I've Got A Little List

Making lists of disfavored or ill-behaved people seems to be popular these days. Let's check some out!

SJWList.com

Location: SJWList.com
Stated Ethos: "You were added to the list because you publicly called for someone to be fired, disinvited, shunned, no-platformed, or otherwise punished or silenced for refusing to submit to the SJW Narrative. The particular incident is linked to your name in the list. Tortious interference is not a joke."1
Actual Ethos: Jumbled, as you would expect from a wiki inspired by a nerve-stapled easily excitable white nationalist. Some entries offer proof that the named person actually called for some sort of firing or disinviting. Others don't. Take, for instance, the entry for artist and author Alison Bechdel:

DontSilenceMeBro

Now, I don't feel silenced or no-platformed or shunned if someone tells me that a movie I like is sexist, even if I disagree with them. I suppose if you were emotionally and socially stunted then someone criticizing Apollo 13 could be silencing. YMMV.
Is it defamatory? Unlikely. As I frequently discuss here, only statements that can reasonably be interpreted as provable facts can be defamatory; insults and opinions cannot unless they imply false provable facts. To the extent the statements on SJWList don't have supporting links, they seem mostly emotive rather than factual. To the extent entries have links, they are characterizing the information in those links and therefore disclosing the factual basis for their opinions. Moreover, the entire enterprise is probably subsumed by the batshit-crazy rule.
Is it creepy? Meh. To me it's too effortful and impotently angry to be really creepy. I think it tries to be intimidating, and I could see how people could find it creepy if it directs hordes of incel cheetofingers to froth at someone.
Am I mad I'm not on it? YES. Dammit.

Social Autopsy

Location: [not giving them traffic over the lingering suspicion it's a scam or a troll job]
Stated ethos: "We are about to break the internet. Literally." "Users submit a screenshot of a person’s hate-fueled social media post, which is then used to create a profile that includes their full name, place of employment, city of residence and schools."
Actual ethos: "lol i made a kickstarter :)" "Please allow me to explain the law to you based on this quote from Wikipedia."
Is it defamatory? Too early to say. It's not defamatory to quote someone. It's not defamatory to characterize something that someone said (unless, I suppose, you deliberately took it out of context in a way to change its meaning). It could be defamatory if the site managers negligently attributed to someone a statement they didn't actually make. They may look to a "we only allow user submissions" approach so that they can take advantage of Section 230, but that contradicts their claims that they will verify information. Also, it's possible that gathering and exposing data about minors will violate some state and federal laws; I'm still researching that.
Is it creepy? Hell yes. First, it's creepy because it increases my anxiety about how, in the modern world, it is almost impossible to distinguish trolls from stupid people from evil people. (Edited to add: I previously cited a tweet here but it came from a troll posing as them, not from them.) Second, it's creepy because it's aimed at children, and seems to be Clickhole satire brought to life. I accept the first premise (bullies suck) and part of the second premise (bullies are morally responsible for their bullying) and even some of the third premise (it is appropriate for bullying to have consequences) but I can't agree with a platform that seems either intended to, or reckless about, empowering more bullying than it punishes or deters, even leaving other moral issues about minors aside. Also, the project's advocates offer garbled and contradictory plans and explanations suggesting that they are either great performance artists or unusually dim-witted.
Am I mad that I'm not on it? No.

ggAutoblocker

Location: https://blog.randi.io/good-game-auto-blocker/
Stated ethos: You don't have to listen to Gamergaters on Twitter if you don't want to; use this app.
Actual ethos: You don't have to listen to people who follow certain Twitter accounts we associate with Gamergate as a rough cut of who is a Gamergater; use this app.
Is it defamatory? No, as I've said before. They're pretty up front that this blocks people because they follow other people. Most third-party characterizations of people on the list are self-evidently opinion and hyperbole. "Everyone on that list is a sexist/racist/harasser" is almost certainly protected opinion rather than a statement of provable fact, particularly in the contexts in which it is uttered. Moreover, the group is probably too large and diffuse to attribute generalizations about it to any one person. Group Libel is rarely a thing.
Is it creepy? Not to my taste. It's not a list of people by real name, and as far as I can tell no effort has been made to connect the Twitter handles to real humans. Popehat doesn't use it — each Popehat block is artisanal. I generally would not cede my decision-making over whom to block on Twitter to an algorithm based on who follows a set of users, especially when I don't control the set. Sometimes I follow trolls for information and amusement, and I assume the same is true of others. But then, the sort of abuse Popehat gets on Twitter is limited in scope, and generally suitable for hand-banning. We don't get a thousand eggs a week yelling at us. I can see how this sort of tool could be useful to people who do. It's an extremely rough cut, but I don't think it pretends to be anything else. I think many users adopt it as an expressive act: "I reject thee, Gamergate!" That may be silly but then so is lots of expressive conduct. Caveat: if some employer started making hiring or firing decisions based on whether someone is on the list, that would be ignorant, arbitrary, and thoroughly creepy, and would mark it as a company I wouldn't do business with. But then it would be the company that's the problem, not the list. Consider this: if your local police department starts arresting people based on what psychics tell them, the problem isn't the psychics. The problem is the irrational police.
Am I mad that I'm not on it? Yes. Pretty sure I could get on it by following @Nero, but eh. Doesn't seem worth the effort.

