Ordinary Times Is Currently A Left “Liberaltarian,” Mainly Cultural Site

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If there is a consistent political stance or, if you will, “view of the site” detectable at OT, it is not, I believe, an especially “conservative” one, as at least one commenter has argued. Nor is it, as has also been suggested a simply “liberal” or “leftist” politics. I would contend that the site’s implicit, or perhaps immanent, political stance amounts instead to a committed if somewhat diffuse, not wholly intentional or consciously sought, left “liberaltarianism.” I also would argue, however, that the political philosophy that OT means to express, or that its editors, writers, and commenters want to express, and think they express, and that they say they want the site to embody, would be something different yet again.

The term “liberaltarian” was apparently coined by Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute, writing in 2006. Lindsey’s essay is worth re-reading, not least for its success at capturing a peculiar inflection point in American politics, but the Urban Dictionary’s presumably much more recently written “top definition” of the term may be easier for us to apply and adjust:

Liberaltarian[ism]: A political philosophy that combines Liberalism and Libertarianism. Liberaltarians are usually left on fiscal issues, such as healthcare and tax policy, and libertarian on issues such as drug and prostitution legalisation. They often do not believe in some social liberal ideas such as affirmative action, smoking bans and hate crimes. They are usually anti war, as both liberalism and libertarianism are, and pro-same sex marriage. Liberaltarians exist in the USA as well as other countries.

The reason that I attach “left” to the term in relation to OT is that I believe the commitment of some leading contributors – both in the posts and in comments – to certain left and indeed illiberally left positions, and modes of argument, generally overcomes residual libertarian opposition, and in a way that may both explain and be explained by the departure from the site or radical reduction in activity of many of its self-identified libertarian writers and commenters. To use the Urban Dictionary’s example, I believe OT writers and commenters are in fact unlikely to offer a focused attack on “affirmative action” and “hate crimes” legislation on political-theoretical grounds (I’m not sure that they ever have done so), even if they maintain strong libertarian biases on other topics – such as domestic surveillance.1

In the open thread under Editor-in-Chief Tod Kelly’s “note” concerning the state of OT, contributor and frequent commenter Chris offered the opposite view (already linked at the outset, linked here again), arguing that OT tilts conservative, and rather overwhelmingly: “[The site’s] front-pagers,” wrote Chris, “range primarily from the conservative (e.g., MacLeod, Dodds, Truman, Dwyer, Bath, Sanders) to the moderately socially liberal but otherwise fairly conservative centrists (e.g., Kelly, Likko), with one regularly posting run-of-the-mill liberal (Degraw), and more right leaning libertarians to round out the range (e.g., Jaybird).” Contrary to the implication of Chris’s statement, however, there is no reasonable justification for describing Ordinary Times as a “conservative” site or as “primarily… conservative to fairly conservative,” at least by any generally in use or mainstream definition of the word “conservative.” Anyone saying so would have us believe that “conservative” or “right wing” includes those who adopt, advocate, and celebrate socially progressive positions, in some part apparently in an effort to ingratiate themselves with left-liberals and to move the right further to the left, while doing nothing to advance or even explain identifiably conservative ideas, projects, political candidates, or cultural figures, whether out of personal reluctance or whether out of fear of reactions from their actual audience or its most vocal and excitable members. If the overall effect or product – the real OT before you, available for viewing to anyone able and willing to scan and surf and think – can still be called “conservative” under some very broad or abstract political-philosophical concept or theory, it will not be what most people in internet-political life think of as “conservative,” and it will also raise fundamental questions about what, by this mode of definition, “progressive” or “left” or whatever we wish to call the alternative or alternatives is supposed to signify.

In other words, as I intend to show, to refer to the site as conservative without careful and explicit qualification, is misleading, if not disingenuous, and, regardless of how else OT should be categorized ideologically, or whether it can or should be ideologically characterized at all, to associate it generically or even inadvertently with the current or real existing conservative movement in America, or with the real existing American political right, is a disservice to the site as a whole and to the people who contribute to and visit it.

Whether the site will simply reduce to “liberal” or “functionally left-liberal” may in fact be a more salient question than whether it can reasonably be called “conservative.” A self-identified conservative effectively pushed off this site (if not for his political views as such) recently reminded me of “O’Sullivan’s Law,” which holds that “any organization or enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time.” As the more heavily libertarian early history of the site fades further into the past, O’Sullivan may well be proven correct, at least for American conservative definitions of “left wing,” even if the skew does not ever fully satisfy the latter-day Maoists among us.

Rather than pursue such speculation further, however, this post will instead focus in detail on the first contention, on the question of the site’s actual political stance, for the sake of clearing the way for a later exploration of the second, on the stance or the approach to political stances that the whole community wants to or should take. Neither may mean much to the outside world, of course, nor even interest most site regulars, from Editor-in-Chief to silent lurker, but to whatever extent anything we do here matters or potentially matters at all, even merely to ourselves as individuals, nothing matters more. To proceed under a distorted or absent self-understanding threatens to turn the entire project into at best a “mindless diversion,” an unintelligible presentation of unmatched fragments building toward nothing but hurt feelings, wasted time, and, rather commonly, self-undermining self-congratulation over the escape by a few “honored alumni” to “bigger and better things” – to things, in other words, and by telling contrast, that we do believe may matter.

Convergingly, to argue by false characterization of the other’s views and therefore of the other, rather than by addressing views actually expressed, is a disreputable tactic, one frequently deployed by those pretending to assess the ideological state of this site or the views of those who post or comment at it: This mode of pseudo-argumentation produces heat and noise rather than debate and discussion, with a tendency toward making things “personal.” In a discussion about a common project, the result will be the familiar ridiculous spectacle of ever more vicious and yet ever more trivial insistence on the need for a more collegial and significant discussion.

***

“Front-pager,” the term Chris used when he listed OT’s supposedly conservative main authors, goes back to the site’s bygone League of Ordinary Gentlemen era. At that time, a front-pager was someone who enjoyed unfettered and effectively unfiltered ability to post directly to the site’s (or “multi-site”‘s) main landing page, and who could also write posts exclusively for his or her semi-independent, smaller-audience sub-blog.2 Chris probably meant “post authors” or possibly authors of featured posts – groups that happen to include Chris himself, though this fact is one that Chris, who self-identifies as on the left if not on the far left, oddly failed to mention. Yet whatever definition Chris had in mind, we can still use his list and descriptions as a starting point, and we will discover that the selection is flawed in two ways: It fails to account for views actually expressed – or wholly absent – in writing at OT by those individuals, and it ignores other OT writers who deserve the title of “front-pager” at least as much as they do, and who by any reasonable standard count as “left” or “left-liberal” in outlook.

ca. 2.5% political

ca. 2.5% political

Take for example the individual Chris first named, “MacLeod.”

This MacLeod person is someone I’ve never met and about whom in fact I know little – except that, as was recently pointed out to me, he or she is said to have been “hounded” off the site, and has been the subject of at least one coarse epithet applied to him or her in the comment threads.3 I can, however, like anyone else, look up the MacLeod archive, and, after a reasonably close examination of his or her 21 going on 22 archived posts, discover that he or she has never posted a post expressing a political view on anything at all. MacLeod once provided a thread for reactions to a Republican debate which he or she admitted mostly not having watched, treating the event as infotainment mainly for others. All of his or her other posts have focused on site operations/development or have consisted of brief, politically uninvested “Off the Cuff” posts.4 The one arguable exception on the matter of political-ideological expression is MacLeod’s post on the popular “mystery person” site avatar, which he suggested ought to be replaced by an avatar of some possible color.

Seems altogether suspiciously leftish to me, actually, but I can draw no firm is-he-or-she-now-or-has-he-or-she-ever-been-a-member conclusions from that information.

At this point one of CK MacLeod’s many leftwing commenter fans, if any have read this far, may already be preparing to call him, or me, out for disingenuousness of my own, but the fact remains that this CK of whom they sometimes speak is not someone I recognize. Not just in terms of his posting output, but in terms of his much more extensive commenting history, the views often assigned to him and the views he states do not in my examination coincide.5 Those interested further in the fascinating subject of my political-ideological affinities, if any, can either check my above-linked archives or my below-linked personal blog, but, as far as OT goes, CK MacLeod the “front-pager”‘s political profile is NULL or very close.

As for the other supposedly “conservative” or “fairly conservative” or “right-leaning” writers Chris mentions, CK MacLeod wonders whether a single post by any of them can be found that a typical reader of RedState-HotAir-Townhall-Human Events-NRO-Commentary-Powerline-Breitbart-Free-Beacon-Weekly Standard-Ace of Spades-GatewayPundit-Instapundit-Liberty Unyielding etc., or a typical Fox News viewer, would find politically sympathetic. In my observation, to the actually and perhaps surprisingly small extent that any of the authors Chris names, or any other OT front-pager, does express political views on any contentious topics of the day, in posts as well as in comments, they have for the most part taken left liberaltarian or simply anti-conservative stances, especially regarding race or racism and marriage equality and other “social issues,” but on many other topics as well:

  • More on OT Editor-in-Chief Tod Kelly below, but we can observe some I believe quite typical output: He seems to be a fan of Ta-Nehisi Coates (see also “Free At Last…” and various comments at OT and elsewhere.), he called the former Mt. McKinley “A Mountain of White Privilege, and he has declared opponents of marriage equality objective bigots.6
  • In a major post, one of a number expressing the same general view, OT Managing Editor Burt Likko invited us to celebrate Obergefell as the glory of the coming of the Atheist anti-Lord, approximately.7 In other posts on “hot” political topics, he has written against the death penalty, in favor of abortion rights, and against Obama policy toward the Islamic State in effect from the left, on anti-war or anti-interventionist principle.
  • I had no idea how OT Contributing Editor Vikram Bath would vote on anything or anyone if he voted, but I have been informed via email that he in fact does not vote and is not registered to vote. Nor do I recall him ever entering into a political debate in the threads – although one time he did (confoundingly to me) back longtime contributor Sam Wilkinson’s illiberal left views on political discussion.8 He also has described himself as a “huge fan” of Coates, incidentally (though is not an uncritical huge fan, as the linked post will show). As a perusal of his author archive will immediately reveal, on the rare occasions that Bath does address political issues, it will be as often to back a common left-liberal position as to oppose it. He did once argue against the Democratic line on the Senate “torture report” of 2014 – but it was “Opposite Day.”
  • OT Contributing Editor Will Truman does describe himself as of “the right,” but his output, especially recently, is dominated by apolitically culture-oriented link aggregation posts and by personal stories of his life as a father-homemaker. He frequently discusses political news, but rarely from any readily apparent or strongly stated ideological slant.
  • Longtime OT and League contributor Dennis Sanders rarely posts at all anymore, but when he does it is frequently to call on Republicans and/or social conservatives and/or Southern conservatives to repent for their racist and homophobic sins, seek political forgiveness, and sin no more – see, typically, “Dear Straight Republicans,” “Stars, Bars and Me,” and “Tiny Violins9
  • New contributor Roland Dodds describes himself as a “conservative socialist,” and just by saying so has instantly removed and excluded himself from the ranks of “American political conservatives” of the RedState, etc., type. (My further guess would be that he voted for Obama twice, but it’s only a guess.) His post and comments reveal a thoughtful man whose views are, as he says, “in flux,” and which draw from both right and left.
  • Jaybird, by far and away the most active commenter in the history of OT and the League (over 18,000 comments), posts nearly exclusively on cultural topics in regular Weekend!, Saturday!, and Sunday! columns focusing on “Mindless Diversions” – games, TV shows, movies, books – always ending with an invitation to commenters to share their own favorite distractions of the moment. He also puts out a regular Fantasy Football column, and has paused occasionally over the last year to comment on theology, picky eating, and copyright law. Unless the question “So.. what are you playing?” is to be construed as a right-leaning question, I see little justification for assigning Jaybird, at least as a “front-pager,” any political bias at all.
  • Finally, as for longtime OT and League of Ordinary Gentlemen contributor Mike Dwyer, who somewhat got this public self-reflection project started, he probably comes closest of the group (not saying much) to being a “conventional conservative,” if only because he wrote a short post in June, after the Charleston mass shooting, that asked about mental health issues rather than gun control, and that received a response that he experienced as so one-sidedly negative it led him, he says, to quit the site for four months (something of a mental health break of his own). He returned only, as of this writing, to post a closed-comments open letter begging for ideological space. I would be remiss not to note that he has been subjected to accusations of racism in the comment threads10 by individuals secure in the knowledge that he will neither defend himself nor be forcefully defended. The latter expectation is, to say the least, hardly typical of a “conservative” site.

