“Must We Defend Nazis?” seems to skim the surface of the hate-speech debate

Must We Defend Nazis?:  Why the First Amendment Should Not Protect Hate Speech and White Supremacy”, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic (2018) seems to be a slightly condense reissue of the older “Must We Defend Nazis? Hate Speech, Pornography, and the New First Amendment” (1997) by the same authors.

The book largely focuses on racist hate speech, even though there are other groups that can be targeted, and indeed Nazi Germany’s targeting was based on religion first (Judaism does not define a race; most practitioners are white). So that sets up one problem outright:  Does race need special attention today as the object of hate speech?

Then, we have to define what we mean by hate speech.  The book is focused on the fact that U.S. criminal law maintains content neutrality which permits hate speech, whereas other democratic countries have stronger laws against hate speech per se. That’s not totally correct. Some speech in he US is illegal based on content, such as obscenity, child pornography, or terrorist recruiting. And there has been at least one Supreme Court case in the U.S. Bauharnais v. Illinois (1952) that allows the concept of group libel even in criminal law, but it has not had much effect.  And some tort law in the U.S., such as “intentional infliction of emotional distress,” would seem to allow the concept of group hate speech in civil cases.

Generally, hate speech laws abroad define hate speech as any public speech (whether a social media posting or a yard or automobile sign on a property) that tends to promote hatred against a protected group, especially according to race, religion, ethnicity, and sometimes sexual orientation or gender identity, and sometimes a disability.  The group animus is a broader concept in the U.S., where usually there has to be an imminent threat of lawless action (like incitement to riot). This understanding is a slippery slope that can create serious problems for Internet service or social media companies, book publishers and movie distributors. With speech content issues, social context and probable interpretation by the public means everything, and we’ll come back to this later, as the book seems to miss one big point.

A big question would be whether racist speech and especially neo-Nazi speech in the US should get more scrutiny than other “hate speech”.  I understand and somewhat sympathize with their argugment that US history (slavery, segregation, Jim Crow laws, police profiling) make “blacks” especially vulnerable to group oppression in some contexts.  I am rather shocked, given all the progress (having a black president in Obama) that the “whitelash” with the Trump election and alleged Russian meddling seems so severe, much worse than I would have imagined in the middle of 2016.  I do not like to get into a debate as to whether the white supremacy movement (as in Charlottesville) should be condemned more than the violent side of Antifa;  that’s like arguing about whether Hitler was worse than Stalin, Pol Pot, and now Kim Jong Un.  In fact, we should remember that in the 1950s Communism was much more feared “officially” than any resurgence of Nazism, although a tacit political balance allowed the overt racism (and KKK) in the South through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. (That’s an idea in the “How Democracies Die” book that I’ll take up soon.)

When we talk about which groups should get more attention for past oppression, we have to remember that sexual harassment (especially by those with power in the workplace, mostly by heterosexual men against women) is now a sudden and major controversy that can also mediate free speech debates.

The book, to its credit, makes the point that “equality” and “free speech” (content neutrality) have tension between them, which cannot be resolved conclusively by any moral “theorem”;  axioms of choice must exist.  For example, because I have some money (some inherited, a lot saved after being earned  legitimately in the technology workplace for decades with conservative personal investments and little personal debt), and because I am a white male, arguably I have more leverage to have my speech listened to than the average African -American. (I talk about this in my 2014 DADT III book.) I could, however, speculate as to whether I have been discriminated against as a member of the LGBTQ community. My own history would make that claim a dubious one in my case, not necessarily in other LGBTQ people’s stories. It is true, as the authors claim, there is no systematic oppression of whites as compared to non-whites (“people of color”) that I would have had to face.  The authors (like on p. 34) make the point that some balance needs to be struck between “First Amendment free speech fundamentalism” and “legal realism”.  They also try to defuse the idea that “more speech” is the answer to edgy speech perceived (often incorrectly) as “group hatred”.  The ACLU particularly, is caught in the middle, as may also be the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The book seems particularly insulted by the existentialism of some of the libertarian right, which denounces trends  of promoting group-based victimization as somehow justifying personal character weakness.

