Day: January 3, 2018

The Never-Ending Mueller Witch Hunt: An Affront to the Constitution


Over the holidays, Robert Mueller, the special counsel, leaked word to the hate-Trump media that in the coming year of 2018, he would not stop with a simple failure to find any truth in the “Russian collusion” charges against POTUS Trump.  In a display of truly Stalinist police abuse, Mr. Mueller will keep going until he finds a crime, any crime at all. 

The FBI, apparently led by Trump-hater Strzok, performed a raid on the Paul Manafort home while the family was still asleep, a surprise intimidation tactic commonly used by Hitler’s Gestapo against innocent civilian families, with the purpose of frightening and punishing unarmed victims without due process.  In the absence of a pattern of illegal defiance of the law by Manafort, the Strzok team flagrantly violated the law and should be disciplined, if not fired altogether.  But Manafort was apparently cooperating. 

Also over the holidays, the New York Times tried to revise its previous story about the Steele dossier, claiming that the fraudulent “evidence” presented to the FISA court was not based on the Steele dossier at all, but was confessed by a minor Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, and attributed to Russian sources.  By revising the narrative to make Papadopoulos responsible for a report on Russian disinformation to Australian officials, who passed it on to the U.S., the Times is erasing the timeline of its previous allegations.  The Russia collusion accusation has collapsed, and the NYT is busily revising history.  The public has previously been told that Christopher Steele, the “former” MI6 spy, was hired by various Trump enemies to make up the Russian collusion dossier. 

Mueller’s witch hunt is a blatant affront to the United States Constitution, especially Amendments I-IV.  It is unconscionable, and if the Executive Branch cannot intervene due to political pressure, the United States Supreme Court must step out of its role of passive bystander and permit a direct appeal to the highest court by the legally abused parties, prominently (but not solely) Paul Manafort and family. 

Previous special prosecutors have been allowed to blackmail scapegoats like Martha Stewart and Scooter Libby into confessions of process crimes for which they were never initially charged.  This is the logic of a “bill of attainder” and “ex post facto law,” legal snares to enable a conviction on anything the victim is accused of, even if it is a process crime obtained as a result of double-binding the victim into lying under oath.  It is the legal logic of bloody witch-hunting mobs, which wants to see a bloody carcass, any carcass at all for any reason at all.  It is repugnant to the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. 

Because “confessions” extorted against people like Martha Stewart and Scooter Libby are blatant violations of law, and because the DOJ and the Trump White House are apparently helpless to order the Mueller posse to follow normal legal rules against abuse of federal power, the U.S. Supreme Court should be explicitly empowered to intervene.  Nothing else will stop this witch hunt.

About half of the American public now believes that this is a pure political revenge campaign.  Millions of people suspect that the last 18 months of dogged persecution against a duly elected president of the United States and anybody associated with him is no longer motivated by the farcical “Russian dossier,” paid for by Hillary Clinton’s DNC and corruptly and mendaciously written by a British former MI6 agent, Christopher Steele, who may have had his own political reasons for attacking a president of the United States, even as a candidate, because the swamp in the U.K. works hand in hand with the Swamp in D.C.  Even former FBI official Kallstrom believes that FBI personnel who want to clean out the mess in D.C. are standing ready to expose corrupt practices.

Sundance at Conservative Treehouse reported that the entire FBI counterintelligence unit was weaponized during the Obama years to attack political opponents and protected from legally required oversight, just like the IRS.  Obama himself has always expressed open contempt for the U.S. Constitution, and the unpunished Hillary-Huma-Mills email scandal has been allowed to fester until it stinks to high heaven. 

The most plausible reason for an endless witch hunt against President Trump and his circle is to cover the various abuses of power that have been credibly alleged against the last administration and the Department of Justice itself.  Since Robert Mueller was head of the FBI himself from 2001 to 2013, and since we now know that fired Director Comey and Mueller met in a private meeting before Comey called for a special counsel against Trump, the whole farcical process is now tainted beyond redemption. 

If the Mueller witch hunt is a campaign to cover up crimes and misdeeds by the Obama administration, by the DOJ, and by the Hillary campaign, we need a federal grand jury – but without any tainted prosecutors – to examine Mueller, Comey, Brennan, and Hillary and Huma and Mills, as well as DOJ officials who allowed Huma to walk out of the State Department with relevant paperwork only months ago.  Contrary to previous procedures, these individuals should be put under oath to tell the truth.

Admiral James Lyons has very high credibility and national security credentials, and the admiral has alleged that the U.S. government has been infiltrated and suborned by hostile enemies, notably jihad regimes and organizations, which constantly proclaim their aim to destroy this country.  This is serious business.

Robert Mueller himself ordered the FBI to allow the Nazi-era Muslim Brotherhood to indoctrinate FBI agents, and the M.B. is an old radical jihad organization that assassinated Egyptian president Anwar Sadat for negotiating peace with Israel.  The Obama administration directly aided and abetted the M.B. to overthrow President Mubarak of Egypt, helped by local agitation by Code Pink and Bill Ayers, Obama’s close personal friends and radical allies.  Today, the M.B. continues to wage war against the Egyptian government.

