done will retroactively never have happened?

    He was basically an eyecatch, a graphic to go with the text. He is completely and utterly irrelevant to anything. The fact that people are trying to make him, or his views, relevant to the whole thing is absolutely mindboggling and ridiculous.

    Seriously, explain how he is relevant at all. JUSTIFY the idea that crawling up his ass with a flashlight will at least get something done. The cops at least need to fake a drug dog hit before they do that, they've created elaborate justifications about the dangers of allowing a couple of bags of weed through a checkpoint. You could at least do that yourselves. How is discrediting this guy going to make any difference in the battle over Obamacare? How is it going to help anyone? Since from my perspective, the guy could have been replaced with a Simpsons-style doodle of a happy guy with attention-getting yellow skin and blue hair, I'd like to know why so much is on the line that you'd justify doing this to someone.

  46. Tarrou says

    @ Passerby,

    I agree with your point, but you misunderstand the power of stereotypes. Just as Phil Robertson is a stereotypical "hateful hick" to lefties, so the mid-20s apron-stringed simpering hyper-ironic beta male is a stereotypical "leftie shithead" to most of the middle of the country. And that may be unfair to the model, but that's what he looks like*, and that's what his politics look like. Such is the nature of stereotypes.

    * and to be fair here, I look not unlike that as well, though my politics differ wildly.

    It doesn't help anything, if by that you mean it doesn't help lefties. It does help the right play the same game that left-wingers have been dominating for a century. I don't think that's progress, but it is fair. You can call pox on both houses, like Clark. Or you can laugh at both because watching two sets of nuts demonize each other is fun. But you can't denounce one and let the other slide on everything from Stalinism to Zimmerman. Not and be anything less than the slimiest sort of partisan hypocrite.

  47. Passerby says

    @Tarrou

    Is that game we're playing that lefties usually play "Do useless crap because it makes us feel good"? Because that's ultimately the only game that's being played here.

    Saying it's being done to give the left a taste of their own medicine would first require absolutely anyone on the left to sincerely give a crap what happens to Pajama Guy. While I'm sure some genuinely feel bad for him for going through this, most are simply going to be gleeful of another chance to cast the right as a bunch of bullies. (Conveniently in this instance, the right is actually being a bunch of bullies.)

    I could understand and probably even agree with your take if it was about someone the left as an establishment cared about. A good soldier celebrity, a rich donor who always put his money to the left, a federal level politician. But this guy? Obama would have this kid killed like a rat if it meant Furthering The Cause. Wouldn't even blink.

    Pajama Guy means absolutely nothing to the left, and he's not relevant to the issue. Attacking him doesn't help on any level, in fact it's more likely detrimental. You're effectively advocating cutting off your nose to spite your enemy's face.

  48. David C says

    @Passerby: I agree. There may be a point in attacking Obama personally, however small that point may be. But he's the one who proposed the thing. There is no point in attacking a model.

    And why are people doing this? Because the model supports Obamacare? No. They're doing it because they are bullies. They COULD do the same thing with any random person in the background of a photo of a political rally. They're doing it to THIS guy because of the ridicule factor. And perhaps he deserves a little ridicule for how silly he looks, but that does not translate into finding out every detail about his life.

  49. NI says

    Here's the social problem: If the cost of speaking in public is that your entire life is going to be gone over with a fine-tooth comb and you're going to be publicly humiliated over stuff that happened a long time ago, then only those who really and truly have nothing to hide — which is hardly anyone — will be willing to speak publicly. Thanks to the Internet, it is now possible to examine everyone under a microscope, and almost none of us will look good after that kind of an examination. I only comment on blogs where I can do so anonymously for that very reason.

    The First Amendment is a wonderful thing, and I support keeping it as it is. At the same time, can we at least acknowledge that deterring good people from public participation isn't a negligible cost?

  50. luagha says

    'Rules For Radicals' techniques are used against us, therefore it is fair for us to use them as well.

    5. Ridicule is man's most potent weapon – these people are vulnerable to being laughed at for appearing like weak children.

    12. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it – the picture of pajamaboy is all we need of a man-child frozen in time, forever effeminately sipping his hot chocolate.

    6. A good tactic is one your people enjoy – while it remains funny to photoshop pajamaboy and quip off of him, it remain effective.

    7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag – Eventually pajamaboy will bore us and we will move on to other outrages, other targets.

  51. Evan says

    @205guy –

    I saw Elysium a couple months ago with my coworkers. It was really, really stupid. We spent the drive back complaining about the laughably awful presentation of computers (we're computer programmers) and stupendously inconsistent worldbuilding.

    You could almost say that a movie so horrible could only have been written by politicians ;) – but Hollywood has been putting out some atrocious stuff lately, so I'll give Obama a pass on this one.

