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By Douglas Moran

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About this blog: Real power doesn't reside with those who make the final decision, but with those who decide what qualifies as the viable choices. I stumbled across this insight as a teenager (in the 1960s). As a grad student, I belonged to an org...  (More)

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Enough with Boycotts & "We don't want your type around here"

Uploaded: Mar 31, 2018
Santa Clara County is planning a ban that I regard as equivalent--morally if not legally--to those states that effectively ban abortions by imposing regulations intended to force clinics to close. Similarly for the County Clerk in Kentucky who illegally refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.(foot#1) This ban would prohibit the possession and sale of guns on County property, with the most prominent target being semi-annual gun shows at the County Fairgrounds.(foot#2) Politically, the USA is first and foremost a ^republic^, and a republic's defining attribute is the ^rule of law^. The founders of the US emphasized the republican aspect because history had repeatedly demonstrated that non-republican democracies were very susceptible to the ^Tyranny of the Majority (Masses)^. Ben Franklin said "A democracy is a sheep and two wolves deciding on what to have for lunch. Freedom is a well-armed sheep contesting the results of the decision.". A republic is intended to provide legal and societal protection for those minorities ("sheep"). The protection is crucial to everyone because you are likely to be in the minority in some important aspect of your life at some time.

My argument is going to take you through multiple steps that build upon earlier ones, and ask you to consider your value judgments.

----Rights----

In moral/ethical reasoning, one of the common means to separate expediency and bias from principle is to make seemingly minor changes. For example, to test whether something is racist, you would switch around the races of the people or groups involved. The very real problem of gun violence is the claimed basis for the legitimacy of the County's planned ban. So, let's switch the focus from the ^Second Amendment^ ("...right to keep and bear arms...") to the ^Fourth Amendment^ (prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures). Since roughly 80% of the non-suicide gun deaths are classified as related to gangs and illegal drugs, suppose a jurisdiction decided to greatly expand the definition of ^reasonable suspicion^ for ^Stop and Frisk (formally a Terry stop)^. Such an expansion might include: presence in a designated "high-crime area", being similar in appearance to a gang member (clothing, hair ...), being in a database of suspected gang members and associates, having been detained, arrested or convicted of a gang- or drug-related crime, behavior when they see a police officer, ... Would you be willing to inflict this on the minority of citizens that would be affected in order to reduce gun deaths? I wouldn't. Notice that this would be a case of tyranny of the majority.

You might take this up a level by introducing a variant of the ^Trolley Problem^, which is an exercise in morality/ethics in which you have to decide which person or group dies and which survives. In this situation, how would you value the lives of those killed? For example, in the case of a drive-by shooting, does the life of the gang member targeted count for less than a child in a nearby house killed by a stray bullet? How about that child versus student in a school shooting? A hold-up? A home invasion? ...

Another variation would be to focus on suicides, rather than homicides, because they are the substantial majority of gun deaths (about two-thirds). Family, friends, doctors and other professionals seem to have limited ability to spot and act upon signs that a person might be suicidal, for example, the signs may be too subtle, ambiguous or gradual to be recognized, or the person may be effectively hiding them. Social media companies have demonstrated, by the ads displayed, that they can detect when a woman is pregnant from her browsing history, often before she has told others. By combining browsing history, email, texting, social media posts, GPS tracking of your smart phone, phone activity (meta-data), medical records, shopping activity (from credit cards ...) ..., the government could build a profile of you to determine if and when you might be suicidal.

Would you be willing to support such a massive reduction in privacy rights--which are implicit in the Fourth Amendment--in order to reduce the number of suicides by gun? Would you be willing to trust that none of this information would be abused, sold or leaked by the government, its contractors and partners? There are many ways the data could be leaked by corporate partners. Part of their business plan might be to use it themselves, make it available to partners or outright sell it (Facebook is the current prominent example). It could be through negligence: Adequate computer security is expensive and cuts into profits. Or it could be by unforeseen circumstances, or accidents. Notice that this variation would involve significant sacrifice of privacy rights by the whole citizenry, not just some minority. Would it be worth it?