Based on my experience, my strong belief is that, if these writers presented their work to the internet right, most would be identified as adversaries and perhaps accused of “concern trolling,” not published and asked for more.

OT has, however, featured several posts that might be welcomed by leftwing ideologues – posts that not only, as above, take a leftish line on events and issues, but that excoriate those who do not do so. The most striking examples of openly leftwing posts of this type in recent months have been by Sam Wilkinson11 and by Jonathan McLeod12, directly adopting familiar left-liberal and far left positions especially on (hetero-)sexism and racism. We have also had guest posts of the same type.13  14

Apart from OT Editor Likko’s already-noted, unusual anti-interventionist intervention, foreign policy-related posts have become scarce over the last year or two at OT, but the effect is that the common liberaltarian or left and libertarian fusionist or simply neo-isolationist critique of American security policy at home and abroad, as enunciated much more extensively by League writers in the pre-OT period, remains the never-contradicted site position. Anyone seeking evidence on OT liberaltarian foreign policy bias can perform a Google site-search – “site:ordinary-gentlemen.com” in combination with any major terms of foreign and security policy debate – drones, torture, NSA, Snowden, Syria, Iraq, and so on. The view of the site will I think be obvious, if not quite as a matter of perfect consensus.

Among new writers, in addition to Dodds, we have Richard Hershberger, who mainly writes on “culture” broadly defined, but from his comments does appear to be left-liberal-leaning or all the way leaned. I will refrain from commenting in detail on zic, how she was invited onto OT staff and how she, apparently, dropped out it by her own choice, but she is or was demonstratively, indeed insistently, left-progressive in her views. Jon Rowe, a business professor by trade, is clearly not aligned with Chris or with Wilkinson and J. McLeod, but he is far from a conventional RedState-NRO-Breitbart-Fox News conservative (for further, see below). Saul deGraw is an openly left-liberal “New Dealer” (his former commenting moniker) and urban cosmopolitan. Dan Scotto analyzes Republican politics in detail, but the only time that he has (tentatively) discussed his own conservative or conservative-leaning views on a controversial subject, he was subjected to intense criticism and effectively forced to apologize and retract. (Oddly, that MacLeod person was one of the people asking him to re-consider his argument.)

If anyone finds following and verifying the above too time-consuming, he or she can instead simply take a close look at the site’s front page as at the moment of this writing: Out of the nearly 40 “front page” OT posts on October 13, 2015, AM PDT – whether “featured,” “regular,” or “Off the Cuff” – the only one taking anything resembling a partisan view on a conventional political topic is one by Jon Rowe that strongly criticizes a leading social conservative for statements opposing marriage equality. The closest anyone else comes to emphasizing any conventionally “political” positions are in the following two posts: “Letter to the Community” by Mike Dwyer, already referenced, and “Stop Making Excuses for the Internet” by EIC Kelly – the latter arguing in effect for the same thing Dwyer requested: intellectual and emotional space for a multiplicity of views – although, unusually for Kelly, he uses as his Exhibit A a piece of illiberal leftism on gun control rather than some example of “epistemic closure” on the Fox News right.

Has there ever been a post at Ordinary Times (never mind the League, for now) that has defended Republican national security, economic, or social policy as such? With the possible exception of Scotto’s post mentioned above, has Ordinary Times ever published a post that treated social or movement conservative views on “choice,” marriage equality, immigration, defense spending, affirmative action, taxes, the War on Terror, climate change, and so on, sympathetically at all – much less truly supportively? Has any “front-pager” at OT ever written positively on neo-conservatives, social conservatives, Ronald Reagan, George W Bush, the Tea Party, or representative conservative social-cultural figures? Has OT hosted any significant and sustained criticism of major left-liberal political-cultural institutions, figures, projects, or tendencies? I do not think so, but maybe someone else can show us more than a typical exception or two along these lines.

The site even changed its very name from “League of Ordinary Gentlemen” to “Ordinary Times,” largely in order to deflect and, or so it was hoped, to help address “diversity” concerns: a rather more typically left-liberal than right-conservative priority and concession.15 The general pattern also repeats itself, awkwardly and not always very successfully, whenever a visitor or would-be contributor from a diversity-valuable constituency identifies zerself by whatever means. There may have been no site in all of virtual creation where someone with the right ethno-political credentials has been more likely to receive a warm welcome and free rein than at poor, misunderstood OT.

***

The effects of OT’s anti-conservative or conservative-hostile, though not uniformly pro-left, bias may be most obvious in comment thread discussions – content as well as conduct. I will leave detailed analysis of OT discussion possibly to some other time16, but perhaps someone who cares to differ on the larger theme can point to the last time, if ever, that some group of self-identified conservatives singled out, ganged up on, and sought to silence, drive away, or ban a stubbornly progressive commenter – a course of events that has become almost common in the OT threads when the political labels are reversed, but that seems for the usual reason, human nature, hardly to register at all, much less as unseemly and cowardly conduct, with the perpetrators. My belief is that the only way in which the threads could be thought to compensate for OT’s obvious and consistently elaborated anti-conservative tendencies would be if those commenters who advance alternatives to left-liberal perspectives typically get the better of emergent debates, even when outnumbered three or four or more to one. I will not be sitting in suspense waiting for a left-liberal commenter to make that argument.

Beyond reviewing the threads, I invite any “OG”17 who cares to do so to look at the site archives in more detail than I have done above, as a worthy exercise in self-auditing, but specifically for the purpose of empirically testing the components of my thesis – especially the observation that this site may or may not qualify as liberaltarian, as liberal or left-liberal, or as impossible to define, but that it is is far from “conservative” by any conventional, contemporary American-political definition of the term. If further investigation does happen to show the site to be more open to some version of contemporary “movement conservatism” or any other type of conservatism than an ideologically leftwing site would normally be, then that conclusion would imply only that OT is not a simply left progressive site either.18

In the meantime, 1 for 40 strikes me as a low political batting average: The question may be less whether OT is, or can or should be, a politically conservative site, or a liberaltarian site, or a left or liberal site, but whether it is, or can or should be, a political site at all. If my answer, that the site as currently constituted is a left liberaltarian and mainly cultural site – produced mainly but not exclusively by and mainly but not exclusively for “ordinary gentlemen” – is correct or close enough, then the next question for us would be, obviously, whether we like it that way, and, if not, whether there is anything to be done about it.


Notes:

  1. Whether “same sex marriage” is properly a libertarian proposal is a complex question, but the alternative to marriage equality legislation most frequently embraced at the site is “government out of the marriage business entirely,” not “Defense of Marriage.” []
  2. A sub-blog or multi-site structure does more naturally support a variety of strongly held, ideologically contrary views, and for that reason the editors are considering a return to something like the old one developed for the League. []
  3. I’m not sure why we’re even talking about this “asshole.” []
  4. One consisting of links to articles on the meaning of China’s stock market crash, presenting contrasting views; one briefly noting the existence of a TV adaptation of From Dusk Til Dawn; one linking to a speculative article in The Economist imagining a President Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first 100 days; and one consisting of a quote about Ulysses S Grant from a book Gentleperson MacLeod happened to be reading about Soviet military theory. []
  5. A certain type of commenter presumes that a view on an issue – evolution, marriage equality, American foreign policy, and so on – cannot be examined sympathetically by someone who does not hold it, or hold it simply, and is not mainly concerned with advancing the interests of those who do. This view is the view of an ideologue who projects assumptions about his or her own political and intellectual life onto everyone else, or who treats them as the sole universals in a universe otherwise devoid of them. The latter belief or position, that ideology is ineluctable, not just as a difficulty or tendency of thought, but as universal determinant of political discussion and eventually any discussion whatsoever, is associated with, or properly understood defines, “historicism,” and is sometimes also identified as typically “post-modern.” An alternative tradition treats thoroughly understanding the “other side” or the other person’s view, from the other person’s perspective, stated as strongly and completely as it can be, as the first objective of any authentic discussion, and a pre-condition for any truly meaningful one. []
  6. You can’t reasonably be against [gay rights and same-sex marriage] without thinking that gays are somehow lesser and deserving of fewer rights and privileges than the rest of us. You can tell yourself you can, but you can’t.” []
  7. Emphasis in the original: “You might fall in love with and want to marry someone of the same sex as yourself at some point. You can, now, and to do so is so obviously a good thing as future generations shall wonder that this was ever so contentious an issue at all. Or perhaps you will never marry someone of the same sex — even so, you should still celebrate that we achieved a bit of our national ideals. America showed herself at her very best this Friday. I’m told that this weekend sees Pride festivals all over the country. We all should be proud.” []
  8. Or, rather, on the pointlessness of political discussion pursued as authentic discussion, since Wilkinson was, typically, seeking to justify a general practice of ad hominem attack on political enemies. []
  9. In my case, my desire for civility is not because [social conservatives] deserve it, but because I don’t want to act like they have to people like myself.” []
  10. …including in the comment by Chris with which I began this post, also in a recent statement by commenter Brit. []
  11. [T]hose opposed to gay marriage are bigots motivated by their hatred of gays. Principled [!] opposition to gay marriage is always revealed to be nothing more than an expression of the individual’s discomfort with gay people…” []
  12. You can disavow misogyny and chauvinism, declare yourself a defender of equal rights and still fall into the traps that our inherently sexist society sets out. It takes vigilance to see and try to avoid these traps, and it is dreadfully important to call them out when others fall in.” []
  13. I have yet to hear an argument in opposition to same-sex marriage rights that is not, on some level, and insult to gays and lesbians.” []
  14. Black America is rioting, justly so [!], and will continue to do so until we have righted the wrongs.” []
  15. The domain name, however, still stands, but I believe its days are numbered or may soon be. []
  16. The notion, however, that the site might be on the verge of closing comments I find bizarre – considering the amount of work, with the support of the editors, that has been devoted to developing the comment threads in the interests of enhancing and extending discussion. []
  17. For the uninitiated: Ordinary Gentleperson. []
  18. An offer of further discussion should not be taken as a promise to engage with interlocutors given to foully personal invective and name-calling, and unalterable, falsely or misleadingly and uncharitably subjective assertions. []

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158 thoughts on “Ordinary Times Is Currently A Left “Liberaltarian,” Mainly Cultural Site

  1. One of the most frustrating things about TvD, back in the day, was his tendency to defend a position tooth and nail, without ever so much as hinting at an alternative position with which he agreed, and then get upset that people figured he must agree with it. Basically he told us that the TvD people were referring to wasn’t a TvD he recognized.

