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Kevin Williamson, Jeffrey Goldberg, and Victimhood Culture

The circumstances of The Atlantic’s recent firing of columnist Kevin Williamson make clear that victimhood culture is rapidly spreading beyond university campuses.

Williamson was fired for comments about abortion — comments made in tweets and a podcast before The Atlantic ever hired him. His position, that abortion is murder, is certainly a mainstream position shared by millions of Americans. What is not mainstream is his view that women who have abortions should be subject to the same legal penalties as other murderers — possibly including the death penalty. This is an unpopular opinion that even many pro-lifers find offensive.  Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg, in explaining why he fired Williamson, called it “callous and violent.”

But to focus too much on the statement itself, and whether or not it’s extreme or offensive, is to miss the point of what’s happening. Williamson isn’t the first columnist to be targeted in this way. Bari Weiss at the New York Times and Megan McArdle at the Washington Post have also faced the wrath of online social justice mobs. And the abortion comments weren’t the only thing of Williamson’s that the mobs were objecting to. It’s just what stuck. As Tom Nichols notes, this is not just a one-time exception.

 Or as Rod Dreher writes, “Kevin Williamson’s fate is a bellwether. This is not going to end well, if it ends at all.” Dreher’s point is that the new morality that we’ve so far seen mainly on university campuses won’t stay there. “These norms, he says, “shape the way those rising in the ranks at institutions see the world, and, in turn, shape the world.”

And what are those norms? It’s not the case that Atlantic writers can’t make extreme statements that might offend others. As various people have pointed out since the Williamson firing, Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has written callously about the police and firefighters who responded to the 9/11 attacks: “They were not human to me. Black, white, or whatever, they were menaces of nature; they were the fire, the comet, the storm, which could — with no justification — shatter my body.”

Another Atlantic writer, Jessica Valenti, has written that there should be no legal restrictions at all on abortions — not even late term abortions — a position that is also extreme, and which even many pro-choicers would view as a call for legalized murder.

Why is it Williamson, then, whose presence will somehow endanger the staff? 

As Jason Manning and I point out in our book The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars, the hypersensitivity that is characteristic of victimhood culture is unevenly applied. We must take great care not to offend anyone thought to belong to a victim group. Offending them might even be violence. But we can offend others at will. For example, the concept of microaggressions has become popular on university campuses recently, but not everyone can be the victim of a microaggression:

Most slights or insults, whether real or imagined, are never labeled microaggressions. Recognizing only some of them as such privileges some victims over others. Opponents of affirmative action might be as offended as its supporters upon hearing someone disagree with them, but it is  “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” and not “I believe employers should make ethnic diversity a goal in hiring decisions” that the University of California (2014) calls a microaggression. Likewise the examples suggest that only women or various minorities, such as blacks, Asians, Latinos, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons, can be victims of microaggression, though it is surely possible for men to experience slights based on their sex or for whites to experience slights based on their ethnicity. Even some minority groups, such as Mormons or evangelical Christians, are notably absent from the lists of possible victims…. Whether an act is a microaggression depends not only on how it is perceived, but on who perceives themselves as being wronged by whom. (9-10)

As this logic spreads from the universities to mainstream publications like The Atlantic, conservatives come to be seen as toxic. If the idea is that offensive speech can be violent, their very presence is dangerous. But this seldom applies to leftists. They have the right to offend, as well as the right not to be offended.  Of course, the new culture of victimhood is not yet dominant even at the universities, and we’re only just beginning to see it elsewhere. But as at the universities, adherents of the new culture can still triumph when those who are in power respond to their outrage.

Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg is certainly not an adherent of victimhood culture. It was only a couple of weeks ago that Goldberg was defending his hire of Williamson and arguing for a vision of The Atlantic that would allow for people to disagree and to offend. Jonathan Haidt was ready to start buying gift subscriptions: 

And Goldberg holds views that many of those calling for Williamson’s firing would likely find just as “callous and violent” as Goldberg now finds Williamson’s views. Here Glenn Greenwald points to some of his transgressions:

As a war hawk and strong supporter of Israel, Goldberg could easily be the target of a leftist mob himself. Perhaps he will be. And ultimately, this might be what leads Goldberg and others to push back.

