Interesting Post at MGC

Jonathon LaForce has an interesting and at times laudable post at Mad Genius Club: https://madgeniusclub.com/2018/06/01/verified/

It starts with an extended military metaphor but its focus is actually on the veracity of criticism:

“This conflict over culture has consequences. It demands that we not give in to the base instinct of lying, dehumanizing, and othering those with whom we quarrel. Such is dishonorable. Such will not be tolerated. I don’t want you to my left or right, I don’t want you laying down suppressive fire from behind me as I charge forward, if I can’t trust you to do the right thing.”

And while I wouldn’t phrase things the way he has, he is correct. Truth matters, tactically, strategically and ethically.

I assume the post is partly motivated by Jon Del Arroz’s recent tweets criticising well-known fantasy author Brandon Sanderson who has been critical of Utah fan convention FanX (for background on the FanX controversy see File 770 here: http://file770.com/?p=42326 )

It is therefore disappointing that LaForce then partly trips over his own principles:

“I dislike Irene Gallo because she chose to make extremely unprofessional comments about myself and others as being “Nazis,” after which she tendered an “apology.””

The comment here is a reference to a comment made by a Tor employee in 2015 on her personal Facebook page. As was discussed at the time, Gallo did not directly call the Sad Puppies Neo-Nazis and certainly did not call Jonathon La Force personally a Neo-Nazi. (see the timeline for links ) However, her wording was unclear and the quote contained other sweeping statements about the groups collectively being racist, misogynistic and homophobic. La Force also wrote a strongly worded post on the topic at the time: https://madgeniusclub.com/2015/06/07/dear-tor/

I’m not pointing this out as a ‘gotcha’ or to have a dig at hypocrisy – for a start I’m preaching to the choir here and nobody at Mad Genius is going to care one way or another. The point is multi-fold:

  • The ‘called us neo-Nazis’ is an exaggeration but it wasn’t the biggest distortion of truth during the Puppy Debarkle but it was one of the most persistent and is now taken as gospel to the extent that it has evolved into individual Puppies being called ‘neo-Nazis’ by Tor employees.
  • The comment did describe both Puppy campaigns collectively as “unrepentantly racist, misogynist, and homophobic”. If I was a Sad Puppy and I wanted to nurse a long-term point of anger around this incident, then that’s the point I’d fixate on – rather than the ‘neo-Nazi’ comment. Trying to be truthful and accurate does not mean somehow giving ground on your criticism – in fact, the opposite. The Sad Pups adopted a *weaker* piece of rhetoric that was more easily debunked but which had a greater short-term impact.
  • The anger in response to the comment was genuine and that’s important. It is another dimension to issue I was waffling about in this post, a way we all approach truth that can be at odds with more abstract questions of truth. In this case, it is undeniably true that the comments deeply hurt the feelings of many people associated with the Sad Puppies.
  • When it comes to fixing a problem like being critical of your opponents but doing so TRUTHFULLY…you have to start with yourself. And that’s hard work. It means making fine distinctions and thinking about how you word things. It also means doing the thing that Irene Gallo did that is most relevant here: apologise and correct what she was saying.

Circling back, truth matters and so accuracy matters. Lots and lots of things were said during the semi-decade of the morose hounds. There was undoubtedly some over the top and histrionic rhetoric by critics of the Sad Puppies. Sticking to what is factually defensible was not always the most emotionally gratifying and correct mistakes could even be painful, but…aside from examples like Irene Gallo’s misjudged (but corrected) statement, the greatest ire from the remaining Sad Puppy rump is towards those who reported what the Pups said accurately.

Moving beyond the Sad Pups and considering the wider ‘cultural war’ and in particular the Trump regime, the same issues apply. Sticking to what is truthful, moderating claims to what is defensible based on evidence, distinguishing between fact, speculation and opinion are all important. Ignoring or actively debunking spurious claims made by people claiming to be anti-Trump but who push nonsense (such as Lousie Mensch) is important. Being wary of stories that are too good to be true or that seem exaggerated or shocking (tricky – considering what is actually happening) and seeking confirmation is important. Honest people can (and will) honestly spread stories that are not true and maintaining a healthy level of non-cynical scepticism is vital. Without that healthy non-cynical scepticism you become vulnerable to ‘fake news’ and propaganda.

