Pixel Scroll 3/22/18 And The Pixels Were All Kept Equal By Hatchet, Ax And Saw

(1) TECH IMPROVED, ETHICS STAYED THE SAME. The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne Jr., in “Yes, we should be outraged about Facebook” analyzes The 480, a 1964 near-future sf novel by Eugene Burdick (co-author of Fail-Safe) in which “people who work with slide rules and calculating machines which can remember an almost infinite bits of information” have divided the U.S. into 480 demographic groups in order to manipulate them into supporting a dark-horse Republican presidential candidate.  Dionne brings up this novel in the context of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal and notes that Burdick based his novel on efforts by Simulatrics Corp. to support the Kennedy campaign in 1960.

(2) INVOLUNTARY EXPERIMENT. The Guardian says Kim Stanley Robinson told them — “Empty half the Earth of its humans. It’s the only way to save the planet”.

Cities are part of the system we’ve invented to keep people alive on Earth. People tend to like cities, and have been congregating in them ever since the invention of agriculture, 10,000 or so years ago. That’s why we call it civilisation. This origin story underlines how agriculture made cities possible, by providing enough food to feed a settled crowd on a regular basis. Cities can’t work without farms, nor without watersheds that provide their water. So as central as cities are to modern civilisation, they are only one aspect of a system.

There are nearly eight billion humans alive on the planet now, and that’s a big number: more than twice as many as were alive 50 years ago. It’s an accidental experiment with enormous stakes, as it isn’t clear that the Earth’s biosphere can supply that many people’s needs – or absorb that many wastes and poisons – on a renewable and sustainable basis over the long haul. We’ll only find out by trying it.

Right now we are not succeeding. The Global Footprint Network estimates that we use up our annual supply of renewable resources by August every year, after which we are cutting into non-renewable supplies – in effect stealing from future generations. Eating the seed corn, they used to call it. At the same time we’re pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate that is changing the climate in dangerous ways and will certainly damage agriculture.

(3) TOLKIEN AND LEWIS AT WAR. As reported here in December, a five-part documentary film series A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War about “the transformative friendship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien forged amid the trauma of war,” is in production. A new trailer has been posted. The film’s release date is set for November 11, 2018, to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I.

The documentary film series, “A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War,” explores how the experience of two world wars shaped the lives and literary imagination of two internationally famous authors and friends, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Based on Joseph Loconte’s New York Times bestseller, the film examines how Tolkien’s combat experience during the First World War—at the Battle of the Somme—launched him on his literary quest. The film reveals how the conflict reinforced Lewis’s youthful atheism—he was injured in combat—but also stirred his spiritual longings. The film traces the careers of both men at Oxford University, and their deepening friendship as they discover a mutual love of medieval, romantic literature. Facing the threat of another world war, Tolkien and Lewis reach back into their earlier experience of war as they compose their epic works of fantasy, The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.

 

(4) HOWARD AWARD. The eligibility list for the 2018 Robert E, Howard Foundation Awards has been posted.

This is full list of eligible candidates for the 2018 REH Foundation Awards. Legacy Circle Members will select the top three nominees in each category from this preliminary ballot. From those final nominees all Premium REHF members will vote for the winners. The awards will be given out at a special ceremony at Howard Days in Cross Plains on June 8.

(5) APOLLO STILLS PUT IN MOTION. Mark Hepworth sent a link to these “Very cool Apollo gifs” at Medium “I looked through all 14,227 Apollo photos… and made GIFs.”

A few days ago Jared Kinsler compiled an excellent selection of the photos of the Apollo missions, which you should check out here…

(6) DINO LUST. They look like horns, but in reality they were babe magnets: “Triceratops may have had horns to attract mates”.

Dinosaurs like the Triceratops may have had horns and frills to attract a mate, a new study suggests.

Ceratopsian, or horned dinosaurs, were previously thought to have developed this ornamentation to distinguish between different species.

This has now been ruled out in a study published in a Royal Society journal.

Instead, the aggressive-looking armour may actually have evolved to signal an animal’s suitability as a partner, known as socio-sexual selection.

“Individuals are advertising their quality or genetic make-up,” explained Andrew Knapp, lead author of the research reported in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“We see that in peacocks too, with their tail feathers.”

(7) SF OBSCURE. Echo Ishii’s search through TV history leads to “Hard Time on Planet Earth”.

Hard Time on Planet Earth was an American series broadcast for 13 episodes in 1989 starring Martin Kove. An elite alien military officer is sentenced to earth as his penalty for rebellion. He is given human form-much weaker than his older form-and sent to Earth to improve his violent behavior. (Or maybe curb his violent instincts or learn about goodness, it all gets a bit murky.) Anyway, he’s banished to Earth with an AI system called Control to monitor him. He’s given the name Jesse. Control  is a giant, floating mechanical eye. Jesse has to help people in need to get back into the Ruling Council’s favor.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY CAPTAIN

  • Born March 22, 1931 – William Shatner

(9) HE’S FEELING BETTER. An ad was gaining clicks by falsely reporting Shatner’s death, and the actor teed off on Facebook: “William Shatner Rails at Facebook After Being Told That He’s Dead”.

“Hey @facebook isn’t this your messenger app? What’s up with you allowing this Acocet Retail Sales ad to pass your muster? Thought you were doing something about this?” Shatner wrote.

A Facebook employee later responded with the assurance that the ad and the page had been removed from Facebook. Still, news of Shatner’s demise couldn’t come at a worse time for the actor, as he is expected to turn 87 on Thursday.

It also couldn’t come at a worse time for Facebook, which has been reeling recently over news that 50 million Facebook users unknowingly had their information lifted by data firm Cambridge Analytica.

(10) MEMEWHILE. Elsewhere on the internet, #AddShatnerToAnything was the order of the day. For example…

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian tuned into Broomhilda just as she was about to take gas.