Now go back to the question of the County banning guns from County facilities and ask yourself if this is the sort of precedent that you want established, and why. Or is there a more limited version or alternative that you would find acceptable? Recognize that the wording of the Second Amendment is "... the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed;...". Part of the definition of "infringe" is "encroach", which includes "diminish".

There have been arguments that the Bill of Rights, or parts thereof, constrains only the national government, and not the state and local governments. Would such an argument influence what you believe are the rights of citizens? If a right was so important that it needed to be part of the Constitution, how could it have been so unimportant as to allow others to take it away? The admonition "Just because you have the right to do something doesn't mean that it is the right thing to do" applies also to limiting the rights of others.

Most actions result in unintended and unforeseen consequence -- "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions". You should always ask if the advocates of that action have done proper due-diligence to minimize such negatives.

The constraints of forums such as this one make it impossible to adequately moderate serious discussions of the magnitude of the questions posed above--they need to occur face-to-face. Appropriate comments on these questions are to point readers to relevant questions or discussions.

----Liberal and conservative personality types----

The 2016 election highlighted the increasing regional self-segregation of liberals and conservatives, as well as social self-segregation within communities. Most of this discussion has focused on the effect on political discourse and action. But there is also significant correlations between those categories and the distribution of ^Big Five Personality Traits^ and the distributions of categories used in Moral Psychology (prominent work by Jonathan Haidt(foot#3) ). Because these distribution and the mixes of these traits are widely found in groups, the inference is that this was important to the survival of groups of humans (evolution, selection, adaptation).

There is an unattributed saying that begins "Liberals have never built a great civilization." Before you react, you should consider the definition of "civilization". I found lots of variation, but the core of all of them was "complex (state) society" which characterized by large urban centers, or at least urban development, and by ^social stratification^ and hierarchy. A desire for order, structure and hierarchy are preponderantly conservative traits. But it isn't just that such a society is the type preferred by conservatives, but that it likely wouldn't come into being and grow unless there were those types of people driving it.

The second part of that saying is that once such societies have reached a certain threshold, liberals don't just thrive, but improve that civilization.

As to the decline of such civilizations, both liberal and conservative tendencies can be responsible. For example, conservatives can be overly cautious about adapting to changing conditions, and they can have too much deference to the hierarchy, especially in succession issues, such as choosing obviously bad leaders based on "It's their turn". Liberals can fail to adapt to changing situations because they are reluctant to make choices that involve tradeoffs. And they are overly willing to let everyone go their own way, in essence creating a "herd of cats" and with no one willing or able to try to herd them.

I learned the danger of too much focus on "fairness" in a course on Computer Operating Systems in my Freshman year (1969). The professor (John J. Donovan) recounted that he had been called in as a consultant for a university computer center because users were complaining that charges were much higher than at similar facilities. What he found was the the accounting/billing system was using roughly half of the computing resources. He said that it was doing micro-accounting on all resources used, such as counting the number of sheets of paper used. His recommendation was to used simplified measures to compute charges. The result? Everyone saw a substantial reduction in costs, although some saw more reduction that others.
Economic Lesson: Worry about overheads, they can kill you.
Philosophical Lesson: The cost of being fair to everyone can be unfair to everyone.
Meta-Lesson for students: Listen to the teachers' asides in class because therein is often wisdom, in contrast to the knowledge in the normal part of the class.(foot#4)(foot#5)

A similar situation occurs in the evolution of startups: At the beginning, an openness to new ideas (liberal trait) is essential, but as the company grows, those traits create counter-productive chaos and leadership shifts to those who knows how to created the necessary structure and order. If interested, there is much discussion of this that was initiated by the book ^The Innovator's Dilemma^, although the book itself is regarded as overly simplistic in its treatment of the issues facing incumbent companies.

A favorite quote comes the European ^Revolutions of 1848^. The chief of the revolutionary police in Paris said of the prominent, highly charismatic anarchist ^Mikhail Bakunin^: "On the first day, he was a treasure. On the second day, he should have been shot."