It’s well to remember that the private sector generally has strong policies against hate speech, as usually understood by its stakeholders.  Books submitted to self-publishing companies generally go through “content review” to make sure they don’t constitute hate speech. Even twenty years ago, you would hear stories of people fired from jobs (“dooced”) for racial remarks in the workplace (in one case in Minneapolis, on a slip of paper).  Very recently, very large tech companies (starting with Cloudflare against Daily Stormer) have started to refuse to do business with entities perceived as hate groups (especially neo-Nazi);  Twitter said it would purge users who belonged to supremacist groups, as if it could spy on them. The advent of personal websites and social media created a novel conflict of interest risk, as I have shown in previous blog posts (and argued in DADT III):  a person with direct reports in the workplace might be considered prejudiced against certain groups by social media comments or self-published remarks uncovered by search engines.

Let me come back to the point the authors perhaps barely hint at in the closing chapter. The “offensiveness” of an item of speech can depend on the identity of the speaker and of public knowledge of the speaker’s circumstances.  There has been a problem with “meta-speech”, where satirical impersonations of the speech of others is not properly understood by some listeners, resulting in takedowns by social media companies (“Facebook jail”). Also, particularly on the far Left, “resistance” has sometimes focused on the idea that a person’s public mention of a controversy means that the issue is still unsettled, especially if the speaker did not have to put his own personal “skin in the game”. This gets to be elaborated to the point that the mere (intellectually motivated but emotionally aloof) mention of some ideas is viewed as recirculating “hate speech”. This observation is related to notions like “gratuitous speech” and “implicit content”, the latter of which got mentioned in the 2007 COPA trial.

A problem then that gets related to this is the “heckler’s veto”.  For example, there has been a case whether College Republicans have to pay increased security costs when a provocateur like Milo Yiannopoulos is scheduled to speak, even though his speech (if read carefully, like his book), actually is not racist.  The far Left, as well as sometimes the alt-right, can use the collective grievances of their base groups to maintain an illusion of hate speech from others whom they see as artificially “elite”.  Appeals to “personal responsibility” along with official “neutrality” are sometimes seen as actually intended but indirect enmity.   There is a good question of legal principal as to whether speakers (especially those without direct “skin in the game”) should bear the (legal or indemnifying) responsibility for causing themselves or those associated with themselves to be targeted by enemies (most of all, foreign enemies – look at the Sony hack case in 2014).  The recent ruling in Washington state is a step in the right direction (pun), I hope. On the other hand, restriction of some individual speakers could be seen by some (especially on the Left) as encouraging more solidarity (individuals could be forced to join groups to be heard at all) and promoting more equality (even forced group-oriented charity or supervised community engagement).

Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz criticized this book in this op-ed.

I must say, carrying this book around on the Metro got some quizzical looks from people.  And, whatever the original circumstances of the placement of various Confederate military statues in southern cities, to focus on their presence now as “hate speech” and “oppression” seems rather a stretch.  You have to remember history.

Author: Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic
Title, Subtitle: “Must We Defend Nazis: Why the First Amendment Should Not Protect Hate Speech and White Supremacy”
publication date 2018
ISBN 978-1-4798-5783-8 paper
Publication: New York University, 8 chapters, 164 pages
Link: Publisher

(Posted: Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 8 PM EST)

“Fire and Fury”, like the World has never seen, indeed

The other day, after reading a tweet and scanning an article about blogging from Australian entrepreneur Ramsay Taplan (“Blogtyrant”), I went back and looked at Heather Armstrong’s original mommy blog, “Dooce”, and notice her subtitle, “An Unfiltered Fire Hose of Flaming Condemnation”.

That could have made a good title (good enough to satisfy a grade school’s (“My Weekly Reader”) reading comprehension test question) for journalist Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”.  Of course, Wolff’s title is drawn from the threat that Donald Trump’s sudden threat from his Bedminster, NJ estate last summer against Fat Little Rocket Man – I’ll go get small wih Heather and big again with Milo Yiannopolous to shame the comic book villain and note that the adjective “Little” applies to more than one thing – and I understand Trump (“President Poopiepants” according to one Facebook friend not to far from Mar a Lago) has quote Milo’s fat-shaming in describing Kim, while being called a dotard himself.  Never mind, a single tweet with an insult against the God King (or a blog posting like this) might start nuclear war, just like it started the Sony Hack in 2014 (Kim couldn’t stand Seth Rogen and James Franco movies).

Wolff mentions Milo at least twice, in close proximity to discussions of Richard Spencer. And then, Wolff doesn’t spend much space on how grave the DPRK problem could become for Americans in the continental US (nukes and even EMP, as I’ve discussed elsewhere).  Instead, Wolff notes that almost the next day, Richard Spencer started his event in Charlottesville, VA leading to violence in which one protester would be run over by a young man from Ohio apparently one of the Nazi supporters.