The Block Bot
Location: http://www.theblockbot.com/
Stated ethos: You don't have to listen to abusive people on Twitter. "The Block Bot was created specifically for the atheist feminist community and currently includes a strong contingent of transgender social justice activists and intersectional feminists."
Actual ethos: You don't have to listen to people on Twitter if they have been identified as abusive by a group of other Twitter users, sometimes based on sensible criteria and sometimes based upon ideological purity, junior-high-school ingroup squabbling, humorlessness, inability to comprehend satire, binge-drinking, and possibly performance art.
Is it defamatory? Again, No. It pretty explicitly bills itself as a list curated based upon idiosyncratic criteria. "It should go without saying that blockers, as with any other human beings, make assessments based on their own perspectives and world-view and any commentary they make is their own." So, though being on the Block Bot list means somebody has classified you as a Level 1, 2 or 3 baddie, and those levels have unflattering descriptions, it's clear in context that inclusion is subjective-opinion based, and that it's largely an expressive enterprise. For instance, consider the description of Level III: "This may include, but is not limited to, accounts that appear to frequently engage in microagressions, parrot tired talking points, show a sense of entitlement to have a conversation, exhibit a lack respect for the lived experience of others, etc." Once upon a time you could look at what Tweets got someone put on the list, but as far as I can tell that function is no longer available. I was not particularly impressed with what I saw in that regard.
Is it creepy? Eh. In the sense that human interaction is creepy, I suppose. At its best, it identifies and blocks people who are actually dicks on Twitter. At its worst, it makes semi-transparent the judgmental, irrational, and catty nature of human interaction. Honestly. Say that John Doe thinks "I want to give over the decision about whom to block on Twitter to a group of people who say "intersectional" non-ironically." How much are you missing by not being able to interact with John Doe? Now, I have the same caveat as above. To the extent anyone tried to weaponize this by tying handles on the list to real names, I'd start to find it creepy. To the extent that any employer started making hiring or firing decisions based on it, I'd find the employer creepy, ridiculous, and unworthy of my business.
Am I mad that I'm not on it? Definitively. At the risk of being narcissistic I suspect they didn't put me on the list just to spite me. Well trolled.

Look: making lists and following lists and acting based on lists is expressive conduct, both speech and free association. That doesn't make it right; speech and association decisions can be good or evil or neutral. But when people treat this sort of thing as inherently censorious, they're forgetting that the people writing and using the lists have expressive rights too.

  1. TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE IS NOT A JOKE oh God I love the internet.  

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. Castaigne says

    First: Damn good post. Thank you, sir.

    First, it's creepy because it increases my anxiety about how, in the modern world, it is almost impossible to distinguish trolls from stupid people from evil people.

    My answer: Treat them all the same as evil people. Assume malice. It simplifies the equation and allows you to develop an approprate response to them all.

  2. AlanM says

    I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised that the first site, while it correctly lists the rules of the Bechdel Test, is wrong about what it means. Alison Bechdel did not state that any movie that doesn't pass this rule is sexist. One of the characters in her strip said that she wouldn't see a movie that didn't pass it. Not that all movies that pass it are good or that any movie that doesn't pass it is bad, just that she refuses to see them.

    But no, it's "Militant lesbians believe that the only movies that are any good and that anyone should watch must follow these rules. Fifty Shades of Grey? Ultra-feminist. Run Lola Run? Worthless, anti-woman trash"

  3. SlimTim says

    The account you link to for Social Autopsy likely being a troll looks like a fake twitter account pretending to be Social Autopsy.

    The real twitter name seems to be @socialcoroner the one from your link is @sociaIcoroner. It looks like they replaced the lowercase l with an uppercase i.

  4. Dr. Wu says

    It's worth mentioning that at one point, the blacklist of The Block Bot (whose creator described its listees as “the worst offenders in the recent wave of harassment") included the official Twitter account of the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain.

  5. Dictatortot says

    "[T]oo effortful and impotently angry to be really creepy."

    GET OUT OF MY TINDER FEEDBACK

  6. says

    Nice to see Popehat is now defending Melissa Click from the targeted witch hunt that landed her on SJWList.

    Will he embrace the go-to Law Enforcement excuse for embarrassing videos "You need All the Facts and proper context before Judging" used by her?.

    Stop shaming me for what I did

    … everyday people are subjected to the kinds of excoriation we have typically reserved for politicians and celebrities — those whose public and private actions, due to their vocations, are judged within the public sphere.

    Melissa Click: What would our world be like if no one ever took a chance?

    … increased surveillance resulting from advances in technology like digital recording and wireless broadband has come to mean that our mistakes will be widely broadcast — typically without context or rights of rebuttal — exposing us to unprecedented public scrutiny.

  7. says

    Yes, Paul, it's true. Because I question and make fun of the list I necessarily approve of and endorse the full conduct of everyone ever on it. You've really hit the nail on the head with your dialectic.

    Edit: Also, I believe that your handle (seen at your blog), "Omega Supreme," is a registered trademark of Yum! Brands, Inc. d/b/a Taco Bell. Cease and desist.

  8. says

    Yum! Brands, Inc. now owns Hasbro, Inc! OMG, Bernie is right. Corporations are now merging with and acquiring each other to become big enough to take over the world.

  9. says

    "Yum! Brands, Inc. now owns Hasbro, Inc! "

    I look forward to the next edition of D&D, where hit points can be restored only by eating Vecna's Bucket Of Chicken.

  10. Leo Marvin says

    I got a good laugh when I saw that SJWList considers Ben Shapiro a Social Justice Warrior. Sadly, he seems to have been removed following some blowback from Instapundit's comment section.

    It reminded me of Tim Groseclose's book on liberal media bias which categorizes The Drudge Report as left of center.

  11. Rick says

    First, it's creepy because it increases my anxiety about how, in the modern world, it is almost impossible to distinguish trolls from stupid people from evil people.

    The answer is don't bother. Don't give the stupid, evil trolls the attention and affirmation they crave.

  12. Daniel Weber says

    Social Autopsy seems to be summed up as "let's stop doxxing by weaponizing doxxing!" I can't tell if they're insane, stupid, or too venal to care.

    Also, offended that Ken thinks Omega Supreme is a taco. I will consider getting a refund on my membership.

  13. VPJ says

    Am I mad that I'm not on it? Yes. Pretty sure I could get on it by following @Nero, but eh. Doesn't seem worth the effort.

    Tried it already. Doesn't work.

    Of course, I'm not even important enough to block programmatically.

  14. VPJ says

    Social Autopsy seems to be summed up as "let's stop doxxing by weaponizing doxxing!"

    Social Autopsy would make a great name for a band.

  15. @c_s_warren says

    If your Twitter blocks are artisanal, could you tell me why I was blocked? I've never even tweeted anything — I just use it to subscribe to people I want to hear from. I was bummed when I found out.

  16. says

    @C_S_warren: The exception to the "Twitter blocks are artisanal" rule was once when someone bought us spam followers in an effort to get us banned. Suddenly we had like 7k bogus followers. We used a program that weeds them out — it had some false positives. In your case probably because of a lack of tweets. Happy to unblock you.

  17. echo says

    The New Statesman's Helen Lewis made it on there.