    That said, apparently you missed the rest of the discussion. I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to position this site on the left-right axis. It feels to the “right” to me, because of where I see it from, and it felt to the “left” to TvD, because of where he saw it from. I said this quite explicitly, and it was reiterated by folks like Burt Likko. It’s more conservative than any explicitly liberal site I know, and undoubtedly more liberal than any explicitly conservative site that Tom knows. It’s for this reason that I think the “this site is liberal and chases off conservatives” charge is bullshit, but I don’t think it makes sense to think of it as conservative or liberal in any absolute sense. Also, I meant Scotto, not Dodds in the conservative list (as I noted in a later comment), and I left myself out because I was talking about from where I was sitting ideologically (I was pretty up front about the fact that I was judging it from my ideological position). (Also note I said I think the commentariate is center-left. And that the social views were broadly liberal, though not remarkably so, as indicated by any comment thread on feminism, “SJWs,” etc.).

    • Since you are trying to fairly characterize both the comments and front-pagers, I humbly suggest that you do a survey, similar to the one you’ve done here, of reactions to campus activism and leftism, SJWs/social justice warriors, feminists and feminism, and related things. Exclude me, and see what you think the overall character of the blog is with respect to this, let’s say further leftism (also any comments on socialism would be interesting).
      • Chris,

        I have to ask: Why should I do all of the work around here, and, even more, why should whoever does it exclude you? I view you as one of the site’s strongest illiberal, or anti-liberal left, voices at least in the comment threads. Removing you from that part of the examination would defeat its purpose.

        As for the topics you name, and for “further leftism” in general, my hypothesis is that where they and it tend toward illiberal leftism, they will meet with greater resistance, although I did give several examples of statements that in my view cross the line and by a wide margin, if not for the most part while touching directly on your specific examples. On that note, in response to Mike Schilling elsewhere on this thread, I said I’d have no problem with adding a socialist – or several! – to the site masthead, as a matter of ideology. If, however, they were “movement socialists” of a certain type, who expressed their determination to change the world by rebelling against codes of conduct that they believed stood in the way of progress and justice (as they understand progress and justice), then I couldn’t support including them, or, from my perspective, they would already have excluded themselves from a project committed to free inquiry, or in that sense of the term a “liberal” project.

  2. I believe OT writers and commenters are in fact unlikely to offer a focused attack on “affirmative action” and “hate crimes” legislation on political-theoretical grounds (I’m not sure that they ever have done so)

    It wasn’t a “focused” attack (because I am probably incapable of sustained focus), but my one and only semi-political published piece here expressed discomfort with the idea of hate crime laws, and I elaborated further in the (very good) comments.

    Weirdly, it prompted rare agreement from both righty TVD and lefty Mike Schilling on the wisdom and necessity of said laws.

    • The date on that post is September 29, 2012, when the site was still The League. It became Ordinary Times in the Summer of 2013. One admittedly unfocused criticism of hate crimes laws 3 years ago under the site’s prior manifestation I’ll take as supporting my main argument as to the current state of the site – in short, “liberaltarian drifting left” – but certainly I’ll set it aside and watch for more entries in the “at least somewhat left-liberal-contrary” column.
      • There were a few “hate crimes” conversations in ’09, then Glyph’s, then nothing it appears. It’s hard to tell what people here think. I could probably guess what Sam thinks, and assume that the people who opposed such legislation in ’12 are still against it, but that’s about it.

        The free speech conversations in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings might be more illustrative, since it’s more recent. If that conversation is any indication, support for hate crime laws and other such restrictions on speech is probably pretty limited here.

        I suspect that affirmative action might be different, though it’s been a while since we had a conversation about it here. I can probably guess at some folks: Sam for it, Drew for it, Kazzy probably so, Will against, Jay against, many of the more moderates not particularly fond of it. I know I’m for it, pretty strongly so, and have actually done real-world work in support of non-race neutral programs. I’m not sure what the majority opinion would be, though, of the posters or commenters.

        • For the record I’m all for class based AA but I think race based AA is problematic to put it mildly. Of course I despise legacy admissions as well which is like class based reverse AA.
          • For the record I’m all for class based AA but I think race based AA is problematic to put it mildly.

            Race-based AA is my go-to example of how progressivism and liberalism aren’t exactly the same thing(1), and it’s really doing no one any favours that they have ended up crammed into the same political party, because we get dumb solutions like that.

            Liberal solution to racial differences in education: Making sure that everyone gets equal opportunity in the ‘training for the competition’ level, aka, grade school. I.e., you do something like busing or shift more of the tax burden to the state level so we no longer have one community that’s spending three times as much on education as another.

            Progressive solution to racial differences in education: Offer people that started further back in life a better chance to ‘win the competition’ for college, and apply this at *all* level…it’s just as much a problem that B- white student can go to trade school and learn air conditioning repair (Because their family can support them.), and a black student with the same grades can’t (Because they are having to support their family.), as it is at the *upper* ends of the competition. Or, since a good deal of ‘who can go’ is entirely based on money, just work on *that* problem with free colleges and trade schools (And *actual* free, not ‘somewhat’ free. Like, complete room and board.), and, really, that solves two-thirds of it.

            Two different solutions, both of which could help things, working slightly different directions. Instead, we decided on the dumbass mixed solution: Offer people with different skin colors a better change to ‘win the competition’ to college, causing racist resentment and cast doubts on the skill of all minorities in college…and meanwhile, because it’s so damn expensive, only the middle-class minorities can go anyway. But let’s focus on who gets into Yale instead of the actual problem of minorities having to drop out of school and not being able to even go to trade schools, because having some black students at Yale is nice and flashy.

            1) Please note this is different than the ‘classic liberalism’ idea that libertarians always like to say they hold.

  3. I love this; what a great little summary of the site and its commentators. As for voting for Obama twice, that is true. Although I reluctantly did so the first time around.

    I will comment on this in-depth later when I get a chance to sit down and digest it all.

  4. Completely off-topic – I can see the header picture was taken elsewhere, but recently we were discussing driving across rural Texas, and that is EXACTLY what a lot of it looks like. Miles and miles and miles and miles of that.
    • That’s the height of every tree west of Interstate 35, too, if there are any trees whatsoever.

      I dated a woman once whose parents owned a ranch in Burnet, which is in the hills west of Austin. They had longhorns, and you could see their horns over the trees. Those animals are big, but that ain’t right.

  5. For what it’s worth, there are two Jaybirds. The one in the comments and the one who posts stuff.

    The one who posts stuff has a very different voice than the one in the comments, it seems to me.

    I kinda see the one who posts stuff as being the one who represents the masthead. The ego leashed by the superego, if you will.

    The one in the comments is id.

  6. I largely agree with what you are saying here but I also agree with Chris’ point about how the site seems right-leaning to him from his prospective. Just like TvD and Tim K could accuse the site of being left-leaning or sympathetic.

    These debates seem to happen all the time. Slate Star Codex also debates a lot about whether the site is sympathetic to the left or the right and that site contains posts by open race-realists and neo-reactionaries and they complain that Scott Alexander is too nice to liberals and too hard on them.

    I wonder if this is just part of human nature.

    • It goes without saying that at the midnight of ideological extremism all other cats are gray, and black is the only truth. Those of us at different points on the clock may still pursue distinctions and consider whether they are meaningful, while in fact it was the further- or ultra-left in particular that made a specialty of carefully defining the different shades of gray, as if by moonlight.

      So, of course, the site and almost any site to its left up to the line-correct and line-enunciating mother-site, authentic vanguard of the proletariat, will seem “right,” or perhaps “center right deviationist,” from an ultra-left perspective. Something similar will be true among “true conservatives” and on the “alt-right.” I explicitly note that under some perspectives, this site might qualify as “conservative.” Those perspectives are not perspectives commonly in use, so, in the interest of communication, for the same reason need to be “qualified.”

      In comments of my own (this post in some part follows the brief linked discussion) I have also taken the position that the site ideally, out of its commitment to dialogue or discussion, would always appear to the left of the right and the right of the left, as would any in theory “objective” overall result. However, the commitment to dialogue is a particular commitment whose nature would be the subject of the second contention – and of the question “whither OT?” – that I am arguing we cannot reasonably assess until we’ve cleared the ideological-rhetorical brush out of the way.

    • I never understood why the people who stylize themselves as “race realists” or “human biodiversity” thought they were fooling people. They obviously don’t want to be identified as racist but they want to be able to make racist arguments without being accused of such.
      • I’ve always been confused by the term “racial realism.” Is it analogous to moral realism in that it’s the belief that race is a real, biological thing as opposed to a purely social construct, or is it a claim that they have realistic beliefs about what can be achieved in terms of racial integration and their opponents do not?
          • Heh. I would have guessed the other. Or, really, I would have guessed both, but that the first was so obvious to them that they didn’t need to mention it.

            I’ve never quite send any racist actually address the fact that race is just some stuff we made up.

            Do they actually have some sort of coherent pseudo-scientific argument about that? How do they address the fact that, at least in the US, it’s nearly impossible to accurately guess percentages of genetic heritage based on skin color, because genes do not work on the magical *linear* effect everyone seems to think they should? I.e., there can be one person is ‘white’ and yet have 50% African ancestors, whereas someone else who is ‘black’ might only have 12.5%.

            So even if ‘race’ was some real genetic thing, and the various ‘races’ had different abilities…how the hell would that be relevant? Are people supposed to genetically test people before being discriminatory?

            I’m not actually sure I *want* to know their pseudo-science, now that I think of it.

        • Brandon,
          Race doesn’t track with intelligence very well. Temperature, on the other hand…
          (Just to note: Kenya has a very different temperature profile than Ghana — as we develop tools to measure intelligence “remotely” (read using cell phones) it becomes easier to poll the entire world).
  7. I don’t know that there is much here that I disagree with (or at least not very much). But the analysis, impressively in depth though it is, seems… vastly incomplete. This is not a criticism of CK so much as it is an acknowledgement of how impossible it is analyze things like this.

    For example, if you look at my first years here the number of contributors were pretty evenly divided between Con, Lib, and Liber. But the content was not. Since there has never been an editor who decides how many posts supporting X position go up as opposed to how many opposing X position do, it’s a hard thing to parse. Because some of what shows up to CK as “this site favoring liberals” shows up to me as a request for a kind of pro-conservative affirmative action.

    Take TVD. He showed up here pretty much every day. But if you look at how many posts he wrote, it was maybe half a dozen over two or three years, and most of them were OTCs. Saul, to take another example from the other side of the fence, has posted once or twice a week most months. Sometimes people get really harsh with Saul, as they did with Tom, and let him have it with both barrels. Sometimes with both of them the backlash felt merciless and unwarranted. The challenge with this kinds of analysis of a site like this is that Saul will always make the site look like it values his “team’s” posts more than Tom’s. Similarly, it will always appear in the rearview mirror that LoOG valued Jason’s “team” over Tim’s, because Jason was a prolific writer who chose to post on the front page while Tim was very sporadic and almost never chose to post FP.

