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How Ritualized Apologies Are Undermining Freedom of Expression

“I want to apologize. I recognize that this moment is a deeply painful one—internally and externally,” wrote Facebook’s VP of public policy, Joel Kaplan, in a Sep. 28 note to Facebook staff. This followed the publication of photographs showing Kaplan’s attendance at Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kaplan’s presence in the hearing room led to a wave of objections voiced on internal message boards by Facebook employees. As one employee opined: Kaplan “knew that this would cause outrage internally, but he knew that he couldn’t get fired for it. This was a protest against our culture, and a slap in the face to his fellow employees.”

Initially, company executives appeared to defend Kaplan, who has for years counted Kavanaugh as one of his closest friends. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that Kaplan had broken no rules with his attendance at the hearings, and on Oct. 3, Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook VP, weighed in, writing that “it is your responsibility to choose a path, not that of the company you work for.” Yet the backlash continued to mount, and the next day, Bosworth walked his declaration back: “I spoke at a time when I should be listening and that was a big mistake. I’m grateful to employees who shared feedback and very sorry that my actions caused employees pain and frustration when what they needed was better support and understanding from leadership.

At Facebook, Kaplan and Bosworth were viewed by many employees as being on the wrong end of the opinion spectrum in an environment dominated by those on the political left. In today’s increasingly tribalized climate, transgressions that step out of line with the left often lead to demands for apologiesthe more humbly offered, the better. Apologies have become the ritualized mechanism to avoid permanent professional and/or social banishment.

A similar dynamic operates on college campuses. For example, in Oct. 2017, the Columbia University Democrats published an op-ed in the Columbia Spectator spurred by the College Republicans’ decision to invite a series of controversial speakers to campus. In the op-ed, the Columbia University Democrats addressed the need to respond to the upcoming speaking events, and expressed reservations about the effectiveness of shout-downs, while simultaneously sympathizing with students participating in those efforts.

However, the blowback from the op-ed led the Columbia University Democrats to publish a follow-up letter to the editor in the Columbia Spectator a few weeks later featuring a remarkable string of mea culpas, including “We, the Columbia University Democrats Executive Board, retract and condemn our op-ed,” “This statement is far too little and too late, but necessary all the same,” “We must change without putting it on others to teach us and without looking for any kind of acknowledgement for doing so,” and “We have not shown up for our community in a way that reflects our values.” This self-flagellation is even more remarkable given the measured and reasoned op-ed they were bending over backwards to “retract and condemn.” Yet, the op-ed diverged from the dominant campus narrative in a way that was deemed unacceptable. Once that threshold had been crossed, a full-throated apology became the only available path to redemption.

While transgressions offensive to the left often include voicing unpopular political opinions, they can also include simple bad timing even when expressing locally popular opinions. For instance, on Oct. 8 at Scripps College, there was an anti-Kavanaugh protest scheduled for noon. But then the organizers realized that the same day was Indigenous People’s Day at Scripps. They promptly rescheduled the protest and apologized: “We want to deeply apologize for scheduling this event on the same day as the 2nd annual Indigenous People’s Day. Monday is a day for indigenous and non-indigenous allies to stand in solidarity and acknowledge the genocidal mission system that enslaved and killed 80% of Natives living on this land.”

Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with apologies, or apologies in a political context. After all it’s eminently reasonable to apologize for acts that are objectively offensive to people regardless of political affiliation. Consider, for instance, the recent apology by Michigan Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James after one of his campaign ads inadvertently included an image of a swastika pinned to a bulletin board in a hallway scene captured by the camera. James stated, “We should have caught this error, and we didn’t, and there’s no excuse. I’m responsible for everything that our team does and fails to do, and I will do everything in my power to make sure this never, ever happens again.” James’ apology seemed heartfelt, uncoerced, and apolitical, despite being issued during a campaign for elected office.

However, the emergence of the ritualized apology as the mechanism to prevent a loss of favor with the political left is an entirely different phenomenon—and one that is rapidly becoming a powerful tool to shape behavior in ways that are amplifying the leftward pull among progressives. The common thread in each case is a familiar sequence that begins with an unpopular or poorly timed statement or action that spurs a rapidly growing wave of objections. Offenders are ostracized, accompanied by the unspoken question of whether they will be completely cast out of the social group or whether they can redeem themselves in a way that brings them back into the fold. This is where ritualized apologies come in: Unpopular political opinions or poorly timed statements that go against a certain set of political beliefs now require restitution.

Under the unwritten rules that increasingly circumscribe discourse in academia, Silicon Valley, and beyond (some of which we’ve described here), there is never an acceptable manner or moment to express certain opinions. The louder the objections, the more effusive the apology must be. And in addition to providing atonement, apologies also serve as a form of virtue signaling, both for those who demand them and those who issue them.

We tell our children to apologize when they break something. Yet, what does it mean when apologies are demanded as the price of expressing opinions that fall outside the narrow zone of permissibility defined by the loudest voices in the room? The inevitable result is an increase in self-censorship.

One of many disturbing consequences of the increased polarization in American society is the erosion of vibrant discourse, which can only occur if respectful disagreement is not an oxymoron and if dialog remains open both within and across political lines. While there has certainly been an impoverishment of discourse on the right, the trend towards demanding ritualized apologies—and the resulting pressure to self-censor—has been largely a feature of the left. If we are to have any hope of successfully addressing today’s many social and political challenges, we will need to restore a culture of public dialog that welcomes a diverse range of views, including those that differ from our own.

 

Ilana Redstone Akresh is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a faculty fellow at Heterodox Academy. You can follow her on Twitter @irakresh

John Villasenor is a professor of engineering, public policy, and management at the University of California at Los Angeles. You can find him on Twitter @JohnDVillasenor

166 Comments

  1. I’m sorry that I read this article.

    I also regret that I laughed out loud when I read in the article that some college students had apologized for scheduling an event on the same day as Indigenous People’s Day, one of the holiest days on the calendar.

    Allow me to also apologize for not knowing there was such a thing as Indigenous People’s Day, and for not particularly caring that a virtue-signaling festival such as Indigenous People’s Day actually exists.

    I must be a terrible person. So, I apologize for that, as well.

      • George G says

        I’m sorry on behalf of Lox Luther for the absence of their apology

      • Trasch Clan says

        I question the authors’ core argument: that forced apologies are undermining freedom on speech in America.

        The power undermining speech in America is the same power that is undermining its religious freedom, its Second Amendment, and a host of other core principles:

        Plurality and Passive-Aggressiveness

        [Unless you have a strong stomach, you do NOT want to read the rest of this rant, and I have no wish to enforce my thoughts on anyone.]

        Today, the US House of Representatives announced that they want to change the rules to make an exception so that members may wear “religious headwear.” Translation: they want to change the rules for everyone so a couple of Muslim women can wear headscarves and not have men looking at their naked locks.

        These newly minted congresswomen knew the rules going in and ran anyway. Other religious groups that otherwise require religious headwear had followed the House rules for a hundred years (including my Jewish ancestors). But 400+ members are gonna get new rules in obeisance to a coupla three women. And it’s gonna pass (of course!) because America no longer has a dominant culture, it has co-equal cultures, and the most inflexible and obstreperous always gets its way in such situations.

        America wasn’t successful in the past because of diversity. It was successful because of tolerance. America was founded on a dominant Anglo-Christian foundation that tolerated all manner of groups as long as they didn’t cross the dominant ethos.

        A dominant/tolerant culture wasn’t perfect, but it stayed ahead of the rest of the world by leaps and bounds. Though the majority dominance may have been irksome to minorities in some ways, they put up with it and flocked to America in droves, because it allowed for a unified system that gave everyone a better life than they’d get elsewhere (even for American blacks, whom during Jim Crow one did NOT see emigrating to Africa in large numbers, because it was still a damn sight better here). This was the same principle as the Pax Romana: obey the Big Rules of the Empire, and we’ll let you do your different little practices and flourish.