    The Storify record for her block – a level 2 block, no less – shows a tweet in which she objects to people using phrases like “kill TERFs” or “burn TERFS”, and another in which she tweets a link to a New Statesman article about intersectionality.

    Of course, objecting to the burning of women who disagree with you is very much against the philosophy of the site’s founder, and this is where things become problematic. In one tweet, Billingham posts screen captures of threats made against "TERFs". “Burn TERFs” one reads. Another asks “whats (sic) better than 1 dead terf? 2 dead terfs. “Works quite well,” the white male tweeter declares, “and is no ‘threat’ FFS.”

    And so the block bot has gone full circle.

    Brian Cox got No Platformed for this hate speech:
    "Universities are places where all views should be heard, debated and subjected to robust intellectual challenge"
    And I believe they threw his wife in for good measure.

    So is Ken's position that these mobs will always peter out before they do any civilization-level damage (like getting the bill of rights amended to be more "intersectional")? That admittedly seems to have happened with the Church of Atheism+ whose schismatic priests ran that particular blocklist.

    But what do you do when a new bunch has enough power to start boycotts of people who refuse to boycott their initial victims, as with the Lambdaconf witch hunt that led to Ken writing this post?

  18. says

    "But what do you do when a new bunch has enough power to start boycotts of people who refuse to boycott their initial victims, as with the Lambdaconf witch hunt that led to Ken writing this post?"

    Asimov said "The problems of knowledge will not be solved by ignorance." Likewise, the problems of free speech will not be solved by censorship.

    There's no meaningful way to stop people from putting together lists of sinners, heretics, heathens, and other ungodly folk. A list of "The 100 most sinful and wicked people on the Internet", as compiled by any of the Puritans listed in the original article, is no different from a list of "The 100 Worst Movies of All Time". They're statements of opinion which anyone is free to make or ignore.

    "But being on these lists hurts people!" It does. Being on a list of "The Worst Directors" (or singers, or actors, or writers, or burger flippers) does, too. (Ken has covered, at great length, what happens when someone tries to claim a bad review or harsh internet criticism of their work is something to be corrected by the courts.)

    We don't need some sort of regulatory regime to shut down people who make lists of people, such as a list of people who make lists of people. We need people to be less inclined to treat such lists as anything other than a collection of opinions. (If I had a dime for every moron I encounter who thinks the SPLC list of "hate groups" is somehow legally meaningful, I'd be featured on some reality show about crazy people living inside a giant mountain of dimes…)

  19. says

    @echo, Can't remember why Helen was added, although she is notoriously anti-trans and anti-sex worker. So I imagine something along those lines. Weirdly to my knowledge none of the users of the service have complained about her being added. The best you could say is that they most likely all had her blocked already, so it was moot.

    As to the "threats", yeah me saying "Eject TERFS into the sun", is not a threat. Same as "Eject the alt-right into the sun", "I want gamergaters to die in a fire". Those are not directed at a *person* so while unpleasant, I believe I said that at the time, they are not threats. If @TheBlockBot added people for expressing a wish for sexists/racists/terfs/etc to walk into oncoming traffic, I doubt it would have much utility to the community who use it. If someone makes a direct threat of violence against a person they are added to level1 afaik.

    "Brian Cox got No Platformed"… HAHA, I could go into a detailed description of GiaGia's sex essentialist bollocks, the Guardian letter and how it was explicitly anti-trans painting powerless trans activists as bullies suppressing speech … In a national newspaper…. But it's much easier to laugh at someone who thinks being blocked by a few thousand people on Twitter is "no platforming". :-D

    (ETA: I'm the coder and techy for @TheBlockBot, so my opinions may be biased)

  20. says

    @Ken, I can't, there was a coup d'etat and I was well and truly cucked by teh SJWs, no access to add people for years now! You should totally ask @MAMelby though, I've heard she is very "judgmental, irrational, and catty"

  21. says

    See? Misandry. Rank misandry.

    And I've written things on Twitter that would make people using The Block Bot choke on their tongue studs. This is rank animus.

  22. says

    Also: Oolon, regarding what is or isn't a "threat": I agree that the rhetoric you describe is pretty clearly hyperbole. However, if someone said "eject feminists/trans/etc. into the sun," would that be grounds for being listed on The Block Bot?

    I have no expectation that any bot be neutral, by the way. It's all free association and free expression. Just wondering.

  23. echo says

    This got a bit long, sorry. I'm going to focus on the assumption that the concept of "hate speech" is not legally meaningful, simply because it isn't today. I think it gets at the root of the issue.

    Do you think that it's possible to "socially construct" a hate-speech exception to the first amendment, if enough people come to assume there is one?
    Isn't that exact thing happening with the 4th amendment, as children who grew up with bag searches and security checkpoints in middle school assume that it's perfectly natural for the police to strip-search people?
    We can comfort ourselves by saying that bomb threats to lambdaconf and its sponsors can't damage our system of rights… but people also said that about Carrie Nation smashing bars, and look what that movement ended up doing!
    Ken doesn't "feel silenced or no-platformed or shunned if someone tells me that a movie I like is sexist". But the activists who developed that language are getting film screenings canceled for being “discursively violent" and "reinforcing a hierarchy of oppression". Ken calls these tools of activism harmless, even as we see them being used as weapons!

    Libertarians seem to presume a liberal society that will never become illiberal as a result of social pressures or the democratic process, and I believe they're wrong to make that assumption. The hard left knows that the bill of rights has no sacred and untouchable foundation, and they explicitly talk about eroding the rock on which Ken's theory of human rights rests.
    From that perspective, the claim that "accusations of hate speech are not legally meaningful" is itself utterly meaningless. The obvious and often-heard retort to it is "then the law and the constitution are oppressive tools of the white-supremacist cis-hetero patriarchy".

    This might seem absurd, but so would strip searches in elementary schools and anal probes on the sidewalk thirty years ago.
    What do you think will happen after a generation of the general public grows up reading articles about how "there are exceptions to Freeze Peach, like shouting fire in a crowded theater and perpetrating hate speech"?
    When the police say "Think before you post or you may receive a visit from us this weekend" often enough that everyone takes it for granted.
    When the activists make sure that anyone who disagrees with them becomes "just that one asshole, giving a speech to an empty room and a bomb threat", because no sponsor is willing to stand up to them?