    Another example is that fact that, because it’s to a certain degree unquantifiable, this analysis doesn’t take the tone of the community into account. I will say I believe that on this site there has a difference in the tone voiced toward dissenters with the different groups. The differences are subtle and again likely unmeasurable, but I think they have an impact on the way the site would be perceived by someone dropping in for the first time.

    The one area that feels simple and uncomplicated to me about LoOG/OT is gay rights. It’s always leaned strongly in one single direction, and the vast preponderance of conservatives and libertarians here have been staunchly pro-gay and lesbian. I have always attributed this to the number of gay men already in the LoOG/OT community prior to SSM being a big political battle. If all of the gay men here had never been here, I suspect it would have shaken out a little differently.

    • “The one area that feels simple and uncomplicated to me about LoOG/OT is gay rights. It’s always leaned strongly in one single direction, and the vast preponderance of conservatives and libertarians here have been staunchly pro-gay and lesbian. I have always attributed this to the number of gay men already in the LoOG/OT community prior to SSM being a big political battle. If all of the gay men here had never been here, I suspect it would have shaken out a little differently.”

      I fully credit the LoG for helping me to change my position on this issue and it was indeed folks like North, Jason and Russell that helped me get there. Seeing them as friends made it impossible for me to not wish for their happiness.

      • I think this is pretty typical, actually. I have noticed over the years that the biggest common denominator of people who are pro-gay rights isn’t actually party or religious affiliation, it’s those people who have friends, family and coworkers who are gay.
    • Why do you think my posts make it seem like my positions are most valued?

      I generally think most of the pushback I get comes from when I write about “non-political” stuff and am going against current movements in pop culture. Interestingly, this is when I am being my most conservative in a sense.

      I also never did anything as deliberately provocative as TvD in many ways.

      • I think it has to do with the frequency of posting. Accurate or not, if someone not well-versed in how things work here sees a great number of posts from you and just a small handful from TVD or Tim, the impression is that your voice is valued and wanted and omnipresent while theirs is something else. Folks who know the site better and frequent the comments will likely see otherwise.

        At least, that is what I took Tod to mean.

        Ultimately, I’m not sure there is anyone here who is seen as lacking value. I mean, maybe Kimmi. But she is an outlier in a number of ways. I think if any regular were to say, “I’m done with this place!” there’d be a chorus of, “No! Stay!” from all angles. I know when I reached a breaking point years back, I was surprised by the level of support for my presence here. Even from folks I would regularly go toe-to-toe with. I think it is one of the site’s greatest strengths. I don’t think anyone wants an echo chamber. I don’t think folks want to chase off folks who disagree with them. I think the extent to which anyone has ever really sought to silence a voice was because of the way in which that individual presented him or herself… not simply what they had to say.

        • a great number of posts from you and just a small handful from TVD or Tim, the impression is that your voice is valued and wanted and omnipresent while theirs is something else

          Right, people are pretty much allowed to post as much or as little (though not zero forever) as they want without the eds getting too involved.

          And as a free internet concern, the site is always as in-need of fresh content as any out there, so if people are complaining there aren’t enough posts on [conservative topic X] [liberal viewpoint Y] [libertarian bugbear Z] [ocelots, macrame and skydiving], the appropriate response to them should be “well then, SUBMIT that s**t!”

      • I’m not talking about how it is valued by the community. I’m saying that in an analysis that judges on the raw number of thing, you vs. Tom make it seem like this site values liberal posts more than conservative posts, when in fact the difference is that one of you writes a lot and the other never did.

        It’s like saying an online bookstore clearly values Ayn Rand’s politics more than John Kennedy O’Toole’s, because they have offer more than a dozen of Rand’s titles but only one of O’Toole’s.

        I think this is one of those areas where I see both sides. I would very much like to see more conservatives* post here, and more of the conservatives we do have post more about politics than they do. On the one hand, I certainly see why most of them that don’t would rather voice those options in a forum where there was more agreement and nodding of heads. (Who wouldn’t want that?) On the other other hand, I’m not going to write their team’s post for them, so…

        • Tod Kelly: Because some of what shows up to CK as “this site favoring liberals” shows up to me as a request for a kind of pro-conservative affirmative action.

          This observation points to the “second contention” – that the adoption of a particular, identifiable ideological position by the site is not actually in keeping with the frequently affirmed intentions of the site’s writers and commenters – and to the larger question of “if so, then what”? If we agree that, for whatever reasons – O’Sullivan’s law in action, or the unrecognized preferences of site users from EIC down, or luck or random motion, or the unvanquishable and inarguable eternal superiority of left-liberalism in the eyes of all good and intelligent people (in effect by definition) – the site has been or has become liberaltarian drifting left-liberal (but mainly “cultural”) then the question remains whether we like it that way, whether we are inclined to do something about it, and what means we are willing to consider if so.

          If the site’s first commitment is to dialogue and discussion, which may imply further ideological commitments, then measures could be considered and taken on that account, not as “affirmative action” for conservatives (of any breed) or anyone else, but out of in interest in “fair play” or what in the previous incarnation of the site we might simply have called being a “gentleman” about things – and part of that does, indeed, touch on “tone,” and imply sacrifices or trade-offs, for instance of the value accorded by some to “self-expression” vs the value accorded by others to consequential exploration of ideas.

          If the site’s primary commitment is political-ideological in a different way – and specifically left-liberaltarian – then that does not necessarily imply closed-mindedness, or necessarily mean that conservatives or illiberal leftists or others would need to be excluded from positions of responsibility or posting privileges, but it would put a different cast on things, and might point to a different line of development.

          • Oh, I think this is all spot on — and underlines my point that all of this is harder to analyze than first appears.

            For example, I believe I can point to the exact moment most of the battle-ready* conservatives that hung out here (as well as those battle-ready “I swear I’m not conservative but I’m going to argue their side of things on every single issue no matter what” conservatives) left this site: It was the second and third week of November, 2012. They pretty much all left within a week of the election results. Most have never returned, and most of the others only show up periodically and only for a moment or two, here and there. The single exception, I believe, was TVD, who left a month or so later when he was taken off the masthead.

            But even knowing that to be true, what does it mean? I’m not sure I know, honestly. I’m not even sure I think that anyone can know.

            I personally believe that had the election gone a different way, many of those that disappeared would still be here. It’s also possible that had the election gone Romney that some or all of the battle-ready left wing here would have left and never returned.

            But even if I am right, I’m not sure I know what that means.

            It might mean that others flexed their muscles and drove them off. It might mean that they found a place that didn’t question their beliefs a more soothing play to hang out. It might mean that they said, “If Obama won, then fish it, I’m done talking politics online,” and they’re all now hanging out on cooking blog comparing recipes.

            I honestly have no idea.

            * As opposed to the non-battle-ready conservatives, who are are pretty much still here.

            • I have partly apprised myself of the LoOG state-of-play post-Election Day 2012. In the interest of honest site self-audit, I think it should be noted that the treatment of TVD culminating in his removal from the masthead may have contributed directly or indirectly to the failure of whichever Rs or cons to return, or the difficulty in replacing them. It’s not only elections that have consequences.

              A thread or site without a strong “battle ready” conservative voice is simply going to be less attractive to most conservatives than a thread or site with at least one, even for those conservatives largely ignorant of the earlier history. In addition, the LoOG’s conduct was noted and discussed by at least one influential conservative at the time, as discussed in his comment section with a former League author (and TVD himself), and the facts or some version of them can be presumed to have filtered out in one way or another to all or almost all past conservative contributors. The effect would have been to put those who considered themselves friends or allies of TVD in the position of having to choose. Wondering if they might find themselves subjected to similar treatment might have made the decision easy – unless they had some reason to value continued LoOG participation very highly.

              In short, It may have felt at the time like a personal or aesthetic or community-standards decision rather than a political decision for the LoOG powers-that-were, but I think it may have ended up being the latter, significantly so, whether intended to be or not.

          • The argument seems to go:

            P1: The range of viewpoints currently represented at OT currently consists of liberalism libertarianism, and various combinations of the two.
            P2: As a site interested in discussions, OT should be looking to expand this range.
            C: We need more conservative posters.

            It’s never a good sign when a term appears in the conclusion but not in either of the premises. There must be some unstated assumption about conservatism being a necessary direction for expansion.

            • The unstated assumption is, really, the same unstated assumption as when someone says it would be a positive to have more African Americans in the discussion, or it would be good to have more Muslims in the discussion.

              The unstated assumption is that anytime you’re having a community discussion that concerns/criticizes/champions/involves [INSERT TRIBE NAME HERE], it is a net positive for [INSERT TRIBE NAME HERE] to have a voice in those discussions.

            • Terms like “liberalism” and “libertarianism” already refer to ideologies in competition, so in that sense the existence of alternatives, of which those commonly known include “conservatism” or conservatisms of different types, is obviously implied in premise P1. The question of conservatism or conservatives has further been explicitly raised by others.
            • Mike,

              I think the unstated assumption is indicated by this comment:

              the site’s turn toward a particular ideological stance and toward the underlying acceptance of taking one on behalf of the site.

              The commentariat is a borg-like consciousness unthinkingly regurgitating “the sites” views. So we’re all liberaltarian because we’re all liberalterian. {{dun-dun-DUNNNN}}

              • I have no idea why you think that is a contribution to this discussion Stillwater. If I hedged my statements with any larger number of acknowledgments of exceptions, or invitations to provide counterevidence, then someone would accusing me of refusing to state my position clearly.

                The commentariat is a borg-like consciousness unthinkingly regurgitating “the sites” views. So we’re all liberaltarian because we’re all liberalterian.

                No one has made any such ridiculous claim.

                • Well, that’s what I think you’re effectively arguing in that above claim about taking “the sites” view of things. Personally, I have no idea what that means (other than as an expression of circular reasoning).

                  I just don’t know what the purpose of this discussion is supposed to be. As Tod mentioned, we used to have quite a few conservatives once upon a time, and he’s right that most of em left right after the most recent election.

                  As for a general tone of hostility determined by the sites identity as liberaltarian (or whatever ….) that just strikes me as accounting for what the place is by asserting what the place is, even if that’s not what it is.

                  But you know the old saw: everything is what it is and not another thing, yes?

      • Saul,

        A long time ago I had some terrible arguments with Elias, when he was a regular commenter. Although he and I were both commenting in good faith, my positions were so far away from him that he was 100% convinced I was trolling the site. He and I have long since come to an understanding, but I think maybe, just maybe it’s fair to say he had a more difficult time putting himself in other people’s heads than I did at the time. And so this may be your experience as well with the people you have gotten pushback from. Regardless of whether I agree with you or not, I have always believed you write honestly and that is something I admire. What is very hard (and something I struggle with constantly) is conveying ideas in a way that enables people to empathize with you and still disagree.

      • Tod is talking about post frequency. You post a lot so you have a large influence on the average ideologue position. By contrast someone Tom (or for that matter, like me) who hardly posts at all will have a much smaller effect on the site.

    • Tod Kelly: The one area that feels simple and uncomplicated to me about LoOG/OT is gay rights. It’s always leaned strongly in one single direction, and the vast preponderance of conservatives and libertarians here have been staunchly pro-gay and lesbian.