(12) CONS AS PUBLIC UTILITY. Will Shetterly considered himself to have nothing in common with Jon Del Arroz apart from also having been banned from a convention. Well, now that Shetterly has cast shade on Jim C. Hines’ post about JDA’s track record of harassment, in “Two privileges of attending science fiction conventions, and a little about Jon Del Arroz’s law suit”, they have that in common, too. However, this passage struck me as the most interesting part of the post:

Before conventions began banning people, the fundamental privilege of attending science conventions wasn’t discussed because, by capitalist standards, the privilege was fair: anyone who had money could go, and anyone who didn’t, well, capitalist fairness is never about people who don’t have money.

But now that conventions have begun banning people, it’s time to acknowledge the second privilege. Though the genre has grown enormously, it’s still a small community at the top. If you hope to become a professional, it can be enormously helpful to attend WorldCon, the World Fantasy Convention, and literary conventions like ReaderCon, WisCon, and Fourth Street Fantasy. Once your career has begun, you need to be able to attend the Nebulas Awards too. Obviously, only the very privileged can go to most of those conventions regularly, but anyone who wants to make a career in this field should, every year, pick one from from Column A (WorldCon, World Fantasy, Nebula Awards), one from Column B (ReaderCon, WisCon, Fourth Street Fantasy), and one from Column C (local convention, regional convention, major commercial convention like DragonCon).

Being banned from any convention is an enormous blow to a writer’s ability to be a writer, and especially to a new writer’s ability to last in the field. It keeps you from meeting fellow professionals and getting useful tips, and it keeps you from making new fans.

(13) HIMTOO. Shetterly’s post prompted this recollection from Bruce Arthurs:

(14) BRANDED. The logical companion volume to Gene Wolfe’s The Death of Doctor Island and Other Stories and Other Stories, eh John?

(15) NEVER TOO LATE. Kim Wilde is making a comeback, with added science fiction: “Kim Wilde says aliens inspired her pop comeback”.

As a keen sci-fi fan (Arrival and ET are her favourite films), Wilde is fully embracing the theme of her new album – from the sleeve’s terrific B-movie artwork, to the stage show for her upcoming tour.

“I’ve got this little wardrobe set up, of fantastic capes and cloaks,” says the singer, who previously bought her outfits at jumble sales.

“We’re going to go a bit sci-fi and we’re going to a bit glam rock. It’ll be sexy and fun and something to put a big smile on people’s faces. I’m really excited about it.”

(16) A CLOCKWORK COD. Do Asimov’s Laws apply here? “Researchers create robotic fish that can swim underwater on its own”.

Observing fish in their natural ocean habitats goes a long way toward understanding their behaviors and interactions with the surrounding environment. But doing so isn’t easy. Using underwater vehicles to get a look at these species is one option, but they often come with a slew of limitations. Some are loud and use propellers or jet-propulsion that disturb fish and their surroundings. And many are designed in a way that doesn’t allow them to blend in with the marine environment. Controlling such vehicles is also a challenge and in many cases, they have to be tethered to a boat. But researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have come up with a potential solution — a soft robot that can swim on its own underwater.

(17) SEE FOOD. Apparently no fish were harmed in the making of this food? “3D-printed sushi looks like the perfect 8-bit meal” at Cnet.

At this year’s SXSW, Japanese technology company Open Meals revealed its Pixel Food Printer, which 3D-prints edible sushi, and other food, that looks like it was meant for a retro video game.

The pixelated food, including sushi and burgers, is printed first by using the Food Base digital platform that stores data on the exact flavor, shape, texture, color and nutrients of foods.

Then the actual Pixel Food Printer uses a robotic arm that prints out small pixel cubes made of edible gel with the corresponding flavors, colors and nutrients of the type of food being printed out.

(17) SEA PLASTIC. Printing seafood may be necessary at this rate: “Plastic patch in Pacific Ocean growing rapidly, study shows”.

Predictions suggest a build-up of about 80,000 tonnes of plastic in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” between California and Hawaii.

This figure is up to sixteen times higher than previously reported, say international researchers.

One trawl in the centre of the patch had the highest concentration of plastic ever recorded.

“Plastic concentration is increasing – I think the situation is getting worse,” said Laurent Lebreton of The Ocean Cleanup Foundation in Delft, Netherlands, which led the study.

“This really highlights the urgency to take action in stopping the in-flow of plastic into the ocean and also taking measures to clean up the existing mess.”

Waste accumulates in five ocean areas, the largest being the patch located between Hawaii and California.

(18) KGB. Ellen Datlow shared her photos taken at Fantastic Fiction at KGB on March 21.

Despite our blizzard, people did indeed show up for our reading. They were rewarded by hearing wonderful work by Kelly Robson and Chandler Klang Smith.

(19) SCI-FI SAVES DOG. David Gerrold’s “Jasmine and Friends Book Sale” at GoFundMe is raising money to pay a vet bill and assist a couple of friends. Donate to it and you get some of David’s books.

Our little Jasmine is sixteen years old. She specializes in naps and laps. A few weeks ago, she stopped eating and appeared to be in serious decline.

The vet determined that she had developed a serious abscess in her mouth and needed immediate surgery before she weakened further. She ended up having seven teeth extracted as well.

The good news is that she survived the operation, her mouth is healing, and she’s eating again. She’s out of pain and she’s acting like her old self.

The bad news is that the vet bill was high. Very high. We thought we’d be able to cover it, but despite the vet helping us with a payment plan, we’re still falling short.

Add to that, we have a couple friends who could use a serious financial infusion. Several people on Facebook asked if they could help, so we decided to do it this way.

We’re holding a book sale.

Any donation at all will get you a link to download a set of three stories: “The Bag Lady,” “The Great Milo,” and “Chester” (which was inspired by Jasmine’s best buddy of fifteen years.)