Aptitudes and interests influence what skills people acquired, and non-trivial groups need a range of people with different personality traits to complement each other. And just as important, a group needs different personality types to counteract the excesses of each other's inclinations.
Note: I don't use the word "diversity" because the current usage by many restricts it to only race, gender, sexual orientation, ..., and excludes other differences such as personality type, the (sub)culture you grew up in, education, ...(foot#6)

As an example (from my experience), consider a software development team. If the team is dominated by liberal personality types, it is likely to overreach, both in what is possible and what can be done within the schedule. And being focused on moving rapidly ahead, they produce buggy code and fail to do proper testing. To keep this in check, the caution and risk-awareness of the conservative personality type are needed. On the other hand, a team dominated by conservative personality types is likely to produce something that is only an incremental improvement.

----"No Irish Need Apply" / "No Dogs or Irish Allowed"----

These sayings (from signs) are the exemplars for reaction to many immigrant groups. I suspect that the racial epithets in the equivalent signs for segregation disqualified them from being the exemplars. The message is that that group is regarded as outsiders--not part of the community. One of the strengths of US has been its population seeing itself as part of the whole nation, and not placing loyalty to smaller groups over the nation.
For example, Afghanistan is a country, not a nation: It is a collection of ethnic groups and tribes. Similarly for the former Yugoslavia: its leaders attempted to create a nation, but the ethnic and religious animosities were too strong. During the break-up, I watched an interview (PBS News Hour) of a Serbian-American and a Kosovar-American. Their talking points included 500-year-old events--such as the ^Battle of Kosovo^ (1389)--as if they were current events.

The most prominent current examples are businesses refusing services related to gay marriage, for example, wedding cakes and photography. Focus on the moral issues, not the legal arguments (there are contrasting court decisions and a case is pending at the US Supreme Court). Supporting the right of bakers to refuse to make cakes for gay weddings, the primary argument is that the baker should be free to choose whom to serve, in this case motivated by religious beliefs. This provides a very one-sided view of the social contract, which involves the combination of rights and obligations. The right of the baker to conduct business in the community comes with the obligation to serve the community.

People who come from large urban areas tend to argue that being denied service is no big deal because there are likely alternatives nearby. I reject this argument because it doesn't apply to many people's situation. For example, I grew up in a semi-rural village and the alternative was often a major trip down the valley. Then there were the pseudo-alternatives: Having two gas stations in town didn't count as alternatives if they were owned by the same family. This provided them with some leverage against the oil companies, but took away choice from the community. Similarly, an extended family might have come to own a substantial portion of the local retail through generational turnover. Similarly, poor inner-city areas are grossly under-served. And what is close-enough for a 25-year-old may not be so for a senior citizen, nor a parent with young children in tow.

My sense is that making a cake for a gay wedding has so little difference from making other wedding cakes that there is no moral or ethical rationale for refusing to do so, and that the baker should put aside moral qualms for the sake of the community functioning as a community. As to legal requirements, I am not a lawyer.

Now add in the case of a person hired to photograph a gay wedding. My sense is that this crosses the threshold to where I would disagree with a refusal, but not condemn it. Why? The photographer's job requires active participation in the event.

----Stereotypes & False Positives----

On a much larger stage, such refusals can have unintended consequences. In 2012, Google decided to not include listings for firearms and related products for searches conducted from the ^Google Shopping tab^. In late February 2018, it was discovered that it was excluding all results for titles containing "gun" and related words. This caused many legitimate vendors to have their listings not appear: "Gunderson" (Colorado tourist area), "Laguna", "Burgundy" (the wine and the region), "glue gun", "Guns N Roses" (musical group), "water pistol", "Sex Pistols" (musical group), ...(foot#7) This seems to have since been fixed, seemingly by turning off the filter. That this happened is a warning of the danger of such filtering: The problem of over-shoot was dramatically illustrated two decades ago with SPAM filters which generated large numbers of false positives, such a messages with the word "specialist" being flagged because they contained "Cialis" (a drug name). Since key Google products depend on minimizing such false positives, it is hard to image how this mistake happened.

With algorithm powered by deep-learning, a certain number of these false positives are inevitable.(foot#8) So, what is the morality, ethics and duties of the developers of such algorithms?