The Obama administration is now known to have aided and abetted at least three terrorist organizations that routinely commit crimes against humanity of the worst kind – namely, Hezb’allah, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood.  In addition, there are reports that al-Qaeda branches in Syria and Libya were directly aided by the United States under Obama and Hillary. 

The Clinton Foundation received many millions of dollars from the M.B.  Hillary’s longtime personal aide, Huma Abedin, is paid a salary by a Muslim Brotherhood “charity” located in Britain, founded by her father and run by her mother.  On top of everything, the Awan family was hired by the DNC under Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Hillary’s ally at the DNC, to have complete access to the House Intelligence Committee computer network during the Obama years, apparently without knowledge of the FBI, CIA, and D.I.  The Awan family has now fled to Pakistan, and there may be legal proceedings against Imran Awan.

The appearance of massive corruption and deep penetration of the U.S. intelligence and counter-intelligence justifies, if anything does, the appointment of a truly independent special prosecutor and grand jury, completely untainted by politics. 

It should be mentioned in passing that Hillary’s husband, Bill Clinton, was impeached by the House of Representatives for reasons that were never made public but appeared to involve the sale of missile-launching secrets to China – secrets that are plausibly now being used by North Korea and possibly Iran to threaten the United States and its allies with nuclear destruction.

This point goes to the trustworthiness of Hillary and Bill Clinton when it comes to protecting the national security of this country. 

Mr. Mueller has signaled his determination to keep prosecuting individuals associated with POTUS Trump.  There is no rationale in law or reason for such an endless prosecution, but politically, it could be used to taint the next election.  Because Mueller, Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Hillary, and the rest may have a personal interest in covering up serious violations of law during the Obama years, and because Mueller personally stands to benefit from such a cover-up, the appearance of corruption, self-dealing, and active harm to national security is overwhelming.

Over the holidays, Robert Mueller, the special counsel, leaked word to the hate-Trump media that in the coming year of 2018, he would not stop with a simple failure to find any truth in the “Russian collusion” charges against POTUS Trump.  In a display of truly Stalinist police abuse, Mr. Mueller will keep going until he finds a crime, any crime at all. 

The FBI, apparently led by Trump-hater Strzok, performed a raid on the Paul Manafort home while the family was still asleep, a surprise intimidation tactic commonly used by Hitler’s Gestapo against innocent civilian families, with the purpose of frightening and punishing unarmed victims without due process.  In the absence of a pattern of illegal defiance of the law by Manafort, the Strzok team flagrantly violated the law and should be disciplined, if not fired altogether.  But Manafort was apparently cooperating. 

Also over the holidays, the New York Times tried to revise its previous story about the Steele dossier, claiming that the fraudulent “evidence” presented to the FISA court was not based on the Steele dossier at all, but was confessed by a minor Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, and attributed to Russian sources.  By revising the narrative to make Papadopoulos responsible for a report on Russian disinformation to Australian officials, who passed it on to the U.S., the Times is erasing the timeline of its previous allegations.  The Russia collusion accusation has collapsed, and the NYT is busily revising history.  The public has previously been told that Christopher Steele, the “former” MI6 spy, was hired by various Trump enemies to make up the Russian collusion dossier. 

Mueller’s witch hunt is a blatant affront to the United States Constitution, especially Amendments I-IV.  It is unconscionable, and if the Executive Branch cannot intervene due to political pressure, the United States Supreme Court must step out of its role of passive bystander and permit a direct appeal to the highest court by the legally abused parties, prominently (but not solely) Paul Manafort and family. 

Previous special prosecutors have been allowed to blackmail scapegoats like Martha Stewart and Scooter Libby into confessions of process crimes for which they were never initially charged.  This is the logic of a “bill of attainder” and “ex post facto law,” legal snares to enable a conviction on anything the victim is accused of, even if it is a process crime obtained as a result of double-binding the victim into lying under oath.  It is the legal logic of bloody witch-hunting mobs, which wants to see a bloody carcass, any carcass at all for any reason at all.  It is repugnant to the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. 

Because “confessions” extorted against people like Martha Stewart and Scooter Libby are blatant violations of law, and because the DOJ and the Trump White House are apparently helpless to order the Mueller posse to follow normal legal rules against abuse of federal power, the U.S. Supreme Court should be explicitly empowered to intervene.  Nothing else will stop this witch hunt.

About half of the American public now believes that this is a pure political revenge campaign.  Millions of people suspect that the last 18 months of dogged persecution against a duly elected president of the United States and anybody associated with him is no longer motivated by the farcical “Russian dossier,” paid for by Hillary Clinton’s DNC and corruptly and mendaciously written by a British former MI6 agent, Christopher Steele, who may have had his own political reasons for attacking a president of the United States, even as a candidate, because the swamp in the U.K. works hand in hand with the Swamp in D.C.  Even former FBI official Kallstrom believes that FBI personnel who want to clean out the mess in D.C. are standing ready to expose corrupt practices.