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50 thoughts on “Interesting Post at MGC

  1. I read that post this morning and was impressed at how little of it I said “hey, now, that’s not right…” about. The two main points of his I disagreed with were both fuzzy cases:
    1) Gallo’s quote, which definitely respectively calls the Sad Puppies “extreme right-wing” and the Rabid Puppies “neo-nazi groups.” Like you say, the only valid complaint is that she calls both groups “unrepentantly racist, misogynist, and homophobic.” That is too broad a brush, and is unfair.
    2) HRC’s “deplorables” quote, which apparently every Trump supporter took to mean meant them, though she only smeared half of his supporters as belonging in that basket.

    Both of those quotes should never have been made by such prominent personas.

    The other quote that annoyed me was his “Alinsky” reference. I still have yet to see anyone on the Left talk about Alinsky, aside from the occasional “what are these guys talking about when they say we’re following Alinsky’s playbook?” or “has anyone actually ever read Alinsky’s ‘playbook.'”

    Otherwise… man, I’d like to see more posts like LaForce’s. He seems to have allowed himself to become blinkered by the Culture Wars, but despite thinking we are all dishonest scumbags, doesn’t believe that gives “his side” permission to be dishonest.

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      1. He’s definitely less angry. I note, though, that he removes the “respectively” from Gallo’s quote in his earlier post, suggesting that he conflates the Sads and the Rabids. That, or he was being deceptive. From his general tone, and that recent article, I suspect he was just mistakenly equating the Sads with the Rabids.

        I also was pleasantly surprised to see someone dismiss a JDA reply in the comment thread, saying “He just wants to be Theodore Beale.”

        Is it possible that, aside from a couple frothers whose pride will never allow them to back off, the Puppies’ hackles are slowly lowering?

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      2. Time plays it part I guess. I was in two minds about even commenting on La Force’s post as me even expressing an opinion on it will probably raise hackles but I liked the overall thrust of it.

        [There’s a ‘Mark’ in the comments of the 2015 post – I assume that’s our own Mark Kitteh?]

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    1. It is not unfair to call the Sad Puppies misogynist and homophobic. They did put John C Wrights hate screed on their slate, a deeply sexist and homophobic hate screed.

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      1. Wright’s Transhuman… and Williamson’s Wisdom…(both in BRW) on the Sad Puppy slate certainly makes the claim defensible. ‘Unrepentadly…” again, I guess the Sad Pups never did distance themselves from either but…I think it is fair to say the Sad Pups didn’t see themselves that way and honestly saw that claim as defaming them.
        I’d say something like ‘The Sad Puppy campaign promoted some racist, misogynistic and homophobic works and authors.’ Heck, they probably would have still construed that as “you called us racist!” though 🙂

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      1. I remember one right-wing blogger who declared that liberals make fun of conservatives because Alinsky! Ridicule was one of his primary tactics! Of course ridicule as a tactic goes back two thousand plus years, so apparently Alinsky had a time machine.

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      2. I’ve never understood the Alinsky thing either and indeed had never heard of him, until various puppy types started going on and on about him. Maybe leftists somewhere read Alinsky, but they sure as hell don’t read him in Germany.

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      3. It’s become one of those weird rightwing way of communicating group behaviour i.e. say ‘look at these terrible things the left are doing’ as a way of disseminating tactics.

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      4. Ironically, Alinsky’s relationship to the new left was fairly antagonistic. He thought they were irresponsible and adventuristic and they thought he was insufficiently radical. You can probably make the case that both parties were right. His books are fairly interesting if you’re interested in organizing political campaigns, even if you find yourself disagreeing with him, and my impression is that most of the accusations towards him are derived from tendentious and partial readings of his arguments.

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    2. “Both of those quotes should never have been made by such prominent personas.”
      Maybe. But Gallo apologized. And i’m still waiting for somebody to show me that about half of Trump’s supporters did not come along for the racism, sexism and homophobia. Politically unwise to say? Probably? False to say? Doesn’t look like it.
      But I agree that, other than deciding that Gallo’s apology doesn’t count for reasons unexplained, it’s a reasonable piece in general, with a surprising number of reasonable comments, particularly from Amanda. May this start a trend.

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  2. Sanderson’s not even withdrawing from the confromhell. (Sorry, it’s Utah; con from oh my heck)
    He’s still planning to go as long as they clean up their act a bit (or at least seem to publicly).
    But truth has always mattered even less to Jon boy and the Scraps than it does to Pups.

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    1. I can barely read the stuff about FanX – it’s like watching a sitcom written Ricky Gervais about a Con and the con is run by the final form of Ricky Gervais as he descends into becoming more and more like the kind of characters he puts in his sitcoms – but also it’s in Utah and somehow even worse.