Then there is the issue that Trump refused to condemn Spencer’s crowd more than Antifa.  Nevermind that throughout most of my own upbringing, Communism was now the big boogeyman.

Wolff opens his book, almost, on Election Day.  Everybody expected to lose, including Kellyanne Conway. In fact, everyone wanted to. What a boost for global business, to lose to Crooked Hillary.

By 8 PM, though, it was already appearing Trump could win.  Hillary was in trouble from the get-go.

The star character, of course is Steve Bannon, that is, Trump’s Brain.  (Remember the horror movie “Donovan’s Brain”?)  Wolff talks about his unkempt appearance, his swollen (and presumably balding) legs.  Bannon had a one bedroom apartment in Arlington filled with books, and the way Wolff describes it, it is pretty much like my condo now.

Bannon had, at one time, argued not only for autarky but for a nativist worker’s party.  It could be like the 1930s.  Is that what we wanted?  Bannon does believe that families should take care of themselves.

Jared Kushner manages to escaped somewhat unscathed from the fire hose, because he’s slender and cute;  Milo would approve of him.

For all the humiliating  accounts of Trump’s crudeness around the staff, and the constant firings (Comey, Scaramucci, finally Bannon himself). The staff doesn’t seem to respect him.  It’s hard to see what Trump wants, or any of his staffers want. Okay, they can expropriate from the elites and put off a day of reckoning on climate change to protect their white proletarian base.  Sure, it would be fun to get invited to party at Mar a Lago (surely one of Kim’s targets for his H-15 if it ever is deployable). There really seems to be no ideology other than just having power for its own sake, for a while, until maybe it is taken away from you.

I ordered this book from Amazon, in hardcover, the day Trump’s lawyers sued to block publication, but Henry Holt could print the copies fast enough.  It took about ten days to arrive. Is this book more “Do Ask Do Tell” or is it just “Dangeorus”?  Milo should have published this, just for the money.

Author: Michael Wolff
Title, Subtitle: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
publication date 2017
ISBN ISBN 978-125-01-5806-2
Publication: Henry Holt, 322 pages, hardcover (and ebook), 22 chapters, indexed
Link: MacMillan

(Posted: Sunday, February 4, 2018, at 10 PM EST during the Super Bowl, as the Eagles take the lead 38-33 on a close touchdown.)

“This Dangerous Book”: by the founders of the Museum of the Bible

I visited the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC near Federal Center SW on the first day of Winter, Dec. 21, and after the visit noticed the book by Steve and Jackie Green, founders of the museum, in the museum gift shop. The title, on a brown dust jacket, caught my attention. That is, “This Dangerous Book: How the BIBLE Has Shaped our World, and Why It Still Matters Today”.

My first thought was that Milo Yiannopoulos titled his book “Dangerous” and names his own publishing company that (he has published Pam Geller), and now his own main website, that.  In terms of world history, the Bible is a lot more dangerous than Milo’s work!  I really wondered if this title duplication was more than a coincidence.  As a matter of law, titles cannot be copyrighted, and normally they only become trademarked if they become a series.  (That raises a question about my own “Do Ask, Do Tell”). Business company names (like publishing companies) normally can be trademarked.  So sometimes their accompanying domain names are, too.

Steve and Jackie are part of a larger family, David’s, that founded the Hobby Lobby, which became controversial in refusing to cover the “morning-after pill” for employees claiming it was an abortifacient. So here we go, into the area of how much religious beliefs should affect your treatment of other people (like employees) on their private decisions.

The Museum is quite objective and neutral, covering both Judaism and Christianity well, but Islam much less because Islam has its own texts.

The book is partly about the history of Biblical codices and manuscripts (through the significance of the innovation of the printing press), and partly about the Green family’s own journey of faith and perspective on it.  The Green’s talk about their early life expenses of debt, and how it is hard to avoid when you have five children. (Note: single people, and in the past, many gays, tended to taken on fewer responsibilities for others that can lead to debt.  That’s changing with longer life spans, demographics, eldercare, and marriage law.)  Later they talk about prayer in whether to adopt a child from China, which turned out to be tricky legally.  The oldest natural sibling seemed to think that the parents were morally obliged to try to do so.  This is emotionally a close-knit family, in a way that I haven’t experienced.