    All those things are already happening, and once they become normal the tiny minority of libertarians who protest will just be no-platformed and given the "kooky old Ron Paul" treatment.

    Ken seems to believe that essays-for-nerds about "Three Generations of a Hackneyed Apologia For Censorship" can win against the Carrie Nations of the world. I just wish there was some evidence that he's right.

  24. says

    Here are some of the problems with that, Echo.

    You seem to be offering a slippery slope argument — that calling a movie sexist is on the slope to banning it, with people boycotting advertisers until the showing of the movie is cancelled somewhere in the middle. Except that's pretty much the same thing would-be censors are saying about "sexist speech" and "hate speech" — that it's on the slippery slope to actual violence, discrimination, abuse, etc.

    You're mad at the wrong thing, and it undermines the credibility of your point. People saying that a movie is sexist is not a problem. People saying that therefore it should not be shown, or it should be punished, are a problem. I appreciate, and participate in, calling people out when they suggest that "hate speech" is a legal category or that it can/should be officially punished. But it's incoherent, unprincipled, and ridiculous to suggest "racial jokes are okay but getting offended at racial jokes is not okay."

    Fight against censorship. Don't fight against expression of opinion. "You have no right not to be offended" is a thing. "You have no right to say you are offended" is not a thing.

    Also, your conflation of completely different things — decrying speech you don't like, on the one hand, and stuff like bomb threats, on the other — is too dishonest and ridiculous to address.

  25. echo says

    @mamelby Did you ever sort out all the anti-popes excommunicating each other?

    Atheism+ is our movement. We will not consider you a part of it, we will not work with you, we will not befriend you. We will heretofore denounce you as the irrational or immoral scum you are (if such you are). If you reject these values, then you are no longer one of us. And we will now say so, publicly and repeatedly. You are hereby disowned."

    Watching an atheist pope pronouncing excommunication vitandi latae sententiae against the heretics was a thing of beauty. Sometimes your only remaining purpose is to serve as a warning to others. :)

  26. mamelby says

    echo…You are also barking up the wrong tree in many circumstances.

    Many of the same people who call Block Bot part of a culture of censorship have attempted to take legal steps to censor us, made complaints to regulatory agencies, and threaten us with harassing our employers into firing us, etc.

    Your conflating many fundamentally different approaches to making cultural commentary – to the point where you are equating enforcing personal boundaries and dissent with "censorship".

    It is double plus good…just sayin.

    PS: You were referring to the people who run the Block Bot. I am an admin. I wasn't involved in the A+ forum. Regardless, not interested in highjacking this thread to talk about gossip.

  27. echo says

    If that's dishonest, I would say it's equally so to conflate "getting offended at racial jokes" with "starting boycotts of anyone who refuses to boycott a conference where someone we don't like is speaking".
    Yes, I am making a slippery slope argument, and if you really want I can go through Volokh's old paper on it and cite some of the mechanisms I think are in play.

    But fundamentally I'm confused why blacklists are not "inherently censorious"
    if "People saying that therefore it should not be shown… are a problem."
    And the distinction between "Fight(ing) against censorship" and "fight(ing) against expression of opinion" doesn't make sense to me.
    Can I list a few recent events to get people's opinions on whether they counted as censorious or not?

    "This is like when we made Eich quit Mozilla. There are views we have decided are unacceptable and we will ostracize you for having them"
    This is an expression of opinion, pure as the driven snow.

    Standing outside a cafe in masks with banners demanding it shut down for being a MisogYnist Pro-Patriarchal Rape-Apologist Scum Cafe.
    Pure expression, just calling for a boycott.

    "I'm not sure what a 'tech antifa' would look like, exactly, but it's sorely needed."
    "We have an 'antifa' movement… and they're often just as violent"
    "Yup. 100% ok with that, personally"
    Not an explicit call to violence, so it's fine.

    "So yeah. We're gonna keep on yelling until the last big-boobed bimbo is as gone from gaming as the once-beloved blackface "n***** minstrel show" is gone from American stages."
    Yelling is just speech! Nothing censorious about that.

    "“Critical discussion is simply a way of engaging in respectability politics… I think Colorado College should cancel the screening because the safety and well-being of queer and trans* students surpasses the importance of a critical discussion.”"
    Ok, so explicitly calling for speech to be eliminated, but only by a private party, so everything's ok.

    “It is fallacious to equate the rights of students to view a movie with the rights of students to exist free of violence.”
    Just a claim that watching a film is violence, just as it might be sexist. What's the distinction?

    They're all just using their rights to influence people, but every single one is a deliberate attempt to quash an enemy. Which ones am I allowed to speak out against without being accused of "fighting against expression of opinion"?

  28. mamelby says

    What's your point echo?

    You do realize that a faculty member was just fired for her actions during a protest and the LEGISLATURE (you know – THE GOVERNMENT) put enough pressure on the university to get her fired that they completely ignored the due process guaranteed by university policy that is usually followed in these types of cases right?

    Cause as someone who has taught at various colleges for well over a decade – that is f'ing chilling.

    Maybe you should invest in mirrors?

  29. echo says

    Looks like my last post got eaten by the spam filter for Too Many Links to the examples I was asking about. I'm going to go lift and play with the lambs a bit, maybe transplant some broccoli starts.
    Have a good night all.

  30. Anon Y. Mous says

    Now, I don't feel silenced or no-platformed or shunned if someone tells me that a movie I like is sexist, even if I disagree with them. I suppose if you were emotionally and socially stunted then someone criticizing Apollo 13 could be silencing.

    I guess that the list's maintainers believe that Alison Bechdel wasn't just saying that Apollo 13 was sexist. Since Bechdel never even mentioned Apollo 13, I don't think that is much of a stretch. I don't think I am going too far out there in saying that they thought that she had something more ambitious on her mind than the specifics of one particular movie. Rather she was saying that any movie that meets the criteria she listed should be boycotted. aka No Platforming.

    Did you really not understand Bechdel's point?

  31. Castaigne says

    @Anon Y. Mous:

    I don't think I am going too far out there in saying that they thought that she had something more ambitious on her mind than the specifics of one particular movie. Rather she was saying that any movie that meets the criteria she listed should be boycotted. aka No Platforming.