Sundance at Conservative Treehouse reported that the entire FBI counterintelligence unit was weaponized during the Obama years to attack political opponents and protected from legally required oversight, just like the IRS.  Obama himself has always expressed open contempt for the U.S. Constitution, and the unpunished Hillary-Huma-Mills email scandal has been allowed to fester until it stinks to high heaven. 

The most plausible reason for an endless witch hunt against President Trump and his circle is to cover the various abuses of power that have been credibly alleged against the last administration and the Department of Justice itself.  Since Robert Mueller was head of the FBI himself from 2001 to 2013, and since we now know that fired Director Comey and Mueller met in a private meeting before Comey called for a special counsel against Trump, the whole farcical process is now tainted beyond redemption. 

If the Mueller witch hunt is a campaign to cover up crimes and misdeeds by the Obama administration, by the DOJ, and by the Hillary campaign, we need a federal grand jury – but without any tainted prosecutors – to examine Mueller, Comey, Brennan, and Hillary and Huma and Mills, as well as DOJ officials who allowed Huma to walk out of the State Department with relevant paperwork only months ago.  Contrary to previous procedures, these individuals should be put under oath to tell the truth.

Admiral James Lyons has very high credibility and national security credentials, and the admiral has alleged that the U.S. government has been infiltrated and suborned by hostile enemies, notably jihad regimes and organizations, which constantly proclaim their aim to destroy this country.  This is serious business.

Robert Mueller himself ordered the FBI to allow the Nazi-era Muslim Brotherhood to indoctrinate FBI agents, and the M.B. is an old radical jihad organization that assassinated Egyptian president Anwar Sadat for negotiating peace with Israel.  The Obama administration directly aided and abetted the M.B. to overthrow President Mubarak of Egypt, helped by local agitation by Code Pink and Bill Ayers, Obama’s close personal friends and radical allies.  Today, the M.B. continues to wage war against the Egyptian government.

The Obama administration is now known to have aided and abetted at least three terrorist organizations that routinely commit crimes against humanity of the worst kind – namely, Hezb’allah, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood.  In addition, there are reports that al-Qaeda branches in Syria and Libya were directly aided by the United States under Obama and Hillary. 

The Clinton Foundation received many millions of dollars from the M.B.  Hillary’s longtime personal aide, Huma Abedin, is paid a salary by a Muslim Brotherhood “charity” located in Britain, founded by her father and run by her mother.  On top of everything, the Awan family was hired by the DNC under Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Hillary’s ally at the DNC, to have complete access to the House Intelligence Committee computer network during the Obama years, apparently without knowledge of the FBI, CIA, and D.I.  The Awan family has now fled to Pakistan, and there may be legal proceedings against Imran Awan.

The appearance of massive corruption and deep penetration of the U.S. intelligence and counter-intelligence justifies, if anything does, the appointment of a truly independent special prosecutor and grand jury, completely untainted by politics. 

It should be mentioned in passing that Hillary’s husband, Bill Clinton, was impeached by the House of Representatives for reasons that were never made public but appeared to involve the sale of missile-launching secrets to China – secrets that are plausibly now being used by North Korea and possibly Iran to threaten the United States and its allies with nuclear destruction.

This point goes to the trustworthiness of Hillary and Bill Clinton when it comes to protecting the national security of this country. 

Mr. Mueller has signaled his determination to keep prosecuting individuals associated with POTUS Trump.  There is no rationale in law or reason for such an endless prosecution, but politically, it could be used to taint the next election.  Because Mueller, Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Hillary, and the rest may have a personal interest in covering up serious violations of law during the Obama years, and because Mueller personally stands to benefit from such a cover-up, the appearance of corruption, self-dealing, and active harm to national security is overwhelming.



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K-12: Killing Democracy


Rudolf Flesch, in his 1955 book, noted that “things have changed in the last 10, 20 years.  For the first time in history, American parents see their children getting less education than they got themselves.  Their sons and daughters come home from school and they can’t read the newspaper; they can’t spell simple words like February or Wednesday; they don’t know the difference between Austria and Australia.  The fathers and mothers don’t know the reason for this, but they know that something terrible has happened to their most precious dreams and aspirations[.]”

Isn’t it beautiful – the way Flesch perceives the decline of American civilization from two tiny examples?  Austria and Australia look alike.  What’s the big deal about telling them apart?  Such casual imprecision is how students think today and is the essence of our problem.  Flesch remains The Man in American education.  Early on, he grasped the garish symptoms of the country’s intellectual death spiral.  A school system that doesn’t teach children the difference between days of the week and months of the year?  Well, there’s little hope for it.

Even as the Education Establishment insisted that American children read, write, and spell better than ever, Flesch proved the absurdity of this claim.  He saw the country’s academic decline; he saw the intellectual fabric of the country start to unravel.  “The American dream is, essentially, equal opportunity through free education for all.  This dream is beginning to vanish in a country where the public schools are falling down on the job[.]”