Any donation of $20 or more gets you a link to download a copy of “Jacob”, my vampire novel, plus all the previous.

Any donation of $40 or more gets you a link to download a copy of “thirteen, fourteen, fifteen o’clock” plus all the previous.

Any donation of $60 or more gets you a link to download a copy of “Entanglements and Terrors” (my short story collection) plus all the previous.

Any donation of $80 or more gets you a link to download a copy of “A Promise O f Stars” (another short story collection) plus all the previous.

Any donation of $100 or more gets you all of the above, plus a copy of the Megapack, a flash drive with a half million words of stories, scripts, and stuff. (You’ll have to include a shipping address.)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Meredith, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dann.]

297 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/22/18 And The Pixels Were All Kept Equal By Hatchet, Ax And Saw

  1. Techgrrl1972 Jefferson nicely anticipated the would-be censors who are fond of the so-called Paradox of Tolerance:

    “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.” –Thomas Jefferson

  2. Jim C. Hines, Thank you for the screen cap. I used it in my latest blog post, “Identitarians Don’t Do Metaphor, or Why Jim C. Hines Banned Me”.

    James Davis Nicoll, I realize gossip and history have different needs, so forgive me for pointing out that you’re indulging in the former. I take a certain amount of pride from having had a commenter at Vox Day’s site tell me that if they win, I’ll be one of the first to go to the camps. I don’t know why you think they would like socialists. Honest, they don’t.

    Mark, if you check Twitter, you’ll see all my tweets from the month in question are gone. I have been in the habit of periodically flushing Twitter. Which is why I’m glad Jim had the screen cap.

    And for anyone who thinks free speech and opposing fascists are at odds, I’ll remind you that one of the fiercest defenders of free speech, George Orwell, literally fought fascists in Spain. You can do both. (Also, Homage to Catalonia is a great book.)

  3. I feel very sickend by the recent rise of nazism.
    As for “advocating of punching nazis” Im with Hampus: Everyone should decide for himself how to fight the nazis (“fight” as in “oppose”) and fought they must – once they established themselves its too late. This can never happen again.
    For “Nazis should punsh first” I say: They already have. In the past year Nazis have killed, mangled and beaten up a lot of people. And this is part of the idealogy, this is literally what nazism is about. Its not like saying “SF writers have beaten up people before, but you should not associate every SF write by association”, because its part of what defines a nazi. If you identify publicy with nazism, you did nothing short of saying that you agreed with the violence and will do the same in a fitting situation. There is no such thing as a nazi, who opposes the viiolence of their peeers. If he woulkd, he wouldnt be a nazi. Literally. I dont have to wait for each individual nazi to punch someone, to decide that he is violent.

    On a more general note: I have yet to read -in any discussion – a “slippery slope”-argument, that Ive found convicing. Actions are not magic spells where A sooner or later leads to B. A and B are seperate actions with seperate boundaries. The connection just isnt there, no matter how much handwaving a participant in the discussion does.

  4. RedWombat: True, but I suspect they don’t actually believe and understand the words of the Buddha. There are of course parallels elsewhere to such a failure.

  5. If Nazis were rioting in Birmingham and then show up en masse in Little Rock, then the first punch has been thrown the moment they arrive. Before that, it’s grey area stuff if there’s no actual literal punch. But what Robert Wood said about how violence generates from confrontation in way that makes determining who threw a first punch difficult or impossible is a good reason to go a little easy on the subject. It’s not a capital crime; more a misdemeanor.

    @Jim C. Hines: Will and I are co-religionists. I see his blog fairly regularly, and saw the most recent one before I came here. Your joke about calling Nazi-punching an alt-fist bump is quite funny. That you don’t appreciate being called on that joke lessens it considerably.

    There’s a sense in which you made an inappropriate joke there. Not because Nazis deserve more than the very basic consideration the worst human being deserves, but because even perfectly justified violence, like Nazi-punching, still does damage to society. I’d’ve made that joke myself, but it’s got a price to it.

  6. Chip Hitchcock:
    I wasn’t aware of the Elgar setting. I am enamored of Kodaly’s. This is as good a place as any to credit anthologist F.T. Palgrave for editing the poem down from nine verses to three, which may have been what gave it immortality.

  7. I’ve done enough Kodály (Psalmus Hungaricus, one Xmas piece, maybe the Missa Brevis) that I’m having trouble imagining how his musical style would mix with O’Shaughnessy’s bombastic text. Someday I’ll have to dig up a recording. (Google shows me only more recent setting(s).)

  8. Imnotamdrei has had the best pro-first punch arguments on this thread. I can see times now where I would support it. But, like Hampus, I object to the punch-a-Nazi memes out there. I really do not think those are helpful.

    Robert Wood, wasn’t a lot of the labor movement violence responsive rather than initiative? The company owners certainly hired thugs to break up strikes and demonstrations. No one here has advocated turning the other cheek when you’re attacked physically. And frankly, the main goalpost movers have been various people taking Contrarius to be saying that one must avoid all violence, rather than initiative violence. Despite repeated clarifications on their part.

  9. My premise is that while I will not punch a Nazi *first* myself, I will also not abandon those who do to finish the fight alone. The idea that I would march alongside them until they fought, then say “Nope, now you’ve gone too far and I am going to abandon you”, or that i watch from the sidelines and *not* then throw further punches, is much more distasteful to me as a principle than is being pre-emptive of violence. And this is true even if I think they are wrong enough they should face prosecution for insufficiently provoked violence.

    Contrarius: If Nazis had literally killed people in their last march in your town, would you still advocate in THIS march not to strike out, that this day is still a blank slate as far as who is initiating violence? THIS I think is the question several people are trying to ask to define your limits. What past actions of a person, and how long ago do they have to be, can still constitute the Nazi throwing a “first punch”? If you knew the exact specific person in front of you had assaulted a black teenager with a tire iron in the past, and they were carrying the tire iron in their belt now, indicating their intent to repeat the action, would you still consider *this* confrontation without that context?