  52. JWH says

    And what if this dude weren't an Obama partisan? What if the Obama folks hired a model, did a photo shoot, then put the photo of an ad? What if this were a stock photo of a guy in jammies? In other words, what if he were just a guy doing a job? Would right-wingers still harass him then?

    What the hell kind of world do we live in now?

  53. says

    Passerby:

    How exactly does that help anything?

    So he's a "nerdy loser who lives in his parents". Do you think that if you discredit the model in the ad, Obamacare is just going to automatically roll back and the massive amount of damage it's done will retroactively never have happened?

    AMEN!

    I've been complaining about this focus on personalities and not issues as a detriment to one's own goals for years. Decades actually, since I was telling friends in the 90's that the whole Clinton sex scandal focus was a waste of time. I take this view for a few reasons.

    1. Discrediting a person is not the same as discrediting a policy, or governing philosophy. Bad people come and go, bad policies and philosophies stick around. Focus on the long term.

    2. It encourages opposition to come back at you in kind… and escalate. Further distracting from actual governance issues. Celebrity gossip and political debate have become far too similar.

    3. The overall "your opponents will make it personal" trend discourages people from participating in politics and political debate at all regardless of position. Many talk about the public's disinterest in politics as "rational ignorance", as they have little effect on things individually. But I fear it may be due to a rational attempt to stay out of the line of fire. That participating comes with social costs that outweigh the positives.

  54. Gabriel says

    @John Beaty:

    Gabriel, the problem is that, based on my reading of your comments here, more than 2/3 of the US population is stupider than you.

    2/3 is an ungenerously low fraction =(

    The doxers, the left and right who whip up their respective bases, COUNT on the fact that there are a large number of people who will react predictably.

    But my point stands that no individual person is an automaton even if it is possible to predict aggregate behaviors of large populations with decent accuracy. To say that I am responsible for the actions of the crazies who hear my speech is to deny that those crazies have free will and autonomy. My words have no power to harm if those who hear them simply choose not to be evil; how do you hold me accountable for someone else's moral failure?

    With all that said I can certainly see and sympathize with the argument that if bad result Y is a foreseeable outcome of X then I should not do X regardless. I haven't yet fully resolved the question of whether and how the situation is different if the path that leads from X to Y includes autonomous actors versus dominoes.

  55. Tarrou says

    @ Passerby,

    Perhaps I'm not explaining myself well. It doesn't help the right win over the left, and it doesn't help the left at all. It helps the right maintain the social fiction that the left IS NOT LIKE THEM. It helps delineate the american population into Us and Them. We, American, patriotic, two-fisted, god-fearing conservatives are not like these whinging left-wingers sipping their limp-wristedly held hot chocolate (seriously, what sort of man over the age of 12 drinks hot chocolate!?). PJboi may be no more typical of Dems than Akin was of Repubs, but each side needs to see the other as a propagandist's cartoon. This stereotyping is quite useful, especially if one side can convince the other to buy into their own BS. This is why Colbert's mockery of conservatism is so trenchant, because it's only a slight exaggeration. By putting out this add, the left plays into the right's stereotype of them. It goes along with their previous adds for the ACA involving retarded sluts needing health care so they can bang random dudes. It reinforces the idea that the left is morally bankrupt (for those who care about that sort of thing), effete and out of touch with "real" America.

    So yes, this whole BS brouhaha is useful to some. It is useful to widen the gap between "Red" and "Blue" America. It helps distract from real and hard problems. Why discuss the intricate reasons why a tax overhaul is necessary when you can make fun of the other side for being ridiculous? It's easier, cheaper and more effective at swaying people. Which helps win elections.

  56. says

    luagha:

    'Rules For Radicals' techniques are used against us, therefore it is fair for us to use them as well.

    The "He started it" argument didn't pass muster on the playground. It doesn't with me now. Alinsky was an asshole. Not someone to be emulated.

    Ridicule is man's most potent weapon – these people are vulnerable to being laughed at for appearing like weak children.

    Over-personal use of ridicule, especially on someone so far down the totem poll as "pajama boy" makes one look childish.

    A good tactic is one your people enjoy – while it remains funny to photoshop pajamaboy and quip off of him, it remain effective.

    This is making fun of the ad itself. Fair game. Has nothing to do with the identity of the person IN the ad.

    A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag – Eventually pajamaboy will bore us and we will move on to other outrages, other targets.

    Certainly this will be the case. But I want to move on to substantial questions about government involvement in health care, not the personalities involved.

    Maybe I'm under the delusion that the goal of public debate is to persuade people. Harassing opponents doesn't do that.