      I collected a number of statements of or related to this “simple and uncomplicated” view, and I feel strongly that, regardless of how one feels about the underlying issue, they illustrate the site’s turn toward a particular ideological stance and toward the underlying acceptance of taking one on behalf of the site. The prejudicial modes of discussion that go with with this double insistence inevitably filter out into discussions across the site.

      I have no desire to repeat past discussions on this topic. I’ll simply observe that I do not believe you can have numerous uncontradicted posts, offered from the EIC down, forcefully and unreservedly backed by the majority or vast majority of the commenters, identifying a major element of the conservative coalition as objectively or incontrovertibly “bigots,” and expect to be treated as a site open to conservatives or conservative thought in general.

      Even the difference between, “I believe they are bigots” and “they are all bigots” is critical. The former is a statement open to discussion. The latter is an attempted foreclosure of discussion in favor of what amounts to a taboo, again in two ways, since it both asserts as factual what otherwise would be a matter of opinion like all other matters of opinion, and since it necessarily presumes the tenability of any such declaration. In due course, the latter insistence is extended to a range of issues on which, or so it is argued, there can be only one acceptable view.

      • Again, there is a difference between being forbidden to speak and not choosing to speak.

        If you have an unpopular opinion, I am not going to chase people off of this site so you don’t feel outnumbered. It’s up to you to stand up and give your argument for why your opinion should be more popular here than it is. If you are successful, well, more power to you. If you stand up, make your pitch, and do not convince, it’s not the site’s job to start cutting staff and banning commenters to make things more “even.”

        The fact that a community that has a lot of gay men in it’s fold does not attract a lot of people who don’t feel comfortable around gay men is entirely unsurprising. The fact that a site that has a lot of gays who are happily married doesn’t attract a huge number of people who feel comfortable telling them they shouldn’t be allowed to be married is equally unsurprising.

        • With respect, Our Tod, you’re speaking to the underlying issue, while folding several other assumptions into it, without addressing the question of the mode of discussion or address. In this instance, my “unpopular opinion” is not an opinion about any issue in particular at all, but about the articulation of opinions.

          If the EIC of Foreign Policy said, “Everyone who supported the Iraq war is evil and incompetent, disqualified from contributions to discussion,” and the Managing Editor, leading contributors, and guest contributors all chimed in in the same way, then Foreign Policy could not expect, and has said it does not want, contributions to discussion from anyone who supported the Iraq war, and should not expect them. If the EIC instead said, “I strongly believe that the Iraq war was a horrendous and arguably unforgivable atrocity,” and everyone chimed in, then FP would still be an “anti-Iraq war” publication, and should not expect many such contributions, but it will even so have at least opened the space for reasonable discussion of alternative views. Put differently, someone who held an alternative view, could reasonably participate without having betrayed his or her comrades, without contributing to an enterprise unalterably committed to their exclusion, silencing, and destruction, and so on.

          I’m not saying you cannot choose to have an ideologically absolutist site. I am saying you cannot have your cake and eat it, too.

          • Wait a minute…

            Are you suggesting the main reason there are no movement conservatives on this site is because I, Tod Kelly, believe having different sets of laws for gays and another for straights is prejudiced by definition?

            • Tod Kelly: Are you suggesting the main reason there are no movement conservatives on this site is because I, Tod Kelly, believe having different sets of laws for gays and another for straights is prejudiced by definition?

              No. That you, the site’s Editor-in-Chief and virtual paterfamilias, are apparently insensitive to how prejudicial such a re-formulation of the question is, and remain non-cognizant if not oblivious to the arguments actually made, both on the underlying issue by opponents of marriage equality legislation and jurisprudence, and by me on the mode of discussion of those arguments – I think probably has something to do with it. As with most such matters, the lack of interest of movement conservatives in this site is likely overdetermined. I did, after all, just get through a nearly 5,000-word exercise exploring multiple facets of the site’s anti-conservative constitution.

              • Yeah, I’m not buying this.

                To be clear, I totally buy that the site lacks movement conservatives. That seems pretty obvious. What I’m not buying is that at a site where everyone speaks there opinions on everything, often fairly loudly, that the lever that determines whether we’re popular with the RedState crowd or not hinges on the opinion the centrist EIC has about gay rights.

                And frankly, if you’re right? If Tod Kelly’s personal opinion about gays is the big reason movement conservatives feel like they can’t hang out here? Then this site isn’t a good fit for them. Even if I changed my opinion on the subject, or never voiced it ever again, it would just be something else. This site isn’t really built to tell people their political views are perfect. It’s made to challenge them.

                • I’ll try to put this as simply as I can, if in the expectation that the simpler I make the premise, the more likely it is to be misunderstood and converted into something else.

                  The opinion “those who oppose gay rights (as I define gay rights) are bigots” is not an opinion about about gay rights as much as it is an opinion about those who oppose gay rights (as I define gay rights), and about opinions, and about bigotry, and about about the proper meaning and use of the term “rights.”

                  The assumption that those who oppose marriage equality legislation and jurisprudence oppose gay rights in general is prejudicial – in both senses of the term: It is prejudicial regarding the inquiry or supposed inquiry, and it is prejudicial regarding actual or potential participants in the inquiry.

                  The assumption that those who oppose gay rights either as supposedly realized in the particular contingent form of marriage equality legislation and jurisprudence, or in general, must do so based only an opinion or feeling about gays is likewise prejudicial.

                  The assumption that these questions are merely abstract and therefore irrelevant questions is likewise prejudicial.

                  To say more will require entering into a discussion of the underlying topic, which seems to me obviously beyond the scope of this discussion. Similar problems will arise with virtually any political topic. Perhaps most fundamentally, the assumption that an adverse position on any topic for discussion cannot be held except out of defect of character or mind is an anti-philosophical or politico-theological position. It designates as an enemy of the virtual state anyone who does not adopt a particular mode of expression, attributed a kind of talismanic or fetishistic, power: If you do not say and will not say the words in just this communally approved way, signifying your desire to belong on the terms being offered to you and no others, then go drink your hemlock.

                  • Seriously? My voicing my opinion along with everyone else is my unleashing my fetishistic power?

                    Go back and look at the comments in the political pieces I post. You know who disagrees with me on things, and voices that disagreement? Everybody. If there is some power I wield that makes people who comment on the site afraid to disagree with me, the memo on it seems to have not gotten to… well, anyone whose ever commented on this site ever.

                    • I should probably underline here, since I fear this is going off the rails (my fault on that, BTW), that my main point here is that if we are a site that asks people to give opinions, you can’t blame the fact that someone doesn’t come on the fact that you state opinions.

                      There is absolutely an issue here, and I’m not sure exactly how to fix it. But I know in my bones that “don’t voice strong opinions conservatives will disagree with” is not the right fix.

                    • I referred specifically to a communally adopted precept, as enforced on a particular topic, which, up until a few comments ago, you and others were acknowledging really was the unified “view of the site.” So you respond first by acknowledging that the question is of an opinion shared – and charge laid – by you “along with everyone else,” and then immediately turn to a claim that everyone disagrees with you always and all of the time. I think the truth of the matter is clear. I’m tiring of trying to focus you on the question of mode of discussion and the operation of presumptions. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow or next year.
            • Look, I think we all need to accept that is correct: No one should be taking absolutist moral stands that something is morally ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. There are no moral absolutes in this universe, and the sooner the right convinces the left of that, the better.

              I mean, by what logic do we have to assert that someone saying ‘gay marriage is not something we should be doing’ is morally wrong? I mean, it’s not like *they’re* saying people are immoral for being gay or something, right? So we shouldn’t be saying that *they* are immoral for opposing gay marriage.

          • If, on the other hand, a political party continued to honor the architects of the Iraq war and accept as accurate the thinking that led to it, people outside its bubble would consider it batshit on the subject, and be uninterested in its further opinions. Insisting those opinions be presented and not result in near-unanimous condemnation from the commentariat is a sort of campus hate speech policy.
            • Yeah, this. It seems to me CK is suggesting that the OT ought to respect and protect (is that the right word?) a plethora of views simply because people hold them – or something similar – and that the absence of those views being expressed on this site is a failing on the part of the editors and commentariat alike. But if that’s right (and I’m sure CK will tell me it’s wrong) then why think this site should be a place for people to sound off about whatever they believe without the expectation of counterargument and intellectual challenges to those views?
              • Adding to that: Maybe CK’s critique reduces to the idea that people at this site think argumentative discourse can lead to a better set of beliefs about the world. So in that sense he’s viewing the place as (correctly!) identifying as lefty-progressivish.
              • I don’t read CK as offering a prescriptive view – he’s just saying “if you do A (and you have), B will almost certainly follow.”

                Frankly, in the particular real case under discussion, A may have been the correct thing to do regardless of our feelings on B.

  8. This is excellent. Impressed with the research CK. I will also note that many of the topics that seem to draw the most heat today are all topics we covered in 2009. Mark, Jaybird and myself threw down repeatedly on issues surrounding the police, for example. It really does seem that there is nothing new under the sun.
    • If I understood better why your other comment snuck through the code and managed to appear withing the main OT comment circulatory system, yet in a kind of nether-world, I would be much closer to bringing back the sub-blogs properly, without having to buy the multi-site packages available out there. Do you recall exactly how and where you posted it?

        • Mysteries accumulate, since now the Twilight Zone comment is appearing here, as the one to which I was responding – must have something to do with the particular application that “broadcasts” a sub-blog post to the main site, but continues hosting it or its main occurrence at the sub-blog. It somehow substituted your other comment as the one numbered in sequence… though I’m still not sure what happened, only that it probably shouldn’t oughta have, yet points to interesting possibilities that might require a week of eye-strain for me to figure out. It’s what I meant in the lead post on this sub-blog about it still being “in Beta.” Probably best to leave the topic at that for now.
  9. Jeez… left out of the analysis AGAIN! What’s a guy got to do to be an ideological asshole ’round here?
    • You could start by not describing your day job working with three- and four-year-olds. There’s a knee-jerk reaction along the lines of “Anyone who can do that can’t possibly be an asshole.” :^)

      I suppose I could take this opportunity to say that the editors recently told me basically “Click the damned ‘Publish’ button on your stuff yourself.” Anyway, my name will show up on the front page now instead of Guest Author. Since I probably fall mostly into the category that CK is describing, it doesn’t change the balance.

      • Heh… a running joke in my life is that people who know me solely through work and then socialize with me say, “Wow, I’d never guess you were like this away from school,” and people who know me solely in the personal world come to learn about my day job and say, “Wow, I’d never guess you did that.” Which makes me think I’m executing my plan PERFECTLY.
  10. Overall an interesting and thought provoking piece. The sorting hat and I will try and watch the comments closely, so far they’ve been excellent and I praise them unreservedly; I hope they can continue to be productive.

    With regards to the meat of the post CK I have a question/challenge on this bit:
    “Has there ever been a post at Ordinary Times (never mind the League, for now) that has defended Republican national security, economic, or social policy as such?”
    I find this interesting because in the last fifteen years or so those are all areas where the GOP has been doing pretty poorly.

    Can you give an example of a good solid defense of the GOP’s national security policy?
    My own admittedly biased view is that it’s been badly discredited since they had near untrammeled freedom to prosecute their preferred policy in the recent past and the results have bled the country of such enormous quantities of blood and treasure for so little appreciable gain that the GOP president who oversaw those adventures is widely considered one of the worst in this nation’s history.