    I've never seen any statement from Bechdel where she said that a movie that doesn't meet her unofficial test should be boycotted. Can you point me to where she expressed this?

  32. Anon Y. Mous says

    I've never seen any statement from Bechdel where she said that a movie that doesn't meet her unofficial test should be boycotted. Can you point me to where she expressed this?

    If you follow the links, you get to Bechdel's comic (direct link here). The character in the comic describes the test and the "proper" response to a movie that fails the test. If your point is that Bechdel does not say the words herself, but instead uses one of her characters to make the point, that I will concede. Not sure where that gets you though. You must be aware that many times an artist will use her art to make a point rather than putting out an "official" statement, no?

  33. MS says

    @Anon Y. Mous

    If I drew a comic where a character said "I'll only see a movie if it has at least 4 explosions in it," would you interpret that as a call to boycott all movies with 3 or less explosions in them? Does your answer change if I said it myself directly to you?

    If someone said, "I won't go see any movie that is clearly pandering to the SJW crowd", would you call that person a censor?

  34. Anon Y. Mous says

    @MS

    I think that Bechdel was making the point that I ascribed to her. Therefore, I agree with those that put her on the list. You may disagree as to what point she was making. You may believe that she was just talking about her personal preference and thought that would make an interesting cartoon for others to read.

    Either way, I don't see how your preference for explosion-filled or explosion-free movies comes into it. However, I like both kinds of movies, so if there was a serious social effort underway to stop the making or distribution of either of those types of movies, perhaps I would be more concerned whether or not you were actively participating in that effort.

    Come to think of it, there are those who seek to eliminate violence in movies. To the extent to which those people try to enforce their views on others, I am happy to see them marginalized as well.

  35. King Squirrel says

    @MS

    I think Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal guy) described a rule like that.
    http://0at.org/img/projects/movie_suck/movie_suck_thumbnail.png

    He goes a bit farther than Bechdel though.
    Her character states a rule for movies she won't go to, while another describes that rule as "pretty strict." Inman on the other hand, goes further when he no-platforms movies with multiple helicopters by attempted manipulation of the Overton window on what is "sucky" in obeisance to The Cathedral agenda.

    There's probably some triggering, cuck, problematic, beta stuff involved too.
    Or maybe I'm just virtue signalling to my meta tribe.
    Now I need a safe space.

  36. Dan T. says

    This comic calls it the "bechamel test", which is bland and cheesy. (And I guess two female characters talking about the test itself, as happens here and also in the original Bechdel strip, passes the test since they're not talking directly about men.)

  37. echo says

    >would you call that person a censor?

    Again, what we're seeing is that the language used to describe films as "sexist", "harmful", and "discursively violent" is deployed to stop them from being shown at all.

    If I say "John violently beat me, and will do the same if you let him come to your event", I am making a case that John should not be allowed to come. This is not censorship, because John beating people is an illegal action, rather than protected speech.

    By equating speech or screening a movie with actual physical violence, these activists are making the case that this speech should not be allowed at all. This is censorship.

    The fundamental problem is that you're dealing with activists who do not believe in a distinction between "speaking" that should be protected and "action" that should not be. Saying "let's agree to disagree" or "if you don't like it, don't watch it" will never convince them, because they see "permitting discursive violence" the same as we would see allowing John to beat people.

    Saying "I won't go see any movie…" is very different from "this movie is harmful and should not exist". Is saying "we will not stop until films like this are as untouchable as a blackface minstrel show" censorious?
    I think it is. My earlier post (that a mod kindly rescued from the spam filter) links to a number of similar examples that might be worth discussing.

  38. Dan T. says

    Bechdel's character refuses to see movies that don't pass her test, and another character ends up agreeing with her. This isn't the same as demanding those movies not be screened at all; they have a right to decide what criteria to use to choose which movies to personally see, even if you might find those criteria silly.

  39. says

    Kinda fascinating to watch a group complain about censors not because they think censorship is wrong, but because they fear that their most hated rivals might be better at it than them.

  40. echo says

    @LabRat
    To be fair, it's really hard to argue from principle when none of the sides share common values or definitions.
    Like, I could imagine everyone coming to a grand agreement not to censor each other, and five seconds later

    "Now everyone can share (appropriate) views without fear!"
    "And we can still pull the fire alarm every time you show a movie we don't like."
    "Wait wha- BREEBREEEBREEEEP-
    "IT'S NOT SCREEEEEE- CENSORSHIP BREEEEEEP- UNLESS THE GOVERNMENT DOES IT!"

  41. Czernobog says

    I need help getting my head around something, people actually want to be protected from the views of a physics professor because his wife punched an intruder? Is that what's happening?

    I'm assuming I'm missing something. But I'm late to the party.

  42. MS says

    @Anon Y. Mous

    You said that Alison Bechdel wanted to ban (or "No Platform") all movies that didn't meet her test. When asked where she made that statement, you cited to the comic. My question was whether you always interpret expressions of "I don't like this…" or "I won't watch movies like this…" as calls to no platform movies, or if you only do it when you're already inclined to believe the worst about the person making the statement. You didn't directly respond to that question, but I'm pretty sure I still got an answer. So, thanks.

  43. Anon Y. Mous says

    @MS

    Context matters, especially when it come to art. Your hypothetical lacks the necessary context to give a definitive answer, so I tried to elaborate on my thinking. Since I had never even heard of Bechdel before Ken White put up this post, I can assure you I had no preconceived notions about her as a person. I based my opinions entirely on what was in this post and through following the links provided.

    Your confidence that you know what drives me says more about you than it does about me.

  44. Neil W says

    I always thought the point of Bechdel's comic is in the last panel, where they state "Last movie I was able to see was Alien", a film from 1979, when the comic was published in the mid 80s. More broadly, rather than endorsing the test as is, it was to get the reader to think about how uncommon a simple situation of two female characters, talking about anything other than a man, is in film.

    My reason for thinking that is the logical impossibility of knowing if a film passes the test and thus is appropriate for viewing unless one has watched the film.

    (Presumably one could ask a less discriminating friend to watch for oneself. Of course in the modern world people will watch the film, determine if it passes the test and put the result on the internet so if Bechdel does wish to follow the rule, that's worked out pretty well for her.)