  57. says

    Speaking only for myself, I would like to point out that we do live in a world where I can pull out a small, mobile computing device and essentially speak into it "Ok Google, who is this guy" and get serious results in short order. Because folks are happy to post pictures of themselves, and tagged metadata about their lives included in these images it is possible to rapidly build up a quick dossier from social media without even needing to resort to the news. Maybe in the past Boss Tweed had to send thugs to follow around Thomas Nast to find out who was the model for his caricatures, and Nixon had G Gordon Liddy slip a 2nd rate porn photographer a c note to learn who the model was in a Democrat attack ad during the early 70's. But these days, we do it to ourselves, and this poor slob thought "and now I'll pose for an ad, because I feel strongly about this issue" not really realizing that others feel strongly about it too, just on the other side.

  58. Xenocles says

    "Alinsky was an asshole. Not someone to be emulated."

    Alinsky was a tactician, nothing more. Ultimately tactics are adopted or rejected based on their effectiveness alone; the moral rationale follows the effectiveness evaluation. Those without swords can still die on them. There's something to be said for that sort of purity, but it unfortunately does not endure.

  59. Eric says

    I think what Clark is saying can be summed up in the wise words of the Dude, "You're not wrong, Walter. You're just an asshole."

  60. says

    Hey Clark,
    Like the provocations in this post, though won't claim to subscribe to them all.

    Looks like Justine Sacco is about to become the next Pax. (https://twitter.com/JustineSacco/status/414052561248075776) Care to share your observations on that vis-a-vis your position, particularly your guidance in #4?

    Would also ask for the thoughts of the popehatter (Ken?) who retweeted her, but I suspect I already know that position is: if someone is making despicable speech it's ok to respond with more speech, even if that additional speech is joined by a very large crowd.

  61. GeoffreyK says

    Maybe it is just my crazy liberal bias, but am I really the only person who thinks that there is a recognizable difference between a person with national name recognition doing an interview in a magazine (wherein he actively espouses personally held views), and a person whose picture is used to promote something? I'm on board with some of the criticism of Mr. Robertson being excessive/over-the-line/an overreaction, but… that is the only similarity the two scenarios share for me. Mr. Robertson made speech: the appropriate response is more speech. Pajama Guy, by my measure, said nothing (or next to it) by his willingness to have his photo used, and therefore there's no call for speech against him. Against the ad, against Obamacare, against hipsters in general, yes! But him, specifically, no.

    Also, to those that say "even if we don't criticize him for being Pajama Guy, he is still a political operative and therefore fair game": this seems analogous to the encouragement of the country's security services to find independent avenues of incrimination after unconstitutional discovery of wrong-doing. You never would've found this guy via acceptable means, but now that you have, to justify your targeting, you're finding independent reasons to do so. It doesn't change why he's really being targeted; it just makes you feel better about it.

  62. Xenocles says

    @GeoffreyK-

    Would you please elaborate as to the unacceptable means of gathering information that were used in this affair? I know relatively little here but I don't see much listed that couldn't be gathered via information that is available to anyone, much of it made so by the subject himself. This is to say nothing about the rightness of doing so, simply about the tools used.

  63. luagha says

    Alinsky was a horrible person all around. Please don't emulate his personal life in any way.

    His tactics, however, are being used against us. It therefore behooves us to understand them and use them back, within the appropriate moral realms we set for ourselves (and which we know progressives/liberals/socialsts/whatevers set lower).

    Doxing of pajamaboy demonstrated that he wasn't just a model. That he worked for Organizing for America and lived the pajamaboy dream. That empowered the drama.

    The model whose clip-art picture was on the Obamacare website didn't have anything to do with politics. Furor over her died down very quickly.

  64. GeoffreyK says

    @Xenocles
    I was not referring to the methods used to gather the information, moreso the means of target acquisition. He is a target because he is in the ad; a number of people seem to agree that being in an ad as a nameless schmoe is insufficient justification for making someone a target; a subset of those people are justifying their continued targeting of the individual based on information sought which confirms his "validity" as a target, independent of his presence in the ad, so as to build a justification for harassment which does not rely on his presence in the ad. It doesn't change why he's really being targeted, it just provides a plausible excuse.

  65. says

    I wasn't the one who retweeted Justine.

    With respect to whoever, did, I will ask this: is it a coherent view of free speech to say "even though I would normally be inclined to, I had better not retweet or comment on what she said to prevent a disproportionate response and preserve her freedom"?

  66. Xenocles says

    Thank you, Geoffrey. I understand a little better now. I suppose it boils back down to the question of what level of involvement reasonably draws extra attention. It's not hard to imagine that an investigation into a major crime would draw attention to peripheral issues and players (that would otherwise never be seen) as the edges of the spotlight illuminate them. The only real question is what makes a target.