    Can you give an example of a succinct outline of the GOP’s economic policy let alone a defense of it?
    My own biased view is that ever since Clinton copied their homework the GOP economic policy has amounted to flat out corporatism with a candy coating of utterly disingenuous libertarianism painted over the surface of it (which has annoyed and frustrated libertarians to no end).

    Can you give an example of an outline or defense of the GOP’s social policy?
    Obviously I’m deeply biased on this but it seems that everywhere that the GOP hasn’t simply aped libertarians they’ve suffered titanic setbacks with the notable exception of the question of abortion.

    That would be really helpful to me because when I look at the discourse over the last fifteen years or so (basically the League’s entire lifespan and a bit more) when you strip away the libertarian camouflage they swath themselves in from the GOP what is left? Discredited neoconservatism, militarism, corporatism*, nativism and the (Still formidable) bastion of social conservatism is all I see and with the exception of the latter none of those seem very easily defended. No wonder conservatives would not want to try and pen articles defending that stuff for a place like this… easier to retreat into home territory no?

    • I’m guessing that you do not frequent NRO-Breitbart-Weekly Standard etc., or follow many conventionally conservative-identified tweeps (if you’re on Twitter at all, are you?), since there is a somewhat vast political-intellectual universe devoted to just those topics, and where the argument is pitched to “liberals really aint got nuthin do they?”

      I’ve outlined some of the typical conservative responses on your arguments in the comment threads, sometimes in discussion with you yourself, I believe. For example, the foreign policy discussion that kind of goes on, and kind of isn’t really a discussion at all, consists of the left claiming that the current miseries of the ME are proof of the absolute discrediting of the “neo-conservative” viewpoint, and the right or neo-conservative right claiming that the current miseries of the ME are perfect verification of predictions made by neocons and fellow travelers all during the debates of the ’00s about what would happen if the US withdrew. In other words, the identical set of largely non-disputed facts are construed by each side as proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that the other side has suffered complete humiliation in the court of history.

      On economic and social issues a similar pattern can be found, further complicated by the problem examined by many political philosophers of incommensurable precepts that our prevailing social-political concept does not allow us ever to sort out. I happen to be reading Alasdair MacIntyre’s treatment of the problem now, but similar arguments have been posed many times. MacIntyre refers (or referred, in 1981) to common arguments experienced as “interminable.” MacIntyre has his own outline of a solution or partial solution, but that, again, is a matter beyond the scope of this post.

      As for your main question, I think you are correct that you are deeply biased. Just today a few OGs were debating a piece by Matthew Yglesias arguing that Democrats are in deep denial about how poorly they are doing. I won’t try to sort out his argument, but, if it’s true, then the appearance of comments or posts by thoughtful people like yourself on the perfect absence of a tenable argument “on the other side” might be taken as symptomatic.

      • I’m not on twitter; ya can’t spell twitter without spelling twit and I dislike the medium.

        I do pass through Breibart and TWS occasionally, I used to be a regular reader at NRO but have declined as their discourse as devolved over the last decade since Buckley died. My point, though, is that outside of those carefully guarded and curated conservative bastions where a sympathetic audience is guaranteed do you see strong outlines and defenses of the GOP’s positions? On economics does the GOP even have policies beyond corporatism* disguised as libertarianism?

        *Which I acknowledge the Democrats also indulge in, but they don’t try and call it freedom.

        • Why would it make any difference whether the arguments or outlines were presented at “carefully guarded and curated conservative bastions…” if the arguments or outlines were the ones influencing the party currently in self-reinforcing control of the House, the Senate, a large majority of state legislatures, and so on? Or, another way of saying the same thing, if the arguments or outlines were in keeping with precepts underlying the views, and voting patterns, of very large numbers of Americans, weighted toward wealthier and more politically active ones?

          As for what the GOP’s positions are, you can read up on the ones they’ve run on, or they ones they’ve pursued, or you can explore more interesting, sophisticated, and forward-looking proposals developed by the likes of Reihan Salam, Yuval Levin, and James Manzi, for example, and embraced by so-called “reform conservatives.” Afterward, you might still be committed to your side, but you might be less inclined to doubt the existence of an argument on the other one.

          • Sorry, “reform conservatism” is just the same plans the GOP has been pushing for decades under some new clothing – all of those people you mentioned all want to massively cut taxes on rich people, push a social conservative agenda, and privatize or block grant every part of the government that isn’t nailed down. I mean, sure, they’ll throw some tax credits at parents to make them have more babies, and don’t hate brown people as much as the base (even though I’ll note Douthat, another reformicon is a mild restrictionist according to his own words).

            I mean, us liberals “may have no new ideas” but we admit that they’re good, old ideas that have worked for decades in different places – the Republican’s dress up their basic opposition to the modern welfare and regulatory state under new clothing every decade or so.

          • As far as I can tell, all of these plans rely on the concept that cutting taxes leads to significant growth. (e.g.).

            As far as I can tell, there is no evidence supporting that view and moderate evidence opposing it (Kansas; Clinton tax increases; the 1950s).

            Are any of the above referenced economic plans not of the greatly-reduce-top-earner-taxes-and-assume-sufficient-growth-to-make-money ilk?

          • To your first question, to put it bluntly, when partisans post their positions on friendly sights with friendly defensive commentators the positions tend to be not very well done*. They depend more on snark, buzz words and throw away positions. When they’re posted in ostensibly less friendly or more neutral venues they have to put their working shoes on. When, in your quote, you note that the OG has had a noteworthy dearth of posts by people defending the current Republican positions and policies; I think it’s salient that I don’t see posts like those in many places except conservative/republican internet strongholds. I think the implication is that the modern day GOP is especially hard to defend outside of their partisan bastions. If one looks at how the GOP fares in popularity (Congress is duking it out to try and exceed anthrax’s favorability) I do think there’s a point there. Now I’m not well travelled on the net so I thought I’d ask if you had any go to examples of not necessarily GOP partisan places where the GOP’s policies are outlined or defended (and I emphasize again not libertarians).

            I’m well aware of the reformicon moment, the reformicon clique are the kinds of people in thought and manners that make one think about how good it’d be to have a sane GOP rattling around the joint. Considering, however, that their proposals were, at the outset, extremely modest; were then subsequently watered down even more and have since been basically discarded en toto they’re illustrative in a manner you might not prefer.

            *I submit that left wing partisans are the same way.

            • North: Considering, however, that their proposals were, at the outset, extremely modest; were then subsequently watered down even more and have since been basically discarded en toto they’re illustrative in a manner you might not prefer.

              Other possibilities: I might not care – at all or very much – and, independently, your assumptions about the nature of political ideas and how they gain traction and exhibit influence, or what they even are, may be narrow.

              • Well sure, but if reform conservatism is in remission within the GOP it’s very deep in remission. Heck, let me straight out ask: do you truly consider the GOP and political conservatism to be in a healthy state right now, ideologically, tactically, strategically?
                • Not sure, of course, how to answer this question – and I’m tempted to fix your typo (if you want me to, just give the word!).

                  I refer you again to the Matthew Yglesias piece previously linked, now linked again at OT OTC along with a companion piece purporting, on the basis of statistical modeling, to give the Rs an 85% chance of regaining the White House next year. So, excuse the repetition, does it make sense to you to call a party or movement that already controls both houses, the SC, a large majority of state legislatures, and is poised to make an at least competitive run at the presidency tactically, strategically, or ideologically “unhealthy”? If the first priority of a conservative movement is to make “progressive” legislation difficult or impossible, then possessing an ability to block the same, for as far as the political programmatic eye can see, rendering most of the Sanders-Clinton policy debate merely fanciful except where it may happen to coincide with positions possibly attractive to conservatives, then is that movement in a poor state of political health?

                  If the conservative movement were in a state of extremely robust political health, then it might have the ability actually to pass major elements of its ideal program. I don’t think it’s doing that well. It runs into contradictions of its own when its diminution of government in favor of a particular socio-economic model impairs its ability to use government efficiently as an instrument. It doesn’t really want a mobilized national polity, or shouldn’t. If it really tried to deliver on its agenda, it might finally succeed where liberal progressives have continually failed, uniting the People on the other side of the party of anti-government. This would be a pitfall for it in major areas of domestic and foreign policy.

                  But this is all speculation. I don’t mean to make very much of it. The original question was almost a straw man: Are there Republican or conservative ideas at all that it might be worth having explored sympathetically or at least cordially and non-prejudicially at OT. I think so. Do I think that it is likely to happen? Probably not now, but maybe a little more likely today than yesterday.

                  • Oh sure, fix the typo with my thanks.

                    Sure, if you define the conservative movement’s primary goal as blocking liberal policies then they currently are in a good position to do so… … … after the Liberals have already enjoyed a recent brief but significant bout of policy successes (SSM, Obamacare, Partial elimination of the Bush tax cuts, some significant reduction of our entanglement in the Middle East). So they are in a good position to keep the horse from getting out of the barn now, but the horse got out last week and is prancing about the yard. I’m of the opinion that most Liberals primary goals for their next presidential candidate would be simply that they provide a roadblock and simply preserve Obama’s significant advancements on the liberal agendas.

                    All that being said of course I would love there to be some movement conservatives here pushing the GOP party lines and defending them against the myriad substantive criticisms that many here would have. I was dearly fond of our previous resident conservatives and mourned their respective departures bitterly. I try, however, to have empathy for my opponents and I know I would find it unpleasant and embarrassing to try and stick up for the GOP when their predominant activities in the last while has been the political equivalent of “Give me what I want or I’m gonna burn this fisher down!” So I don’t blame movement conservatives for being chary of having to advocate for political conservatism as it currently is operating in the US outside of a friendly conservative website.

                    • …SSM, Obamacare, Partial elimination of the Bush tax cuts, some significant reduction of our entanglement in the Middle East…

                      From my area of interest, a dozen blue states and the Supreme Court are slowing kicking the movement conservatives’ butts on air pollution emissions, including CO2. CJ Roberts is turning out to be a terrible disappointment to them, I think.

  11. Dang, picked a bad day to Travel.

    Though the fact that you all are resurrecting TVD, who, let’s be honest, is last generation’s ghost, all but proves CK’s point.

    I said my peace on the last thread, so not much more to add.

  12. any organization or enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time.

    That is, unless the bulwarks against reality are consistently renewed, seepage is inevitable.

  13. Have you ever been to the comments section of the major conservative sites? RedState, the National Review, the Federalist, so on, and so forth? It’s not that there’s some massive group of erudite, deep thinking conservatives hiding their that want a conversation. It’s the Id screaming. All the time. I mean, I don’t like DailyKos as a whole, even if I line up politically, but at least there are pockets of that site, like DailyKos Elections, which actually has decent conversations.

    As I said in the other thread, the only out and out leftie position this site takes is gay rights, and actually, in 2015, that’s a centrist position by this point, even if it wasn’t a decade ago. On other social issues, nobody wants to ban abortion, but zic and other people got plenty of pushback about Hobby Lobby.

    This site, for good or ill, perfectly matches it’s commetariat and posters – it’s largely middle class to upper middle class career minded white dudes in urban areas, so the politics line up – centrist to center-right on economics, center to center left on social issues until people “go too far”, then there’s lots of old man yelling at clouds about Tumblr and how the world is ending if there are trigger warnings.

    • If that’s the case, I think it is time to start dropping the posts I have been writing about fascism. But this might fit to well in that “old man yelling at clouds” phenomenon you speak of.