Please read that three times.  There should be symphonic accompaniment with big drums.  The American dream is vanishing; equal opportunity through free education is fading.  All of this was stated back in 1955, in Flesch’s famous book, Why Johnny Can’t Read.  Writing ostensibly on competing theories about reading, Flesch exposes competing theories of who shall control the country.  Flesch is talking about power.  With sight-words, people don’t have any.

You do not need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.  If hostile forces want to subvert the country, the simplest technique is to subvert reading.  Australia-Austria become part of the same blur.  Words and language, reading and comprehension – these touch every aspect of every life every day.  Poison reading, and you poison everything else.  (And the victims are made to pay for it all, in ever higher education budgets!)

Rudolf Flesch, who had both a law degree and a Ph.D. in library science, was the sharpest knife in the drawer.  He saw this attempted coup directed against reading.  He saw that the use of sight-words (also known as the whole word method) was nothing less than an attempt to destroy reading as traditionally understood and replace it with a crippled sort of faux reading.  He saw the grand significance of this coup: “I say, therefore, that the word method is gradually destroying democracy in this country; it returns to the upper[] middle[] class the privileges that public education was supposed to distribute evenly among the people.”  Everyone who has a good patriotic heart should feel sick reading that. 

The Founding Fathers saw public education as the means for fulfilling the country’s big dreams.  Public education was supposed to give everyone an even shot.  Without fair, efficient education, however, the benefits could not be distributed.  Those in the upper middle class could hold on to their privileges and expand them.  People cynically calling themselves liberals and Democrats would assist this illiberal, anti-democratic operation.

Flesch’s chronology starts in the middle 1930s, a few years after sight-words were made the dominant instructional method.  He notes sarcastically that the educators “trot out all sorts of data and statistics to show that American children read, write, spell much better than they used to.”  In fact, there were many illiteracy problems, including dyslexia.

The Education Establishment knew that sight-words are not an actual way to read or to teach reading.  What, then?  Sight-words were more like a psy-ops directed at the enemy’s weakest point.  This salient, wide and powerful, exists to this day.  The majority of children in the United States learn to read with sight-words.  Nothing has changed since the 1930s.  This is a remarkable victory for the dark side.

As a practical matter, the victims of sight-words are given a severely limited vocabulary.  You might think of it as a worker’s or slave’s vocabulary.  Instead of the 100,000 or 200,000 words that most educated people speak and read without much effort, you have people who are painfully confined to a reading vocabulary of only 500 or 1,000 sight-words.  These people are called functional illiterates, and they are not a tiny minority.  This is 50 million people.  Illiteracy and sight-words go together like love and marriage.

Flesch is such a keen observer and thinker that he seems to be a prophet.  In fact, anyone could see who wanted to.  The Education Establishment was committed to dumbing down the country.  Its operatives went with the method that would do that.  Anyone seriously interested in turning the situation around has to go back to the beginning, circa 1935, when things started to fall apart.  Eliminate the big change at that time: the introduction of sight-words.  Return to the traditional teaching of reading by phonics.  Presto.  We are reborn.

Why Johnny Can’t Read can be purchased on Amazon for under $10.  Every educated person should read Chapter 1, about 22 pages.  Indeed, you understand our educational problems only when you have read this.  Flesch wrote a second book in 1981 called Why Johnny Still Can’t Read.  If you have time to read an entire book, this is the best choice.  It’s built around the ten alibis, and they haven’t changed in forty years.  The main one is “We do teach phonics.”

As that claim shows, K-12 is a swamp of sophistry and insincerity.  There’s not much you can trust.  Flesch and phonics – trust them.

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12.  He deconstructs educational theories and methods at Improve-Education.org

Rudolf Flesch, in his 1955 book, noted that “things have changed in the last 10, 20 years.  For the first time in history, American parents see their children getting less education than they got themselves.  Their sons and daughters come home from school and they can’t read the newspaper; they can’t spell simple words like February or Wednesday; they don’t know the difference between Austria and Australia.  The fathers and mothers don’t know the reason for this, but they know that something terrible has happened to their most precious dreams and aspirations[.]”

Isn’t it beautiful – the way Flesch perceives the decline of American civilization from two tiny examples?  Austria and Australia look alike.  What’s the big deal about telling them apart?  Such casual imprecision is how students think today and is the essence of our problem.  Flesch remains The Man in American education.  Early on, he grasped the garish symptoms of the country’s intellectual death spiral.  A school system that doesn’t teach children the difference between days of the week and months of the year?  Well, there’s little hope for it.

Even as the Education Establishment insisted that American children read, write, and spell better than ever, Flesch proved the absurdity of this claim.  He saw the country’s academic decline; he saw the intellectual fabric of the country start to unravel.  “The American dream is, essentially, equal opportunity through free education for all.  This dream is beginning to vanish in a country where the public schools are falling down on the job[.]”