Back in the days of "No Irish Need Apply", there were valid concerns behind those signs: There was lack of impulse control and other causes of serious violence, drunkenness, substantial criminality, ..., as was to be expected from the conditions from which most of them had come and were now in. The legend is that at a New York City Police event, the Commissioner looked out over the room and said "I see that if it weren't for the Irish, New York wouldn't have a police force" and from the back of the room someone responded "If it weren't for the Irish, New York wouldn't need a police force."

Of course there were many who do not fit the stereotypes, that is, they are the false positives of the stereotype. Should false positives from an algorithm be treated differently from stereotypes, and in what ways? Recognize that although there are malicious stereotypes, many stereotypes emerged and evolved from detecting and learning patterns, which is essentially what is going on in computer-based learning. Does that change your thinking about false positives?

----Public boycotts of companies----

After the 2016 election, there was a rash of calls for boycotts of companies because for situation such as them having Trump supporters on their Board of Directors or as prominent employees. Ask yourself if this isn't a variant of "No Irish Need Apply". Aren't the boycotters refusing to compete in the marketplace of ideas and instead trying to use economic power to silence dissenting views?

Other calls for boycotts represent an arrogance, carelessness, recklessness and venom. For example, after the Parkland school shooting, there was call for a boycott of Delta Airlines under the false rationalization that they supported the NRA (National Rifle Association), when what they actually did was offer a discount to NRA members for travel to the convention. Such affinity discounts are common because they benefit the company offering them. First, they are expected to be a more cost-efficient way of obtaining customers, and second, the discounts are often less than what the customer could find elsewhere. The latter is suggested by the fact that only a handful of NRA members used the discount.

Then there are the secondary boycotts, which, if they had been within the realm of labor law, would have been illegal. For example, while some companies do select specific shows for a portion of their advertising, many companies simply want their advertising to reach particular demographics and receive a certain number of viewings, spread over a range of audiences.(foot#9) They don't care about the specifics, such as the particular TV show. So they buy a block of advertising space and let others manage the details. Does it sound reasonable to attack them for where their ads wound up? This question has two levels.
The first is of principles, morality, ethics.
The second is pragmatics. How possible is it to create effective advertising where some group won't manage to find some way to take offense? Plus, the resources spent on such efforts increase the costs of products--higher overheads. How much is this worth to the community?

Many of the targeted companies are in a bind: They don't want to take sides, but simply reach as many potential customers as possible. If they cave in to one group's boycott, they are liable to being targeted for a boycott by opposing groups.

Public boycotts have been an appropriate means to pressure individuals, groups and companies that fall in the grey area between significantly violating public standards and being illegal enough to be prosecuted. However, we are increasingly seeing the calling of boycotts as an exercise of power by one group against the larger community. This can be perceived by other groups as anything from a statement of contempt directed at them to being a "declaration of war".

As I was finishing this article, an example arose. David Hogg, one of the primary media faces for the Parkland school shooting, made public that he had been rejected by four colleges. Laura Ingraham, the host of a show on Fox News, tweeted out a mildly snarky comment on this. Hogg then used social and traditional media to call for a boycott of advertisers on Ingraham's show, first 12 companies, then 100. If Hogg had been a normal student making a public statement on an issue, Ingraham's tweet would have been very wrong, both for the ridicule and for expanding the distribution of the information in Hogg's tweet. However, Hogg has chosen to become a very high profile public figure, which has a very different criteria for how he should expect to be treated. Which criteria should be used, child or public figure? Add to this that Hogg is a ^demagogue (definition 1)^. He has made statements against others that I would regard as slanderous if those targets hadn't been public figures. He routinely derides those that don't agree with him. In an interview, he profanely expressed contempt for his parents and other adults.(foot#10)
What is your judgment: Does his conduct override the default criteria on how he should be treated by others?(foot#11)
Note: Ingraham is highly partisan and could qualify as being demagogic. However, that is irrelevant in considering how Hogg's conduct should be factored into how he should be treated?