      • Please write about facism. I have no idea what angle you would be taking, but pretty much any view on that issue would be well worthy of this site. I don’t think most people on either side of the political line really think much about that topic, but both sides, due to inabilities to listen to anyone on the other side of no-mans-land, realizes how close they might seem to the others in that reguard to be.

        In other words, ones view is often skewed towords totallitarianism simply through not talking with enough disenting viewpoints.

        • I have read a number of fascist minded texts recently: Guilliaume Faye’s Archeofuturism, Julius Evola’s Fascism Viewed from the Right, and Jack Donovan’s The Way of Men. Its been part of my ideological broadening I have undergone this year as I realized I was reading a lot of work from the same circle of folks.

          Maybe not book reviews exactly, but more of a discussion of key arguments made in those texts that can engage folks who haven’t read them/have no interest in reading them.

      • Tumblr is a great publishing platform that’s simultaneously easy to use and malleable enough for most needs. It’s also for young people. Both of these things can be true.
  14. Similar minds tend to gravitate. I doubt if my own site were way more active that I’d be getting many conservative or Dem fans, considering the few regulars I do have are fellow anarchists.
  15. I have had a while to digest this so here it goes.

    It seems to me that ck is stating yhat because the conservitives we have on the site are not republican movement conservitives they dont count. I think thats wrong on a few levels, the first one being that OG strives for a civil conversation. A lot of right wing deep con con belief and policy seems to stem from the belief that “lieberals” want only to mooch off makers take all yall guns and then rape your women and forcibly abort the baby because….. evil socialism. Thats a hard place to start a discussion from, and yeah gonna get heated pushback on that. Same as if I decided to extol the virtures of marx and lenin and declare mao the patron saint of america.

    2. Wayyy ot mostly a personal note to CK.
    Nice work gathering everything together, but I keep praying to thor that your posts had a shorter button. Sifting what your driving at is sometimes a hell of a lot of work.

  16. I think the problem here, if it is a problem, is that most communities* have their own rules and grounding assumptions. And what I think CK does so well in the OP is to induce what those rules are by his survey of the posts at OT. I think the rules here, at the very least, place a higher burden on someone who advocates certain social conservative views or declines to recite certain key words in certain contexts. By the latter I’m referring to CK’s point about Mike’s post on the Charleston shooting. Mike had declined to mention the here-obligatory reference to the role racism played in the shooting.

    These burdens aren’t necessarily bad things. Almost every* community has them. And almost every* community has shibboleths and probably should have them, if only as ritualistic signals of the shared values. I also believe that any discussion of the Charleston shooting has to consider or at least acknowledge the role racism, and Mike’s critics did have a strong point when they said that when non-whites are apprehended for crime, “we” rarely talk about mental health, though in my opinion we should as the situation warrants. (Take, for example, the discussion of those high school students accused of attacking a ref. Kazzy took the position that we should take mental health–or at least mental maturity–into account in some cases of actions that we’d otherwise deem criminal. Part of his argument was to point out the disjuncture between how these players are likely be treated and how more affluent, and white players would likely have been treated. He had some very good points that I hadn’t even thought about.)

    I do think social conservatives (and others) at this site err when they don’t acknowledge or don’t act as if they understand when they are transgressing the unstated rules here. (Tim Kowal’s posts on gay marriage.) Certain positions are so outside the “left liberaltarian” (or whatever you call it) base of the site that they represent an uphill battle. I think those of us who hold the majority view, however, err when we are too quick to attack and not to listen, too quick to “call out” our interlocutors instead of giving them some space to develop their point. I include myself in that score (see this comment where I almost completely missed an otherwise good satirical point Tim was making, and elsewhere in that thread, I justified my error by placing some of the blame on Tim himself instead of wholly on myself for misunderstanding.)

    Allocating burdens of proof always comes with some arbitrariness and is always at least a little bit unfair for some people some of the time. I’m not sure of the solution. I’m not even sure it needs to solved. I certainly don’t want people to formulate an official “OT credo” that all must sign on to before commenting or guest posting. But an unofficial, if continually evolving, credo exists, and it’s healthy to recognize that.

    (Alas, this is a driveby comment, but I’ll try to catch up later when I get back from work tonight.)

    *Although I say “most” or “almost every,” deep down I really think it’s closer to “all” or “every.”

    • I agree with — except the pot cookies bit.

      I also think that Jessie is pretty dead on above, noting that the site skews educated, white, male, and middle class, and that those do a better job of explaining the range of views here than anything else. As with most places, OT is a site that welcomes all points of view within a certain universe. There are, obviously, certain points of view that I would never run if submitted as a guest post, regardless of the writing quality. I think those borders extend out pretty far in all directions — much, much further than most sites that discuss the subject we discuss, in fact. But those borders are absolutely there.

      • If you want an endorsement on how far out the borders are, I’ll simply note that you accepted a guest post from me laying out the reasons why I thought the 11 western states should (and quite possibly could) eventually secede peacefully from the Union. Not many places would put up something speculating along those lines. Not many commenting communities would treat it as politely as this one did.
    • Thanks for the thoughtful reply,

      Allocating burdens of proof always comes with some arbitrariness and is always at least a little bit unfair for some people some of the time. I’m not sure of the solution. I’m not even sure it needs to solved.

      Whether or not it “needs” to be solved, and the extent to which it can be solved, depend upon what kind of site we want to have.

      There are some simple things that a site or community that seeks insight or illumination on difficult questions, that is unafraid of opposing views or even of having its minds changed from time to time, and that places a high value or the highest value on dialogue, can do or try to do, and that will be most effective if pursued both from the top down and from the bottom up.

      Treat people with respect, and insist that others do so.

      Allow for the possibility – not just in your imagination but in all of your conduct and expression – that what seems clearly true to you, in a way that stirs your emotions, may not be or is unlikely to be or simply cannot be the whole and perfect truth.

      Address what people actually say, in their own fairly contextualized words as much as possible, not what “people like them” say, or what it serves some personal, political, or other extraneous purpose of yours to have others believe they said.

      Seek to defeat the strong points in the opponents’ argument, or the opponent’s argument in its strongest form, and, in the interest of a good discussion, be ready to repair the weak points instead of seizing on them for a transitory, but finally meaningless advantage.

      Withhold statement of your own principal views until you are sure you understand what the other person meant to say, and that such a statement is directly relevant to it.

      When opposing perspectives are being capably argued by others, instead of “piling on” for the one you favor, restrict your involvement to points of definition or clarification or to significant arguments that whichever side, after a fair chance to be heard, has failed to take into account.

      Treat impoliteness and unfairness from anyone in the discussion, but especially from those on your own side, as an affront against the higher purpose and interests of the site and of all sides. Condemn personal attacks from anyone, but reserve your strongest condemnations for the underhanded and undignified tactics practiced by your would-be allies.

      Be thankful to the skillful, patient, and earnest intellectual opponent for putting your ideas to the kind of test without which your own understanding of them, and ability to present and defend them, cannot ever deepen.

      Be ready to let your opponent have the last word, out of confidence that as far as we know there really is no such thing.

      To whatever extent a site is a partisan-ideological site, and that its participants view themselves as seeking contingent political advantages and victories, all of the above will be more difficult to practice or practice consistently.

    • This is a great response, and to me connects with Tod’s post about how we treat words from people we know compared to words from people we don’t. While I know none of you (and lurk much more than post here), one of the things that keeps me coming is that it is a group of people who do seem to know each other, who share comments and ideas beyond the political, and for a core group of whom there is the type of underlying respect that makes conversations better. I’m sure that understanding will get stressed as the elections get closer, and as more people at a further remove from the core group post more often.

      If I was to suggest one thing to do out of the combination of the original post and this reply, it would be for those who fit the general grounding assumptions to model a more charitable reading (where possible) of those who disagree. CK’s distinction between saying that opposing gay marriage is always prejudice and saying “I believe that opposing gay marriage is always prejudice” is a good example – it’s just a moment more of typing, expresses the same point, but does so in a way that is intentionally more inviting of space for disagreement. And while I think everyone should offer some civility in how they engage (and most of y’all usually do), there is probably a greater burden on those whose opinions are closer to the default to take such a tack precisely because they are representing a “mainstream”.

      In any case, it’s a good post and response because it models what it seeks – lots of disagreement in the comments, but some snark aside, honests effort to understand what someone means even if disagreeing and interrogate what is interesting about their position.

  17. Pingback: Ordinary Times Is Currently A Left “Liberaltarian,” Mainly Cultural Site - CK MacLeod's

  18. A couple of technical notes:

    1. Thinking ahead to the sub blogs, but is it possible to have comments from a post that shows up on the FP but is in fact linked to a sub site show up on the FP State of the Comm? Or is that a thing that can’t be done?

    2. I keep unsubscribing to getting emails whenever someone comments on this thread, but I keep getting the emails. Is this a glitch?

    • I’ve had at least one comment today that showed up on the page returned after I hit “Post Comment” but then disappeared. I believe that the site’s (technical) behavior is that when a comment is deleted, the entire dependent thread is also deleted. Have there been any comment threads deleted this morning?
        • This post, and comments to it, are not showing up in “State of the Discussion.” Comments to it are not showing up, or only briefly, in the Gifts of Gab panel on the front page. They show up in the corresponding panel on the comment page proper, but that has a slightly different structure than the comment page for other comments.
          • Yeah. To be clear, I was curious if it was possible to make it so that they could show up there.

            If it’s possible to do, when the subs start launching, I think it might be cool to have the comments in the subs show up in State o’ Discussion.

            Or maybe not. Maybe it would just call unwanted attention to things and invite less hospitable discussions on the subs. Dunno.

            Just thinking out loud.

            • Shortish or at least non-technical answer on integration with State of the Discussion: Producing a “State of the Discussions” or “State of the Network Discussion” is possible, and some modified version of it might even be desirable (ideally, I think, some sub-blog discussions could be brought in by some combination of automatic and directed processes, but probably not all sub-blog discussions), but it would require either a lot of custom coding or a combination of $$$ premium applications plus some custom coding. Before doing too much investment of time and potentially money, I think we need more clarity about the desired and possible evolution of the project, and more getting-act-together on the site as is.

              On the comment subscriptions, I am using a different application here than is being used on the main site. It is set up to auto-subscribe you when you leave a comment, but to wait for confirmation. There could be a bug in the program or a mistake in the way I’ve installed it: I dropped an earlier version of the application from the main site because it was way too buggy, but this newer version seemed promising, and includes several features that the main site’s subscribe-to-comments doesn’t have, including the ability to subscribe without commenting, the ability to customize messages, and the ability to subscribe only to replies to your own comment rather than to the entire thread.

              So, please let me know EXACTLY what you’ve been doing (either here or by separate email), and I’ll see whether I can make adequate adjustments – for instance by turning off default-subscribe if that’s the problem: Conceivably you’re unsubscribing manually, then re-subscribing every time you leave a new comment (without choosing “don’t subscribe me”). It may be that the developer’s idea was that people who unsubscribed would be people who were through with the discussion, so wouldn’t get default-re-subscribed, but that after the first confirmation the system stops asking for confirmation. If so, that may have been a faulty presumption. But that’s just a guess, and may not even be a very good one.

              • I think users should be able to subscribe to sub blogs they want and have a reddit-front page-esque “State of the Discussion” page.