 As Michael Brendan Doughtery asks, if The Atlantic and others begin outsourcing their HR work online mobs, “who can stand?”

 

Bradley Campbell is an Associate Professor of Sociology at California State University, Los Angeles and is the co-author of The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces and the New Culture Wars (Palgrave Macmillan 2018) which is now available on Amazon.

This post was originally published at Victimhoodculture.com.

49 Comments

  1. Joshua Schwartz says

    Williamson’s tweets are one of those rare things – an actual suggestion to inflict violence against a specific targeted population. As someone who regularly sneers at victim culture and has defended pretty much every free speech challenge I’ve yet come across, this one actually gives even me pause. I have defended people I staunchly disagreed with for many years, even people whose viewpoints could align them with the very people who slaughtered my family in WW2. But Williamson was not merely critiquing people who have had abortion or calling them terrible or murderers… he was advocating for their death. I am having a hard time distinguishing between his tweet and a death threat. Uttering true death threats is an actual crime, and courts with better minds than mine have had to deal with how to tell when someone is just being rhetorical or seriously calling for someone to die.
    If Williamson had merely argued that “I think abortions should be legally equivalent to murder” and stopped there, it would have been different. That he invoked the death penalty (even if it is a logical conclusion) constitutes a threat.
    Really having a tough time with this one. I could be swayed, but it’s iffy. I don’t see his firing as some kind of crisis – rather, an understandable exception limited by the nature of the threat.

    • Butter Balls says

      No Joshua, suggesting the death penalty for women who have abortions, vile and crazy as it is, is not a direct death threat to an individual. I despise capital punishment across the board but I don’t consider supporters of it violent in the ordinary sense. They are promoting violence to some degree certainly, but then so is anyone who supports a war or any form of military action, however limited. If you make this a reason to fire people then enormous numbers of the population would be without a job, probably a majority.

      • Joshua Schwartz says

        I can agree that what he says is more like “if I had my way, you would be dead” and less like “I should kill you”, so it’s not a direct threat, but I’m not sure it’s reasonable to be in a work environment where a co-worker openly holds the view that you do not deserve to be alive.
        I reject the analogy to support of war – we’re talking about groups of people in the same company being expected to work together, not about someone’s disposition towards violence in the abstract.

        • Bill says

          Conservatives in CA i’m sure don’t feel it’s reasonable to be in a work environment dominated by liberal co-workers who openly hold the view that you do not deserve to be alive (they call you Nazis and openly call for violence ala Antifa)

        • It’s interesting to know that Williamson would not be alive if it were for these abortion supporters. It shaped his view about abortion. He has talked about it several times.

          So, “if I had my way you would be dead” is actually what these women say to him.

          What he says is “if I had my way, aborting people like me – the children of poor, teenage mothers – would be a crime.” In some states it would be punishable with death, in some states it wouldn’t.

          These pro-choice women never consider how, for example, a person with Down Syndrome must feel in their presence. Or someone like Williamson, who was born into the class of people “of whom we don’t want to have too many of”, as Justice Ginsburg famously said in a New York Times interview in regard to Roe v Wade.

          It can shape your world view.

          • These pro-choice women never consider how, for example, a person with Down Syndrome must feel in their presence. Or someone like Williamson, who was born into the class of people “of whom we don’t want to have too many of”, as Justice Ginsburg famously said in a New York Times interview in regard to Roe v Wade.

            I’m autistic. Maybe if there’s been a test for it I would have been aborted. But then I’d have never existed so I’d have nothing to be upset about.

            Nobody owes you a life.

            Aborting a child you don’t want is no worse than not getting pregnant in the first place.

          • Yosi says

            Quite right.

            Pro-choice is the ultimate in hate speech, but its cunning and implicit. Pro-choice itself is a form of baiting, to many of us, but we are expected to tolerate it for the sake of educated white women, or goony beardy men speaking on their behalf.