----Public boycotts of companies causing them to use stereotypes----

About a year ago, the Wall Street Journal found Disney advertising alongside a controversial video. Pack (of hyenas) journalism took over and reporters found more similar situations, and widely publicized them. Readers of these articles were led to believe that those companies had chosen to support those videos and the groups producing them, rather than the ads being placed there by a Google/YouTube algorithm. Advertisers had long had complaints about how Google/YouTube placed ads. Concerns about boycotts and other damages to their corporate and product reputations caused many of them to pull their YouTube advertising entirely. To get its ad revenue back, YouTube responded in a ham-fisted way, designating as "Not Suitable for Advertising" a wide-range of videos, including many that were current events, educational and how-to.

Many content producers that had relied on ad revenue to support their work saw it dry up (web search term: demonetization). Some creators successfully transitioned to other funding mechanisms, such as contributions from supportive viewers, but others just gave up.

These events are commonly referred to as the "AdPocalypse" (ad + apocalypse). Web search will return an number of pretty-good accounts, but I haven't found one to recommend as really good.

Why is this important? Fear of attacks, boycotts, censorship by Google/YouTube and others has caused creators to increasingly self-censoring, and producing increasing sterilized accounts. YouTube seems to have very different rules for mainstream media and alternative sources. For example, after the Parkland shooting, one independent YouTube journalist questioned the public claims by a White Nationalist in an AP story from the ADL (Anti-defamation League). YouTube deleted the journalist's video, claiming that it constituted "harassment and bullying" (of the White Nationalist who had talked to the press?). The next day, the AP retracted those claims.(foot#12) What are we going to do when the alternative voices who call out established media's inclination to "Don't let fact-checking get in the way of click-bait" (updated version of "Don't let facts/the truth get in the way of a good story") are suppressed, supposedly by algorithms.

----Conclusion----
This has intentionally been a long journey from the opening concern about the County Board of Supervisor's plan to ban (on the possession and sale of guns on County property). There were two related basic issues. First the tyranny of the majority relative to rights. Second was how power-plays by one group within a community and adversely impact the sense of community.

----Footnotes----
1. Marriage license for same-sex couple denied:
^Kim Davis^ in Rowan County Kentucky in 2015.

2. "^Gun show ban plan for Santa Clara County fairgrounds advances^" by John Woolfolk - The Mercury News, 2018-03-06.

3. Jonathan Haidt on Moral Psychology:
^My collection of links^ to overlapping talks from the book tour, invited talks and participation on various panels.

4. Wisdom vs Knowledge:
More discussion in my earlier blog "^Wisdom, Skills, Knowledge, Wits: Not the same^", 2015-12-14.

5. More wisdom from asides in class:
There were two other important lessons from my freshman year.
First, in "Introduction to Psychology", the professor told us that the course and the textbook were deceptively named, and should have been "Introduction to the Psychology of Freshman and Sophomores at major research universities", because they were the preponderance of the subjects in the research studies.
Aside: A similar selection bias is so common that it has an acronym WEIRD: Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, Democratic.
At that time we didn't have the term "bubble" to describe such a bias, so I internalized it as a caution about unrepresentative samples.
Second was in a programming project: My project partner had a bug in his code arising from a wildly improbable combination of conditions. I could walk him step-by-step through what was happening and he still refused to believe it w possible. Detail for the curious: We were programming in Assembly Language, which is only slightly above writing the machine instructions themselves. His code had a bad go-to that caused the computer to execute some of the data as if it were a sequence of instructions, the last of which was a go-to back to almost exactly where it had come from.

6. Culture you grew up in:
There are many cultures in the US. If you are interest in origins of regional cultures, see: ^Up in Arms^ by Colin Woodward - U of Tufts Magazine, 2013-Fall.
Blurb: "The battle lines of today's debates over gun control, stand-your-ground laws, and other violence-related issues were drawn centuries ago by America's early settlers."
However the title is misleading: The article is instead a good introduction or overview of the author's book ^American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America^ by Colin Woodard, 2011.
Blurb: "An illuminating history of North America's eleven rival cultural regions that explodes the red state-blue state myth. // North America was settled by people with distinct religious, political, and ethnographic characteristics, creating regional cultures that have been at odds with one another ever since. Subsequent immigrants didn't confront or assimilate into an 'American' or 'Canadian' culture, but rather into one of the eleven distinct regional ones that spread over the continent each staking out mutually exclusive territory."
For those interested in more details, I have seen recommendations for the book ^The Nine Nations of North America^ by Joel Garreau, 1981, but with the warning that it is very long and dense.
Blurb: "Redivides North America into nine powers which are seen as the continent's emerging realities, and explains the distinct cultural, ethnic, and geographic identities of each."