  45. Careless says

    Cause as someone who has taught at various colleges for well over a decade – that is f'ing chilling.

    Good lord, if you're getting upset that seriously trying to get someone to commit assault against a perfectly innocent person got someone fired and is going to have a chilling effect, what sort of evil asshole are you?

    If I drew a comic where a character said "I'll only see a movie if it has at least 4 explosions in it," would you interpret that as a call to boycott all movies with 3 or less explosions in them?

    If your were an explosion justice warrior, yes, that would seem likely.

  46. Czernobog says

    Neil W understood the comic. Help yourself to a cookie, Neil.

    @Careless: It's nice to be in favor of due process. It's even nicer when you're in favor of it in all cases, not just when applied to people you side with.

  47. Castaigne says

    @Anon Y. Mous:

    If your point is that Bechdel does not say the words herself, but instead uses one of her characters to make the point, that I will concede. Not sure where that gets you though. You must be aware that many times an artist will use her art to make a point rather than putting out an "official" statement, no?

    And you know that absolutely in this case? All I see in the comic is a comic character's opinion on movies. That's it. I don't take it as the writer's opinion at all.

    It's like thinking that the viewpoints of Hothead Paisan are the viewpoints of the creator, Diane DiMassa. Except that they aren't. Hothead Paisan is just a character in the comic. Like the Punisher. Or Batman. or the Creeper. Or what-the-fuck-ever.

    So no, I find your reasoning full of shit.

    I think that Bechdel was making the point that I ascribed to her. Therefore, I agree with those that put her on the list.

    Do you have any proof other than your personal opinion?

    Either way, I don't see how your preference for explosion-filled or explosion-free movies comes into it.

    Now you're being deliberately obtuse and pretending you don't understand the example given? All right then.

    Since I had never even heard of Bechdel before Ken White put up this post

    Then I consider you remarkably uneducated.

    ===

    @echo:

    Again, what we're seeing is that the language used to describe films as "sexist", "harmful", and "discursively violent" is deployed to stop them from being shown at all.

    Where? Which movies? When did this happen?

    If I say "John violently beat me, and will do the same if you let him come to your event", I am making a case that John should not be allowed to come.

    No, you haven't. All you've said is that John will violently beat you again.
    I might be OK with this. I might not care. In no case did you specifically say he should not be allowed to attend.

    By equating speech or screening a movie with actual physical violence, these activists are making the case that this speech should not be allowed at all.

    Nope, sorry, can't agree. Unless the case is specifically stated, I don't know that's what has been implied. For all I know, by equating speech or screening a movie with actual physical violence, these activists are making the case that the movie should have a cheddar distributed to every viewer.

    The fundamental problem is that you're dealing with activists who do not believe in a distinction between "speaking" that should be protected and "action" that should not be.

    And again, I need some evidence that they don't see the distinction. Where? Which movies? When has this happened?

    the same as we would see allowing John to beat people.

    Assuming, of course, that we have an issue with John beating people. Which cannot be assumed.

    Saying "I won't go see any movie…" is very different from "this movie is harmful and should not exist".

    I agree. Can you tell me what movies the latter sentence has been specifically applied to? Which movies has it been stated that they should not exist?

    To be fair, it's really hard to argue from principle when none of the sides share common values or definitions.

    I'm not interested in arguing from principle, as principle is philosophical bullshit.
    Present me with specific examples of what you speak and I will work to get laws passed that will punish those who attempt it.

    "IT'S NOT SCREEEEEE- CENSORSHIP BREEEEEEP- UNLESS THE GOVERNMENT DOES IT!"

    This is absolutely correct.
    The person pulling the fire alarm can also be arrested for creating a false fire alarm, at least in accordance with most municipality law codes in the USA.

  48. says

    However, if someone said "eject feminists/trans/etc. into the sun," would that be grounds for being listed on The Block Bot?

    It shouldn't be, on its own. A timeline full of antifeminist sentiment and they impose it on others might mean the users of the block bot wouldn't want to hear from them. There are of course good reasons for trans ppl and sex workers to really hate feminists and to a degree some feminism. So that one especially would be a bad example as them expressing annoyance with mainstream feminism is justified. Basically it depends, context is important.

    Trans people as a group into the sun though? Again on its own unlikely, unless it was clear from their timeline that they're anti-trans. Doubtful anyone using the bot would be interested in their views.

    I agree with you on the bias thing, "the" block bot can only be for the community it serves atm. Which is why Lynn Cyrin is recoding so there can be multiple moderated lists. A groups personal bias can be entertained, in theory SJWlist could have a twitter dimension. Although as soon as it was being used for anything but ignoring on Twitter it would be removed.

  49. mamelby says

    Good lord, if you're getting upset that seriously trying to get someone to commit assault against a perfectly innocent person got someone fired and is going to have a chilling effect, what sort of evil asshole are you?

    I'm not necessarily upset that she was fired. I am upset that policy wasn't followed in her firing. She isn't the only one that type of thing has happened to. I am worried about a deterioration of faculty governance and undo pressure being placed on universities to avoid political controversy.

    Once it becomes acceptable for the state to make those types of decisions directly – we're doomed. Even though legislatures often decide funding issues, universities have generally enjoyed a great deal of autonomy.

    We've gone from the faculty being the university – and engaging in faculty governance – to faculty being politicized employees easily dispatched if they become inconvenient.

    Placing too much power in the hands of administration is one thing – but legislators putting direct pressure on a university to completely ignore their own rules is stunning.

    Pay attention – this isn't about outcome – it's about process and power.

    Saying "I won't go see any movie…" is very different from "this movie is harmful and should not exist". Is saying "we will not stop until films like this are as untouchable as a blackface minstrel show" censorious?
    I think it is.

    You realize you are doing the exact things you think are bad right?

    In many cases you are conflating speech with action – calling expression "censorship" is implying that the "censorious expression" should not exist. Are you therefore being censorious? Many of those cases are people attempting to convince others to agree with them – it's persuasion using words. That is the market place of ideas in action.

    I mean – is the fact that there are social pressures that cause Minstrel Shows to not be as popular as they once were inherently censorious?

    What much of cultural commentary is – are attempts to move the Overton Window.