Please read that three times.  There should be symphonic accompaniment with big drums.  The American dream is vanishing; equal opportunity through free education is fading.  All of this was stated back in 1955, in Flesch’s famous book, Why Johnny Can’t Read.  Writing ostensibly on competing theories about reading, Flesch exposes competing theories of who shall control the country.  Flesch is talking about power.  With sight-words, people don’t have any.

You do not need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.  If hostile forces want to subvert the country, the simplest technique is to subvert reading.  Australia-Austria become part of the same blur.  Words and language, reading and comprehension – these touch every aspect of every life every day.  Poison reading, and you poison everything else.  (And the victims are made to pay for it all, in ever higher education budgets!)

Rudolf Flesch, who had both a law degree and a Ph.D. in library science, was the sharpest knife in the drawer.  He saw this attempted coup directed against reading.  He saw that the use of sight-words (also known as the whole word method) was nothing less than an attempt to destroy reading as traditionally understood and replace it with a crippled sort of faux reading.  He saw the grand significance of this coup: “I say, therefore, that the word method is gradually destroying democracy in this country; it returns to the upper[] middle[] class the privileges that public education was supposed to distribute evenly among the people.”  Everyone who has a good patriotic heart should feel sick reading that. 

The Founding Fathers saw public education as the means for fulfilling the country’s big dreams.  Public education was supposed to give everyone an even shot.  Without fair, efficient education, however, the benefits could not be distributed.  Those in the upper middle class could hold on to their privileges and expand them.  People cynically calling themselves liberals and Democrats would assist this illiberal, anti-democratic operation.

Flesch’s chronology starts in the middle 1930s, a few years after sight-words were made the dominant instructional method.  He notes sarcastically that the educators “trot out all sorts of data and statistics to show that American children read, write, spell much better than they used to.”  In fact, there were many illiteracy problems, including dyslexia.

The Education Establishment knew that sight-words are not an actual way to read or to teach reading.  What, then?  Sight-words were more like a psy-ops directed at the enemy’s weakest point.  This salient, wide and powerful, exists to this day.  The majority of children in the United States learn to read with sight-words.  Nothing has changed since the 1930s.  This is a remarkable victory for the dark side.

As a practical matter, the victims of sight-words are given a severely limited vocabulary.  You might think of it as a worker’s or slave’s vocabulary.  Instead of the 100,000 or 200,000 words that most educated people speak and read without much effort, you have people who are painfully confined to a reading vocabulary of only 500 or 1,000 sight-words.  These people are called functional illiterates, and they are not a tiny minority.  This is 50 million people.  Illiteracy and sight-words go together like love and marriage.

Flesch is such a keen observer and thinker that he seems to be a prophet.  In fact, anyone could see who wanted to.  The Education Establishment was committed to dumbing down the country.  Its operatives went with the method that would do that.  Anyone seriously interested in turning the situation around has to go back to the beginning, circa 1935, when things started to fall apart.  Eliminate the big change at that time: the introduction of sight-words.  Return to the traditional teaching of reading by phonics.  Presto.  We are reborn.

Why Johnny Can’t Read can be purchased on Amazon for under $10.  Every educated person should read Chapter 1, about 22 pages.  Indeed, you understand our educational problems only when you have read this.  Flesch wrote a second book in 1981 called Why Johnny Still Can’t Read.  If you have time to read an entire book, this is the best choice.  It’s built around the ten alibis, and they haven’t changed in forty years.  The main one is “We do teach phonics.”

As that claim shows, K-12 is a swamp of sophistry and insincerity.  There’s not much you can trust.  Flesch and phonics – trust them.

Bruce Deitrick Price’s new book is Saving K-12.  He deconstructs educational theories and methods at Improve-Education.org



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The Equilibrium Prejudice and Free Expression


There is a deep inclination in a certain segment of the punditry class to want to make overly simple equations on any number of complicated social problems.  Sure, the refrain of these simplifiers goes, Those of ideology X are doing something unpleasant, but what about those of the opposed ideology Y, who are doing the exact same thing?  Let’s be even-handed in our criticism and in our proffered solutions, because there’s always plenty (i.e., an equal amount) of blame to be spread around uniformly on all sides.  I call this “the equilibrium prejudice.”  No problem, no matter the empirical details, can ever be seen from this perspective as something uniquely or disproportionately concentrated on one side or another.  Everything is always reduced to the rule: “They’re doing it, yes, but look, so are they!”  It is a kind of mania for balance that undoubtedly provides something productive to some discussions but can in other cases produce an astonishing blindness to reality.