    Anyone else remember the discussion from Clerks about the workers caught up in the destruction of the second Death Star?

  67. ChrisTS says

    I did not know about the doxxing. I agree with Clark (Wow!) that this is wrong and cruel.

    But, I am equally disgusted by the kinds of 'mockery' to which he/his image has been subjected. People implying that he looks Jewish, or that he must be gay, or he must be a nerd, etc. None of that is political argument. At best, it's mere mockery; at worst, it is a revelation of the bigotry of the people engaged in the mockery.

  68. says

    @luagha

    'Rules For Radicals' techniques are used against us, therefore it is fair for us to use them as well.

    You should probably actually understand them then, rather than trusting whatever bastardized version somebody sent you in a chain email.

    For instance, here's the whole of Rule 11:

    Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.

    What exactly is pajamaboy responsible for, other than his poor fashion choices?

  69. DRJlaw says

    @Gabriel

    To say that I am responsible for the actions of the crazies who hear my speech is to deny that those crazies have free will and autonomy. My words have no power to harm if those who hear them simply choose not to be evil; how do you hold me accountable for someone else's moral failure?

    Note: My *you* is the doxing party. Your choice to inject "I," "me," and "my" into the argument on behalf of the doxer is your own problem.

    Because I can infer that your intent was foul and can readily persuade others to assume that your intent was foul. There's little purpose for performing the act and publishing the result except to shine a limelight on the person in lieu of arguing against the message.

    I do not deny that others have free will and autonomy. I deny that you can avoid responsbility for legal acts committed for foul purposes. You're confusing legal responsbility with other forms of responsibility and social consequences. You may not be legally responsible for the crazies, but you are morally responsible for assisting the crazies by virtue of your intent. Immanuel Kant may not have the power to jail you, but he can hold you responsible for your immorality. So too can I.

  70. Wade says

    Obamacare is a tax. It will be enforced, ultimately, on pain of imprisonment, or death if one resists imprisonment. Obamacare forces people who have harmed no other person to give their money to the Government. ANY advocate of Obamacare is an advocate for imprisoning and killing people who have done no harm to anyone.

    That being said, the response to this doofus seems surprisingly mild, as he is no different from a person who is cheering on an armed robber.

  71. GeoffreyK says

    @Wade
    For the most part, the question of whether or not taxation (and the lengths to which we are societally, systematically willing to go to enforce that taxation) is okay, seems almost entirely distinct from the question of whether or not it is okay for Obamacare to be a form of taxation. We could have the same discussion around the Income Tax, right? I think there are stronger arguments to be made here than the inherent wrong-ness of taxation.

    If the idea is that we should only support taxation in those cases where penalty of death for non-compliance is justifiable, then we wouldn't have very many taxes… which I think is your point, but you're coming at it pretty obliquely. I think the main counter-argument is that the majority of people will come to their senses (sheep-up, as it were), and therefore death is only on the table when they opt to put it there (the people advocating for or supporting the tax didn't intend it that way, though it is a foreseeable outcome).

    Kind of like, "Liberty or death!". That's not an ultimatum that the British imposed upon the founders; it is one that the founders imposed upon themselves.

  72. Nick T says

    jdgalt, first comment:

    If a guy is a hypocrite, a paid shill, or a loser who lives with his parents

    You do see the difference — in the context of discussing a political ad — between the third of these and the other two, right?

  73. lelnet says

    I think Clark is right, in that living in a world where such things did not happen would be a good thing.

    We do not, however, live in such a world. And declaring to be off-limits for ourselves tactics which our enemies feel perfectly justified and perfectly safe using against us is just asking for yet more of the sort of defeat we've been suffering more or less continuously for over 100 years now.

    If he were just some dude who'd been hired to sit in front of a camera wearing pajamas and holding a mug, that'd be one thing. For that matter, I could see a viable objection being made if someone were committing violence against him.

    But a regular employee of an explicitly political organization who voluntarily puts himself out in the world as the face of his movement, suffering reputation consequences for it? No, sorry…no sympathy from me.

    If he wants a shoulder to cry on, maybe he can call up Joe the Plumber. Or any of 44,000 New York gun owners who never volunteered for the public eye. He'll have no trouble finding their contact info. Maybe they can start a support group.

  74. Mr Shotgun says

    I have to agree that Clark is right. The whole doxing thing is not very helpful to the conversation of the debate. There is nothing related to the debate that a person can glean from a street address or phone number, unless there is some theory that political affiliation is influenced by house numbers.
    At best the doxing uncovers some small amount of information that is noise compared to the main argument, I mean how is the knowledge that he is a democrat going to be formed into an argument that will strike down the ACA. It is new information sure, but not particularly useful. At worse doxing impacts someone who is completely innocent and has nothing to do with the ad they were in except posing for a stock photo. Seriously, how does this help anything.
    The whole personal attacks unpleasant rancor of the political arena resembles a pigsty more than a debate of ideas. Small wonder that the only people that run for office are the power hungry pigs. For them it feels like home.