7. Google Shopping:
"^Google Shopping bans searches for 'water guns' and 'Guns N Roses' -- but you can still look for 'bombs' and 'poison' ^" - Business Insider, 2018-02-27.

8. Inevitability of false positives:
See the section False positives from classification algorithms in my blog "^Swastikas, censorship, false positives and kittens^, 2017-09-07".

9. "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." ^John Wanamaker^ (1838-1922), a prominent merchant (department stores) and a pioneer in marketing.

10. David Hogg's contempt for his parents and adults:
"^David Hogg: 'Our Parents Don't Know How To Use A F*cking Democracy, So We Have To' ^" by Tim Hains - Real Clear Politics, 2018-03-23.

11. How to treat David Hogg?
This is an evolving discussion. One such article is "^David Hogg's attempt to end Laura Ingraham's career sets dangerous precedent^" by Joe Concha - The Hill, 2018-03-30.

12. AP/ADL fake news:
^Youtube Censored my Video. Was This Political?^ (12:54), cued at 1:33 - Tim Pool, 2018-02-19.


----
An ^abbreviated index by topic and chronologically^ is available.


----Boilerplate on Commenting----
The ^Guidelines^ for comments on this blog are different from those on Town Square Forums. I am attempting to foster more civility and substantive comments by deleting violations of the guidelines.

I am particularly strict about misrepresenting what others have said (me or other commenters). If I judge your comment as likely to provoke a response of "That is not what was said", do not be surprised to have it deleted. My primary goal is to avoid unnecessary and undesirable back-and-forth, but such misrepresentations also indicate that the author is unwilling/unable to participate in a meaningful, respectful conversation on the topic.

If you behave like a ^Troll^, do not waste your time protesting when you get treated like one.

Comments

 +   6 people like this
Posted by parent, a resident of Community Center,
on Mar 31, 2018 at 3:59 pm

Melania says is going to speak out against internet bullying. But she doesn't say when that is going to happen.

[[Blogger: Advice: "bullying" is at the periphery of this discussion because it is usually taken to be small scale and the measures taken against it are very different from the larger scale versions, which are typically referred to as "harassment" or "intimidation".

Note: Mentioning "Melania" puts this close to being ad hominem or guilt-by-association: She seems to trying to avoid being a public figure (as did some former First Ladies) and the mention seems to be only anti-Trump.
]]


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Eileen Wright, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 31, 2018 at 4:15 pm

[[Blogger: deleted as only partisan sloganeering. No contribution to discussion.

Consequently, I deleted the replies to this comment.
]]


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Justice in Auburn, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 2, 2018 at 4:02 pm

The County has zero business getting involved in gun shows, in any way, other than increasing regulation and safety of such shows and the neighboring communities.

Maybe, just maybe, the county should consider it if they show they are part of A Well Regulated Militia.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 2, 2018 at 5:26 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

> "The County has zero business getting involved in gun shows, in any way, other than increasing regulation and safety of such shows and the neighboring communities."

The County is not involved in gun shows, it is simply renting space to a commercial event. If you, the reader, think that political perspective is a valid criteria for determining eligibility to rent this space, would you also be supporting the County Supervisors favoring and excluding potential renters based upon those companies' politics? For example, a company could show it had the "proper politics" by donating to a majority of the Supervisors, and one that donated to their opponents would have "damaging politics".

> "Maybe, just maybe, the county should consider it if they show they are part of A Well Regulated Militia.

Although the Second Amendment is poorly worded, there is a substantial body of judicial decisions and legal and historical scholarship that the right is to the people, not the current members of the militia.