        A dominant/tolerate culture is a practical good, not a moral one. It’s arbitrary, yes. But when everyone knows knows there is a certain subgroup of rules EVERYONE must abide by, it gives all the different minorities clarity and confidence. A Muslim and a Jew can still trade with one another, confident that the Anglo law of commerce applies to them both. A dominant culture provides enforcement, safety, and trust.

        In the late 20th Century, that changed. America switched from an Anglo-dominant tolerance to a plurality culture, and the structure began to rot from the inside. Why? Because of a nasty little secret that diversity ideologues don’t want any of us to know: IN A PLURAL CULTURE, THE MOST INFLEXIBLE MINORITY HAS CONTROL.

        You may say: “Ridiculous! The largest group still dictates matters!”

        Nope.

        The majority culture is only in control if it dominates, if it can say, “You must obey certain red-line rules, or we’re gonna kick in your asshole. You can worship your different gods, you can do your cleanliness rules, you can listen to rap music; but you can’t practice Mormon polygamy, kill your daughter for marrying a man of whom you disapprove, or have kids with both Shandra’Niqua and Desti’Nay but refuse to pay child support on any of them. If you do that, the dominant culture will straighten you out, by force if necessary. Them’s the Big Rules.”

        If plurality is held sacred, then a small but inflexible and petulant minority can grab disproportionate power by threatening to stymie everything, sabotage the gears, because they know the majority can’t use force on them and violate the sanctity of plurality. It’s perpetual extortion, a child holding its breath to stay up past bedtime.

        That’s where America, Canada, and Europe sit right now; and the situation is very unstable. Our insane worship of “diversity” (plurality) means that small groups in businesses, government, education, et al., can exercise passive-aggressive control over institutions by threatening to burn the whole place down with their antics and name calling. Executives at Google or House members aren’t afraid that the entire institution will revolt over headwear rules or James Damore’s ideas; they are afraid that a small number of people will make a big stink and make life hell for everybody, and they won’t be able to throw them out the doors without sinning against plurality and looking like heretics.

        In a dominant/tolerant scenario, Google would have told the trannies and the 14-wave feminists, “The dominant paradigm is that free speech is sacred. If you don’t like James Damore’s sharing of inconvenient scientific facts, you are free to pound sand. And if you harass people about it, we will fire your whiny ass.” And the House would tell the Muslim freshmen women, “If you can’t bear for anyone to see your hair, wear a wig, shave your head, or resign. And if you stay and make a stink, the opposing party and your own will refuse to work with you and make you into a non-congressperson. This is a YOU problem, not an US problem.”

        Plurality manipulation over a disempowered majority is a recipe for violence. As passive-aggressive groups gain more influence yet retain their militant attitudes, the “passive” part has a way of fading out. A great example is the National Socialists in German prior to The Conflict That Nearly Destroyed The World. The Nazi party was less than 10% of the population, but they were uncompromising and scared everyone else into line, then used them for their purposes. I think we must be very careful the same does not happen other places in the West.

        One difference: the Democrat coalition of minority factions are working hard to disarm the formerly dominant majority; but for now, a great number of Americans own firearms and could fight a guerrilla war that would put Afghanistan to shame, should some militant minority seize power here. I’ve never owned a firearm or been interested in shooting, but I am starring to believe it is my duty as a citizen to possess one now and know how to use it. Food for thought, I suppose.

        • dellingdog says

          @Trasch: I know it’s just an example, but I’m not sure why you feel threatened by the fact that Muslim women will be allowed to wear hijabs in Congress. A few years ago Sikh American soldiers obtained permission to wear turbans in uniform. Institutions are making minor accommodations which reflect the diversity of their members. I don’t understand how the very foundations of these institutions are thereby threatened. I’m having trouble seeing the slippery slope to fascism and civil war.

          • Mike van Lammeren says

            @Dellingdog, I’m not sure why you assume that @Trasch feels threatened. The post doesn’t mention feeling threatened. Have you read between the lines and found something I cannot see?

            The main point @Trasch makes is interesting and insightful: Benign rule by the majority grants freedom to all, even members of minority groups, while “rule by diversity” leads to domination by the least tolerant group, thus denying freedom to most.

            You would advance the discussion if you addressed the argument presented, instead of accusing the poster of being afraid. Do you accuse @Trasch of being afraid as a rhetorical device?

          • Debbie says

            Yeah I gotta agree with you on this. With so many massive problems that are highlighted on places like Quillette it seems kind of petty to care about head scarves. Its not like like they’re letting them wear Burkas to congress.

          • Debbie says

            Also the ability to wear a headscarf could come in handy if one of the 435 members of the house loses their hair due to chemo and they still want to show up for a vote.

        • a bee ee? says

          You’re late to the party. I was similarly situated (even having those Jewish ancestors) and bought a shotgun the weekend after Obama was elected back in 2008.

    • Katherine O says

      New Radical Centrism, I find your comment troubling. Indigenous People’s Day is an important day for me and everyone in my family. There’s usually a big sale at the local Wal-Mart.

    • No way to judge whether you are a terrible person but you are absolutely terrible at sarcasm.

      Unless you have been involved at Scripps for the last two years (since it’s evidently the second year of that event, in that community), there is no way you would/should know or care about Indigenous People’s Day.

      That particular example was in fact fairly off-point when it comes to bashing the left for free-speech. There are plenty of examples to pick from and it’s disappointing that two tenured professors would use it as part of an argument.

      • George G says

        @farhang

        you appear to have been grievously wronged would an apology from the two tenured professors satisfy?

    • peterschaeffer says

      ANC, You are a terrible person. Just by existing you are denying another, more worthy person, a safe space to live in. You have no shame. You denied the very humanity of those opposing Kavanaugh and those celebrating Indigenous People’s Day. You make think you were laughing in private. However, your laughter was heard around the world as the hatred and bigotry it actual was.

      • peterschaeffer says

        My comment above had HTML style sarcasm tags. It appears that the commenting software stripped my sarcasm tags.

        • Kelli R. says

          Thanks for clarifying. I thought you had been into the hooch.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @peterschaeffer

          But it is rather to the point that what you said might very well have been meant!

      • @ peterschaeffer – Only if you are being sarcastic, otherwise I apologize to ANC for PS’s mean language; after all there is no federal holiday for Indigenous People’s Day, a day these new-thought-police themselves have rudely (and without a proper apology) placed right on top of Columbus Day, an actual federal holiday.
        And of course those who oppose hate Kavanaugh should apologize to those who like Kavanaugh because it denies their very humanity.

    • @ A New Radical Centrism

      I didn’t find your apology all that compelling. I suggest you study the work of Justin Trudeau. Now, THAT guy has mastered the art of the unnecessary, groveling apology. He can even do it on horseback!

    • Ullyses S. Grace (@graceullyses) says

      “While there has certainly been an impoverishment of discourse on the right…”

      No there hasn’t.

      I read pallets of intelligent conservative commentary on sites such as National Review, The Spectator, et al., and they are bursting with trenchant discourse. The American mainstream media just don’t carry any of it and focus on the provocateurs and the president’s tweets for clicks, stoking the “conservatives are hayseeds and firebrands” narrative.

      I find this article to have quite few unsupported generalizations such as this one, and to my mind it betrays the authors’ lack of breadth and nuance, however valid some of their insights.

      • Peter from Oz says

        All the biggest selling British papers are right wing. All is not lost.

  2. harrync says

    I wish people would stop referring to these free speech suppressors as “leftist”. I am “leftist”, and I despise them. Better call them the “regressive left”, as some do; or the “insane left”. They may be “leftist” in some of their views, but suppressing free speech is certainly not leftist.