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  3. By puppy standards, this is a pretty nuanced post and it’s interesting to see that MCG are trying to distance themselves from JDA.

    Though I find it telling that they are still upset over a single hasty Facebook post two years later. Never mind that Irene Gallo probably has no idea who Jonathan LaForce is, since he wasn’t particularly prominent in the sad puppy movement. After all, it’s not as if Tor has files on every person active in the SFF sphere.

    I also find their unshakeable faith that Tor and its parents company are doomed highly amusing. Do these people have any idea how big Verlagsgruppe Holtzbrinck, Tor’s parent company, really is? Tor’s entire revenue is probably just a rounding error for them.

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    1. Amanda Green in the comments is taking a much more realistic perspective on Tor than she did in 2015.

      As for Tor? I think only a fool would make strong predictions about any publishing business right now 🙂

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      1. If the academic journal market, where Holtzbrinck makes a lot of its annual revenue, ever collapses, then the company might be in trouble. But a few yapping puppies won’t even be noticed, let alone hurt them.

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    2. I think the main point of mentioning Gallo is rethorical to stress his main point of sticking to the truth. His reasoning is that even a bad person like Gallo should not have things made up about her. It is like if an Ulster Protestant takes the pope as an example. Like “well, he is the Antichrist, but we should not falsely accuse him of being a pedophile”. Gallo serves that function, and she also serves that well because there is no (as far as I know) any further ongoing controversies with her to complicate the example.

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    3. ” it’s interesting to see that MCG are trying to distance themselves from JDA.”

      I think we will see more of that in the future. JDA is associating himself with the puppies, but this is not reciprocated by everyone. He is just so clumsy and does all the things the puppies are saying they dont do, but are unfairly accused off.

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      1. Thats my point. I guess the puppies are getting tired of being supportive and apologetic for him, just to “be loyal to their team”, espeically if they dont particulary want him on their team…
        It would be sad, really, if he wouldnt have brought this to himself.

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      2. He’s desperately TRIED to associate with the Puppies/MGC, but they’re having none of it. He’s the guy yapping around the edges for their attention and they’re ignoring him and he’ll never get into the secret clubhouse. Teddy’s not even paying him any mind. He’s not on their team, and as he does increasingly dumber things in public, they sure don’t want him to be.

        The leading Sad Pups are still traditionally published, so they’re not going to go around insulting the whole industry as long as Baen and Analog/Asimov’s exist. And they’re definitely not going to get involved in lawsuits.

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      3. As noted downstream, the JDA wants to be Theodore Beale is telling…and it continues to push the line that the Sad Puppies really really want to break the connections between them and the Rabid Puppies (counting Mr. Del Arroz as a wannabe Rabid Puppy in that formulation)

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  4. I’d really like to know where this attitude of his was in the beginning. Also, the extended, tortured battle metaphor really bothers me. He still obviously deeply internalises the “Us Vs. Them” mentality which has driven the puppies from the start.

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  5. The Sad Puppies accused other authors of fraud regarding the Hugo Awards with no evidence and because they wanted to justify what they were doing. They made up a myth and they still like their myth. I find one of them rambling about honesty now not particularly convincing. It’s just in-fighting rhetoric.

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    1. The Hugos were never fixed until the Puppies did it. But that’s a truth, not their comfy myth. Projection and self-fulfilling prophecies are all they have left.

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  6. It reminded me a lot of a recent article in the Washington Post: ‘Don’t burn the flag’ and 11 more rules for free speech.

    As I read that article, it occurred to me that if you think of the Sad Puppies slating effort as a protest, then it has something in common with flag-burning protests and the NFL “kneeling” protest in the US: in all cases, the protest was so successful at getting attention that it eclipsed the thing the protest was supposed to be about. Instead of discussing the problem of police abuse against African Americans, everyone is discussing whether athletes should have the freedom to protest during a game. Instead of discussing (e.g.) opposition to a war, everyone was discussing whether freedom of speech should include the right to burn the flag. And instead of discussing under-representation of conservatives in SFF, everyone was discussing how to prevent small, dedicated minorities from hijacking the nomination process. A good protest should attract attention to the message, not bury it.

    My favorite in that article, though, was principle #10: “Read charitably. Speak charitably.” People who deliberately put the worst possible spin on the things others say make it almost impossible to have civil discussions online.