I recall a particular moment, the first time I entered my tenth grade English classroom in September 1958, and saw a lot of classic books on a shelf, with a young adult male teacher. (Yes, he had played football but he was academically very well prepared.  This reminds me of a college athlete I met on a Metro in 2014 as he read a philosophy text.  Yup, a lot of “jocks” really are smart, too.  And that happened about the time of GWU’s annual Day of Service.  A lot flashes through the mind.)  Ever since then, I’ve wondered if some books deserve to be thought of as “good” and having more credibility to be believed by the public than others.  I can wonder that about my own “Do Ask Do Tell” series.

I can recall a 90’s book, “The Good Book” (legacy review), by African-American Harvard religion professor Peter Gomes, who also describes his coming out as gay.  I remember reading this book when I wrote my own first DADT book.

So then, I ponder, as the Green book explores, do you look at the Bible as a source of authority on moral judgements?  The Greens get into that, and try to maintain some flexibility.  The assorted literary forms in the Bible (especially New Testament letters) add to the authority.  (The remarks about John’s account of the Revelations seem particularly challenging.)  But for Christians this comes down to a personal “relationship” with and faith in “Him”.

Consider this: for most of my life, Jesus has usually been depicted visually as a slender, physically fit young adult white male.  As a gay white male myself, that image is what I would tend to want “upward affiliation” (to borrow a term from George Gilder) with. Suppose I encounter a young adult white male somewhat like an extension of the teenage Clark Kent in the WB “Smallville” series.  What if the individual shows “powers”.  Actually, I can think of two such persons now.   No, I won’t identify them (and, Milo, sorry, he’s not you). I am very careful about my connection to such a person, not wanting to blow it.  For example, nothing gets carried out on social media (so far). (As far as I’m concerned, we don’t know that “Smallville”, with the help of a nearby wormhole to deal with the speed of light, is impossible.  The legal rights of personhood for an “alien” like Clark Kent would an interesting question for the courts, and challenging to Donald Trump.  We have not treated orcas well.)  But a “Clark Kent” would never ask anyone to drop everything an “follow me”.

For someone who lived and experienced his own personhood at the time of Christ however, the miracles, including resurrection and ascension, would seem to be unchallenged and ultimate factual truths. There would be no other frame of reference for knowledge, like modern physics and cosmology. And there could be no nuclear weapons. No dependence on technology to be wiped away by an enemy with some unprecedented act.

I want to note with some interest that the authors consider the course of American history as underlined by the contents of the Bible, from the American revolution (they even make observations about the end of the French and Indian Wars) to the story of Amistad (the book and 1997 film by Steven Spielberg, legacy review), two decades before the War Between the States.

Here is my legacy review of Rick Warren’s “The Purpose-Driven Life” (2002). The problem is, sometimes, it really needs to be “about me.”

Author: Steve and Jackie Green, with Bill High; Foreword by Rick Warren
Title, Subtitle: “This Dangerous Book: How the BIBLE Has Shaped our World and Why It Still Matters Today”
publication date 2017
ISBN 978-0-310-35147-4
Publication: Zonervan (Harper Collins); 5 Parts, 18 Chapters, 251 pages, hardcover (also audio and ebook); many color photos and color maps.
Link: publisher 

(Posted: Friday, January 5, 2018 at 1:34 PM EST)

Pamela Geller’s book “Fatwa” published by Milo

Most trade publishers declined to offer Pamela Geller’s brazen book, “Fatwa: Hunted in America”, and I rather agree, there may have been an element of fear in their declinations. So Milo Yiannopoulos made his little publishing company called “Dangerous Books” (founded after his own fallout with Simon and Schuster over the bad “rumors” about his own supposed advocacies last February) a multiple author one, and took up the project himself, publishing (Miami) her 251-page epistle, which includes endnotes but no index.

The book is not particularly polished and tends to be a bit repetitious, sometimes screed-like; Milo’s own writing skills seem superior to Pamela’s.  But she hits hard the point of drowning free speech with tribalism and intimidation, and the book needs attention.  The book includes a foreword by Geert Wilders, “the Dutch Donald Trump”, who, like Geller, was banned (in his case temporarily) from entering the UK purely out of fear that his presence would agitate violence.  Wilders writes quite succinctly that the Left has turned its head on its traditional causes (especially gay rights) to defend Muslims as a minority.