    • Peter from Oz says

      @harrync
      We call them ”leftists” like we call extreme muslims ”islamists”. Leftists are the extremists.
      Someone on the moderate left is usually referred to as left-wing or a lefty

    • ga gamba says

      A tragedy for you and you cohort of likeminded leftists that these authoritarians have taken over. Until they no longer dominate the discourse all of you get stuck with the stigma.

      Perhaps you all ought to do something about that by advocating for free-speech forthrightly and forcefully. Until then…

      And when the authoritarian left attack you, and they will, don’t apologise. Double down.

      Good luck.

    • Jay Salhi says

      I prefer the term “regressive left” myself. Jordan Peterson calls them the radical left. But it is misleading to suggest that they are a fringe, they are very much mainstream. Their views are prevalent in media, universities, entertainment, Google, etc. They’ve taken over formerly liberal organizations like the ACLU, are making major inroads in corporate America and are making a serious run at taking over the Democratic Party. Indeed, it is highly likely that a woke, regressive leftist will be the Democratic Presidential candidate in 2020.

      Old school liberal, free speech absolutists are a dying breed.

      • codadmin says

        Cut away the flab and call them what they are…fascists! Use a crutch for now, so say ‘fascist left’.

        No other phrase has the power to convey to the masses what this ideology actually is.

      • dellingdog says

        The “Hidden Tribes” report found that “Traditional Liberals” still outnumber “Progressive Activists” (who are far left). The media focuses on extremists at both ends of the political spectrum, so it’s not surprising that people perceive that they’ve taken over. The ACLU remains a strong defender of First Amendment rights, so I think it’s unfair to suggest that it’s become part of the regressive left. Regarding the Democratic Party, I’d like to see some evidence that many or most elected members of Congress hold far-left positions.

        https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a70a7c3010027736a22740f/t/5bbcea6b7817f7bf7342b718/1539107467397/hidden_tribes_report-2.pdf

        • Debbie says

          Unfortunately the ACLU just strongly came out AGAINST stronger due process protections for accused students in sexual assault cases on campus. The reforms weren’t even that extreme they mainly just require the ability for cross examination. The low preponderance of the evidence standard is still allowed. My jaw almost hit the floor when I saw the tweets the ACLU sent about this. I had donated to them ever year for 30 years, but no more.

          • Debbie says

            Now I”ll be sending that money to FIRE, which is basically what the ACLU used to be.

    • Wentworth Horton says

      I call them the “new left” but it’s really not, the movement has been building for some time. My left wing allegiance went back 3 generations but I cut the cord a couple years ago. Now I muck it out in the gutter with the other racist, homophobe, misogynists. If an ideology has been wholly adopted by major cultural institutions it really can’t be fringe. You might consider yourself “left” but would the Left call you left?

    • jimhaz says

      Progressive activists is as good a name as any other. According to this study they represent 8% of electorate. https://heterodoxacademy.org/social-science-hidden-tribes/

      As a grouping. they are a weird mob – they literally do not know whether they are Arthur or Martha due to the conflict between these two survey questions:

      -People should be able to say what they think, even when it offends people – 74%
      -We need to protect people from dangerous and hateful speech – 67%

      I suppose in the first point they are really only talking about people in their tribe, because they act to silence and shame anyone outside their group (as do the Devoted Conservatives).

      Really though there would be a sub-category of Progressive Activists – the Radicals or Feral Progressive Activists in the social stream – whose views ALL appear to stem from the progressive tribalism that is occurring in universities via the over-inflated “Gender or Women’s Studies” areas. This includes all the women now writing in the MSM as feminists or whom are Thought Police controlling leftist politics.

      I detest this sub-group because I am left orientated when it comes to the abuse of the masses by the world’s wealthy. With this groups petty whining of gender and racial issues, they take all the media time and focus away from dealing properly with income and tax distribution and regulation and scare people away who have had seen enough social progression for minorities.

      • codadmin says

        @jimhaz

        But why would you give them positive sounding name?

    • Heike says

      “Some leftists may seem to oppose technology, but they will oppose it only so long as they are outsiders and the technological system is controlled by non-leftists. If leftism ever becomes dominant in society, so that the technological system becomes a tool in the hands of leftists, they will enthusiastically use it and promote its growth. In doing this they will be repeating a pattern that leftism has shown again and again in the past. When the Bolsheviks in Russia were outsiders, they vigorously opposed censorship and the secret police, they advocated self-determination for ethnic minorities, and so forth; but as soon as they came into power themselves, they imposed a tighter censorship and created a more ruthless secret police than any that had existed under the tsars, and they oppressed ethnic minorities at least as much as the tsars had done. In the United States, a couple of decades ago when leftists were a minority in our universities, leftist professors were vigorous proponents of academic freedom, but today, in those of our universities where leftists have become dominant, they have shown themselves ready to take away from everyone else’s academic freedom. (This is “political correctness.”) The same will happen with leftists and technology: They will use it to oppress everyone else if they ever get it under their own control.”

      — Ted Kazinsky, “The Unabomber Manifesto”

      • Debbie says

        I cant wrap my mind around that. How could someone be so bonkers they live in a shack out in the middle of nowhere and spend all day creating bombs to send to non sensical targets, but at the same time they’re capable of writing lucidly.

    • Ian M says

      Everyone who has commented on this has missed the most important thing – none of the “leftists” being called out either in the article or by harrync are actually LEFT. They’re moderates co-opting the left so they can move our politics farther right. That they are the mainstream and loudly call themselves the left is a trick they play on their constituents. Their votes (especially recently) tell a very different story.

      “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum—even encourage the more critical and dissident views.”

      The US has not had a true left since the 60’s. We have the right that likes money and the right that likes diversity, and that’s it. When the “leftists” are even the ones calling for the curtailing of free speech, that should be the first clue that there is no left.

  3. Peter from Oz says

    The trick when some lefty moron gets ”offended” is immediately to get offended at their taking offence and demanding an apolology from them.

    • The Fink Unleashed says

      @Peter from Oz,

      I am skeptical of the efficacy. This sounds like recursive cheek slapping.

      How about a hearty, good-natured laugh instead?

      If someone is manufacturing offense for the sake of, they are not a serious person. Laughter seems a natural and appropriate reaction, neither mean nor placating.

      • Peter from Oz says

        The Fink

        I agree that laughter is also good.It depends on the circumstances. Sometimes a whiff of gunshot is necessary.

      • D.B. Cooper says

        @The Fink

        Forgive my pedantry, but I couldn’t help but notice the incongruity of your recommendation to @Peter. I’m not sure there’s a meaningful distinction between the two responses/reactions.

  4. Andrew Leonard says

    Time to ban social media in government departments and schools.
    These little Stalinists need some pushback.

    • Circuses and Bread says

      @Andrew Leonard

      Do it one better. Ban partisan politics from the workplace. It has a corrosive effect on productivity. A model already exists within the US civil service where engaging in partisan politics is against the law.

      Recognize and protect the right to abstention.

    • jimhaz says

      Cut uni places and lift entrance requirements – so that uni’s are forced to be more selective in course offerings. At present you get a sort of ideological nepotism in Humanities, where the feral progressives are making sure there are courses and structures they can fit the entire young trans or rad feminist population into cosy worthless jobs.

  5. Daath says

    Apologies are offered either out of regret or seeking forgiveness. If you genuinely think you did wrong, then sure, you should apologize. It might be galling if the angry mob includes obnoxious outrage addicts, but still, it’s the right thing to do.

    Seeking forgiveness from the authoritarian left is pointless. There are two things they’re utterly incapable of: interpreting what you said charitably, and forgiving you for what they think you meant. If you play the game of ritualized groveling, then sure, they’ll eventually grow bored or find a new target. But nothing has been forgiven. You’re still a known bigot, under probation that never ends. Whatever residual empathy some of them might still have no longer apply, and trivial slip-ups that could have been previously overlooked, will trigger the mob again.