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    1. I suspect you could have said that about all the anti-war protests and civil rights protests during the 1960s. In fact people did say that–why are they stirring up trouble? Don’t they know they’ll make things worse? Walking into whites’ only buildings just angers people! Can’t they wait for a better time instead of making things tense?

      And of course, the media are fond of focusing on the outrageous. Feminists didn’t burn their bras but one protest threw them into a trash can, a writer joked that burning them would be the equivalent of burning draft cards and presto! An image was born and refused to die. Playing nice won’t necessarily help with that.

      Regarding the column, McArdle has never lived by “don’t start talking if you aren’t prepared for people to talk back” and “be prepared to be wrong” are rules she never follows. She was pro-Iraq War; when the war proved a disaster, she had a screeching rant about how DARE anyone say she was wrong, just because she was, you know, wrong. When she also took flak a decade ago for predicting there’d be no housing collapse she had a fit again (if you’re not infallible, how dare you criticize her for making mistakes! You’ve made them too!).

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    2. “Instead of discussing the problem of police abuse against African Americans, everyone is discussing whether athletes should have the freedom to protest during a game.”

      That was absolutely deliberate. The Republicans, led by Trump, deliberately, maliciously twisted the controversy to whether Athletes kneeling during the anthem were “disrespecting the flag” and “disrespecting veterans” instead of letting themselves focus on the real issue. They successfully perverted the protests to further their racism.

      The problem with treating the puppies’ tantrums as a protest is that they had nothing to protest over. Their entire grievance is a sham, concocted as a way to explain to themselves why they didn’t win awards they saw going to people they considered their social inferiors. Racism, sexism and toxic entitlement are the real roots of their resentment, but of course they can’t allow themselves to admit that.

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      1. Just feel the need to point out something, despite my agreement with this comment in its substance: two of the criticisms the Pups made are (grossly distorted versions of) ones that have also been made by people pretty far to the left of the field/fandom’s center. Broken clocks, right? One I won’t go into here because it’s somewhat outside my lane, but the other is structural.

        What the Pups identified as some sort of SJW cabal controlling the field seems silly on its surface, but only because of the idea that imperialist behaviors can ever be leftist. (Something the blog author said on another post about the distant horizon problem — in which you’re so far on the political fringes that you can’t distinguish, say, socialism from milquetoast USian Democrat — seems relevant here.) But this industry really is very highly centralized, with the power to allocate resources concentrated in the hands of a very few powerful people. Mostly male, and virtually entirely white — though imo even the same structure with a more diverse group would be only marginally healthier.

        I mostly know short fiction, so just for an example, take a look at the field’s “best of” anthologies and see to what extent their editors are selecting their own and *each other’s* original editorial work. It’s incestuous and unhealthy for the tastes of such a tiny group of people to so utterly dominate the field.

        Now, were the Pups arguing for decentralization, as opposed to a set of overlords that were friendlier to them, specifically and individually? Perhaps mileage varied there, IDK, though hijacking a fan award seems to not exactly indicate the former. But I do tend to feel the need to point out that the Puptroversy obfuscates what are imo big problems.

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      2. I think you are right – there are groupings and power structures in play. Some of it is the inevitable impact of international capitalism on any social grouping, some of it is just the way supportive friendship groups can have a negative excluding effect on others. The publishing industry has some powerful gatekeepers and even the less high powered world of the pro- and semi-prozines creates loci of power on a few editors (not intended to imply they are abusing that power, just that it exists).

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      3. @ Jessica: “The problem with treating the puppies’ tantrums as a protest is that they had nothing to protest over. Their entire grievance is a sham, ”

        I agree. And this was amply demonstrated by several writers who took a lot of time out of their busy schedules to write multiple long essays with specific concrete numbers and examples to point out to the Puppies that their stated grievances were inaccurate. GRRM and Eric Flint immediately come to mind as two people who invested a lot of time and energy in pointing out factual information and analyses to the Puppies in a very civil and fair way. And the Puppies reacted very badly to this.

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      4. They accused authors and publishers of lying, conspiracy and fraud with no evidence. They made wilder and wilder accusations. They wanted to hurt people.

        They drafted authors and artists onto their voting slate — a political campaign against supposed left-wing skullduggery — without their knowledge and consent, which is where they lost any sympathy from me. They labelled those authors far-right conservatives as part of that political campaign, with full knowledge that this was not always the case, messing with the authors’ brands. When some of the authors tried to get off the slate, they retaliated, harassing them, lying, and making wild accusations again. They wanted to hurt people.