    (I also want to emphasize that so far I *respect* Contrarius’s stance, even if I disagree in the particulars. it is a thought out and consistent stance. So is Robert Wood’s. That you each seem to be seeing inconsistency in how the other expresses their view is disturbing to me.)

  10. Lenore Jones, It’s a complicated question given the often volatile nature of workplace disputes in the United States, who has one of the most violent labor histories globally. Fights would often start between strikers and strike breakers for instance, because the picket line itself was a militant and antagonistic formation (before unions were legal and before the limitations placed by Taft/Hartley). In a lot of those situations, its difficult to tell who initiates violence. I would insist that it can only be understood within the larger violence of capitalist accumulation, but that doesn’t really answer the question of ‘who threw the first punch.’ I think the same thing applies to conflicts with Nazis.

    Lenora, I think Contrarius has a very consistent position about this notion of ‘the first punch’ but not on legality. I just don’t think that it’s a very useful position to frame the particular conflict, which is messy and contradictory and is defined by murky divisions of when a fight starts and when it stops. There’s also the difficulty that there isn’t really one group called ‘anti-fa’ that has one position on how to fight Nazis. It’s a broad tendency that forms small groups based on the principle of ‘no platforming’ but the meaning of that is different between the groups. Even the old Anti-Racist Action organization, which was probably the biggest anti-fa group in the United States had a pretty broad diversity and tensions within that diversity.

    As a final point, I think it’s worth remembering that all of the major social movements of the United States have been accused of ‘initiating violence’, including the civil rights movement.

  11. @Peer —

    For “Nazis should punsh first” I say: They already have. In the past year Nazis have killed, mangled and beaten up a lot of people.

    But this idea (they already have) is also so easy to misuse. Richard Spencer can say that Antifa has already “punched first”, because one punched him without provocation. Does that therefore justify any violence Spencer may decide to inflict on other Antifas?

    No, of course it doesn’t.

    And this is part of the idealogy, this is literally what nazism is about. Its not like saying “SF writers have beaten up people before, but you should not associate every SF write by association”, because its part of what defines a nazi.

    This is a good point for people who are actually Nazis. OTOH, many people whom we throw together under the “Nazi” label insist that they do not wish violence on anyone. For example, there are a lot of white supremacists who say they want peacefully separated homelands for each race, not genocide or murder of anyone. So do they deserve preemptive punching?

    On a more general note: I have yet to read -in any discussion – a “slippery slope”-argument, that Ive found convicing.

    “Punch a Nazi”, “Stand Your Ground”, and “Bomb a North Korean” all depend on the same principle — that preemptive violence is justified. How is that not a slippery slope?

    @Lenora —

    My premise is that while I will not punch a Nazi *first* myself, I will also not abandon those who do to finish the fight alone. The idea that I would march alongside them until they fought, then say “Nope, now you’ve gone too far and I am going to abandon you”, or that i watch from the sidelines and *not* then throw further punches, is much more distasteful to me as a principle than is being pre-emptive of violence.

    This is a tricky one. You are saying that if you saw your friend punch a Nazi, you would then jump in and help your friend punch that Nazi some more.

    Like, say, the gang of Nazis did to that black guy in Charlottesville — first Nazi was in a tug-of-war with an counterprotester over the pole on a sign; second counterprotester tried to help the first; then a gang of Nazis joined in and beat the crap out of the *second* counterprotester. According to your argument, that gang of Nazis was in the right when they jumped in to help their friend.

    Now, if I saw someone on my side getting punched first, absolutely I would try to help. But if I saw him punching first and then joined in, am I not simply encouraging mob violence? How about pulling that guy away from the fight instead?

    Contrarius: If Nazis had literally killed people in their last march in your town, would you still advocate in THIS march not to strike out, that this day is still a blank slate as far as who is initiating violence?

    First, I don’t think the question would come up — because if there had been that level of violence recently, their permit to march would be revoked.

    But second, since it’s a hypothetical — I think it depends on details about today’s Nazis. Is this the same group of Nazis? Are they actually Nazis, or are they some of the other white supremacists that people label as Nazis? Are they marching in support of the Nazi murderers from the previous march, or in opposition to the tactics of those previous Nazis?

    The devil is in the details, as the saying goes.

    What past actions of a person, and how long ago do they have to be, can still constitute the Nazi throwing a “first punch”?

    It’s a good question, and I don’t have easy answers for it. See my points above for some of the relevant considerations, though.

    If you knew the exact specific person in front of you had assaulted a black teenager with a tire iron in the past, and they were carrying the tire iron in their belt now, indicating their intent to repeat the action, would you still consider *this* confrontation without that context?

    In this case, I’d call the cops and tell them where to pick him up. No violence needed.

    @Robert —

    It occurred to me over the course of last night and this morning that I’ve jumbled the various elements of my argument around, leaving them in a rather confusing mess — and that’s probably why you thought I was moving goalposts. I apologize for that; it’s one of the dangers of thinking through arguments on the fly.

    I don’t really expect you to go back and re-litigate the discussion, but let me try to lay it out now in a more organized format.

    If you’ll go back to near the beginning of the discussion, you’ll see that I was making two overall claims:

    1. “Punch a Nazi” (preemptive violence) is morally wrong in most circumstances.

    2. “Punch a Nazi” (preemptive violence) is politically/strategically dumb in most circumstances.

    For #1, the argument is constructed thusly:

    1. A. Violence is morally justified only when it is necessary to obtain one’s goals.
    — There are other conditions which must also be met in order to justify violence (like proving that your goals are worthy and so on), but one condition is enough for this discussion.

    1. B. Preemptive violence has never been shown to be an essential component (necessary) in the success of social movements.

    1. C. Therefore, preemptive violence is not morally justified.

    For #2, the argument is similar but casts a broader net.