          • V 2.0 says

            If his teenage mother had been a good girl and not had sex he would not have been born either so his beef should also be with the conservatives who preach abstinence. Maybe we should encourage girls to start sleeping around as soon as they get their first periods so as to minimize the number of babies murdered before conception.

        • Paolo says

          @Joshua. I think you are setting many arbitrary lines. 1) surely people think very evil thinGSM of each other very often, even worse than ‘you shouldn’t be alive’, it’s just the human nature, we got to live with it. 2) since we are in the realm of subjectivity , it may not seem reasonable either to work with someone that has just, in quite an arbitrary way, ended an innocent life. 3) what about people who think/say i should be in jail, rather than executed? Should we fire them too? I could continue. It seems to me it’s quintessential that people speak freely about which should be the law of the country, without fear for their occupation. That’s the only way by which ideas are held to withstand the widest possible criticism, so that the best one can be chosen.
          This is what we do in the free parts of the world, if this is still a pointant argument.

        • markbul says

          Does a person who has, in fact – and in your opinion – committed murder have a right to be offended that someone should think that they deserve the death penalty? If you believe that a fetus is a person (I don’t), then abortion is murder. You are welcome to disagree with the logic, as I do, but you can’t deny the logic. If I believe there has been a murder, and I believe in capital punishment, they I can’t very well deny that I believe in the death penalty for those who do the deed. The anti-abortion crowd doesn’t follow their own logic because they don’t want to lose the middle. That doesn’t mean the logic doesn’t hold.

          Many people here in Massachusetts are in favor of the death penalty, although the state does not allow it. When they say they are in favor of capital punishment, does that make them threats to public safety? That seems to be what you’re saying.

        • Charleen Larson says

          “I’m not sure it’s reasonable to be in a work environment where a co-worker openly holds the view that you do not deserve to be alive.”

          I would not work with that person. There is no such thing as guaranteed free speech in the workplace. This has absolutely nothing to do with victimhood. The writer is way off-base.

          And I don’t understand the reasoning in this article. The FBI and local law enforcement agencies come under fire every time there are “signals” or online postings from future school shooters that they ignored or failed to take seriously and subsequently, a tragedy ensued. How is this any different? Williamson is signaling but in this case we’re supposed to chalk it up to rhetorical excess? Just an attempt to get attention?

    • ga gamba says

      … an actual suggestion to inflict violence against a specific targeted population.[…] That he invoked the death penalty (even if it is a logical conclusion) constitutes a threat.

      A call to vigilantism? Was he advocating for posses to be formed and the accused to be hanged without trial?

      Seems to me that he said abortion is murder, and if convicted of first degree murder the criminal ought to face the same type of punishment served to other first-degree murderers in several states. I disagree with him, but his view is certainly not beyond the pale. He advocates for a legal process. People advocate for the death penalty for all types of non-lethal crimes such as child molestation, rape, and even tax evasion; I don’t think expressing an opinion for this constitutes a threat, and definitely not an imminent one. I’m content to allow them to express their views and see no reason for them to be penalised.

      I used to support capital punishment, but revised my opinion not due to an ethical change of heart but because I was convinced the evidence proved some had been unjustly convicted and sent to their deaths. I support the death penalty in theory, but not in current practice. If the practice improved I’d likely support it again.

      In fact, I would support it being expanded and used against groups who are not subject to it presently. For example, recidivists who are violent felons but not yet murderous ought to face capital charges. I think after a few times of being convicted of a violent felony, later released, and committing a violent felony yet again the person proved his unwillingness to comply with social norms – I think three or four times would suffice. He’s beyond redemption and his conduct jeopardises lives. That a victim has not ended up in a morgue is due to luck, timely medical attention, or a combination of both. Would my advocacy of legal changes to send such a criminal to the death chamber meet your definition of a threat? Am I targeting the specific population of violent recidivists with violence?

      • Joshua Schwartz says

        Thank you for the response. Just regarding your last point about recidivism: I would draw a distinction between advocating a penalty for something that is criminal and advocating it for something that is (at present) legally acceptable for citizens.