John McWhorter’s December 30 CNN opinion piece is an example of the equilibrium prejudice.  It focuses on the case of George Ciccariello-Maher (pictured, right), a Drexel University professor who is voluntarily resigning his position due to the “grave … threats” of a “white-hot [emphasis on the ‘white,’ presumably] mob.”  McWhorter bemoans Ciccariello-Maher’s situation, presenting him as a purveyor of relatively anodyne satire.  The CNN clip linked to McWhorter’s article shows Ciccariello-Maher allowing a wide-eyed reporter to hear anonymous callers tell the professor, “You’re [f——] dead, kid – watch out!” and other similar things.  How could this horrific fate have befallen such an obviously mild-mannered, soft-spoken figure as Ciccariello-Maher?  McWhorter has no answer.  He is horrified and outraged, and he insinuates that we should be as well.

His inability to understand has at least something to do with the fact that he completely misrepresents the tenor of Ciccariello-Maher’s comments.  If McWhorter had done a little research, he would have found numerous examples on the professor’s Twitter feed of clear exhortation to physical violence by the far left, including a retweet of the video of Alt-Right figure Richard Spencer being gratuitously punched in the head, with the professor expressing the unsavory belief that “[a]cademia is fake[;] you can only trust your fists.”  (If Ciccariello-Maher sincerely believes this, one can only imagine how relieved he must be to be leaving his effete university post for purer, more pugilistic endeavors outside the academy.)  He also expresses political beliefs that can be characterized as hostile to white Americans – e.g., his comment on the Alabama election returns that “[m]aybe only black people should vote.”  (Imagine a professor writing on his Twitter account this comment with “white” substituted for “black.”)  And I leave aside his endless cheerleading for the most long-lived and humanly destructive form of totalitarianism in history – e.g., “democracy is meaningless without communism.”

McWhorter apparently has not read any of this.  He writes: “Their [those leaving messages on Ciccariello-Maher’s voicemail] forcing someone into hiding for just writing some stuff is unforgivable.”  “Unforgivable” is an odd term about reactions to political speech and the legal and constitutional boundaries of that speech.  John McWhorter’s “unforgivable” is certain to be at least slightly different from my “unforgivable,” and this is why it is a good thing that whether someone defines some form of speech as “unforgivable” is irrelevant to legal discussion of the limits of speech.  The relevant questions are these: is the government attacking Ciccariello-Maher for his speech?  Is his employer taking punitive action against him?  The answer to both is “no.”  What’s happening in this case, exactly?  A man who can be accurately described as a professorial troll has said a large number of exceedingly incendiary and violence-encouraging things online, and people have responded in kind, which is what predictably happens in such situations.  Does McWhorter think there is a political response to this that is not inconsistent with the wide purview for free expression he supports?  None is offered in his piece.

How has Ciccariello-Maher been “forc[ed] into hiding”?  Anyone who has spent any time reading the comments sections on political videos on YouTube knows that the kind of things Ciccariello-Maher has been hearing is the height of agonistic online banality.  Is the insinuation that some of the threats of violence being left on Ciccariello-Maher’s voicemail are credible?  There is no mention of that in any of the news accounts.  If so, Ciccariello-Maher has legal recourse and should get the police involved.  Determining that the threats made are legally actionable requires some level of intent to carry them out, as the Supreme Court ruled in Elonis v. United States, and this is a fairly high bar for such prosecutions.  The chances are much greater that these are simply unserious loudmouths online saying stupid things wholly unconnected with any likely actions in the real world – kind of like the guy to whom they are responding.  As much as some people might find this disconcerting, there is ultimately no way to stop it.  Science has yet to adequately address this hard problem.

For McWhorter (pictured, left) to insinuate, in the tradition of the equilibrium prejudice, that Ciccariello-Maher’s entirely self-created situation constitutes “the shoe on the other foot” with respect to leftist disruption and attack on speech on campus is ludicrous.  How does the left respond to speech it does not like on college campuses?  Does it record toothless threats on voicemail?  No, it bans that speech, when it can get away with it legally, or otherwise finds ways to codify it, however inaccurately and dishonestly, in such a way as to legitimate treating it differently from how provocative speech with which it agrees is treated.  When it cannot legally ban speech, it sometimes forms violent mobs and physically prevents people from speaking, occasionally beating them up in the process.  So, in the case of Heather Mac Donald, which McWhorter mentions, a perfectly reasonable speaker who challenges the Black Lives Matter narrative on policing and race is violently prevented from delivering her talk by students, who are defended in their action by some faculty and who are only mildly reprimanded for their violence by the university administration.  In the case of Ciccariello-Maher, not a single administrator, faculty member, or student was involved in any way in preventing him from saying the foolish things he says, and he leaves the university not because the institution is forcing him to do so, but of his own choice.  A few anonymous individuals, spurred by his own incitements to violence, have responded to him with his own violent rhetoric, and the brave revolutionary Ciccariello-Maher cannot stand the heat of the fire he started.

If Ciccariello-Maher wants the messages to stop, I suggest a more or less certain way to accomplish that goal.  He could just stop cheerleading on social media the kind of violence he likes.  This would entail no restriction of his academic freedoms (as these tweets are not part of his work as a professor), nor indeed of his First Amendment rights (as no state action against him is implied if he refuses to self-censor).  It would just require some mature and self-motivated adherence on his part to behave himself like a civilized person online.  Were he to take this up, in time, he would certainly fall off the media map, and the fools who want to waste time leaving unrealistic threats on voicemail would move on.