  75. says

    @lelnet

    I think Clark is right, in that living in a world where such things did not happen would be a good thing.

    We do not, however, live in such a world. And declaring to be off-limits for ourselves tactics which our enemies feel perfectly justified and perfectly safe using against us is just asking for yet more of the sort of defeat we've been suffering more or less continuously for over 100 years now.

    If our enemy tortures prisoners, do we torture prisoners?

    If our enemy kills civilians, do we kill civilians?

    At the price of our souls, my answer is no.

    This has relevance both for US foreign policy and for domestic political squabbles.

  76. Tarrou says

    @ Clark,

    The answer is yes to both. And luckily for you, you don't have the counterfactual of "what if we never did these things?" So when indians killed our civilians, we killed theirs. When the germans killed our civilians, we killed theirs. When the Saudis killed our civilians, we killed a lot of Iraqis. These things are complicated sometimes.

    Because at the end of the day, the guys who make those calls have a very different priority list than anarcho-capitalist lawyers.

  77. goober says

    While I agree with what you're saying and I think doxing him was wrong, I won't shed a tear or lose a minutes worth of sleep based on the discomfort of a man who would gleefully watch as I was incarcerated for not living my life the way he thinks I should.

    Violence begets violence. He wants to commit violence against me because I won't buy his health care. Sorry if I don't cry quarts that he's feeling a bit of discomfort.

  78. Demosthenes says

    @ Tarrou:

    So, you tried to reason with me above? Really? After saying people were unreasonable? And then you explained to me how people could be "reasoned with," while not actually choosing to reason in that manner? Your logic has so many flips and turns that if I said I was unconvinced, I'm honestly not sure whether I would be defying or proving your point.

    So when indians killed our civilians, we killed theirs.

    And when Indians took our land…oh, wait…

  79. Xenocles says

    "If our enemy kills civilians, do we kill civilians?"

    But we do, and we always have. This is often unintentional – even the conqueror usually wants his subjects more or less intact for later exploitation – but avoiding it almost never gets in the way of achieving the objective. Even the war that all but the most ardent pacifists point to as being "the good one" was hands down the worst war in history for civilians of all belligerents but those in North America, and only then because ours were mostly out of reach.

    This is not to justify the intentional targeting of them. But let's say that it becomes known that you will under no circumstances risk harming a civilian with your conduct of the war. The same day every enemy target would be full of civilians, and you would rapidly face the prospect of losing the war. Presumably your goal in entering the war in the first place was pretty important – after all, you were willing to kill people to achieve it.

    And none of this really addresses who is to be considered a civilian in the sense of an invalid target (the word has several senses that are clear). Clearly a uniformed soldier is not a civilian. Are members of the government civilians? They, after all, are heavily involved in opposing our policy objective. Are the producers of war materiel civilians? They say, aptly, that professionals study logistics. What of the financiers, the buyers of war bonds – or even the taxpayers in general? The importance of money in fighting a war is recorded in one of the earliest chronicles of war, that of Thucydides. And none of this even looks at what it means to target them – a blockade might be meant to starve the army but it always winds up hurting the people worst if it's effective (where do you think a government at war would allocate resources?).

    I am an officer of the line, but I have never been in combat – and the more I read of it the more thankful I am of it and the more hopeful I am that it will remain so. I pray that I will never be put to the test, because I don't see a satisfactory outcome. For the choice is as dire as you say, Clark. At the cusp it either the death of the physical – our bodies and the way of life of our survivors back home – or death of the soul – if not your immortal remnant then at least the principles that once defined us. And I'm not sure that "death before dishonor" is satisfactory either – what happens when the mostly honorable choose death and leave the world to the mostly dishonorable? We don't all have the assurance of perfect justice, Clark. We aren't trying to justify means with ends, but we do face the prospect of having to make trades to achieve the best possible moral outcome.

  80. ThinMan says

    I love Popehat, but have not previously been moved to comment. Now, I just have to say…

    Bravo, Clark. Bravo!

  81. Paul E. "Marbux" Merrell says

    In my experience, people who enter debates armed only with ad hominems generally aren't aware just how foolish they appear. Doesn't matter what their political stripes, they're ducking the merits of the discussion and contribute nothing to it but noise.

  82. ChrisTS says

    @Careless:

    Is he Jewish? I have no idea. And none of the thugs implying that this kid somehow looks wrong do, either.