                But then, I’m not the one coding it.

                • THAT would be a major transformation of the site.

                  The eds – including me – prefer a magazine approach for now, or a magazine-with-forum-features approach, over a forum approach. However, I think in the future, entering a “League Network” via an advanced State of the Discussions presentation – a mega-page with a variety or “polyvocality” of approaches brought together by a combination of algorithmic process and direct decisions – would be one option. So, sometime by around 2030 or so (jk, we could start yesterday if that was the decision AND if people were willing to support it), fans of the OT magazine might hardly even be aware of the Network entry, just as fans of particular writers, or visitors linked to particular posts, might never or hardly ever visit the OT “main page” or “home page” (or any other section of OT or any other site on the Network), and just as those who preferred the Network avenue might skip, or never visit, OT or any of its posts. Another site or node might be a Reddit-like forum or even a network of its own. Another might be dedicated to live social media interaction. A bunch of others might be autonomous blogs linked loosely as on WordPress.com and a few other platforms.

                  And so on.

                  • Well, that’s (of course) a whole other level.

                    I’m mostly reacting because I use SotD as my interface with the site and wish this thread was in there (while recognizing others likely don’t care about the guts of the site’s design).

      • Michael Cain: I’ve had at least one comment today that showed up on the page returned after I hit “Post Comment” but then disappeared. I

        You sure it’s not there? It’s also possible that you found your way into the same crack in the universe that Mike Dwyer earlier found. His comment temporarily posted to the mostly not accessible pseudo-version of the post that can be found in OT’s deep archive, but which users are not mainly taken to. The whys and what’s the reason fors of that behavior are something I haven’t tracked down yet, but I suspect it’s buried deep in the process that allows a post originating on a sub-blog, like this one, to be “broadcast” to the main page – one of several available ways to manage relations between a semi-independent/autonomous blog and its mothership.

        Longer background for those interested in understanding the sub-blog/main blog relationship:

        I could have gone the other route, posting it first on from within the mothership, then broadcasting it to the subsite or satellite site. In that case, it would have naturally entered into the regular OT circulatory system, comments and all. I would have done that if I had had more confidence that this post would be of interest to, and taken reasonably well by, the larger community. When I shared earlier versions of it with the editors, however, I did not note any enthusiasm for it or for having it published at OT. My relations with the OT commentariat have also been notably poor of late, and comments I made about commenters as well as about certain of them who also have posting privileges – whether or not you consider my comments “in bounds” – could be construed as coming from “site leadership,” so may have been taken as endorsed criticism, when these opinions are strictly my own. I also considered publishing it at my personal blog instead, but it seemed to me that that would be unnecessarily remote, and that the post really does focus on “developing” OT, so has a right to be here, or in this here, if not the other here.

        It had not been my intention to broadcast it to the regular post “loop” – to the OT mothership and its normal set of posts. I was content to let the trackbacks and twitter link alert the “really interested” to its existence, and to have the post around as a reference for later use. Obviously, I was of at least two minds on the question, since at some point I had checked the “broadcast” checkbox on the draft. When I realized that I hadn’t unchecked it, I decided to leave it be rather than de-publish the post from OT.

        As for now: It COULD be migrated, either along with the comments or a link to the thread hosted on this sub-blog, but that would be a one-time “custom” operation, not an automatic one.

            • Did not get that comment sent to me – which’d be the expected behavior.

              I wonder if when you OGs are trying to delete your subs, you’re checking the box, or just hitting the delete button.

              Also, however, this is the first Other CK’s comment post-subscription deletion. I note that the the selection box below is on “All.” Now, expected behavior would be I receive a confirmo-link before the sub is re-activated.

                • Wait, no, take it back. Other CK got a confirmo-link email: The expected behavior. So am reverting to theory B: Maybe Mike and RTod did not properly “manage” their subscriptions when they THOUGHT they were deleting. Could be confused about which email addresses, could be failed to check a box. Theory C would be peculiar not yet reproduced bug.
                  • Once more (with feeling):

                    1. Clicked on You are subscribed to this post. Manage your subscriptions.
                    2. Got the email. Clicked on its link.
                    3. It shows only one subscription: 2015-10-19 16:43:54 — Y — Ordinary Times Is Currently A Left “Liberaltarian,” Mainly Cultural Site
                    4. Clicked on the box. It shows as checked.
                    5. Chose the Delete radio button.
                    6. Clicked Update Subscriptions
                    7. Clicked OK on “are you sure?”
                    8. Now at a screen saying “Subscriptions deleted: 1”

                    And it looks good. If I got to this thread in another window, it no longer says “You are subscribed to this post.”

                    So, all good. Thanks, CK.

                    • If it WAS your mistake, the ideal presentation would alert you to the fact that your pressed the update button but dint update nothing. It doesn’t do that, and it should – can code that or suggest to the developers that they do.

                      Tho I’m devastated that you don’t want to subscribe anymore to this beautiful thread.

  19. Michael Cain:
    Not many places would put up something speculating along those lines.Not many commenting communities would treat it as politely as this one did.

    I think that the demographics of the commentariat kind of lead to a skew towards wonkishness as well – if you bring weirdness to the table (albeit not too far out) but it’s obvious that you’ve done a lot of thinking and have (and show!) evidence to back it up, there’s a lot more tolerance for the mostly intellectual discussion that follows than there would be for a much more mainstream position that is based solely on an emotional appeal or is built on a foundation that has already been debunked.(*)

    (*) Yes, I know it’s all one sentence. Cerebus usually passes the time counting adverbs.

      • Your issue is writer recruitment. The very thing that attracts people to this site (other than the chili recipe), is that this seems to be a place without loyalty. Certain writers might be loyal to certain ideas (you’re a conservative, obviously, and I don’t like bigots, obviously), but overall, there is an independent-ness to the site and its writers. You can change that if you want – get rid of guys like me, and recruitment ten movement conservatives and ten movement libertarians and ten movement liberals, and have them each writing two articles a week for Politics: The Website, or whatever – but that requires fundamentally destroying this particular website as it currently exists.

        And this feeds into the problem with getting more conservatives here. The reason Dan Sotto got shouted down after the Planned Parenthood post wasn’t the naked partisanship of it so much as the wrongness of the post. He claimed as fact things that simply weren’t true and that doesn’t pass muster around here no matter who you are. I am (almost) universally opposed on my tu quoque position, my artistic relativism position, and my rights-don’t-exist position. I’m willing to endure that generally, most because we’re just talking about cannot-be-proven ideas, but if I started straying into factual inaccuracies, I’d get shouted down too. That treatment is reserved for anybody playing that sort of game.

        That’s what makes this site what it is, but it is also the problem, as many, many, many, many people are not interested in the environment that we’ve created here, specifically because that one overarching rule – don’t come in here with nonsense talk – is the antithesis of modern writing, political, cultural, or otherwise.

        • Thanks, . Actually, I have a few things to thank you for.

          First, though some would be ashamed, especially if they follow your way of thinking, I will look back with pride on yesterday as the day on which a leftwing ideologue declared me “a conservative, obviously” even while a politically well-credentialed rightwinger was elsewhere inviting me to post at his site as resident left-progressive.

          You both have your reasons for your assumptions, but I think they’re mostly bad reasons resulting in obviously bad assumptions. I think some of the explanation has to do with the color of all cats at midnight, and some of it has to do with the tendency against which I warn, but which you adopt as matter of policy, of dealing with people according to labels and assumptions, rather than with what they actually say.

          Someone less committed to incuriosity regarding those who, unforgivably, fail to agree with him, might actually care about what I think, rather than just go ahead and assume it’s “obvious.” Typically, I said nothing about “writer recruitment.” I laid out alternatives for the site, based upon an analysis of the site, and an argument based on that analysis, but you assumed I must be in favor of “including conservatives” or “recruiting conservatives,” since the kind of person you label “conservative” would see recruitment on that level as reasonable and desirable.

          My argument, or observation, is that you cannot have an ideologically disciplined site and have it be an open site at the same time. To the extent the site adopts your attitude, closed-minded about alternatives to closed-mindedness, even if it does so somewhat passively and unconsciously, it becomes a closed-minded site.

          The sole exception to that rule would be a site dedicated to openness or free inquiry. That commitment happens to be one that you campaign against, and, apparently, are happy to call “conservative” – in the process paying real existing American political conservatives a compliment that I think few may really deserve.

          In theory, to pursue the commitment to openness – which is not the same as a commitment to chaos but must face the risk – the site could and might even have to tolerate people hypocritically throwing around the term “bigot” for those who fail to recite their party line, however they lay it down, but at the point that, through sheer force of numbers or volume, one side successfully shouts down the other, gets the other side’s leading voices banned or demoralized, packs the front page with denunciations, subtly but effectively (and not necessarily consciously) lets one side get away with bullying the other side, and so on, the losers will naturally move on to places where they might be treated better, and a conversation of interest to them may actually turn out to be available. At the point the victorious tendency will determine the consistent, if not necessarily perfectly consistent, top-down and bottom-up character of a site – and wonder where everyone went.

          So, to be clear, I’m not in favor of simply importing new ideologues of one type in order to right the scales currently tipped in favor of ideologues of the other type, and repeating what the site has already been through once or a couple of times. The immediate result would be a less ideologically unified site, but with more ideologues being ideological, so might address the problem of ideology only by worsening it. The effect in other words might be of a more incoherent and also more ideological site – chaos and shouting matches – unless an underlying counter-ideological commitment, or the commitment to free inquiry and mutual respect, was strengthened.

          I’m not in favor of of a simply more balanced discussion. I’m in favor of an actually interesting discussion, a discussion more than the sum of its ideological parts.

          Finally, though I don’t agree entirely with your assessment of the discussion regarding Dan Scotto’s PP post, I think you point to a flaw in my rendering of it. I wrote:

          Dan Scotto analyzes Republican politics in detail, but the only time that he has (tentatively) discussed his own conservative or conservative-leaning views on a controversial subject, he was subjected to intense criticism and effectively forced to apologize and retract. (Oddly, that MacLeod person was one of the people asking him to re-consider his argument.)

          I think that my description is factually true, and does provide authentic evidence for my thesis on the actual character of OT. Dan did make an error or set of errors, as Dan admitted, and he did get hit on the way to recognizing them, but, as only weakly implied by my parenthetical reference to myself, he was not hit for his conservative views, and he certainly was not forced to or asked to apologize for or retract them. Though the comment thread discussion was not the kind of discussion one might find at a conservative-tilted site, for a discussion at a progressive-tilting site it was a pretty good discussion, with excesses from the anti-Scotto caucus called out as such from within the ranks.

          I think I gave the impression that I thought the discussion was evidence of the site at its worst (as it would have been if it had consisted of denouncing Scotto simply for being conservative) when I think it was actually evidence of the site at its best or near to it, or working as we might hope it would for anyone. In any event, I’ll be amending my post to reflect this difference.

            • As usual, we differ. Others can assess the matter as they will, but I think you always do a great job of being just what you are, Sam, and I intended my thanks to you for your contribution honestly.
          • I had a whole thing and lost it, and that was probably a good thing. But: I don’t think you and Sam are necessarily disagreeing here so much as you’re talking about different things / coming at the “issue” from different directions. Also I think so long as we keep level heads and remember that not everything is a policy proposal we will all be happier in these kinds of discussions re: the culture of OT.

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