    It is therefore quite useless to apologize. For most of us, anyway. It’s different if you belong to one of the big victim identities, or several of the lesser ones. Even that won’t save you if you give traditional liberal, or God forbid, conservative arguments (“Uncle Toms” and other such traitors are especially hated), but other than that, you can get away with some pretty vile stuff.

  6. E. Olson says

    What the non-nutjob Left, Centrists, and Right need to do is grow a pair. Instead of apologizing, school administration can say “We support the Bill of Rights, and all students and staff have a right to peacefully protest against causes and speakers they disagree with, but if you attempt to disrupt scheduled events you will be expelled/fired and charged with disturbing the peace. If you physically assault anyone during your “protest” you will be immediately expelled/fired, turned over to the police, and charged with assault. If you feel you cannot live with this campus policy, we encourage you to leave for a place more compatible with your values, and wish you luck in your new endeavors. Thank you for your understanding on our desire to strongly support the free pursuit of knowledge, free speech, and open inquiry and debate.”

    Similarly, Facebook, Google, etc. top management might say in response to a Kaplan or Damore type situation is the following: “The real world consists of people with differing experiences and beliefs, which sometimes conflict with each other. We support the right of our employees to peacefully express themselves and support causes that are important to their own personal values during their own personal time. Bullying behavior related to any particular cause or disagreement and other forms of non-productive protest behavior at work, however, will result in immediate termination of your employment. If you feel you cannot live with this corporate policy, we encourage you to leave for a place more compatible with your values, and wish you luck in your new endeavors. Thank you for your understanding in our desire to provide a safe and productive workplace for all of out employees – remember diversity is our strength.”

    • If there was a prize for the comment if the year, E. Olson’s one should be the front runner.
      Thank you!

    • Circuses and Bread says

      @E.Olson

      We already have a model within the US civil service for banning partisan politics in the workplace. Businesses can and should adopt that same standard. Engaging in politics as a business can and does result in your losing customers and employees who don’t agree with your point of view. Businesses could even advertise that they have a partisan politics free workplace.

      • E. Olson says

        CB – the only problem I see with the civil service partisan ban is that it doesn’t seem to be enforced – perhaps because 90% of civil servants are Left-leaning/Democrats or perhaps because it is virtually impossible to fire civil servants. I do agree that businesses might do very well with advertising that they are non-partisan, but the pioneers will need to be prepared to withstand initial reports from the mainstream media and lunatic Left calling their new policy racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamphobic, and Nazi-like.

        • Circuses and Bread (Solutions not politics 🇺🇸) says

          @E. Olson

          I would agree that most civil servants tend toward a politically left perspective. They can do whatever they want off duty. What’s relevant is whether they use their job and the resources of that job to promote a partisan political position. Not to say it never happens, but the US Federal Government has fairly strictly enforced that prohibition since the 1930s.

          • E. Olson says

            Would you characterize the recent behaviors of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Sally Yates, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr, Barbara Bosserman, Lois Lerner as partisan?

      • Be it resolved:
        Abolish at-will employment and provide all private sector employees with civil servant level protection against arbitrary dismissal.

        • Circuses and Bread (Solutions, not politics 🇺🇸) says

          @E.Olsen

          I’m not familiar with all the names listed, but for the ones I am familiar with, it would seem that they did engage in some level of political activity. The question that matters from the perspective of their employment is whether or not they engaged in partisan political activity while on duty in violation of the law. The term “partisan” is important in this context. Did they electioneer? Did they use Government property or resources to engage in partisan political activity? I note that several of these individuals either resigned or were fired.

          @chip

          Interesting. How does it follow that because a private employer chooses to explicitly ban partisan political activity while at work that you also abolish at-will employment in the process? Seems like two completely different issues. Private employers should consider a partisan political ban for economic reasons. Employees are there to work, not electioneer. Further, it helps to detoxify the work environment. Also it lowers the risk of offending customers who happen to disagree with the political faction in question.

          • Why would employers voluntarily impose such a restriction on their power?

            We know from history, that there is a powerful economic incentive to adopt workplace mores to the ones of the larger society; For example, if the larger society stigmatizes black people, companies refused to hire them.

            Anti-discrimination laws were needed to end this. Should we make conservatives a protected class as well?

    • Elwood wulf says

      The adults should be driving the car. The kids melting down can be on the journey-but they should never touch the steering wheel.

  7. Emmanuel says

    I don’t think anybody believes that apologies expressed under threat or compulsion are sincere and reflect a true change of heart.
    The purpose of forced apologies is humiliation : the mob wants you to acknowledge its strength and your weakness, that it can destroy your life and crush you and that you can’t fight back and will submit. It’s a very simple matter of dominance. And if you apologize, the mob won’t grant you any mercy. There is no forgiveness to hope for, all you can do is fight back.

    • George G says

      @Emmanuel

      “The purpose of forced apologies is humiliation…”

      very insightful, and I think true. The guilt has already been determined by the mob and their solution is to have the offender removed and a correct thinking person replace them. The demand for an apology is just a mechanism to achieve this it’s not actually what they are after.

      I think Brett Weinstein and Heather Heyings are an interesting example, they refused to play the mobs game and doubled down (rightly imo) on why they wouldn’t submit to a racist demand. However ultimately both were forced to leave their jobs so in the end the mob got what they wanted.

    • Daath says

      There is an instinct that originally evolved to keep dominance struggles from inflicting death or serious physical harm. When two dogs are fighting, and one goes belly up, the other soon stops. Most human beings too grow soon bored of attacking someone who’s crying and groveling. But sure, with these types it doesn’t move from that instinctual response to genuine forgiveness. They remember not only that you’ve transgressed, but that they can easily force you to submit. It’s a heady rush, too.

      They’ll be circling you like sharks from that point on, just waiting for a hint of blood in the water. It’s one thing to apologize to your wife even if you don’t think you did anything wrong, for the sake of relationship. Going belly up for the authoritarian left is pointless, because the only thing that’s on offer is an eternal probation.

  8. Pat Stephens says

    Imagine having to issue a grovelling public apology for being in attendance at the testimony of one, who is now a sitting Supreme Court justice.

    These are truly worrying times.

  9. Circuses and Bread (Solutions, not politics🇺🇸) says

    This whole topic of forced apologies reminds me of the sort of behavior you see in a physically abusive marital relationship where the abused spouse is expected to apologize for “provoking” the attack.

    We need a new term to add to our lexicon to describe the use of violence, shame, threats, and unequal positions of power to force adherence to a certain set of political views. Perhaps we should call it politirape. Those who engage in this abhorrent practice are politirapists.

    How dare the politirapists try to force their politics onto my body!

    (See? Isn’t anti politics fun? 😆)

  10. Emmanuel says

    @ George G, Regarding Brett Weinstein and Heather Heyings, the mob got what it wanted because of the absolute cowardice of academic authority figures who pander to it. The day people start to stand their ground against the well-organized but definitely not so numerous left-wing mob, its power will collapse.

    • George G says

      @ Emmanuel

      totally agree, I saw Brett in a podcast after these events and he said something to the effect that many of his colleges were supportive in private but none would speak publically in his defence. I wonder how many don’t act out of fear and how many actually for whatever reason agree with the mob?

  11. Kronosaurus says

    This author should apologize for not including the right in their analysis. Try criticizing a vet. Just try. Say something like, “soldiers get paid too much”. Unless you are Trump you better get out the apology pen. And fly an American flag or wear a flag lapel while you are at it.

    • Heike says

      Whataboutism is a propaganda technique first used by the Soviet Union, in its dealings with the Western world.[1] When Cold War criticisms were levelled at the Soviet Union, the response would be “What about…” followed by the naming of an event in the Western world.[2][3] It represents a case of tu quoque (appeal to hypocrisy),[4] a logical fallacy that attempts to discredit the opponent’s position by asserting the opponent’s failure to act consistently in accordance with that position, without directly refuting or disproving the opponent’s initial argument.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whataboutism

    • Daath says

      Or not. The post-9/11 patriotic correctness may have intimidated people into silence during the run-up to Iraq War, for example, but it’s a shrinking force these days. The fetishization of veterans is really one of its last hold-outs. Political correctness, on the other hand, is not only much more pervasive, but it’s still expanding.