Pamela Geller is probably best known for her May 2015 “draw the prophet” contest, which was attempted at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas.  Having lived in Dallas myself from 1979-1988, I am familiar with the area, on the northeast side of the city, just north of I-635, to the east of the wealthier Richardson and Plano suburbs along 175.  Two extremists attempted to attack the gathering and were shot by security and police, and later killed by a swat team.  Geller only briefly mentions the 2010 “Everybody draw Muhammad Day” organized by Molly Norris, which resulted in her disappearance into hiding in something like a witness-protection program (CNN).  The Norris narrative really would justify the title of the book (as well as reminding me of the 2006 Lifetime movie “Family in Hiding”).  Of course, Norris followed on the Jyllands-Posten Cartoon Controversy in Denmark .  That would culminate in the terror attack and assassinations at Charlie Heebdo in January 2015 in Paris (and generate the documentary film “Je Suis Charlie”).   The book includes an inset of colored photos, including a copyrighted image of Bosch Fawstin’s winning cartoon in the “AFDI Muhammed Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest”.  The Danish controversy has inspired other books, such as Flemming Rose (now at Cato), “The Tyranny of Silence“, which examine the problem of religious combativeness to silence speech. Let us also remember Bruce Bawer’s earlier “While Europe Slept“, which had covered the assassination in Amsterdam of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh for the short film “Submission“.

Geller does cover in detail the radical Islamist idea that non-Muslims cannot be allowed to draw the Prophet (as Muslims cannot) and points out that no other major religion enforces this kind of idea.  The Mormon church did not react violently to the popular Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon”.  Judeo-Chrisitianity has never embraced such demands even though the Old Testament is filled with concerns over “idol worship” which seemed quite important to me as a child.  Geller sometimes tries to have it both ways, seeming to imply that she sees all Islam as a political entity (seeking political control “for its own sake” of the world, like fascism and communism) rather than just a religious movement. In other places she faults moderate Muslims who simply practice a “personal” faith as not calling out the extremists in the faith (and evangelical Christianity has its own share of violent extremists – in the US sometimes connected to White supremacists, as we all learned from Charlottesville).

But it is the free speech idea toward the end of the book that hits the hardest.  Her writing comes to a head at the top of p. 126 when she (in a section about the cartoon ads), writes, “We cannot submit to the assassin’s veto”.  Indeed. If a person gives in to that, he is nothing (other than someone else’s pawn or prole) and becomes personally dishonored.  But then what about his family?  This is “alternative morality”, like “alternative facts”?  A lot of people don’t get the fracture in our culture over individualism v. tribal loyalty.

Later she will describe the DDOS attack on her own original blog (“Atlas Shrugs”) so severe that her hosting provider dropped her. She reinvented her web presence with the “Pam Geller Report” (link in table below).  Geller accuses big tech companies of colluding to protect themselves from radical vetoes by taking down hate speech – and indeed we saw this with the way Daily Stormer (however extreme in the white supremacy area) got knocked off the web by private companies, as did some Airbnb accounts, after the Charlottesville riots – but this had little or nothing to do with Islam.  She then presents her lawsuit attacking Section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (the so-called “Communications Decency Act”, the censorship portions of which were struck down by the Supreme Court in 1997). She complains that Section 230 allows big private tech companies to censor (anti-Islamist) content out of fear and intimidation. But in a broader view, Section 230 is part of the legal landscape that allows user generated content on the Internet to flourish because by and large, hosting companies and service providers are protected from most downstream liability for what users do. (The Backpage (sex trafficking) controversy and proposed legislation could present a serious challenge to 230’s effectiveness, but the whole idea of “knowingly”, as with child pornography, would seem to be a critical concept).   Section 230 does allow service providers some discretion in monitoring content to comply with their own terms of service.

Geller is right, however, that the Left as a whole is becoming strident in shutting down speech that the Left believes “legitimizes” certain groups, like neo-Nazis, on the theory that even “meta-speech” from those not directly affected becomes viewed as a kind of incitement (related to what I have called “The Privilege of Being Listened to” elsewhere).  I am concerned myself about this idea.  Could “community engagement” be required to accompany the speech?

Geller covers a lot of other issues, including the banning of “all political ads” by transit systems supposedly because of protests of hers.  That’s true:  I can’t buy an ad for “Do Ask Do Tell” on the DC Metro because it would be viewed as “political advocacy”.  She covers her battles in San Francisco and New York.  San Francisco is particularly in a bind as a “ gay” city.  She points out that in Iran, homosexuals are required to go trans and have sexual reassignment surgery (I had never heard that before).  She is critical of some well-known organizations (CAIR, Council on American-Islamic Relations, not to be confused with the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition) and the Southern Poverty Law Center. . She describes her opposition to the Park51 Islamic Center near the World Trade Center site in New York.  She claims that stores enforce Halal standards for meat against non-Muslims.