  83. NickM says

    Do you want to ridicule him, or do you want to ridicule Obamacare? If you want to ridicule Obamacare, his name is irrelevant. He's Pajamaboy, the symbol of kneejerk lefty emasculated hipster douchiness.

  84. Tarrou says

    And when Indians took our land…oh, wait…

    The nerve of those people, to be squatting on our land before we got there!

    As to reasoning, you're welcome sweetums! Reason and logic are not useless, we just need to understand that to use them to try to change the minds of people who are ideologically or tribally committed is like preaching the gospel to monkeys. You can do it, you can do it well, it just has no discernible effect. The best way is to convince people they were on your side all along.

    If you read Hitchen's autobiographical account of his drift from card-carrying communist to right-wing foreign policy hawk, one is struck by how little he thought he had changed. In his mind "his own" tribe, the left, had abandoned all the principles they held dear, and he was holding to the old socialist values by supporting GW Bush.

    Reason is not unimportant, but it only happens after the instinct. Our logical minds exist to justify our fundamentally unreasonable midbrains. This is not to say the midbrain is wrong, it is right as often as the forebrain, it just doesn't reason.

    So maybe I convince you! Or maybe I wax philosophical to the apes. Futility in excellence is no flaw, Camus said. One must imagine Sisyphus ….happy.

  85. JW says

    PajamaGuy clearly has politics different from mine. He's in favor of socializing healthcare in the US. He's even in favor of using force to do so: he likes the idea of a mandatory fine if I don't get my healthcare in the way he wants, and – presumably – he's in favor of State violence against me if I refuse to pay that fine.

    And mocking someone who wishes to place you in even greater peril and servitude is somehow beyond the pale?

    When the in the holy fuck did we become such fainting daisies and why should we avoid resisting against such a thing that deserves at least our scorn and contempt, if nothing else?

  86. OrderoftheQuaff says

    Pajama boy made a choice, and choices have consequences. He sought to have Obamacare pitches inflicted on people at the Christmas dinner table, so I have no problem with whatever consequences befall him.

    It isn't socialized medicine, it's socialist and capitalist medicine at the same time.

    It isn't "point of principal", it's "point of principle."

  87. Demosthenes says

    @ Tarrou:

    As to reasoning, you're welcome sweetums!

    Casual mockery usually just inflames people. Those it doesn't inflame, it annoys or amuses. It doesn't actually convince anyone.

    Or maybe I wax philosophical to the apes.

    That might be a better mission for you, actually. One is usually best received by one's own kind.

  88. Marzipan says

    It's interesting to see the notion of war as politics continued by other means raised here; it seems to be the subtext of the justifications that this guy deserves all the humiliation and doxing he's gotten. I also like the notion of proportionality that's been advanced: Ridicule the pajamas and the message, not the model and his very identity. I also think Clark makes a good point here about the corrosiveness of pervasive snark on the nature and quality of discourse.

    Star Trek VI has wisdom here: "Just because we can do a thing, it does not necessarily mean that we must do that thing." Restraint is the essence of civilization; its practice is a good one.

  89. perlhaqr says

    Clark: Frankly, this kid is pretty much the perfect storm of Rightie outrage. The tweet is about a subject they despise (Obamacare), the model looks like a bad stereotype of the "20-something overly ironic hipster asshole", and he's actually, definitively a member of the "enemy" group. You couldn't ask for a better target for tribal outgroup identification unless his pajamas were solid red with a hammer and sickle on the breast.

    Somebody might have bothered to dox the kid if he was just some random stock model–perhaps out of an intended Eddie Bauer shoot–but there's pretty much ten sigma idiots out there on every axis. The fact that he not only "doesn't look like one of us" but then turns out to actually be not one of us (for appropriate values of "us") is what makes outing him so appealing, I suspect.

    As for …but why in the name of all that's holy would we try to shame him? well, I can only reply with He's in favor of socializing healthcare in the US. He's even in favor of using force to do so: he likes the idea of a mandatory fine if I don't get my healthcare in the way he wants, and – presumably – he's in favor of State violence against me if I refuse to pay that fine.

    I'm with lelnet, goober, and JW above. He's perfectly comfortable having someone stick a gun in my face if I don't play his game. Mocking the shit out of him is a pretty mild response, all things considered.

  90. Castaigne says

    @Clark:

    Naw, dude, naw. Back in the 1990s, it was the forces of conservatism led by Rush Limbaugh that decided snarking, doxxing, and the whole shitstorm was way OK. The right-wingers of the time had no problem doing it. Then the turn of the century changed, the internet developed, and people of all political stripes began using that tactic.