      This is like attacking a doctor for his diagnosis of cancer, because he didn’t mention the patient’s bad knee in it.

    • Debbie says

      Soldiers get paid shit until they really climb the ranks especially considering they’re required to be able to move whenever needed. Private sector jobs that require thst kind of leave pay much much more. Even Navy Seals don’t get paid that much considering they’re literally the best of the best of the best. When they getout of service they can get hired by private firms and paid 5 times more.

      • Debbie says

        I actually looked it up at and Navy Seals literally only make 54k. In what other field does the top 1 percent of talent make that little and have to travel on a moment’s notice. Not to mention risk their life on dangerous missions.

        • Debbie says

          Guys without college degrees are making twice that working in the oil industry.

  12. Wentworth Horton says

    In Canada apologies have supplanted wheat, lumber and oil as major exports. It’s said we’re sitting on a global apology supply that could take us into the next millennium. We are the Saudi Arabia of apology.

  13. Tyler says

    The US needs to work a deal with Canada to tie their massive apology surplus to the US dollar in order to guarantee the future of US apology growth. This will guarantee the continued production of top quality Canadian apologies and stabilise the apology supply to the US. These “Apology Dollars” could do wonders for both nations. And if Canada ever decides to engage in mass murder or international terrorism, the US will be forced to supply them with weapons and military support to protect the apology dollar.

    • George G says

      I find the current market for apologies too bland and samey. It’s the same stale, pale, males saying sorry. I want more a broader, more diverse range of apologies to suit my mood and palette, how about more ethnic minority / women / transgender apologists?

      How about a greater variety of strength of apologies too, I want too choose from a range:
      barely there: “i’m sorry that you took offence of that non offence thing I said”
      insincere: ” I’m sorry you caught us murder that Turkish journalist”
      postmodern: ” #SorryNotSorry”

      How dare the patriarchy monopolize the market in apologies!

      • Hash Flag says

        Indeed. We are way past verbal apologies.

        Transgressors need to start setting themselves on fire in the public square to atone.

    • Wentworth Horton says

      Perhaps all the Western nations should form an Apology OPEC. That way when there is an apology glut, as there is now, there would be a mechanism to slow production thereby increasing demand and value. Right now the selling price is below cost of production, if only there were a way to supply the Chinese market.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Tyler

      What a brilliant idea. As we see below it has flowered into a garden of good ideas.

  14. Soon we’ll be reading, er.. you’ll all be reading articles with the titles like “Use of Floor Wax Impedes Freedom of Expression” and “Neck Ties Undermine Freedom of Expression”.

    What’s the endgame here folks?

    Where do the Breitbarters (AKA “heads-in-sand”) go next once this shell-game of a site goes the way of the dodo?

    • A Great Help says

      Dear @Kal Friend:

      You may be lost. This website is Quillette, not Breitbart News, an unaffiliated online publication.

      You can tell the difference by looking at the text bar at the center-top of your web browser thingy. If it says “breitbart.com”, you are at Breitbart News. If it says “quillette.com”, you are at Quillette.

      If this is still unclear, I highly recommend http://www.adultliteracyhelp.org.

      • Proper nouns are great ways to hide basic functions from people. Websites are no different.

        This is a cultural (masking) site that pretends, like Breitbart, to have serious discussants above and beyond culture.

        But do the analysis. It’s just the same locust field Breitbart seduced. The comments here are the same tenor.

        People quoting wiki not research. People using categories in dichotomies.

        Same old song.

        • dellingdog says

          I disagree. Although there are a handful of knee-jerk, no-thing reactionary trolls among the commenters at Quillette, the majority of participants are thoughtful albeit politically partisan. At Breitbart virtually everyone is a troll.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Kal

          You are welcome to stay away sir. Or, if you choose to participate, how about some actual arguments on the topic at hand?

    • Heike says

      Your logical fallacy is: Guilt by Association.

      Guilt by association is the attempt to discredit an idea based upon disfavored people or groups associated with it. This is the reverse of an appeal to misleading Authority, which argues in favor of an idea based upon associating a favored person or group with the idea, whereas guilt by association argues against an idea based upon associating it with a disfavored person or group.

      For instance, in the 1960s some anti-communists attacked support for civil rights by pointing out that the Communist Party of the United States also supported the civil rights movement. It was then argued that supporting civil rights was tantamount to supporting communism.

  15. Πέτρος says

    Glad the authors brought up this pattern.

    That said, I have a niggle: this sentence should have never made it to print. It is really, really dumb:

    “…it’s eminently reasonable to apologize for acts that are objectively offensive to people regardless of political affiliation….”

    “Objectively offensive” is a contradiction in terms and sounds like pandering to me.

    One might say “widely offensive”, etc; but offense is taken by individuals, a subjective emotion. Offensive is not physical, even if many happen to agree on it. Offense is not an objective reality like Mount Rushmore or the acceleration of gravity.

    There are literally tens or even hundreds of millions of people who would likely be offended at the statement, “Chinese people are no better or worse than people of other nations and ethnicities.” Their gigantic collective offense doesn’t make the statement “objectively offensive.”

    • She’s a sociologist. She’s off her pay-grade and her qualifications making sweeping claims like this.

      Tell me, what pattern did she find? Can you explain it? She couldn’t.

      • Πέτρος says

        @Kal

        Nah bro. You sound upset and looking for a fight. I don’t sense you’ll be receptive to my thoughts, and I’d be a moron to argue with a stranger on an obscure, anonymous comments board. Life’s too short.

        If you wanna be constructive, tho, happy to discuss. 👍

        • Tell me, what pattern did she find? Can you explain it? She couldn’t.

        • I’ll give you a hint, she’s not using the word ritual accurately.

          • Peter from Oz says

            They (not ”she”) do not use the word ”ritual” in the whole piece.

          • hail to none says

            @Kal Among the definitions of ritual, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner.” The apologies the authors describe seem close enough to this. I’m sure that ritual apologies vary across contexts, but this isn’t the focus of this piece at all. The main point is that the rash of these kinds of apologies in the U.S. context are stifling discourse, and there is a growing body of evidence supporting this notion (e.g, see discussion of this debate at heterodox.com).

          • There’s no precision linking these apologies. It’s simple. It’s a generous stretch to call these ritual apologies, it’s impossible to connect them cross-culturally as illustrated, since the audiences and the influences are extremely off.

        • And by not using it accurately she’s attempting to group a series of distinctly different contexts with distinct gestures into her self-described ‘ritual apology’; that’s an academic never trained to comprehend the development of gesture into ritual (read her CV) who is imagining, really fictionalizing this.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Kal

            Why engage in pointless nit picking? Everyone here, including yourself, knows exactly what the author means by ‘ritual apologies’ and it is a quite useful phrase. One might say ‘apology ritual’ and tho it isn’t literally a ritual, we all get the idea, don’t we? Or ‘formulaic apology’ or the idea might be put any number of ways. We still refer to ‘the sunrise’ even tho the sun is not actually rising, the earth is turning. Why make issues of nothing?

    • Suddenly Suzanne says

      @EK, I would slightly reformulate:

      “Never apologize. It’s a sign of wokeness.” 😜

  16. Trajan Fanzine says

    ” and acknowledge the genocidal mission system that enslaved and killed 80% of Natives living on this land.””

    LOL,that is so completely ludicrous, I can’t find the words…’genocide;…’80%’ lol…

    • The genocidal rates if we include the Caribbean South, Meso and North American Native pops is 90%.

      • dellingdog says

        I think “genocide” implies intention. The vast majority of Native Americans died because they lacked resistance to European diseases. (Some Natives were given smallpox-infested blankets, but that was far from a common practice.)