        • Bill says

          His position is that it should be illegal and a “first degree murder.” Similar to how so many on the left feel that collusion with a foreign government in an election “should be” illegal when it actually is not, and therefore call for investigations and prosecutions (impeachments).

        • ga gamba says

          If I understand your position, you wouldn’t object to a two-step process where first a person advocates for an act to be made illegal, and upon that happening s/he then advocates for it being made into a capital offence.

          My reservation about this is the activist may be perceived and accused of misleading the public because in the first stage s/he would campaign for a punishment that’s not lethal.

    • Pizza Pete says

      “I am having a hard time distinguishing between his tweet and a death threat.”

      I would say your hard time is secondary to a lack of intelligence, histrionics, or both.

    • Roger Gathman says

      If I was a woman who had an abortion, I might feel uncomfortable for someone who has repeatedly said I should be hanged. Let’s try to reverse the stakes a bit. Would, say, Foreign Policy hire a writer who repeatedly suggested that the members of the Bush administration and their media supporters should be hung for invading Iraq? Would this scenario even be possible? I’d have to say, no. In no instance that I know of have major magazines or media outlets hired people who propose that warhawks should be hung for their crimes. And many, many millions of people think warhawks are murderers.
      The “hypersensitivity” of women who are working with men who think they should be executed is not the vast scandal that Campbell thinks it is. I would love to know if he has ever worked with someone who thinks he should be hung. Just out of curiosity.

  2. Attar says

    He didn’t just invoke a death penalty. He called for hangings.

    • ga gamba says

      Would calling for lethal injection be OK then? How about firing squad?

      I think you’re making a distinction without a difference.

      If your objection is about the possibility of a botched execution, which exists with hanging, the guillotine is the surest way of execution and considered the most humane form.

      • Roger Gathman says

        The difference was made by Williamson. He used the word hanging, instead of hiding behind some mealymouthed should be subject to capital punishment. He did it for a clear rhetorical reason. It is a juicier word. He could have said, it is true, fried. He could have called for their disemboweling, etc. Hanging raises the rhetorical stakes. Which does make a difference in a landscape in which abortion doctors have been shot, and abortion clinics have been blown up. Again, what if the Atlantic hired someone who supported the 9/11 attack, because the West has been murderous. Would we even be seeing an article supporting this writer on the grounds that it would be hypersensitive not to hire him? I doubt it.

  3. Benjamin Perez says

    21st-century progressivism hasn’t just become its own version of McCarthyism, it’s become the new Puritanism. (Purity trips and purity trippers too often lead nowhere—or worse.)

  4. roo wynn says

    idiocy stupidity and crueltymake me want to scream profanity in the streets. the nasty fool “journalist” kevin williamson is condemning (condemning to death) people who exercise constitutional rights. worshipping meeting speaking reading printing having an abortion are all among the freedoms granted to americans by the constitution.

    • ga gamba says

      Yes, people wanting to suppress the rights granted by the First, Second, Fourth through Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments never happens. Uni admins and elected legislatures, i.e. the “smart people”, never enact policies and pass laws breaching those.

      Anyway, I appreciate good catastrophising, so well done to you.

  5. P. K. Adithya says

    Hi, longtime reader and fan of Quillette here. I can certainly see both sides of this argument. Just wanted to call attention to this part of the article:

    “But to focus too much on the statement itself, and whether or not it’s extreme or offensive, is to miss the point of what’s happening. Williamson isn’t the first columnist to be targeted in this way. Bari Weiss at the New York Times and Megan McArdle at the Washington Post have also faced the wrath of online social justice mobs.”

    This strikes me as puzzling. Bari Weiss and Megan McArdle (whom I wholeheartedly support against the mobs) have also been targeted, but that does not mean every accusation of a writer being unfit for employment due to his views is illegitimate. Just as a hypothetical, what if Kevin Williamson had supported racial segregation? Would you still say that to focus on his actual position on segregation would be to miss the point, and we should instead worry about the online mobs?