    2. A. Actions are politically/strategically intelligent when they help one to reach one’s goals

    2. B. Preemptive violence has not been shown to help social movements reach their goals.

    2. C. Therefore, preemptive violence is politically/strategically dumb.

    This is where my list of questions came in.

    2. B. i. Does initiating violence have any benefit that methods which do not initiate violence do not? Nobody has shown any such benefits.

    2. B. ii. Does initiating violence benefit the fabric of our society? Nobody has shown any way in which it benefits.

    2. B. iii.Does initiating violence not hand moral and strategic ammunition to our enemies? Nobody has shown any way in which is does not.

    2. B. iv. In what way do you believe that initiating violence makes us look like the good guys? Nobody has shown any way in which it does.

    And again: it is a fact that social movements have often been violent. That has nothing to do with whether initiating violence is a good idea or a bad one.

    I hope this reorganization helps!

  12. @imnotandrei —

    Many apologies — I did not see your post last night. I was not ignoring, you, honest!

    1) I was bullied in high school.

    You did not initiate violence in this case. Those specific bullies had attacked you multiple times in the past. It was not their adherence to a pro-violence principle that led you to decking one, it was their previous physical attack on you by those specific people that led to it.

    And the thing that stopped it was the demonstration of willingness, on my part, to escalate from their *implied* threats of violence to my *direct* threat of violence. I would have punched those ****-taunting **** first.

    But you did not punch them. Therefore you did not initiate violence in this case.

    One has to be able to explain afterwards that there appeared to be a credible threat.

    Good point. Whatever wacked out evil philosophy someone is spouting, when does their philosophy represent a credible threat that justifies initiating violence?

    Again, tactics. Someone throwing a Nazi salute at me, knowing my name is Schwartz (or even my being able to explain afterwards that my name was Schwartz) is explicity saying he believes in my extermination. Decking the **** to teach him to be more afraid and that we will not go gently is something that the majority of Americans will understand, I believe — indeed, I think most people in the world.

    “Understanding” is not the same thing as looking like the good guy, though. Should we really applaud someone who doesn’t have enough self-control to avoid reacting to an insult with violence? Refer back to your comment about credible threats — is some idiot who says he wants you dead a credible threat just because he has said it?

  13. Well, dangit.

    There seems to have been something in imnotandrei’s post last night that triggered the moderation filter (which means its posting was delayed, which was why I didn’t see it last night — I’m not subscribed to the threads, I just follow them as the comments come on the website), and my response to their post apparently contains whatever it was that triggered the filter last night, because my response has been sent to moderation as well.

    Anyway, imnotandrei, I’ve — finally! — responded to your post, and you’ll be able to see it whenever Mike has some time to release it from moderation. Sorry I didn’t see your post last night!

  14. I thought so too — but I took it out of my response, and my post is still waiting in moderation nonetheless.

    Hmph.

    Maybe once the filter is triggered, you can’t get out of it by just removing words?

  15. “But this idea (they already have) is also so easy to misuse. Richard Spencer can say that Antifa has already “punched first”, because one punched him without provocation. Does that therefore justify any violence Spencer may decide to inflict on other Antifas?”

    You make it seem like anyone cares how a nazi justifies his actions.

    “This is a good point for people who are actually Nazis. OTOH, many people whom we throw together under the “Nazi” label insist that they do not wish violence on anyone.”

    Moving goalposts.

  16. @Hampus —

    You make it seem like anyone cares how a nazi justifies his actions.

    I think we should all care if the principles we act by would also justify Nazi behavior.

    Moving goalposts.

    Nope — it’s an important distinction to keep in mind, because many of these protests are being attended not by actual Nazis but by members of less extreme groups who don’t actually espouse violence as an inherent part of their philosophy. Yes, they are still reprehensible — but we can’t apply the blanket “Because Nazi!” excuse to them, because they aren’t Nazis.

    Or in other words — if you believe “Punch a Nazi” is justified, then are you going to verify that every time you punch someone at a protest, that person getting punched is actually a Nazi?

    If he’s not a Nazi, how do you justify punching him? Yes, he’s probably still an idiot — but, for instance, let’s consider these white separatists who want separate homelands. That’s stupid, but it is not inherently violent. Do they deserve to be punched? If so, why?

    Watch out for that slippery slope — it can bite you from many directions!

    ETA: to keep things a little organized, we can call this claim #3:

    3. Even if “Punch a Nazi” is justified, initiating violence at a protest is still not justified if you don’t have verification that the person you are punching is actually a Nazi.

    3. A. Many white supremacists/white separatists don’t advocate violence.

    3. B. “Punch a Nazi” is justified on the grounds that Nazism is inherently violent.

    3. C. Therefore the justification for punching at a protest fails if you don’t have verification that the person you’re punching is a Nazi.

  17. Word salad. You are still moving goalposts when you go from discussing punching nazis to discuss punching people who might not be nazis.

  18. Nope — because when people say “Punch a Nazi”, they are actually talking about punching all sorts of people who attend these racist protests — not just Nazis. And their justification doesn’t apply to people who aren’t actually Nazis, even if we accept that it does apply to the Nazis (I don’t, but **even if we do**).

    ETA — You can justifiably criticize me for introducing a new claim — I hadn’t thought of it yesterday — but claim #3 is still just as valid as claims 1 and 2, and those original two claims haven’t moved one whit.

  19. I can’t think of a historical example of forced relocation that I wouldn’t describe as violence, so I would consider white supremacists who want separate homelands as supporting an inherently violent ideology.

    ETA: I’m still making up my mind on the “To Punch a Nazi or Not to Punch a Nazi” issue, but I’m not seeing a significant difference between one racist, violent, fascist ideology and another racist, violent, fascist ideology.

  20. “Nope — because when people say “Punch a Nazi”, they are actually talking about punching all sorts of people who attend these racist protests — not just Nazis.”