        • Europe invaded a clearly occupied realm. And they decided to take it in stages. If you read all of the histories, the predominant activities are invasion and genocide. Smallpox was not the highest killer, it was warfare, settlement and resource destruction and forced marching to concentration camps.

          That’s genocide, dummy.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Kal

            No, that is not genocide. If the whites had wanted genocide they’d have killed every last Indian, which they rather obviously did not do. Mind, they *did* do that in Newfoundland — no Indians there to whine and demand and complain, they wiped them out to the last man.

          • Irving Pondor says

            Did the Europeans intend to kill off the indigenes? They depended on them for years, especially in Canada, the fur trade was a major business, as were alliances with various tribes. In Mexico, the two cultures merged.. the Aztec culture itself dominated other groups around it….. Genocide implies intent…. apart from isolated statements by a one or two generals, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence. Even in Newfoundland, where the Beothuk were “exterminated,” the major foes were the Mic Macs, another group imported by the French… and most Beothuk assimilated with the MicMac, and became part of that group.

          • Kimmus says

            Most Mexicans are of indigenous descent, so if the Spanish had intended genocide they failed miserably. There’s 120 million Mexicans.

          • “A war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct, must be expected. While we cannot anticipate the result with but painful regret, the inevitable destiny of the race is beyond the power and wisdom of man to avert. Situated as California is, we must expect a long continued and harassing irregular warfare with the Indians upon our borders and along the immigrant routes leading to the States.”
            — California Gov. Peter Burnett, “State of the State Address”

          • Irving Pondor says

            To every California governor Peter Burnett, there’s an Ely S. Parker…… As for Burnett, his racism was his undoing. He hated blacks, in fact murdered one, and was a white supremacist, he should not be taken as representative of American politicians, not even of the time. He failed to persuade California legislators to enact a black exclusion law. He died in obscurity. Abraham Lincoln, for example, would be a more representative model of the face of American Government.

          • Ray A.

            A war of extermination was always on the agenda at the statecraft level.

            “A war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct, must be expected. While we cannot anticipate the result with but painful regret, the inevitable destiny of the race is beyond the power and wisdom of man to avert. Situated as California is, we must expect a long continued and harassing irregular warfare with the Indians upon our borders and along the immigrant routes leading to the States.”
            — California Gov. Peter Burnett, “State of the State Address”

        • Ray Andrews says

          @dellingdog

          I wonder if that’s even true. The first Europeans in Canada (anyway) were fur traders who needed the natives to do the trapping for them, the former merely bought and transported the furs. No Indians, no beaver pelts.

          • Irving Pondor says

            Yes, there are many examples of the natives as businessmen, on the West Coast also they were supplying otter furs, they worked as labourers building the forts, they were scouts, and guides, and hunters also. In the USA, the Cherokee were major slave owners, boosting that economy, with their big plantations. The story is complex, not a simple black and white dichotomy.

      • Debbie says

        Most of the deaths were just from new diseases being exposed to native americans. Yes there is some evidence of some people trying to purposely spread diseased blankets, but the vast majority were just inadverntly exposed to things like small pox that natives had no immunity to. Now what Columbus did in Hispaniola is closer to genocide. Him and his men did some insanely messed up stuff there. However theres little evidence thst English settlers in the future USA did anything comparable to what the Spanish did.

        • Debbie says

          The book Guns, Germs and Steel goes into great detail about all of this.

          • Debbie says

            Dont get me wrong Native Americans were in fact treated horribly unfair, and the Trail of Tears was especially horrific, but Genocide has a specific meaning.

          • If a regime has no intention of treating those conquered as equals and intends to eventually dispose of them into concentration camps, which is what occurred with intention, then that’s genocide.

            Genocide can be slow like in the Americas, or it can be fast, as it was in Nazi Germany occupations.

            It’s still the same fucking thing.

        • Kimmus says

          Columbus left men behind after his second voyage who were eaten by cannibals, but yes, he did some messed up stuff, and Cortez, etc. too.

    • Debbie says

      This is a site for productive comments. Posts like that are the opposite of what this site is about, and no I’m not a liberal.

  17. To the authors:

    What criteria are you using to categorize these apologies as “ritual”?

    Do you understand the functionality (and process) of apology in Japan versus the act of apology in our culture? (And I mean act). The linking of that photo with this article is an attempt to conflate how and why U.S. Americans apologize with the ritualized systems Japanese offer apologies within.

    If you need a cultural context for apology in the U.S. all I have to do is use “Friends” as an example. EVERY show of friends ends with an apology. We live in a society in which apology is ENDEMIC. Societies where apologies are ritualized are societies in which apology is incredibly rare, I dare you to find an apology on Japanese TV.

    Only decontextualizing the entire population of the U.S. AND Kavanaugh and Kaplan allows you to make such sweeping generalizations leading to your absurd conclusion.

    Please, go back to school and start at Bernard’s “Research Methods in Anthropology” (and I’d read “The Apology Ritual” by Bennett) and then tell me if your piece is still coherent.

    • Correction: Ah even worse: SCRIPTED apologies from the cultural revolution. Apologies are more common in China and they are not as ritualized. Still the conflation of Chinese state ordered apologies with our endemic culture of apology is without contextual overlap.

      • Kals Disappointed Parents says

        Well, Kal, leaving aside your absolutely embarrassing and racist conflation of Japan and China, you’ve missed the point of posting a photo from the Cultural Revolution. The CR was an insane era of witch hunts and hyperpoliticized persecution that featured forced ritualized apologies, just as our current era is becoming. Personally, I don’t want the contemporary Anglo world to turn into 1968 China, because it was cruel, destructive, and absurdly stupid. You seem to be ok with that outcome. How many rubles did you get paid for your work here today?

        • They’re still not correlating. The apologies above are not rituals. Nor are they ‘ritualized’. Go examine how rituals are codified in cultures. They’re all in distinct contexts and none of those people will be killed after their apologies, whereas a percentage of people under Mao would be.

          And btw, those are not ritual apologies under Mao, those are forced apologies.

          And intimating the Anglo world correlates to Maoist China is absurd.

          • ps: Love the rubles comment. That’s the sign Breitbarters are here, and here to stay.

          • Case in point, two functional refutations:

            “[In China].. ‘public ritual apology’ usually occurs in contexts when someone apologises for acts that are deemed as grave and in the case of which apology is seemingly dysfunctional in the sense that it cannot usually grant forgiveness…and public ritual apologies are noteworthy to explore as Chinese is stereotypically referred to as a culture which disprefers apologising behaviour.”

            1. These variety of U.S. American apologies are for losing face, or offending others unintentionally, not in any way functionally close to the forced apologies of China, Maoist or present-day.

            2. Completely unlike China we are a culture overrun in apology (case in point, watch “Friends” for the same denouement everytime, listen to parents school children in apologia), we’re nothing like China, which is apology averse in the public sphere.

          • Peter from Oz says

            Kal

            Yousound like a 16 year old who knows one thing and want to inject it into the conversation, no matter what.
            Let me explain how things work. In ordinary conversation words take their ordinary meaning, not a techical meaning.

          • Debbie says

            I think you’re possiblt confusing rubles with sheckles, and as a result wrongly taking thst as some sort of antisemitic comment.

        • @Kals Disappointed Parents: Well, probably like Kal’s Parents: Stop replying to “Kal”. He/she is narcissistically convinced of his/her intellectual superiority despite decided proof to the contrary (e.g. conflating Japan with china lol.) You will not get anywhere by debating them. They will either a) dig in further and refuse to acknowledge your points and/or not understand what you’re arguing; or b) insult you in more and more unhinged ways. Just ignore

          • Ok, I’ll ignore that you ignored my correction and I’ll ignore you commented only on the fact I made the mistake of confusing a Chinese forced apology with a Japanese ritual apology.