She also promotes her American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI)   At the end of the book, she makes a plea to join her cause collectively. She ends with “I am one person. So are you. Together we are an army”.

Wiki picture of Chris Culwell Center in Garland, Texas.

Author: Pamela Geller
Title, Subtitle: “Fatwa: Hunted in America”
publication date 2017
ISBN 978-1947979000
Publication: Dangerous Books (Miami), 251 pages, endnotes, hardcover, 11 Chapters, color photos, Foreword by Geert Wilders
Link: Author

(Posted: Wednesday, December 6 at 2 PM EST)

“Kill All Normies”: a meta-pamphlet about Milo’s world and even Pepe the Frog

Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right”, a booklet (120 pages) by Angela Nagle, seems to attribute the rise of nationalist populism as a kind of sum-effect of the chaos on the Internet in the past ten years or so.  As the author says in her last chapter title, it isn’t funny when the culture wars go offline.

I’m rather shocked at the meanness and bullying that happens on line, and the revenge and stalking;  Melania Trump has said she wants to do something about it, even if it helped her husband get elected. The behavior reflects a certain cynicism and even nihilism, that the “system” is leaving a lot of “us” out, so we might as well rebel against civilized living.

Nagle’s presentation is non-sequential and rather random, so it is hard to follow an argument.  But gradually she gets into the same territory covered by Milo Yiannopoulos in his book “Dangerous” (July 13).  She gradually develops a comparison to Milo’s style of conservatism, which I would call hyper-meritocracy (a preoccupation with other people’s virtue and its visual evidence, and a cult of personal competitiveness) but not libertarianism and definitely not alt-right or fascism, and the older Par Buchanan type of conservatism evident in the 1980s with the “Moral Majority” crowd.  She almost manages to make cis gay men as likely to prefer conservatism to the particularly constricting identity politics of the extreme Left.  The alt-right has its own identity politics, with a different crowd.  In the end, communism (or hyper socialism, Venezuelan style), fascism, and extreme nationalism (as Putin is verging on), and even theocracy (Islamo-fascism) all start to seem alike. They are all authoritarian, and easily morph out of excessive political concern over personal “right-sizing” and deservedness.

She manages to convey some interesting narratives, such as about the life of mass shooter Eliot Rodger and his manifesto “My Twisted World” (this 2014 Isla Vista case definitely made “manifesto” a bad word, but so did the luddite Unabomber Ted Kaczynski in the 1990s with his “Industrial Society and its Future” where he ranted about the imposition of socialization).  She also gives a perspective on the hit film “Fight Club” (1999, Fox, directed David Fincher, with Ed Norton and Brad Pitt).

She also conveys pretty well just how far some people go into group identity belonging, especially on the radical Left.  People have amputated their own limbs to “belong” to “people with disabilities”. She has the same horror at the staged anarchical violence at Milo’s events. She discusses “manosphere” as something sometimes disfigured by tattoos and wounds, something far removed from the cleaner fantasies of the 1960s when James Bond told us “what it means to be a man”, or when a perfected (except around red kryptonite) Clark Kent conveyed that on “Smallville” in the 00’s.  (Tom Welling has gone downhill since then, sad to say.)

In the end, it seems like “populists” dislike “elites” who watch and criticize but don’t step up and swing and take the risks of getting beaned.

Vox interview with author.

Salon discussion of the book.

Author: Angela Nagle
Title, Subtitle: “Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right
publication date: 2017
ISBN: 978-1-78535-543-1
Publication: Zero Books, 120 pages, paper (ebook), 7 chapters and conclusion
Link: publisher

(Posted: Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017 at 11:15 AM EDT)

Milo’s “Dangerous”

I had to read “Dangerous”, by provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos (aka Milo Hanrahan, aka Milo Andreas Wagner as a previous pen name) off my Kindle. The first print run (apparently 100,000(?) copies, self-published under the trademark “Dangerous Books”) sold out before Amazon could ship to me, so I forked out an additional $2.99 to get it now. I hope others will buy my “Do Ask, Do Tell” series on Kindle. In the meantime, I’ll just wait for my hardcover copy when it gets printed in a second run.

