“Protesting alt-right speakers is, itself, a form of free speech. I take no issue with college students protesting speakers who promulgate anti-intellectualism and lies.”

First of all, whatever else you want to say about Charles Murray, he is in no way an “anti-intellectual”. Second, I don’t have a beef with the regular protesters, but the violent ones and the ones who by looking the other way allow the violent ones to operate. Several talks over the last year have been canceled due to violence or threats of, and probably many more were not booked in the first place because the organizers didn’t want to take chances. And the real anti-intellectuals are those who don’t want to engage opposing viewpoints, preferring censorship and violence to thought and discussion.

This is, quite frankly, a lot of nonsense. This is the logical equivalent of saying “I don’t hate Muslims, just the violent ones, and the ones who, by looking the other way, allow the violent ones to operate.” It is not the job of protestors to police other protestors anymore than it is the job of ordinary Muslims to police extremists. In the case of the protestors, they are there to exercise their right to free speech. They’re not doing anything wrong, and it’s not their job to get into an altercation with some yahoo wielding a can of pepper spray.

You are painting the vast majority of peaceful, lawful, protestors with a broad brush because one guy with pepper spray showed up. Just talk about that one guy instead and leave the rest of them out of it, because they’re not doing anything wrong; they are, in fact, exercising their First Amendment right. It is fundamentally ridiculous to assert that some alt-right propagandist be given the freedom to speak at a college (even a private one like Middlebury), but that the students who actually attend the college shouldn’t be able to protest said speaker, or that they are doing some great disservice to society at large for protesting liars, trolls, and hate-mongers. They have a voice, too, and they are within their rights to use it.

When millions of people are desperate, deluded, or morally bankrupt enough to vote for Trump, that’s a problem for all of us. It suggests massive flaws in our entire political and economic structure.

Yes it does. But do you think that you have all the answers? Or might some of the people you deride as “ignorant” have a clue as to the problem? If you think you know better, don’t be surprised if they resent you and the class you represent for it. If you think they have some grasp of the problems facing them, then stop belittling them as “ignorant hillbillies”.

Let’s see… they picked Trump, ergo, I don’t trust their judgment. What else? Facts. We have already discussed how large groups of people do not operate based on facts. The question you should ask isn’t whether I think I have all the answers (of course I don’t), but, whether I think people who make choices based on counterfactual beliefs are likely to produce good solutions. Probability suggests not.

We can use a concrete example. A large number of people who voted for Trump believe their economic woes are attributable to immigrants and that a $1 trillion wall on the border of the United States is a good idea. I believe they have correctly identified that their economic position is a problem, but I would say they have misidentified the cause and solution. I have zero policymaking experience, but I feel confident I could come up with a better solution than building a trillion dollar wall between the United States and Mexico. Maybe I’m arrogant, or maybe I’m right. Maybe both, but I’m pretty sure this wall is not the solution.

“It’s one thing to be the unfortunate soul born in some racist backwater in Kentucky or into the streets of St. Louis, but it’s quite another to sit atop a class structure that creates these conditions of inequity and chastise or deride those at the bottom.”

We agree and yet you continue to take an insulting line on those who are “unfortunate” in your terms. Politically, you’ve become part of our class, even if economically you remain in theirs.

You can attempt to move the goalposts or make nonfactual claims about my politics, but to suggest I have more in common with Colbert than with the legions of Trump voters who went to my high school is comical. Like I said before, Colbert’s cohort is the problem. The people who went to my high school who ended up voting for Trump are the symptom.

“But, education extends beyond what is credentialed and approved. It stems from intellectual curiosity and the gathering of information from many sources, and when we say voters are low information, we are saying they are not acquainted with facts.”

Once again, we agree! But note that “intellectual curiosity” and “many sources” does not sit well with “protesting against speakers”, and especially cannot be reconciled with violent protests and threats. Standard-line liberals — as turned out by the education system I went through — have their own deficiencies in knowledge, and in the universities they are now encouraged not to seek new viewpoints but to encase themselves in their own.