            And I’ll ignore the fact you couldn’t debate the whole enchilada of comments, just conveniently the one that offered you a momentary advantage.

            Proof of fear?

      • Debbie says

        You need to read up on the Cultural Revolution. For the most part it wasn’t state ordered apologies. It was hordes of crazy young communists acting on their own to oppress anti they deemed insufficiently loyal to Mao. These guys weren’t actually working for the goverment.

        • Cao Yi’ou wasn’t coordinating with the politburo hardliners? Oh right, she was only MARRIED to the regime.

          Go read the histories.

    • Heike says

      It’s not Japanese. The photo is of the victims of a Maoist struggle session.

      It’s frightening how the SJW Left is following Mao’s script today. The public humiliation (used to be called a “self-criticism”) ritual was used constantly during the Cultural Revolution.

      Chinese today regard the Cultural Revolution as an utter disaster that destroyed their valuable culture and attempted to replace it with worthless Marxist culture. They are still dealing with the fallout today and likely for another century to come.

      • Ok, I’ll ignore that you ignored my correction and I’ll ignore you commented only on the fact I made the mistake of confusing a Chinese forced apology with a Japanese ritual apology.

        And I’ll ignore the fact you couldn’t debate the whole enchilada of comments, just conveniently the one that offered you a momentary advantage.

        Maoism and SJW the SAME? Hardly

        And the funny thing is, China is beating us right now, and according to Kara Swisher, they’re building the REAL internet, not the auction house/social media highway we’ve been running off of Berners-Lee’s simplification.

  18. No one here was arrested for having an unpopular opinion. Those we were facing dismissal, were at-will employees enjoying the freedom given to the private holders of capital.

    What is distressing the author, is that social mores and etiquette have changed, and his tribe now finds itself on the wrong side of the shaming/ shunning fence. In earlier days, someone like Bret Kavanaugh and his circle of friends were the center of power, and could dictate terms of social inclusion or exclusion.
    Now, they are losing ground and are increasingly seen as social lepers, unacceptable in polite society.

    • Wentworth Horton says

      Anyone who sees tribes can’t see polite society.

    • V 2.0 says

      Really? Someone should be shamed for supporting a man against whom there was no credible evidence? I think you will find the shaming pendulum is about to swing the other way and those who would seek to pervert due process and the rule of law will soon be the social lepers they deserve to be. People are getting annoyed and, sadly, a lot of babies are probably going to be thrown out with the bathwater.

    • Aerth says

      ” unacceptable in polite society.” – if easily controllable, single minded society Left aims to create is now considered “polite” then only who would ever want it to happen?

  19. I apologise for supporting Brett Kavanaugh even those all the accusations against him were complete bullshit with no real evidence. That’s the type of apology I would have given if I were Kaplan.

    • You mean he hasn’t been lying to the Senate about his roles as a political op in Starr & Co and Bush’s torture program? Hmmm. News to me.

      • Jack B. Nimble says

        @Kal

        People are missing the real story behind the Kaplan-Kavanaugh connection. They both worked for the GWBush administration, which is presumably where they became friends [Kaplan was an aide to Bush].

        It is no coincidence that a GOP operative ended up being a high-level Facebook exec. Companies routinely hire GOP and Dem firms to give themselves political cover, just like Facebook hired a right-wing DC political shop called ‘Definers’ for PR work. Definers then contacted reporters and suggested they write a bogus story about how Facebook protestors were being paid by right-wing bogeyman George Soros

        Facebook protestors had asked that people drop their Facebook accounts, to protest Facebook’s repeated breaches of users’ privacy. While Zuckerberg was apologizing (yes!) for the security lapses, Facebook was also suggesting that the protestors were anti-Semitic and hiring a PR firm to muddy the waters and smear Soros in the bargain.

        Clearly, Zuckerberg, Sandberg and Kaplan have a lot more apologizing to do.

        • Facebook is clearly way, way in over its head. Did you see Zuckerberg melt down in that interview with Kara Swisher right after FB decided to monetize user’s privacy and private behaviors.

          Watch the interview on that Frontline two part special.

  20. Steve says

    Everyone underestimates the threat posed by this domestic enemy. America is not immune to the forces of evil — yes *evil* — that ravaged Russia, China, Germany, Japan and other places in the last century.

    The hard left plays for keeps, whereas the opposition such as it is naively minimizes and mocks.

    Why do you think the entire country of Germany rolled over for what started out as a laughable collection of street thugs and zealots?

    • Laughable collection? Hitler was hired by wehrmacht intelligence to infiltrate the NSDAP because it feared the group might rival it one day (which it did, Freikorps to BrownShirts to SD).

      Sir, you obviously don’t understand history. And clearly ‘evil’ is subjective. Add those together and THEN we’ll get nightmarish conditions.

    • Wentworth Horton says

      There are similarities in Ideology between previous totalitarian governments and what the Left has become but the threat of us going to the same extreme is limited. The Left just doesn’t have the horsepower. How, you ask, do they not have the horsepower? Two words: Rock and Roll, it’s culturally acceptable for us to push back against conformity and groupthink, and we do. The exodus of real bright lights away from the Left is full bore now, in fact Quillette is a product of that. Not that there isn’t problems on the Right, the scum at the top of that pond will take a knee in front of any suit with a dollar hanging out of the pocket. Political lap dancers. Eric Weinstein’s theory is that there is a potential gelling of the moderate left and moderate right. That’s something to work for.

    • First, they demanded I treat gay people with respect, and i said nothing for i was not gay.
      Then they demanded I treat trans people with respect and I said nothing, for I was not trans.
      Then they started treating me with respect and I…crap, where was this going again?

      • George G says

        @ Chip

        Demanded being the operative word.

        Martin Niemöller poem is an appeal for solidarity against authoritarianism not an appeal in favour of identity groups

    • dellingdog says

      I’ve now read dozens of comments (attached to various articles) comparing SJWs to Nazis and implying that we’re well on our way to becoming a fascist dystopia. Either that, or the Muslims are going to take over and we’ll be a brutal theocracy. (Maybe they’ll split the country in two like in _Man in the High Castle_.) Being charitable, I usually interpret these claims as rhetorical hyperbole intended to express a deep dislike of social justice activists. If they are, instead, meant literally, they seem as unhinged and deranged as the fears among my liberal friends that Donald Trump would repeal the Bill of Rights and appoint himself President-for-life upon taking office. Could someone who actually believes that the regressive left poses an existential threat to the future of Western democracy provide a plausible, step-by-step account of how this is likely to happen? I’m genuinely curious. As it stands, fears of “fascism” seem profoundly paranoid from my perspective.

      1) Overzealous students protest conservative speakers (most of whom become more famous and successful and a consequence). 2) Public figures who make controversial comments get shamed on Twitter. 3) Individuals get fired from at-will employment for expressing unpopular views. ….. X) Anyone who dissents from social justice dictates gets rounded up and placed in re-education death camps. Please fill in the missing steps!

      • Heike says

        It is pre-fascism, creating the conditions in which fascism can thrive. Suppressing free speech with violence as the Left does today is not fighting fascism. It is fascism!

        • Pre-fascism (or really nationalist/military takeover) employs the projection of conspiracy and the misdirection of activities onto opponents that fascists are enacting.

          So for example, Trump is obviously in a conspiracy to retain control, so he claims the Justice Department is using a false rationale for investigating him. The news is uncovering facts that prove his misbehavior: he calls the news fake.

          This is actually what precedes military takeovers.

          What you’re describing are elites battling culture: College campuses and multinational corporations.

          You think college students are planning to take over the US?

          • dellingdog says

            In _How Fascism Works_, philosopher Jason Stanley analyses the concept of “fascism” and applies it to contemporary events. Although SJWs on college campuses exhibit a few characteristics of fascism (as Stanley defines it), President Trump demonstrates far more. He’s also immeasurably more powerful and influential. I agree with NeverTrumpers like David Frum that he poses a much greater threat to American democracy.