    Do not presume to speak for others and decide what they mean.

  21. Contrarius: I can’t quite say you’re wilfully misreading me because I didn’t spell out the to me obvious middle step, but when J said that if the person with me had punched a Nazi and I felt as if I could not abandon them and might even throw a punch, the to-me blatantly-obvious middle step I missed was that the Nazi’s friends would have then immediately piled on and the violence escalated, NOT that since my friend threw punch one I should throw punch two while the Nazis stand arojnd doing nothing.

    I also think that despite my not spelling that out exactly, if after everything else I’ve said in this discussion you could think that’s what I meant, yiu are at best not reading generously and at worst have a terrible opinion of me as a person.

  22. @Meredith —

    I can’t think of a historical example of forced relocation

    Who said anything about forced relocation? They hope to convince everyone that relocation is the right thing to do — voluntary relocation. Yes, it’s still stupid — but it isn’t violent.

    @Hampus —

    Do not presume to speak for others and decide what they mean.

    Oh, please. I bet very very few people throwing punches at these protests and counterprotests are asking their opponents whether they are actually Nazis or not. If you have evidence to the contrary, please provide it.

    @Lenora —

    the to-me blatantly-obvious middle step I missed was that the Nazi’s friends would have then immediately piled on and the violence escalated

    In such a case, do you not believe that pulling your friend AWAY from the violence would still be the better course of action? Prevent injury to your friend as best you can, sure — but seek to end the violence rather than perpetuate it.

  23. Who said anything about forced relocation? They hope to convince everyone that relocation is the right thing to do — voluntary relocation. Yes, it’s still stupid — but it isn’t violent.

    Okay, this is edging toward hairsplitting apologetics. Richard Spencer himself has protested that he isn’t a Nazi, despite sieg-heiling Trump on international TV, the white supremacy and racial separatism as well as anti-Semitism. If he espoused the same excuse about ‘voluntary relocation’ of millions of citizens, would you say he wasn’t a Nazi either?

  24. @jayn —

    Okay, this is edging toward hairsplitting apologetics.

    I agree that it’s a very muddy distinction and full of pitfalls on all sides.

    There’s no perfect solution. I’m simply pointing out that there’s a huge problem with saying that preemptive violence at protests is justified on the basis of inherent violence in the opposition’s philosophy, when many of your prospective opponents don’t actually share that violent philosophy.

    Is preemptive violence at protests justified just because your prospective opponent MIGHT share an inherently violent philosophy?

  25. The real argument here is “We can hit first because anything done by the Good in the War Between Good and Evil is righteous.” It’s the same excuse used for firebombing Dresden and nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  26. @Will —

    The real argument here is “We can hit first because anything done by the Good in the War Between Good and Evil is righteous.”

    That’s the danger, yes. This is why we need to examine such impulses very carefully and thoroughly before we indulge them.

  27. @contrarius

    This began with a joke about Richard Spencer getting punched…a joke that is precisely about the hairsplitting label the ‘alt-right’ put upon themselves to speciously differentiate their ideology from Nazis.

    As far as I can tell from this discussion, not one person here has stated that punching Nazis should not legally be considered a crime, just that the emotional impulse to hit someone who has openly expressed admiration for Nazis, embraced the racist and anti-Semitic ideology of the Nazis, and expresses as his goal the displacement of citizens from their homes based on their race (with or without the figleaf of ‘voluntary relocation’) is completely understandable and to be sympathized with, even if we acknowledge it should be legally prosecuted.

    That concession doesn’t seem to be enough for you. Instead you move on to criticizing unspecified people who punch people at rallies who are chanting ‘blood and soil’ and ‘Jew will not replace us!’ because they didn’t calmly interview the chanters to find out whether they were advocating violent displacement or ‘voluntary relocation’ before daring to have their angry reaction.

    You now seem to want to demand we withdraw ANY sympathy for those people because they lack your fine discerning eye in distinguishing who among the torch-bearing chanters of racist and anti-Semitic slogans is REALLY advocating for violence and which is REALLY a pacifist pussycat who only advocates for ‘voluntary relocation.’

    And when I call you on whether your fine discerning eye would qualify the man at the center of the original joke as an actual Nazi or not – you dodge the question and obfuscate, even though you were just finding fault with others for not making the same distinction. I beg of you, stop digging.

  28. “We can hit first because anything done by the Good in the War Between Good and Evil is righteous.”

    You don’t think Nazism is evil?

  29. @Contrarius:

    Who said anything about forced relocation? They hope to convince everyone that relocation is the right thing to do — voluntary relocation. Yes, it’s still stupid — but it isn’t violent.

    What makes you think it’s stupid?

    McFee had announced the tactical change the evening of the very day that Smith had called on Hamilton. Control naturals were to be placed in stasis for an indefinite period. It was an entirely humane procedure; the prisoners would be unhurt by their stay and would emerge in the distant future. McFee had asked Hamilton what he thought of the scheme, after the meeting.

    “It should be popular,” Hamilton had admitted. “But what happens after they are let out?”

    McFee had looked surprised, then laughed. “We are practical men, you and I,” he had said in a low voice.

    “You mean …”

    “Surely. But keep your mouth shut.”

    When someone tries to convince me to kill myself because we’d all be better off, I assume they’d like me dead but don’t yet have the means.

  30. “We can hit first because anything done by the Good in the War Between Good and Evil is righteous.”

    You don’t think Nazism is evil?

    The problem is–like in all conflicts–both sides think that they are the good and righteous. So any arguments by our side that it is okay to punch a Nazi can be used by the Nazis that it is okay to punch (or drive over) a “race traitor.” What’s good for the gander is good for the goose-stepper.

  31. Re:

    Who said anything about forced relocation? They hope to convince everyone that relocation is the right thing to do — voluntary relocation. Yes, it’s still stupid — but it isn’t violent.