    But I don’t mean to be too critical. What people generally mean when they’re upset about Williamson’s firing (while not supporting his position on abortion) is that they think he’s an interesting commentator with just this one loony opinion which we should be able to forgive. Especially considering that Williamson was unlikely to talk at length on abortion in his platform at The Atlantic. This view is certainly understandable.

    Is it particularly important right now to penalize people for being so extreme on abortion? I would say no, and so I think Williamson could have kept his job. But it’s a judgment call. I think we can be sympathetic to Williamson without being too harsh on The Atlantic.

  6. Pizza Pete says

    If you cut through the moral panic and histrionics, there’s not much here.

    Kevin Williamson was not advocating for hangings. He was making the point that abortion is actual murder and should be thought of as actual murder.

    You don’t have to agree with him on the former or the latter, but by no means does this argument form a moral basis for precluding his writing for the Atlantic.

    The rhetoric that arguments you don’t like represent “word-violence” that “literally harms the oppressed” in the intersectional power matrix of our white supremacist society is the type of intellectual argumentation we deserve.

    We’ve provided generation of over-privileged mediocrities a youth of grade inflation and participation trophies. This self-serving, shrill, intellectually brittle rhetoric should be no surprise.

    • Jack B. Nimble says

      If abortion is murder, then a pregnant woman who procures an abortion is no different legally from a woman who hires a hit man to kill her husband. In some instances in the US, both the hit man and the woman have been convicted of murder and punished accordingly.

      Here’s more evidence that this issue is not just theoretical: A candidate for Lt. Gov. in Idaho, Bob Nonini, recently called for the death penalty against women who abort, but then tried to walk it back. Here’s more info on the crazy politics of abortion in Idaho, according to the Idaho Statesman:

      “Last year, Abolish Abortion Idaho launched a ballot initiative seeking to charge both abortion providers and women with first-degree murder – but it is unclear if the group will have enough signatures to make it on the ballot in November.

      Meanwhile, Republican state Sen. Dan Foreman attempted to introduce legislation that would also classify abortion as first-degree murder for mothers and doctors, but the proposal never received a hearing.”

      http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/politics-government/election/article207845019

      Look, recent history shows that ideas that would have been laughed out of town before 2017 [like building a Berlin- or Korean DMZ-style barrier at the US southern border, or banning all Muslim entrants to the US] are now getting a respectful hearing. Crazy ideas like Williamson’s need to be taken seriously and opposed vigorously, before they can infect the mainstream. That is why he deserved to be fired.

  7. Alan Fournier says

    “As Jason Manning and I point out in our book The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars, the hypersensitivity that is characteristic of victimhood culture is unevenly applied. We must take great care not to offend anyone thought to belong to a victim group. Offending them might even be violence. But we can offend others at will.”

    Well said. This is why I as a gay man with disabilities, am loath to be included under the identity politics umbrella, even though there are some progressive ideas I can embrace.

  8. Mike says

    It’s a question of debating ideas that are worth considering and giving a platform in a journal such as the Atlantic to sensible voices. Ideological diversity doesn’t mean we have to represent extremist voices. Does Jeffrey Goldberg have a journalistic obligation to hire an anti-semite?

    Then when why should he hire someone who in all seriousness thinks millions of women should be hung? You can’t equate his position to Jessica Valenti’s – even with late state abortion legal not many women opt for it and the reason to mandate it this way at the federal level is because red states implement draconian measures to humiliate women who need to get them late term for legitimate reasons.

    This is almost a form of moral relativism here where we’re just assuming both left and right have sensible positions on this.

    As far as the lack of ideological diversity goes here – there are many conservative institutions that have de-platformed and outright fired people for not towing the party line:

    – AEI has fired people for not being sufficiently critical of Obama (ex. David Frum)
    – National Review has fired many people – they felt they were racist, critical of the vietnam war etc..
    – Fox news / Sinclari Broadcasting – the list is too big here

    If Quillete were to publish articles arguing that Fox & WSJ need more anti-war voices and articles advocating for single payer health care – I’d take this argument about ideological diversity seriously.