        • dellingdog says

          @Heike: As far as I know, only Antifa consistently uses (or threatens) violence to suppress speech. It’s a very small organization which is condemned by the vast majority of mainstream liberals, and even by many progressive activists. If you want to castigate everyone on the left for the actions Antifa (which is absurd), it’s equally justified to hold the right accountable for the violence committed by neo-Nazis in Charlottesville.

          Hopefully someone who’s intellectually serious will respond to my question. I’m genuinely curious to understand the reasoning behind what seems to me like hysterical posturing.

  21. America, like Europe, wasestablished with a focus on bad behavior results in true guilt. But guilt was banished from our culture by psychology but replaced by shame. Guilt focuses on a specific wrong with a specific penalty. Speeding gets a fine of $100.00. The fine removes the penalty our guilt is removed. Shame is a group violation and can be meted out only by removing one from membership. Their Identity is gone. An apology is designed to get the group to ask us back to membership. There does not need to be a specific crime or guilt to be removed. Just group approval.

    Shaming is the new punishment and as long as we want the group’s approval we are slaves.

    Gary The Acceptor.

    • Gordon Smith says

      Good comment. Guilt is for something you do and shame is for something you are so shame is a much more potent weapon.

    • Burlats de Montaigne says

      “Speeding gets a fine of $100.00. The fine removes the penalty our guilt is removed. ”

      Not really. You’re probably thinking of confession as in the Catholic church type of confession.. A $100.00 fine does not absolve you of the crime. No one thinks, “I pad the $100 fine so now I’m not guilty of speeding.” A murderer serving a life sentence is still a murderer.

  22. ” begins with an unpopular or poorly timed statement or action that spurs a rapidly growing wave of objections.”

    No need for that now. Recently, a video game company called Techland released in-game footage for their upcoming game Dying Light 2. Somehow, a pseudo journalist from an obscure gaming website found that the game world was a bit too white (the game takes place in Eastern Europe), and so wrote a woke article about it.

    Next thing you know Techland is apologizing on Twitter, reassuring everyone that it will make every effort to be as inclusive as possible.

    Clearly the “apology” was just to calm the little yapping dog but it stills empowers it. I wrote to Techland, inviting them to pay no attention those little chihuahuas and be assured that the silent majority is behind them. I haven’t heard from them but hopefully i wasn’t the only one to contact them and the message came across.

    P.

  23. Kristina says

    An example from pop culture which shows how this tendency has spread forth from academia: Rebel Wilson recently said she would be the first plus-size lead in a romantic comedy, failing to acknowledge some African-American leads in older movies. She made a mistake–an honest mistake in forgetting some forgettable movies. She had to apologize for being racist, even though there was no ill intent behind it.

  24. My fourteen year old daughter saw Megyn Kelly on TV apologizing for whatever she said about blackface, She said she hated these fake apologies because the people aren’t really sorry for what they said and that they only do them to keep a job. It’s sort of disturbing that teenagers can see the obvious farce in all this while certain high minded adults see nothing wrong with mandatory public confession and apology ceremonies.

    • Does she know Megyn Kelly was conflating a whole genre of racist dominance in entertainment involving white performers stereotyping black people as caricatures with modern day gestures that we can’t disconnect yet from these functions because we still live in ethnically conflicted times?

      Or was the apology the focus of your discussion, which erased the whole enchilada and swept it under the rug?

  25. Pingback: Pedidos de desculpa – Diário de Bordo

  26. I’m not sorry for anything and screw anybody who is offended! 😏

  27. Kimmus says

    In Canada, there are ritual apologies before almost all public events, and even at music concerts, etc. re: Being on indigenous or “stolen” land. “We acknowledge we are on the land of the Lekwungen People… and we thank them for allowing us to be here today, etc. This has replaced the national anthem, which now is heard only at hockey games and Remembrance Day. However, I guess collective guilt can bring everyone together as a nation….

  28. R Henry says

    Nothing new here.

    Martin Luther, at the Diet of Worms in 1521, when given the opportunity to recant his accusations against the Pope in Rome, or face persecution, possible death, unequivocally declared:

    “Here I Stand!”

    This is the only correct answer, one we must all emulate in face of our persecutors.

  29. “However, the blowback from the op-ed led the Columbia University Democrats to publish a follow-up letter to the editor in the Columbia Spectator a few weeks later featuring a remarkable string of mea culpas, including “We, the Columbia University Democrats Executive Board, retract and condemn our op-ed,” “This statement is far too little and too late, but necessary all the same,” “We must change without putting it on others to teach us and without looking for any kind of acknowledgement for doing so,” and “We have not shown up for our community in a way that reflects our values.”

    This right here is why I’m scared to death of the “larger” Democratic party becoming a majority in the house, senate and taking the oval office. This might just be the college Dems but it is very very reflective of their main party parent. Liberals are very tolerant people who do not want to offend anyone and desperately want to be liked by the younger generations. They want to be the “woke” ones, ready to hand power over to the new enlightened geberation. I’ve read so many comments in the Wapo & NYT op-ed sections that went something like this:

    “I’m an old white guy, and I’m ashamed of my kind. We’ve done horrible things to people and the earth. It’s time we hand over power to women and POC who will surely do a better job.”

    There are hundreds of righteous woke older boomers who are so sure that specific genders and skin color infuse one with the ability to lead! My goodness! I think universal healthcare in the US would be a great thing but in order for that to happen the Democrats would need control of both houses and this Maoist crap scares the crap out of me. Especially after the due process travesty of the Kavanaugh hearing. They already totally own the culture and all the corporate brass that goes with it (academia, Tech, media, Hollywood ect…) If they control all levels of government than who checks their power? The cultural revolution on display right now would be full steam ahead, unstoppable. Seriously? The Republicans have Fox News, a few think tanks and (Thank God for this) the Federalist Society, which was a blessing in disguise because of the Maoist taking over the legal profession. It’s good to know there are counter-acting institutions that will be immune to this.

  30. This is nothing new and is very much a timeless American phenomenon.
    In the 1830’s in Democracy in America Tocqueville writes:

    “In America the majority draws a formidable circle around thought. Inside those limits, the writer is free; but unhappiness awaits him if he dares to leave them. It is not that he has to fear an auto-da-fé, but he is the butt of mortifications of all kinds and of persecutions every day. A political career is closed to him: he has offended the only power that has the capacity to open it up. Everything is refused him, even glory. Before publishing his opinions, he believed he had partisans; it seems to him that he no longer has any now that he has uncovered himself to all; for those who blame him express themselves openly, and those who think like him, without having his courage, keep silent and move away. He yields, he finally bends under the effort of each day and returns to silence as if he felt remorse for having spoken the truth.”

    It’s our Puritanical heritage rearing it’s head as it’s wont to do from time to time here in the states. It manifests differently, of course, but it’s essense is always the same.

  31. Indie Wifey says

    It’s tantamount to bad parenting. Forced = faux apology, much as any child has ever had to say “I’m sorry” to an equally – if not more guilty – sibling, where nothing is gained but for a newest brick formed and laid into the wall of dysfunctionality we all know n gotta luv, called “family”

  32. ship done sailed and will simply have to run its course, destroying nearly everyone in the process, until the next generation rejects the outright lunacy that consumes this current one.

    the behavior is so unbelievably, incomprehensibly embarrassing that there is likely no ‘dialogue’ to be had. it will be violence, or it will consume itself.

    leftists are evil people, but believe they are incapable of evil. this is the worst combination and will always be. they can not be satisfied, because there is always another thing to be outraged about. they are wasting their lives, and that is the only consolation.

    i will NEVER care about what ANY of them think about ANYTHING, NO MATTER THE COST. i have such freedom, and i will not give it up without violence.

    my life is and will continue to be great. theirs will be horrible, sad, confused, pathetic. such is the way of the world.

    Cheers!

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