But Ciccariello-Maher does not want to do this.  He says as much in his letter of resignation, posted on Twitter.  This adherence to informal codes of courteous social interaction would get in the way of his radical “speaking and organizing,” which he clearly sees as more important than teaching or publishing merely scholarly works.  If these are his priorities and his plan of action, fine.  Get on with it.  Deal with the consequences, though.  How depressingly predictable it is that the supposedly hard-nosed revolutionary, whose fans approvingly call him a “gangster” online because he is so scandalous as to use bad words when talking with reporters, wants to be able to push at the core values of the system he opposes, but then he’s shocked that some others will push back.

The reality is that no one is forcing him to do anything, and McWhorter wholly misrepresents his situation and its similarity to left-wing policing of speech on campuses.  Ciccariello-Maher has decided that he is not up to facing the stress created by his own actions, and neither is he willing to stop engaging in the stress-producing action, likely because the self-professed communist enjoys the notoriety and the increased book sales and speaker fees that provides him.

Whatever one thinks of his sordid situation, it has nothing in common with cases like that of Heather Mac Donald.

McWhorter tells us he is “eternally stunned that it is within the norms of sane human behavior to regularly send vicious messages of this kind on a whim to people who have rubbed you the wrong way.”  But it’s not clear what he means by “within the norms of sane human behavior.”  It is likely that none of the people sending nasty messages to Ciccariello-Maher is clinically insane, but it is certain that most people would not see this kind of trollish activity as normatively acceptable, either.  The point again is that there is simply not anything that can be done about it without draconian measures regarding free expression, which we should oppose, or without some effort by people such as Ciccariello-Maher to learn to behave themselves as adults online.  On the latter, the evidence suggests that we should not be overly optimistic. 

There is a deep inclination in a certain segment of the punditry class to want to make overly simple equations on any number of complicated social problems.  Sure, the refrain of these simplifiers goes, Those of ideology X are doing something unpleasant, but what about those of the opposed ideology Y, who are doing the exact same thing?  Let’s be even-handed in our criticism and in our proffered solutions, because there’s always plenty (i.e., an equal amount) of blame to be spread around uniformly on all sides.  I call this “the equilibrium prejudice.”  No problem, no matter the empirical details, can ever be seen from this perspective as something uniquely or disproportionately concentrated on one side or another.  Everything is always reduced to the rule: “They’re doing it, yes, but look, so are they!”  It is a kind of mania for balance that undoubtedly provides something productive to some discussions but can in other cases produce an astonishing blindness to reality.

John McWhorter’s December 30 CNN opinion piece is an example of the equilibrium prejudice.  It focuses on the case of George Ciccariello-Maher (pictured, right), a Drexel University professor who is voluntarily resigning his position due to the “grave … threats” of a “white-hot [emphasis on the ‘white,’ presumably] mob.”  McWhorter bemoans Ciccariello-Maher’s situation, presenting him as a purveyor of relatively anodyne satire.  The CNN clip linked to McWhorter’s article shows Ciccariello-Maher allowing a wide-eyed reporter to hear anonymous callers tell the professor, “You’re [f——] dead, kid – watch out!” and other similar things.  How could this horrific fate have befallen such an obviously mild-mannered, soft-spoken figure as Ciccariello-Maher?  McWhorter has no answer.  He is horrified and outraged, and he insinuates that we should be as well.

His inability to understand has at least something to do with the fact that he completely misrepresents the tenor of Ciccariello-Maher’s comments.  If McWhorter had done a little research, he would have found numerous examples on the professor’s Twitter feed of clear exhortation to physical violence by the far left, including a retweet of the video of Alt-Right figure Richard Spencer being gratuitously punched in the head, with the professor expressing the unsavory belief that “[a]cademia is fake[;] you can only trust your fists.”  (If Ciccariello-Maher sincerely believes this, one can only imagine how relieved he must be to be leaving his effete university post for purer, more pugilistic endeavors outside the academy.)  He also expresses political beliefs that can be characterized as hostile to white Americans – e.g., his comment on the Alabama election returns that “[m]aybe only black people should vote.”  (Imagine a professor writing on his Twitter account this comment with “white” substituted for “black.”)  And I leave aside his endless cheerleading for the most long-lived and humanly destructive form of totalitarianism in history – e.g., “democracy is meaningless without communism.”