    But this argument for diversity in ideas is partisan to it’s very core. It’s always about the left torturing itself and giving a platform to cranks and misfits.

    • Sebastian says

      It’s interesting to hear you denounce partisan viewpoints on Quillette all while you insinuate that the right doesn’t have sensible viewpoints and refer to them as “cranks and misfits.” First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

      No publication has an obligation to host any viewpoints with which it disagrees. Fox News has no obligation to host left-leaning hosts, nor does the Huffington Post have an obligation to host right-leaning columnists. However, in the case of the Atlantic, there is a difference. Goldberg publicly announced his goal to make his publication ideologically diverse. How is it ideologically diverse to fire someone for holding views that conflict with the views of critics?

      My issue with the firing of Williamson has to do with hypocrisy. Goldberg shouldn’t call for ideological diversity if he doesn’t intend to adhere to his own pledge.

  9. We need to talk about Kevin.

    He’s an angry narcissistic blowhard with severe mommy issues. Since the Atlantic already has one queen bee blowhard in the form of Tasneezy Coates, there was no room for another. They will have to look elsewhere for a token conservative, and choose more wisely.

    Kevin will, unfortunately, land on his feet. He does not make a good poster boy for free speech. If the Atlantic doesn’t listen to their core readership, they’re too stupid to survive. A magazine is not a social experiment.

  10. Irene Mettler says

    @Speaker to Animals

    Maybe if there’s been a test for it I would have been aborted. But then I’d have never existed so I’d have nothing to be upset about.

    This is not correct. Our existence starts with conception. The idea that you didn’t exist before you were born is atavistic. It’s magical thinking.

    • Joshua Schwartz says

      @Irene Mettler – he may not have meant the mere gestational phase of existence before cognition has developed, but rather that form of existence which is being a physically separate being having experiences in the world. Naturally this is flirting with the key dogmas of pro-choice and pro-life when it comes to what state of being is worthy of being considered “human”. I think it could be argued coherently, for example, that before a fertilized egg has developed a brain it cannot possibly have any meaningful ‘awareness’.

      • Irene Mettler says

        @Joshua Schwartz

        First, thank you for your reply.

        I think that we know too little about ante-natality to be able to make judgments about the experiences of the unborn.

        I am quite certain, though, that we all have pre-natal experiences that shape our self-image.

        As for being human, that science is settled 🙂 The unborn are human and alive.

        You can claim that they are not persons, but that’s a legal term. Anybody can be a person, or not a person, or 3/5 of a person, or whatever the lawmakers decide.

        What kind of awareness the unborn have at any stage of their existence is not relevant, because we know what awareness they will have eventually.

        We have no problems acknowledging this fact when it comes to animals. It is a federal crime to destroy an eagle egg, although the egg, or what’s in it, looks nothing like an adult eagle. Nobody doubts that destroying an eagle egg means destroying an eagle.

        But when it comes to humans, this knowledge is suddenly gone.

        • Jerry Miad says

          I was just pondering this same thought. I lived in Alaska for 27 years. I saw developments (mining, logging, etc) being shelved, delayed, cancelled because of the effect it may have on the habitat of streams in which salmon return to spawn. This is a species that hasn’t yet even been conceived that is receiving protections. I understand and support efforts to thwart extinction. It seems inexplicable to me how a person supporting abortion could possibly support regulations, laws that protect unborn salmon.

    • Kurt says

      Further, if Speaker to Animals’ mother or father had strangled him/her in the crib, he/she would be dead and have nothing to be upset about.

      • Further, if Speaker to Animals’ mother or father had strangled him/her in the crib, he/she would be dead and have nothing to be upset about.

        There’s a difference between a foetus and a child. One lives independently of the mother’s body. If you don’t know why it’s wrong to strangle a baby get some fucking psychiatric help.

        • Speaker advises ‘get some fucking psychiatric help’ Look in the mirror buddy… You are a sad sack. I hope like hell you are not a parent or in charge of other human beings in any way.