OK, I’m getting ahead of myself already. There is a lot of commonality between what Milo says and what I say in three books, even if the organization and expressive style is very different. But this is almost like a “Do Ask, Do Tell V” book (the first three are mine, and then a sketched out a IV online in 2016 here).

Remember, Simon and Schuster had cancelled trade publication of his book after the “scandal” Feb. 20 over supposed advocacy of “pedophilia.” In fact, the correct term is probably ephebophilia, or perhaps hebephilia. There is a curious parallel to an incident in my life regarding Google-finding materials on my own website when I was working as a substitute teacher in late 2005, which I’ve discussed on these blogs before. The new version of this book contains Milo’s explanation of this matter in the introduction. I am certainly convinced that Milo said or did nothing to suggest approval of illegal sexual activities with minors, although the age of consent varies among western countries and even among states in the U.S. (and in some states, like California, it is still as high as 18).

I didn’t find a table of contents on the Kindle, so it’s a little clumsy to verify, but there seem to be twelve chapters. The first ten are based on “Why (Identity Group n) Hates Me”. The last two are based on who does like his message (like GamerGate).

This may seem like a self-indulgent way of presenting one’s argument. I am reminded of how Gustav Mahler titled each of the last five movements if his massive Symphony #3 “What (X) Tells Me”. I’m also reminded of Pastor Rick Warren’s “The Purpose-Driven Life” (2002), where the minister argues “It’s not about you.” But for Milo it is. But given the history of violent reactions of foreign-organized protestors at some of Milo’s events (his “Dangerous Faggot” tours), which he discusses toward the end of the book, it seems appropriate.

I’d like to note the comparison of they way Milo organizes his material to how I did I started the first DADT book with an autobiographical narrative, in time sequence filled with ironies, motivated by the debate on gays in the military and how it had intersected into my life. Then I switched over to topical discussion as my issues fanned out. The second book was a series of topical essays, focused mostly on two themes: a “Bill of Rights II” in the context of 9/11. Book 3 reiterated the autobiographical narrative and added some topical fiction pieces. But, yes, a lot of this was “about me”. But my scope was always expanding into more areas.

So, I’ve always been concerned with the central question, of how someone who is “different” aka “special” should behave in the face of collective social pressures (to conform to the norms of the peer group and to “carry one’s weight” or share of the common risk). That concern can be discerned from Milo’s material. My driving and organizing principle was “personal responsibility” but I had to constantly enlarge upon what that means. It involves a lot more than facing the direct consequences of one’s choices. Dealing with stuff that happens “to me” has to start with “me” (so, it matters if people “hate” me). But I realize this can become “dangerous” (Milo’s wordmark) if overdone, and invite political authoritarianism, which is exactly what is testing America and western Europe right now. So, in a broader sense, “the people” matters too. My father always used to say, “The majority has rights, too.”

The end result is that Milo’s book, if moderate in length, seems monumental. In reviewing his list of “enemies” (and, by the way, I was told in my college years that “you have a tendency to make enemies”) he covers a wide range of important incidents.

The list of people he encounters comes across like Chaucer characters (indeed “A Canterbury Tale” is one of my own favorite classic films). He covers Shaun King, the civil rights activist claiming to be “black”. He gives a reasonable defense of the police in Ferguson MO in considering Michael Brown’s behavior (“Why Black Lives Matter Hates Me”). He goes into some detail over how he got banned from Twitter (Breitbart account) over supposedly encouraging retribution against (the remade) “Ghostbusters” actress Leslie Jones, where he says he was set up, (Indeed, “Why Twitter Hates Me”. He gives a curious defense of Martin Shkreli in the HIV drug fiasco (and Shkreli has since been prosecuted on other matters).

In explaining why mainstream gays hate him (he thinks, I’m not sure they do) he takes up the case of writer Chadwick Moore. He delves into the moral dualism of male homosexuality in a way that reminds me of George Gilder (“Men and Marriage”, 1986), considering it somehow unnatural as counter to procreation – yet, he says, gay men usually are thinner, smarter, richer and more successful than straight married men, partly because they (the straights) are weighted down with a family to support or wives to pamper and cook for them. He sees gay marriage as illogical – needing the idea of traditional marriage, with all its self-surrender (“the two become one flesh”, etc) in order to have something to stand apart from. I know the feeling and covered the same sentiments in my own books – equality cuts both ways, when you don’t have dependents.