    Interesting isn’t it that black people should obviously be re-located since this isn’t their ancestral homeland. Asians should obviously be re-located since this isn’t their ancestral homeland. European descendants should obviously be re-located since this isn’t their ancestral homeland….oh wait! They get to stay in the US.

    And using Nazi slogans while calling for this is obviously coincidental. Naturally they stopped doing that when it was brought to their attention. Oh wait, they didn’t. Who will defend those poor, peaceful alt-rightists chanting, “Blood and soil” and making sieg heil salutes? Thank god, contrarius is here to defend them.

    When someone tries to convince me to kill myself because we’d all be better off, I assume they’d like me dead but don’t yet have the means.

    Yep.

  32. @Darren Garrison–

    The problem is–like in all conflicts–both sides think that they are the good and righteous. So any arguments by our side that it is okay to punch a Nazi can be used by the Nazis that it is okay to punch (or drive over) a “race traitor.” What’s good for the gander is good for the goose-stepper.

    Meanwhile, the Nazis are not tying themselves in philosophical knots about whether it’s justified or whether their opponents might see themselves as the good guys and might make similar arguments. They’re just going ahead with their punching and their arguments for fake-voluntary relocation of “inferior” populations which would include me, and driving their cars into people they then describe as having been biologically useless anyway.

    I’m not in favor of initiating violence and can’t see myself doing it, but dear God, some of you are working hard to convince me the only arguments against it are specious and dishonest.

  33. Nigel, you may’ve missed my earlier point that George Orwell proves we can support free speech and fight fascists at the same time.

    But since you bring it up, I am reluctant to reduce politics to good and evil. I would say Nazis were about as wrong as it is possible for humans to be, but talking about good and evil obscures the link between fascism and economic desperation–Hitler needed the Great Depression to rise to power. If you oppose something, you have to look for more than its symptoms. Otherwise you end up with street fighters who will claim all the credit for victory and none of the responsibility for failure.

    Lis, I gather you haven’t read anything about the alt-right. They worked very hard to provoke people into hitting them first. They understand PR better than some of their opponents. That they failed does not change the fact that they wanted Antifa to hit first.

  34. @Darren: That comes perilously close to saying that it’s the fault of the guy who punched Richard Spencer that Heather Heyer was run over. Again, I don’t think anyone here is saying it should be legal to hit a Nazi, just that the impulse to do so is understandable and worthy of sympathy. Because that ideology hit a level of ‘wrong’ that made arguments about the relativity of the wrongness of it seem petty.

    Thing is, if you use contrarius’ narrow criteria of who’s a Nazi and who isn’t that they don’t advocate forcible relocation of minorities, there was a historical period after the Nazis took power that one could argue the Nazis themselves weren’t Nazis by those criteria.

    I mean, I could totally imagine a Jew in, say, 1935 (before Kristallnacht) who’d managed to escape Germany and go to the US being argued with by an absolutely earnest American on those same grounds. “Okay, yeah, after 1933 you were fired from your job, and forbidden from getting a new job in your own field because you were Jewish. But that was all legal and aboveboard. Yeah, people screamed at you in the street all the time to get out of Germany and called you names, but that’s just freedom of speech. And when you decided to leave, they confiscated all your property and money except a nominal amount, so you were lucky you had someone here to sponsor you. But again, that was all legal and aboveboard, and by your own admission no one actually threatened to physically harm you, so you voluntarily agreed to leave – you weren’t violently displaced. I realize you’ve had a hard time and I totally sympathize. So why can’t we just sit and discuss the pros and cons of Naziism like civilized men?”

    The danger in nitpicking who counts as a Nazi and who doesn’t among those who are advocating sweeping aside minorities as inferior and unworthy is ending up applying contrarius’ criteria to say, “Well, by MY criteria, there are NO real Nazis here, so why can’t you be like me and discuss these people’s racist anti-Semitic ideas calmly instead of getting angry?” – when anger has a legitimate place in discussing those ideas. People should be feeling angry with those ideas, because they have meant and still mean life and death for some real people. And IMO, people who argue questions of life and death with absolute emotional indifference are sociopaths.

    David Gerrold touched on the same point and quoted someone on Facebook which I thought expressed well my point of view: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10104350427286130&set=a.933392771730.2569399.48912397&type=3&theater

  35. Contrarius:

    “Oh, please. I bet very very few people throwing punches at these protests and counterprotests are asking their opponents whether they are actually Nazis or not. If you have evidence to the contrary, please provide it.”

    This is what nazis look like in Sweden. There is not a question of if or what they are. They are nazis. When I’m discussing punching nazis, I’m discussing punching nazis. Not punching these random people who just happen to wear nazi uniforms.

  36. Mallory, based on the version of your comment that first showed up in my email, I think you might find the strike tag (angle brackets and so on) useful. If I’m mistaken, I beg pardon.

  37. There was a joke going around a while ago that the only use for “blink” was “Schroedinger’s cat is[blink]isn’t dead.”

  38. I’m sure you mean “is[blink]n’t[blink] dead.”

    (edited to add: I like this joke, though, and never saw/heard it before.)

  39. Sorry, @Contrarius, that I didn’t get back to this sooner — I was busy.

    “You did not initiate violence in this case. Those specific bullies had attacked you multiple times in the past. It was not their adherence to a pro-violence principle that led you to decking one, it was their previous physical attack on you by those specific people that led to it.”

    I object — this standard holds, in essence, that once a person has engaged in “violence” towards you, any retribution, no matter how temporally distant, is not “initiation”.

    I think you can see the problem there. Furthermore, I think it is …unwise, shall we say, to draw such a sharp distinction between a person’s political views’ ancestry, especially when being presented as forcefully as some Nazis and the very Nazi-adjacent do, and a matter of individual history. If the stated beliefs and prior actions of a group lead one to believe there’s a credible threat, going “But none of *these* Nazis ever attacked you!” is, to put it mildly, unpersuasive.