        They recruited and unleashed Gamergaters on the authors they didn’t like, knowing full well that the Gamergater movement had caused women to leave their homes on advice from the FBI over serious death threats and at least one bomb threat. They wanted the votes and they didn’t care if any of the people they made accusations about became endangered. They wanted to hurt people.

        They made homophobic and aggressive slurs and screeds about LGBTQA authors and artists. That’s something I take very personally because of my family. They wanted to hurt people.

        One of them illegally swatted a SF icon and WorldCon and the others did little to condemn it and defended against criticism of this person. Recently, that person and others attempted to swat and seriously harm an author’s family based on several easily disproven lies. During that attack, they also made homophobic remarks and accusations. They wanted to hurt people.

        I keep a loose eye on some Puppy coverage like Cam’s blog posts for the same reason I do with Trump — I’m worried about people getting killed and badly harmed from these campaigns and I can’t believe they’re still at it. They’ve clung to Sanderson like a barnacle, though I don’t think he particularly wants much to do with them, so having one defend Sanderson, even if he’s doing something “liberal,” and doing so by trotting out old lies about what happened with Gallo — color me not impressed. I agree with the actions over words theorem at this point — this is not “movement.” And I sincerely doubt the Puppies give two hoots about Shannon Hale and others who have dealt with an enormous amount of abuse and threats simply for trying to get a convention to have a consistent code of conduct that does not discriminate against women and sexual harassment victims.

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      5. The question isn’t whether the cause is just. The question is whether the tactic is effective. If you believe in a cause, you shouldn’t use counterproductive tactics. Not unless it’s part of a grand strategy of some kind.

        Maybe it’ll be clearer if I give an example of a case where deliberately counterproductive tactics succeeded.

        I was part of an extensive set of protests against the filming of the movie “Basic Instinct” in San Francisco back in the early 1990s. At a meeting a whole year before filming started, we all agreed that protesting it would increase the box office for the movie, and the more successful the protests, the biggest the box-office boost would be. But our goal was to draw attention to the injustice of Hollywood films always making LGBT characters either bad or pathetic. Objects of fear, contempt, or even horror. “Basic Instinct” featured a “Lesbian Psycho Killer” (actually she was bi), it starred Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone, so it was a big target.

        We went into it eyes open. We got great press, almost all of it very clear about why we were protesting.

        The movie was a huge success, helped in no small part by all our protesting. It was also the last of its kind. Filmmakers couldn’t get name actors to agree to appear in that sort of film after that. So it was a tactical defeat, but a huge strategic victory.

        The key thing was, we always got our message out. I don’t think the NFL protesters are accomplishing that. People see it as a free-speech issue, not a black-lives-matter issue. The protest tactic has eclipsed the message, and that’s sad because it’s a very worthy message.

        One can argue that the Puppies had an unworthy cause (I would certainly agree with that), but that’s not why their effort failed. People saw it as being about rigging the Hugo Awards, not conservatives being excluded. Larry’s tactic eclipsed his message. That’s the similarity I see.

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      6. The football player protests were dying down. The whole thing was morphing into the fight over blackballing players until Trump stuck his nose in. (Discovery in the Kaepernick lawsuit has been interesting.)

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      7. “…that’s not why their effort failed. People saw it as being about rigging the Hugo Awards…”

        No, the puppies’ efforts failed because sufficient people understood that they were lying, and because Fen take a very dim view of being manipulated for any reason.

        People see the football protests as a free speech issue because their opponents successfully twisted the discussion, not because their tactics failed. Their tactics were working until the racists changed the narrative.

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  7. Pixlaw, she’s the author of the piece. A libertarian/worshipper of the rich who constantly falls upward despite minimum talent and generally bullshit views (poor people are responsible for their own poverty! It is worse for a rich person to lose their job than a poor person! Rich people are completely justified in shutting talented lower class people out to prevent competition!). Many of which she changes whenever convenient.

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  8. “The key thing was, we always got our message out. I don’t think the NFL protesters are accomplishing that. People see it as a free-speech issue, not a black-lives-matter issue. The protest tactic has eclipsed the message, and that’s sad because it’s a very worthy message.”

    Naw, they were quite effective in terms of long term strategy, but not, as you note for the Basic Instinct protests, short term tactical — Kaepernick paid for it with his job as the logi of retaliation on the controlling right. But they weren’t doing it for the Trump folks who were going to see and cast any protest by black players as illegitimate and unpatriotic, no matter what form that protest took. Any protest by black people in any form in the U.S. is considered by the majority of white people in the U.S. as illegitimate, extremist, dangerous, disrepectful and unpatriotic. Because it’s calling out the white supremacy of American society and white supremacy must be defended as the just and true (and invisible) power base at all costs, etc.