    We could certainly go through your list of examples and go one-by-one and discuss them in detail – but I doubt you'd have the patience. Certainly pulling a fire alarm to disrupt an event is illegal – and the ethics of that are questionable. However, these issues are seldom black-and-white. At what point is protest intimidation? How should universities navigate their dual responsibility to encourage honest expression and to maintain a culture where all students have the opportunity to learn? At what point is a particular platform so ubiquitous that being denied that platform chills speech? Those are real discussions.

    mamelby, whether you have the authority or not, you seem to be a fascist.

    And yet…this is the conversation I get to have over and over and over and over……

  50. Careless says

    Czernobog I'm not sure what you're talking about. Where's due process involved with this evil person being scared of getting fired for attempting to incite violence?

  51. Anonymous says

    I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised that the first site, while it correctly lists the rules of the Bechdel Test, is wrong about what it means. Alison Bechdel did not state that any movie that doesn't pass this rule is sexist. One of the characters in her strip said that she wouldn't see a movie that didn't pass it. Not that all movies that pass it are good or that any movie that doesn't pass it is bad, just that she refuses to see them.

    But no, it's "Militant lesbians believe that the only movies that are any good and that anyone should watch must follow these rules. Fifty Shades of Grey? Ultra-feminist. Run Lola Run? Worthless, anti-woman trash"

    The last thing I want to do is defend Feminists, but the purpose of the test is to look at trends. Any given movie isn't sexist for not passing the test, the "industry as a whole" is sexist for having relatively few movies that don't. Of course, any movement has dumb people, and those dumb people will misinterpret it and claim a movie is sexist for not passing the test. Ignore these people, it'll be good for your soul.

    Czernobog I'm not sure what you're talking about. Where's due process involved with this evil person being scared of getting fired for attempting to incite violence?

    I think you're probably trying to be cute, but stop, this is awful thinking even in jest.

  52. Careless says

    I think you're probably trying to be cute, but stop, this is awful thinking even in jest.

    uhhhh… that's an insane post. This guy is seriously afraid of credibly threatening people with violence because he might get fired. Yes, I'm entirely serious. That's what his post was.

  53. Anonymous says

    uhhhh… that's an insane post. This guy is seriously afraid of credibly threatening people with violence because he might get fired. Yes, I'm entirely serious. That's what his post was.

    That's a very uncharitable reading. They're claiming they're afraid of the overturning of due process due to media outrage. Are they telling the truth? I don't know. Is this reasoning self-serving? Probably, I'd guess, but that doesn't stop it from being a legitimate grievance.

  54. Castaigne says

    @mamelby:

    I am upset that policy wasn't followed in her firing.

    This is a valid concern. Policy and procedure should be followed in all cases without exception. Failure to do so means that said policies and procedures are invalid and it becomes a case of personal whim.

    In many cases you are conflating speech with action

    This is correct and the main fallacy of our commentator.
    He/she is also assuming meanings not inherent in the statement.

  55. echo says

    Castaigne, if you'd actually read this thread, you'd have noticed the links about how screening Stonewall would be "discursive violence" against snowflake-kin, so it needed to be banned. Because the evil homo-patriarchy made the movie all about us or something–I don't quite follow their… analysis.

    We could certainly go through your list of examples and go one-by-one and discuss them in detail

    I asked if people would like to discuss them. Would you like to start?

    What I would really like is for Ken to stand up and say if any of the things on that list are censorious by his definition. And then we might be able to have a discussion about what might happen to the legal principles he uses to assess speech in a world where this kind of thing becomes legal precedent.

  56. Castaigne says

    @echo:

    Castaigne, if you'd actually read this thread, you'd have noticed the links about how screening Stonewall would be "discursive violence" against snowflake-kin, so it needed to be banned. Because the evil homo-patriarchy made the movie all about us or something–I don't quite follow their… analysis.

    I just double-checked every link in both the OP and the comments. There is no such link to such a criticism of Stonewall. Maybe I missed it. Care to provide me that link?

    I asked if people would like to discuss them. Would you like to start?

    That was Mamelby that stated "We could certainly go through your list of examples and go one-by-one and discuss them in detail", not I. I didn't state I had an interest in doing so.

    What I would really like is for Ken to stand up and say if any of the things on that list are censorious by his definition.

    He already made his opinion on the matter quite clear. He does not consider those type of things censorious. He also pointed out that you conflate things ridiculously. I agree with that.

    And then we might be able to have a discussion about what might happen to the legal principles he uses to assess speech in a world where this kind of thing becomes legal precedent.

    In the USA, nothing would happen to the legal principles he uses because the provisions of the Australian "Racial Discrimination Act" that would apply would be unconstitutional in the USA, especially when current caselaw is taken to account.

    So now I have to ask as to whether you're trolling or whether you didn't do the research or whether you're bone-fucking-ignorant. Why? Because the last comment of yours that I quoted indicates you have no fucking clue that free speech protections in this country, the USA, don't fucking exist in many other countries. And if you think that our free speech protections would cease to exist and we'd have UK/Canada/Australia non-free-speech, I've yet to hear from you or anyone else how the 1st Amendment and its caselaw would overthrown that way.

  57. David says

    What about non-US jurisdictions, where there is no 1st amendment? And English libel laws?

    Putting someone on a list that reduces their reputation could be sued here. Although the lists you mention do not have enough public impact in the UK to make any difference.

  58. echo says

    I don't know how you managed to miss this above, when all you had to do was ctrl+f for "discursive"…

    If you count B v. O finally overturning the Bad Tendency test as the landmark date our current free speech protections, they are only 47 years old. A political movement I am very concerned about wants to return to that era, and "update" our laws to criminalize "hate speech" like this.
    Analysis of current constitutional protections is meaningless when dealing with a movement whose goal is eliminating those protections through political action.

    I believe Ken is saying something very similar to "don't worry about those people who say growing grain for your chickens can be banned under the commerce clause. They're just engaging in expressive speech, and the constitution protects you and your chickens."

    >"He already made his opinion on the matter quite clear. He does not consider those type of things censorious."

    I'll quote Ken. "People saying that a movie is sexist is not a problem. People saying that therefore it should not be shown, or it should be punished, are a problem."
    I quoted people saying that the movie should not be shown, and asked if he considered that behaviour censorious. I would also like to know how he suggests we respond to it without "fight(ing) against expression of opinion".