  11. Robert Paulson says

    “But this seldom applies to leftists. They have the right to offend, as well as the right not to be offended.”

    Reading this article, I couldn’t help but think the author believes this is an oversight on the part of leftists, who fail to apply their own principles evenly. If so, this view is naive. This isn’t about principles, its about power and the uneven application of these social norms is not an oversight, its a core feature of leftist ideology – men, whites, Christians, or anything with European origins is “oppressive” and will not be allowed rights in the world they are trying to create. Leftists want to control and dominate others, and by posing as a victim, you can justify your totalitarian drive for power as a justified act of self-defense.

  12. Oss Ickle says

    “an actual suggestion to inflict violence against a specific targeted population”

    Poppycock. He’s saying women who get abortions are murderers, and should received whatever penalty murderers received. Taking it as anything more than that is histrionic and tendentious.

    • Oss Ickle says

      [er, “receive.”] And BTW, I’m pro-choice and anti-death penalty. Regardless, I’m not remotely outraged by what he’s saying, I simply disagree.

  13. I don’t think that Williamson’s view necessarily warranted his dismissal. Nonetheless, we would do well to remember that something as innocuous as having a tattoo could cause one to not be hired. Just like we should remember that being perceived as having the right personality is often a deciding factor in the hiring process. Secondly, from a PR point of view. The Atlantic did well do dismiss Williamson. Besides, there’s something terribly disturbing about a man who feel that a women should be murdered because she had an abortion.

    My main criticism of the article and of Quillette in general is that by removing politics all-together from their essay, they often misses the point of the situation. Quillette is only concerned about the right of the individual, but what about truth?

    “[Atlantic Editor] worked as a prison guard in a notorious Israeli camp that detained Palestinians; did more than any other journalist to deceive Americans into believing Saddam & AQ had an alliance; and is a vehement defender of Israeli aggression. That also seems bad.”

    Is that someone we’re supposed to support? Sometimes, it’s not about right or wrong views, it’s about truth. Israel is actively seeking the destruction of Palestine. Should we support someone who actively support Israel in its destructive path just so we can further out argument that “SJW” are snowflakes?

  14. The social backlash and his firing is a manifestation of our intolerance of diversity of opinion, etc. and its desire to inflict pain on those who profess other beliefs/lifestyles. From that perspective, the entire affair is no different than the scumbag who murdered the patrons at the Florida nightclub; it is just a matter of scale.

    I am pro-choice, and I respect his right to free expression.

    • TarsTarkas says

      The problem is not intolerance of diversity of opinion, the problem is the belief that there is only one ‘right’ opinion or position, and that any questioning, dissent, or deviancy is evil and must be punished. And it won’t stop once all voices speak in unison. In search of more imaginary dragons to slay they will go after those who did not speak out against evil (or speak out sufficiently strongly against it), because silence or mild protest in the face of evil is in itself evil, it not more evil, than the evil itself, because it condones evil. I expect there will eventually be a Thermidorian reaction to such lunacy, but when it occurs it will be very destructive and messy with a high body count (hopefully just figuratively but I’m not optimistic).

      • Dear Lord, a lot of you sound like robots. First, there’s a difference between free speech and supporting things that are just false (re: Israel). Furthermore, if let’s say Williamson had said that he supported the ideology of the “alt-right”, that would have HIS opinion and HIS right to free-speech. But then, the ideology of alt-right is mostly based on the belief that the white race is superior to all others. So what? Would people have played victim if they asked for him to be fired?

  15. Steven says

    Out of curiosity, if we replaced women who have terminated pregnancies with people who voted for Trump under the suggested execution list, would anyone here be defending the person who was fired?

      • Rod Paynter says

        Assuming then that you haven’t read the article? How is it you’re here at all? Or maybe my sarc meter needs tuning.

  16. Emerson's Ghost says

    Bradley,

    Just out of curiosity, why is your book so expensive? $30 for a kindle edition? I got excited when your referenced it in your article but was disappointed when the price appeared. Don’t you think this is a little outrageous for a book that is less than 300 pages long?

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