    And now you cry out "For Shame!"? Because the inevitable escalation of tactics has made you uncomfortable? Too little, too late. That Pandora's box was opened long ago. Now you must deal with all the consequences of that freedom, good or bad, evil or good.

    =====

    @JeffM:

    The digital and virtual are physical? Nonsense. Nor is my moral freedom constrained by the possibility that someone else may abuse his moral freedom. I am not stalking anyone. I am not physically threatening anyone. I am in fact neither contemplating nor inciting any such thing.

    At least, not at this time. But to claim that there is a difference between the physical and virtual is completely 20th century. This is the modern age; we ARE our digital avatars. There is no line between virtual and digital life and "real life", it's all real life. And if it's OK to do the doxxing and internet savaging here, it's also OK to do the equivalents in real life.

    =====

    @XBradTC:

    He's a political operative, who is supporting an effort to intrude (in a spectacularly expensive and expansive manner) upon my privacy.

    **THAT** is what makes him fair game.

    And that's your reason for fair game. Fair enough. To each his own.
    Me, I'm an equal opportunity guy. If PajamaBoy is fair game for fuckery due to that reason, than ANYONE is fair game for fuckery due to ANY reason. I'm equal opportunity there. I think that's free and fair.

    =====

    @Xenocles:

    Who are the soldiers in this alternate form of war?

    Everyone.

    What weapons are acceptable?

    All of them.

    What tactics?

    All of them.

    =====

    @Demosthenes:

    There ought to be consequences — social, public, and major — whenever a person says something stupid. No one is forced to beclown themselves. Some speech should not be respected. You are absolutely, 100% right, and I commit myself to following your example.

    I would change that 'some' speech to 'all', myself.

    =====

    @Gabriel:

    I am extremely hesitant ever to hold Speaker A accountable for Bad Actor B's behavior.

    And your opinion on Charles Manson?

  91. Demosthenes says

    @ Castaigne: Do you really believe that unleashing public shitstorms against people is a tactic that can be traced back only as far as Rush Limbaugh? I mean, really, though.

  92. James Pollock says

    He's perfectly comfortable having someone stick a gun in my face if I don't play his game.

    If that's the standard, you've pretty much condemned EVERYBODY. I bet you even caught yourself in the blast… how should society treat people who stick guns in people's faces?

  93. Dictatortot says

    I understand Clark's sentiments, and tend to agree with them. However, it's worth emphasizing the thrust of this particular ad campaign: the administration is urging the citizenry to carry its political water into family gatherings at holiday time. The president's men are asking us to punch through the default civilized boundaries that insulate personal & family privacy from the state, and to carry the latter's battles into the former's redoubts. In other words: the kid in the photograph is a footsoldier in–the willingly enlisted face of–a campaign whose CENTRAL ARGUMENT is that citizens' and families' private "safe places" aren't off limits for partisan combat.

    I'd rather be better than Master Pajamaboy. I don't want to stoop to his own tactics, and I don't think much of fellow conservatives who run to emulate them in return. But you'll excuse me if I don't send him a sympathy card, either. You wanted politics to reach everywhere, son? You wanted the fight CARRIED everywhere, and the hell with footling concerns like courtesy, decorum, and the private individual's little family and holiday redoubts against partisan incursions? Welcome to your dream world, little boy. Enjoy.

  94. JOR says

    "The "He started it" argument didn't pass muster on the playground."

    It's also not particularly honest. Ridicule was not invented by Alinsky, nor first practiced by "the left".

  95. R C Dean says

    Those who unilaterally disarm will lose the fight.

    Progs generally, and organizations like OFA in particular, regularly try to personally attack and destroy their enemies.

    The Silver Rule applies: do unto others as they have done. Otherwise, resign yourself to defeat.

  96. R C Dean says

    One more thought: "He started it" is the foundation of self-defense. Whether it passes muster on the playground is irrelevant; we're adults, not toddlers.

  97. Veritas says

    Here we have proof positive of why Conservatives are nlosing to progressives. I assume you will be proud to claim that you occupied the moral high ground when you are in the gulag begging pajamaboy for a quick death. I have seldom seen such a pamsy assed and metrosexual argument for pre emptive surrender.

    Shame pajamaboy. Shame the Marxists, Then burn them.

    Its the only way to be sure, if you lack a nuke.

  98. Veritas says

    JOR:

    "he started it" is used in courts all the time. Perhaps in your universe this means nothing. But I'll bet in your reality everyone wears a onsie.

  99. Manatee says

    @Veritas:

    Since you seem to be such a firm believer in the power of public shaming (and apparently nuking your political opponents) to bring about a more free and just society, maybe you should post your name and your address and stand by your bold statements? Or will you, when challenged to actually stand by your convictions, fall silent like JeffM?