    I won't bother ask if you're a troll.

  59. mythago says

    NeilW and Anonymous are correct. The point of the Bechdel comic was to highlight a sexist pattern. Specifically, that 'two women talking to each other about something other than a man' is a situation so unthinkable to Hollywood that if you require that scene in any movie you watch, you won't simply be missing a handful of war movies or adaptations of two-man plays; you'll be missing lots of movies.

    It's amusing, and also sad, to see how many people choose to distort that simple point not simply to "any movie that doesn't meet this test is sexist" but all the way into "Bechdel was calling for the economic destruction of movies that don't meet her test". A man sees what he wants to see, etc.

  60. alex says

    One creepy thing about SJWList.com is that it links to another similar site called Judas Watch (http://judas.watch/) that's got an incredibly sketchy anti-Semitic thing going on in which every entry for a person with some vague Jewish heritage is called out for their religion, while no other religious affiliations are mentioned.

  61. mamelby says

    Saying that something should not be shown, or should not be sold, or should not be hosted – is vague.

    I generally read those statements as: The people who decided whether or not to show-sell-host whatever should decide not to. It's attempting to persuade the people who ultimately have the power to make particular choices.

    You seem to be interpreting it as – "There ought to be a law!". The reason those two things are different is because "the law" ultimately maintains it's power through law enforcement who have the authority to incarcerate people and it some states even kill them.

    Your average "SJW" has no such authority. Unless they decide to attempt to enforce their wishes through violence or through "the law" which is backed by violence – then expressing their wish that someone in power makes different decisions is absolutely protected speech.

    Concerns about the free flow of ideas should concentrate on *those that have power over other people* concerning huge platforms – news companies, universities, internet service providers, etc.

    This discussion about whether or not things like *blocking people on twitter* using a *completely voluntary service* is censorship is asinine frankly.

    And when people try to use libel law and governmental agencies in an effort to force us to stop (not to mention doxxing and crap) – all while waving the flag of "free expression" and "free speech" – one gets a bit cynical.

  62. Castaigne says

    @echo:

    I don't know how you managed to miss this above, when all you had to do was ctrl+f for "discursive"…

    Ah, so you meant to link directly to the Reason article. Try doing that in the future, rather than just linking to a tweet. I ignore tweets when I'm looking for an article.

    *reads* They didn't want the film banned. They were offended by the white-washing, calling it "discursive violence" (which I think is silly, but whatever) and requesting that the showing be cancelled.

    A cancelled showing is not banning the film from theatres. You're doing that conflation thing again.

    (By the by, the Stonewall movie WAS white-washed pretty heavily. It made The Last Airbender look like an example of true-to-character casting.)

    A political movement I am very concerned about wants to return to that era, and "update" our laws to criminalize "hate speech" like this.

    When they figure out how to successfully add a "hate speech exception" to the 1st Amendment, let me know and I'll be concerned. Until then, if a statute bans hate speech, it has to be because it counts as a threat or fighting words, not simply because it is hate speech. That's without taking R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1991) into account. In the USA, the only two types of hate speech laws likely to survive are those that are likely to elicit an imminent fight and those that are truly threatening. As Ken himself will tell you, those are hard to prove.

    I quoted people saying that the movie should not be shown, and asked if he considered that behaviour censorious.

    *sighs* They're a problem, but not censorious, as censoring in the USA requires the government to do so. There is no legal block on private entities censoring what they so desire. If it is legal, it's legit.

    I don't really see what else you need to know

    ===

    @alex:

    One creepy thing about SJWList.com is that it links to another similar site called Judas Watch

    It's more or less Vox Day's personal list for the alt-right. Of course it's going to link to anti-Semitism. That's the alt-right.

  63. echo says

    I was going to write a longer post making fun of both of you, but there's really nothing I could say that could make you look any more creepy and ridiculous than your own words do.
    Every time your lot say in public that your preferred response to "problematic" media or speech is bullying until people can't see it, you turn more and more decent people against you.

    Mamelby, since you brought up Click, I'll paraphrase one of your own on the subject:
    "This is like when we made Eich quit Mozilla. There are (calls for violence against student journalists) we have decided are unacceptable and we will ostracize you for having them."

    And of course, you have to expect that others will do unto you as you do unto them, right?

  64. Castaigne says

    @echo:

    Every time your lot say in public that your preferred response to "problematic" media or speech is bullying until people can't see it, you turn more and more decent people against you.

    I haven't (and don't) consider any speech or media to be "problematic". And I sure haven't said any media or speech is such in these comments, so I don't know where you get that from.

    is bullying until people can't see it,

    Bullying? Protesting isn't bullying. I'm for free speech; if it is legal to say it, then it is legitimate to voice it. Now, if you don't want students to say that a movie is "discursive violence against snowflake-kin, so it needs to be banned", make it illegal for them to do so. Propose a law and the penalties for violating it. I'll be happy to discuss it; we can also discuss how you would make it compatible with the 1st Amendment.

    Until then, whether it's the alt-right or the SJWs saying it, so long as it is legal to say, I am content to allow it.

    And of course, you have to expect that others will do unto you as you do unto them, right?

    Was it within the right of Ohio State to do that? If so, then I have no problem with it. Do you have a problem with it? Or a problem with what the 1st Amendment allows?

  65. jdgalt says

    The real issue here, I believe, is the legality and morality of a whole range of "doxing" tactics, but especially of trying to get someone fired from his/her job for expressing, not on the job, a political view that disagrees with your own. I would hope that doing so constitutes "tortious interference with a contract" and would expose both the interferer and the boss who fired the victim to paying big bucks at the very least, regardless of the viewpoint that provoked the action. (How about a lawsplainer on that topic?)

    @mamelby: If you're referring to Melissa Click, she obviously received unusually favorable treatment as a result of bias in government. If I had similarly appealed to a crowd to forcibly remove opposing news reporters from the scene of a conservative protest, I would certainly be facing federal prison on the felony charge of violating the reporters' civil rights — not the mere $20 citation that Click got. Why isn't anyone investigating the officials who made that decision?

  66. ManualOverride says

    Nerve-stapled? Is that an Alpha Centauri reference? To quote the late Smoove B: Damn.