Of course “intellectual curiosity” and “many sources” sit well with “protesting against speakers.” I have little to learn from, say, a Flat Earther’s geography lesson or a climate denier’s propaganda about fracking. I am similarly disinterested in neo-nazi political and race theory. I’m already aware they’re wrong.

This is precisely what I meant about broken epistemologies before. When you operate with a logical, functional epistemology — largely resultant from skills such as critical thinking — then you can ascertain that some sources merit being discarded as a waste of time. Some, if harmful, even merit being pushed back against. “Many sources” does not mean “all sources.”

It does not take a rocket scientist to realize, for instance, that Alex Jones is a conspiracy theorist whose claims do not rest on empiricism or fact-based inquiry. I can safely assume that I can generally ignore his claims if I am in the market for veracity. The only reason I might have to watch or read his material is if I want to study conspiracy theory itself, not to garner facts about the world from his reporting.

I have no love for the Republicans, who have many epistemological sins within their party, the most serious being for “small government” in theory but not practice. But from where I stand, the problems of the Democrats loom larger, simply by virtue of my distance from them.

The Republicans are merely corrupt. That’s all. They believe in small government until some big corporation bribes them for a favorable extension of government, or some new tax code that enables a special tax incentive. I’m not sure how you could view the Democrats much differently when it comes to how they actually function in practice, since they take bribes from the same oligarchs.

Not if we consider the police ignorant, racist gangbangers. Not if we consider Energy Transfer Partner thugs ignorant, racist gangbangers. Not if we consider the KKK ignorant, racist gangbangers.

The police are by and large simply honest people trying to do a stressful job.

We disagree about the police. Like I said, I’m not a liberal. I don’t buy into liberal notions about virtuous police or policing.

For Energy Transfer Partners, I don’t know enough to comment but I would be surprised if your simplistic view turned out to be really accurate.

I would just like to point out that you admit to ignorance about this then take an ad hominem potshot anyway. It’s not that hard to inform yourself about #NoDAPL

Finally, the KKK are the past, and totally irrelevant now.

I’m not sure why you think that. Hate groups are on the rise, and the vast majority of them are white nationalist. You can rebrand the Klan, but it’s still the same thing. Growing up in Berkeley and going to school in England, you’ve probably never even seen a Klansman in person or known about people who joined the Klan or victims of Klan intimidation. Not everyone has been so lucky.

These days, the Klan isn’t even the biggest white nationalist hate group. We’re talking about hundreds of hate groups, some with thousands or even tens of thousands of members. It adds up.

The actual gangs can have memberships of up to 40,000, and estimates of their total numbers range up to 1.4 millionand most estimates give at least 800,000 in the United States. Your ‘gangs’ (excluding the police — if you think all or even most police are gangbangers, then your perspective is really narrow) don’t add up to even a hundredth of the gangs I’m talking about.

I don’t exclude the police. And, if you consider that some of the gangs in your figures are also white nationalists (various motorcycle clubs, for example), then we see it is meaningless to continue down this road of throwing numbers around.

It’s also meaningless because these gangs, be they white nationalists or cartel puppets, stem from the same socioeconomic structure in the first place. For instance, you could eliminate most of them by just legalizing drugs.

A vote for someone like Trump by anyone is a bad outcome, but instead of blaming the voter, intellectualism demands that you figure out how things got to that point in the first place.

I can only point to how completely at odds this is with your remark about “ignorant racist hillbillies”.

I am not going to run from facts just because they are uncomfortable. I do not blame the kid born into the backwoods of Kentucky to ignorant, racist hillbillies for growing up to be an ignorant, racist hillbilly. If it’s a fact that he or she ends up racist, and if it’s a fact that he or she ends up basing decisions and opinions on counterfactual information, then we need to be able to acknowledge that if we’re ever going to address it.

Just the facts: Writer. Gamer. Feminist. Educated in Astrophysics. Professional Gambler. Student of Language. Satanist. Anarchist.

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