    @Clark:
    "He's even in favor of using force to do so: he likes the idea of a mandatory fine if I don't get my healthcare in the way he wants, and – presumably – he's in favor of State violence against me if I refuse to pay that fine."

    It's a shame you had to ruin an otherwise good post with that particular piece of intellectual detritus. This argument has been rehashed a few times in popehat comments, but the whole "Make supporters of any law or policy look evil because they would USE FORCE to punish some action or inaction that seems ABSOLUTE TRIVIAL in comparison to the SACRED HUMAN LIFE that the government would be threatening" trick is a bit tired. I wouldn't go so far as to call it completely fallacious, but it is pretty intellectually dishonest.

    I support narrowly written, fairly enforced slander laws. If Veritas publishes that RandomLiberalMetrosexual rapes children because he disagrees with his political positions, a statement he knows to be untrue, and RLM suffers damage to his reputation that translates into measurable economic damages, RLM should be able to sue Veritas. I think most right wing libertarians here would find that position reasonable. That does not mean that most people here would support "the government using lethal force to stop people from telling lies about each other."

    I don't think that lethal force should be used to maintain a public park. Using the logic Clark and many others before him have used, anyone who supports public parks supports the use of force to maintain them, because public parks are paid for by taxes, taxes are something the government mandates, disobeying government mandates lead to judicial punishments, and failure to submit to judicially imposed punishments leads to you barricading your door with your couch while SWAT shreds your house with a storm of bullets.

    That line of reasoning isn't untrue. In fact, it would be interesting to see an anarcho-libertarian judicial system based on the idea that "if the crime doesn't warrant death as a punishment, we just won't make it a crime," but I'm getting off track.

    The problem is, that line of reasoning also glosses over half the story. I don't believe in killing a guy for opposing public parks. But that isn't all the guy is doing by the time he gets gunned down by the cops. At that point, he's decided not to pay taxes if they might be used to support something he disagrees with. Rather than change the law or move elsewhere, the guy decides he should be allowed to stay right there, benefiting from the laws he doesn't disagree with, protected by the government he doesn't like, without having to obey any of those laws or that government himself. He decides to ignore the summons to court to answer charges, and to violently resist enforcement of the liens on his property for unpaid fines or taxes, and any attempts to bring him to jail. At every step in this story, this guy makes an affirmative choice take actions progressively more serious than simply refusing to obey some minor law, and by the end of it, I really don't have a problem with Deputy Do-Right unloading a magazine into the guy.

  100. says

    @Manatee

    I don't think that lethal force should be used to maintain a public park. Using the logic Clark and many others before him have used, anyone who supports public parks supports the use of force to maintain them, because public parks are paid for by taxes, taxes are something the government mandates, disobeying government mandates lead to judicial punishments, and failure to submit to judicially imposed punishments leads to you barricading your door with your couch while SWAT shreds your house with a storm of bullets.

    Yes. Exactly.

    The problem is, that line of reasoning also glosses over half the story. I don't believe in killing a guy for opposing public parks. But that isn't all the guy is doing by the time he gets gunned down by the cops. At that point, he's decided not to pay taxes if they might be used to support something he disagrees with. Rather than change the law or move elsewhere, the guy decides he should be allowed to stay right there, benefiting from the laws he doesn't disagree with, protected by the government he doesn't like, without having to obey any of those laws or that government himself.

    Why should a man have to move if he dislikes the law? Do you think that all the gays should have left America in the 1970s, or earlier??

    Rather than change the law

    So Ghandi's nonviolent resistance is moral if it works, but immoral if one doesn't have a large enough coalition to push a change through?

    benefiting from the laws he doesn't disagree with

    I "benefit" from the government laws against murder, I suppose. On the other hand, I don't associate with anyone who is inclined to jaywalk, let alone murder, so it's really not clear to me that the only thing keeping me from being killed is a prohibition on the books.

    protected by the government he doesn't like

    Many of us feel more threatened by the government than protected by it.

    At every step in this story, this guy makes an affirmative choice take actions progressively more serious than simply refusing to obey some minor law, and by the end of it, I really don't have a problem with Deputy Do-Right unloading a magazine into the guy.

    So only the protestor has moral agency, and the storm troopers (in your words "SWAT shreds your house with a storm of bullets") are an inevitable force of nature and can no more make choices or change their paths than a rock falling under the force of gravity?

    Everyone in your story makes moral choices.

    On the one hand, someone decides that he doesn't want to pay taxes for a state supported church, or abortions, or whatever.

    …and on the other hand, a SWAT team living off of stolen tax dollars decides to murder him with a storm of bullets.

    If asked to pick which side has the better moral argument, it's pretty easy for me to do so.