    What the protest did, as it spread, was strengthen the overall leverage of black players in the NFL, especially as numerous coaches and some major executives supported the protests, and it brought up a lot of issues in the leagues that will make improvements longer term. It also more importantly forced other Americans, (who can be more swayed by cultural shifts,) to face the reality that even famous, big, rich black athletes could be as affected by judicial and police prejudice as poor urban black folk — it cut into that white supremacy lie/myth in the society that justice system reform was unnecessary, that it was just a poor criminal black person problem. When black celebrities and wealthy people speak out about racism, they get tremendous kickback because they are cutting into the myth that supports white supremacy, but it has an impact because it makes a lot of people uneasy and a lot of those people adjust their attitudes less towards white supremacy to ease the discomfort. (Which is part of how we got marriage equality, etc.)

    So even though the conservatives bray that it’s about the troops and a lot of Americans will claim to believe it because that’s convenient, the discomfort of the protest by highly valued athletes — and seeing Koerpernick punished for it — is going to create long wave shifts. They made him a martyr of sorts — and that has a cultural impact:

    https://www.thefalcoholic.com/2018/6/4/17416856/ajc-atlanta-falcons-have-embraced-colin-kaepernicks-campaign-to-improve-racial-injustice-kneel

    https://thegrapevine.theroot.com/ava-duvernay-developing-comedy-series-based-on-colin-ka-1826537335

    The protest also supported and helped Black Lives Matter and other black organizations that are pushing for judicial reform, increasing minority police officers and other black civil rights issues. It showed black Americans that their prominent members (black athletes,) were mostly backing them, even if white team owners were not, which increases their engagement in civil rights and community development efforts, helped BLM boost fund-raising, and get more meetings with officials and so on. There are two reactions to the discomfort of bigotry and discrimination being challenged to make the discomfort go away: 1) violent retaliation and threats to keep the status quo bigotry and make protests silenced; and 2) attempts to improve things to be less discriminatory, both individually and at a social/legal level. We’ve had both from the athletic protest.

    Trump dragging it out plays to his base, but we don’t care about his base on this particular issue. His base are the 18-30% of the population that will remain deeply anti-civil rights, frequently anti-intellectual, frequently theocratic and authoritarian with a white supremacy base. They regularly elect politicians who hurt them and destroy their children’s futures for the chance to punish black Americans and support their own superior identity. They’ll mouth any opinion as long as it’s for their side and against black people who challenge bigotry. (See the Kentucky high school valedictorian who gave a quote about fighting for a seat at the table, said it was by Donald Trump and while they clapped and cheered, told them it was actually from Obama, causing them to fall into confused silence. It wasn’t the content of the quote they cared about — it was about whether it was from someone they believe represents their interests and power in the society.) These people have been studied extensively long before 2016, and the studies all turn up white supremacy and white anxiety as the basis of Trump’s main support.

    It’s the other 60-70% we’re working on, while holding off the horrible 18 percenters takeover and abuse of the law as much as possible. And in that area, the protests were effective. But the full long term effects we don’t fully know yet. There are essentially two fronts that go on regarding civil rights. There is the big struggle with Trump and Congressional and state Republicans doing everything from voter suppression to Trump declaring himself king yesterday — and that’s the overall, very scary one and it has cost people lives, jobs and families. And then there is the front of hundreds of tiny shifts that you will see socially and culturally and then extend legally and economically. And the athletic protests led by Kaerpernick had a big impact on that.

    That’s also why the cons freak out over Star Wars movies with female leads, and the “homosexual agenda being shoved down our throats” normalizing gay people as equal people, and all the other stuff. Because they know it’s a cultural shift that will affect bigger legal issues and their unequal power base. That’s why the Parkland students and the mass organizing going on among high school students scares the stuffing out of them. When they talk about being “censored,” they aren’t being censored — it’s just a cultural shift that means their message doesn’t get a happy reception from most and is called out as bigoted and destructive even when that’s dangerous to do. Kaerpernick silently taking a knee — which is both a callback to the protests of the black civil rights movement and to protesting veterans as well — is an image they couldn’t erase, and you better believe it had a big impact on young black athletes. A lot of the NFL owners showed white supremacy on full display — but not all of them. And it wasn’t a good look for most people. So short term, tactical loss. Long term strategy, big gains.

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