Ironically, he worships himself and certain other gay men as shamans or perhaps angels. (If you could be immortal, you wouldn’t need to reproduce – there is a jellyfish that actually does this by going through regression, as in “The Curious Life of Benjamin Button”. Unfortunately, the teenage Clark Kent in “Smallville” is presented as straight (not sure what kind of kids he could rather). Psychologists call his style of relating to people personally as “upward affiliation”. That was an issue when I was a patient at NIH in the later part of 1962, where I was diagnosed as “schizoid”. I just didn’t get much of intimacy with others (anticipation of the “family bed”) unless the partner would be perfect enough. But I was seen as possibly indicative of a dangerous trend accompanying the newly nerdy science and bookishness of the Cold War era – a slipping back into a perception that a personal level some people would no longer matter if they didn’t stay perfect enough. What had we just fought World War II about two decades before? Body fascism?

But the early chapters do present a convincing read on why Milo feels so repelled by the authoritarianism of the far Left, and its trying to pimp victimhood and draw everyone into identity politics, demanding loyalty to political leadership to speak for them as marginalized minorities. Milo particularly explains the idea of “intersectionalism” or “intersectionality”, a concept that author Benita Roth took for granted in her book on ACT UP which I reviewed here June 14.

Indeed, the Left often wants to suppress clear and objective independent speech from its own constituent individuals, because the Left fears that brining up complete arguments just gives fuel to its enemies and rationalizes “oppression” against less competitive individuals. I share this concern myself (as I outlined particularly in Chapter 3 of my own DADT-3 book). In this regard, Milo minces no words in reaffirming “fat shaming”, that obesity is unhealthful as aesthetically ugly (or is beauty if the eyes of the beholder – like in that 1970 song “everything’s beautiful in its own way” – although the early Nixon-laden 1970s were also a time when machete jokes about beer bellies were socially acceptable sometimes). I’ll add that I had named Chapter 2 of my DADT-3 book “The Virtue of Maleness”, a notion many would find oppressive (like to “trannies” or “gender fluid” people). Milo almost comes to making my point, that in the past many people saw open male homosexuality as a distraction for other men from trying to father children at all – which is one reason why Russia passed its anti-gay propaganda law in 2013.

In developing the duality of his own attitude toward his own homosexuality, Milo mentions one of his favorite authors, books, and films: “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde.  I rather like the idea of seeing more in a fixed image of one of my own “idols”.  I read it myself in 12th Grade for a book report (as I also read H. G. Wells’s “Meanwhile” and Nevil Shute’s “In the Wet“).

One of the last chapters is why “Muslims Hate Me” and this chapter is the darkest one. He indeed sees all Islam as radical Islam, and sees Islam as by definition political and seeking to impose itself on non-Muslims. He gives particular attention to the assassination of the staff of Charlie Hebdo (in January 2015, ten months before the 11/13 Paris attacks) and views the Jyllens-Posten Cartoon Controversy the same way as free speech advocate Flemming Rose (“The Tyranny of Silence”), as dealing with a consciously and deliberately combative culture that sees enemies everywhere.  Milo points out that Charlie Hebdo  (don’t confuse with l’Hebdo, which has stopped) had been a relatively small publication, so radical Islam was willing to put it in the  limelight (“Je suis Charlie“) by attacking it, which sounds like an self-defeating irony to a western person.  Think about North Korea (“The Interview“) the same way.

Milo denies he is part of the “alt-right”, no less a leader of it, and denies any belief in racial superiority of any group. (He dates black men, he says.) He gets into the misuse of the “Pepe the Frog” meme.  He denies that he is a libertarian, but he seems like a “moralistic libertarian” to me, somewhat like Charles Murray (who has also been the target of attacks at speaking engagements). He considers “troll” a desirable label, and his advice to young men is to become hot. We’re seeing personal attitudes privately held in the gay male community for decades going public online, and suddenly perceived as hurtful.

I can certainly imagine this book as a documentary movie, although it might take a strident course like some of Steve Bannon’s Citizens United films.  By comparison, my own narrative seems even more personal and ironic, but indeed filled with instructive twists.  But I would be interested in working on a documentary about gay conservatives if someone wanted to film Milo’s book (and not yet do mine). There is a 2004 documentary “Gay Republicans” (legacy review).

Author: Milo Yiannopoulos
Title, Subtitle: Dangerous
publication date 2017
ISBN 978-0692893449
Publication: self; 288 pages, endnotes, 12 chapters
Link: Milo’s site

(Posted: Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 5:30 PM EDT)