McWhorter apparently has not read any of this.  He writes: “Their [those leaving messages on Ciccariello-Maher’s voicemail] forcing someone into hiding for just writing some stuff is unforgivable.”  “Unforgivable” is an odd term about reactions to political speech and the legal and constitutional boundaries of that speech.  John McWhorter’s “unforgivable” is certain to be at least slightly different from my “unforgivable,” and this is why it is a good thing that whether someone defines some form of speech as “unforgivable” is irrelevant to legal discussion of the limits of speech.  The relevant questions are these: is the government attacking Ciccariello-Maher for his speech?  Is his employer taking punitive action against him?  The answer to both is “no.”  What’s happening in this case, exactly?  A man who can be accurately described as a professorial troll has said a large number of exceedingly incendiary and violence-encouraging things online, and people have responded in kind, which is what predictably happens in such situations.  Does McWhorter think there is a political response to this that is not inconsistent with the wide purview for free expression he supports?  None is offered in his piece.

How has Ciccariello-Maher been “forc[ed] into hiding”?  Anyone who has spent any time reading the comments sections on political videos on YouTube knows that the kind of things Ciccariello-Maher has been hearing is the height of agonistic online banality.  Is the insinuation that some of the threats of violence being left on Ciccariello-Maher’s voicemail are credible?  There is no mention of that in any of the news accounts.  If so, Ciccariello-Maher has legal recourse and should get the police involved.  Determining that the threats made are legally actionable requires some level of intent to carry them out, as the Supreme Court ruled in Elonis v. United States, and this is a fairly high bar for such prosecutions.  The chances are much greater that these are simply unserious loudmouths online saying stupid things wholly unconnected with any likely actions in the real world – kind of like the guy to whom they are responding.  As much as some people might find this disconcerting, there is ultimately no way to stop it.  Science has yet to adequately address this hard problem.

For McWhorter (pictured, left) to insinuate, in the tradition of the equilibrium prejudice, that Ciccariello-Maher’s entirely self-created situation constitutes “the shoe on the other foot” with respect to leftist disruption and attack on speech on campus is ludicrous.  How does the left respond to speech it does not like on college campuses?  Does it record toothless threats on voicemail?  No, it bans that speech, when it can get away with it legally, or otherwise finds ways to codify it, however inaccurately and dishonestly, in such a way as to legitimate treating it differently from how provocative speech with which it agrees is treated.  When it cannot legally ban speech, it sometimes forms violent mobs and physically prevents people from speaking, occasionally beating them up in the process.  So, in the case of Heather Mac Donald, which McWhorter mentions, a perfectly reasonable speaker who challenges the Black Lives Matter narrative on policing and race is violently prevented from delivering her talk by students, who are defended in their action by some faculty and who are only mildly reprimanded for their violence by the university administration.  In the case of Ciccariello-Maher, not a single administrator, faculty member, or student was involved in any way in preventing him from saying the foolish things he says, and he leaves the university not because the institution is forcing him to do so, but of his own choice.  A few anonymous individuals, spurred by his own incitements to violence, have responded to him with his own violent rhetoric, and the brave revolutionary Ciccariello-Maher cannot stand the heat of the fire he started.

If Ciccariello-Maher wants the messages to stop, I suggest a more or less certain way to accomplish that goal.  He could just stop cheerleading on social media the kind of violence he likes.  This would entail no restriction of his academic freedoms (as these tweets are not part of his work as a professor), nor indeed of his First Amendment rights (as no state action against him is implied if he refuses to self-censor).  It would just require some mature and self-motivated adherence on his part to behave himself like a civilized person online.  Were he to take this up, in time, he would certainly fall off the media map, and the fools who want to waste time leaving unrealistic threats on voicemail would move on.

But Ciccariello-Maher does not want to do this.  He says as much in his letter of resignation, posted on Twitter.  This adherence to informal codes of courteous social interaction would get in the way of his radical “speaking and organizing,” which he clearly sees as more important than teaching or publishing merely scholarly works.  If these are his priorities and his plan of action, fine.  Get on with it.  Deal with the consequences, though.  How depressingly predictable it is that the supposedly hard-nosed revolutionary, whose fans approvingly call him a “gangster” online because he is so scandalous as to use bad words when talking with reporters, wants to be able to push at the core values of the system he opposes, but then he’s shocked that some others will push back.

The reality is that no one is forcing him to do anything, and McWhorter wholly misrepresents his situation and its similarity to left-wing policing of speech on campuses.  Ciccariello-Maher has decided that he is not up to facing the stress created by his own actions, and neither is he willing to stop engaging in the stress-producing action, likely because the self-professed communist enjoys the notoriety and the increased book sales and speaker fees that provides him.

Whatever one thinks of his sordid situation, it has nothing in common with cases like that of Heather Mac Donald.

McWhorter tells us he is “eternally stunned that it is within the norms of sane human behavior to regularly send vicious messages of this kind on a whim to people who have rubbed you the wrong way.”  But it’s not clear what he means by “within the norms of sane human behavior.”  It is likely that none of the people sending nasty messages to Ciccariello-Maher is clinically insane, but it is certain that most people would not see this kind of trollish activity as normatively acceptable, either.  The point again is that there is simply not anything that can be done about it without draconian measures regarding free expression, which we should oppose, or without some effort by people such as Ciccariello-Maher to learn to behave themselves as adults online.  On the latter, the evidence suggests that we should not be overly optimistic. 



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