    “But you did not punch them. Therefore you did not initiate violence in this case.”

    That’s because they withdrew from the field. I was fully prepared to initiate violence in defense of the person I was protecting — striking them because I felt they were a credible threat to strike if I did not. That they backed down, I don’t think, should have a significant effect on the moral weight of my own choices.

    “Good point. Whatever wacked out evil philosophy someone is spouting, when does their philosophy represent a credible threat that justifies initiating violence?”

    I tend to use some common-sense principles, such as “Do they, or the people they idolize, directly advocate the elimination or subjugation of groups I am in? If so, especially if they appear to be gaining ground in that direction, or are in sufficient force as to make it potential, that might be a credible threat.”

    ““Understanding” is not the same thing as looking like the good guy, though.”

    If people understand me much more than my opponent, *after* I’ve hit them, then I have come out ahead in the “good guy” stakes.

    ” Should we really applaud someone who doesn’t have enough self-control to avoid reacting to an insult with violence?”

    Note that you’ve shifted from “credible threat” here to “insult”. (Note; I have, in fact, been threatened with being shot for insulting someone. :))

    “Refer back to your comment about credible threats — is some idiot who says he wants you dead a credible threat just because he has said it?”

    No; which is why I use the metric I described above.

  40. I probably shouldn’t, but sometimes one just has to engage:

    ““We can hit first because anything done by the Good in the War Between Good and Evil is righteous.” It’s the same excuse used for firebombing Dresden and nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

    I will note, as the case of Richard Spencer’s withdrawal from his campus tour demonstrates, that my argument is “We can hit first because it is, when applies correctly, an effective tool against those who would do a greater evil.” Do not mistake “is sometimes better than the alternatives” for “righteous”, please.

    As, indeed, your examples suggest. There have been arguments made — whether or not they were true, and whether or not you agree with them — that the A-bomb attacks in particular were done with the intent of shortening the war — not because they were somehow “righteous”, but with a deliberate attempt to reduce casualties. Does this make them morally good? Probably not. But it is not the case that the arguments here reduce to “We’re Good, therefore everything we do is Good.”

    Oversimplifying peoples’ positions will not, I suspect, win you many converts. 🙂

  41. “There have been arguments made — whether or not they were true, and whether or not you agree with them — that the A-bomb attacks in particular were done with the intent of shortening the war — not because they were somehow “righteous”, but with a deliberate attempt to reduce casualties.”

    There are no good arguments for that. As Admiral Leahy said, the japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender. There are however good arguments that the war was prolonged to make it possible to drop the bombs. One example is the demand that the Japanese emperor abdicate before a surrender was accepted, a requirement that wasn’t dropped until after the bombings. And of course no one can give any reason whatsoever for dropping the bomb over Nagasaki.

    This has little to do with the question of punching nazis though. Punching a nazi does not mean that you punch four non-nazis at the same time.

  42. I refuse to get worked up over whether it’s OK to punch a Nazi.
    I had a friend, who I no longer really talk to, who liked to use the same ‘What if. . .?” games until he got you so tied up in knots and out on such a limb that he could sit back and smugly point out how you were no better.

    There are so-called ‘people’ in this world that I wouldn’t spit on if their hair was on fire. And Nazis are right up there at the top.
    If that makes me a bad person, so be it.

  43. The problem is–like in all conflicts–both sides think that they are the good and righteous.

    I see no reason to paralyse myself with self-doubt and empathy just because the people celebrating the ideology that incorporated sending people into gas chambers by the millions somehow think they’re good and righteous, no more than I would for Stalinists.

    But since you bring it up, I am reluctant to reduce politics to good and evil.

    The world is complex and sometimes difficult to decipher. One of the few unambiguous truths we have managed to establish at horrific cost is that Nazism is evil. That might not justify Dresden, and it might not justify throwing a first punch; in fact those two things might represent different parts of the same rot of violence Nazism helps to spread. Consequently the rule of law should be enforced, whether for war crimes or personal assault.

    Nonetheless because Nazism is evil, and because it is on the march, there are those who, when confronted with evil on the rise, will throw a punch, for fear that if they do not, there will come more ovens, and there will come more Dresdens.

    The problem isn’t that some on our side feel justified in throwing first punches. The problem is that things have got to the point where people feel that they need to, because the Nazis are marching, and handwringing about freedom of speech and the awfulness of throwing the first punch create gaps they can march through.

  44. Contrarius:

    In such a case, do you not believe that pulling your friend AWAY from the violence would still be the better course of action? Prevent injury to your friend as best you can, sure — but seek to end the violence rather than perpetuate it.

    Well yes. But I can’t, from my position of relative comfort (very relative as am bouncing about on a bus with a somewhat lead-footed driver), reliably predict the exact circumstances or how likely withdrawal to safety is. My personal standard for violence in myself has been and continues to be in response to violence already begun. My comments with emphasis on not abandoning the person beside me who does initiate violence were also partly in response to Hampus saying essentially that a lot of people who say “I won’t do it but it’s okay if you do” end up abandoning those who do. (And I think he’s right).

    That there might be other alternativez would be why my prior comment included the word maybe. You do understand maybe?

    It seems to me you are expending s huge amount of energy to explain how every possible scenario can be not-hit-first and every possible case where someone did and it was part of a successful movement was probably unnecessary due to other factors and every single ally who ever does so is a bad person always. Not as bad as a Nazi but still bad.

    AND that dvery person who says it may sometimes be okay thinks it always obviously is or that they are lying in some way about the minimal number of scenarios in which they find it acceptable.

  45. Nigel, is this a fair summary of your position?

    “We’re the good guys–we oppose free speech and support hitting people for saying what they think . They’re the bad guys–they oppose free speech and support hitting people for saying what they think.”

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