Some historical background:
The Founders were worried about abuses by an overly powerful Federal government and especially one that had a significant standing (professional) army. Early legislation restricted the size of the standing army to be a fraction of the size of the state militias. The prevailing notion seemed to be that the "militia" was "all the people", not just those that showed up for training and drill during peacetime. The expectation was that many citizens would join the militia in times of need (invasion, insurrection or Indian wars).
The US armories (stockpiles) fell far short of what would be needed to arm those volunteers, and many were expected to bring their own weapons.
Aside: The urban population typically didn't have their own weapons.
Learning to use a musket effectively was time-consuming, but I haven't seen good estimates because that training was combined with marching and formations, which itself was not easy. To acquire the necessary proficiencies in all the skills needed to be a professional soldier,the estimates of the time was that it took about three years.
Aside: The over-reliance on militias and small size of the professional army was a major factor in the US defeat in the War of 1812. Yes, the US won the battle (New Orleans) after the peace treaty had been negotiated but before it was finally ratified. But the overall pattern was of US defeats and the British/Canadians and their Indian allies occupying significant portions of US territory. The British wanted the war to end because the Napoleonic wars had bled them dry financially.

Modern weapons require non-trivial training. There is basic operation, maintenance, repair, safety, and marksmanship. Safety may be the hardest and most time-consuming part, for example always be aware of, and controlling, where your gun is pointing ("muzzle disciple"). A country can get better soldiers faster if they already have experience with guns: Much of what they learned as a civilian transfers to the models of guns being used by the military.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Justice in Auburn, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 2, 2018 at 5:48 pm

"The County is not involved in gun shows" - The county renting space to a gun show does *involve* it.

"If you, the reader, think that political perspective is a valid criteria..."

Actually, I don't think it is a political perspective.

I believe it is, at the least, a community safety issue. Perhaps also not in the best interest of the community as a whole. Certainly, gun shows are not exactly 'wholesome family entertainment'.

Let the gun shows follow the lead of other less community oriented events and contract private space.

As to Militias? How about a great American compromise?

Be part of a constitutionally protected Well Regulated Militia, or have as many muskets as you want.

;)


 +   5 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 2, 2018 at 7:31 pm

If it is the only way to get anything done I am all for it. Though I am luke warm
about David Hogg and the gun-control folks, though I believe in what is coming
to be called "common sense gun reform". I was pleased as punch that when
pointlessly attacked in the media he fought back and people supported him.
It's nice to see some of these more fake-demagogical voices - this is a great
development ... and so is the use of boycotts or expanding union representation.

I don't hear you saying much about the hundreds of right-wing astroturf
organizations, the lobbyists, the sock-puppets ( maybe some are from
Russia, but most are right-wing manipulators organized here ).

Have you read any of the books on these subjects by Thomas Frank and
David Cay Johnston about how stacked the system is against democracy,
and what the real bottom line is in terms of the plan for this country, or you
just agree with it?

Boycotts and unions, no voting for extreme ideologues or mentally unstable
billionaires has been what has brought justice, broadened prosperity and
pushed this republic to be less corporate and plutocratic and more democratic.

The problem with the parties is that the Democrats are playing Republican
Lite and forsaken the only power they have.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Harry Merkin, a resident of Ventura,
on Apr 2, 2018 at 9:12 pm

"Although the Second Amendment is poorly worded, there is a substantial body of judicial decisions and legal and historical scholarship that the right is to the people, not the current members of the militia."

And also to the contrary. But never mind those niceties, because in practice that right depends on the whim of the SCOTUS' current swing voter.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 2, 2018 at 9:18 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: CrescentParkAnon

> "If it is the only way to get anything done I am all for it."

First, it isn't the only way to get things done: The gun-control advocates have long gone far out of their way to demonstrate that they aren't interested in negotiations (see an earlier blog). And I have lots of problems with the gun lobby as well.

Second, this lack of concern for known injury to innocent parties, such as advertisers, is an example of why I don't trust the gun-control advocates to be honest nor sincere. Don't engage in WhatAbout-ism. You have not demonstrated that this is a "Trolley Problem", but simply written off some innocent parties as disposable.

> " though I believe in what is coming to be called "common sense gun reform"."

This is a slogan, not an actual proposal. When people using that phrase are asked what it means, their answers are all over the map, including that they don't know. And the claim of "common sense..." is ridiculous coming from people who demonstrate so much ignorance of the law, history and technical details of the issue.

> "I was pleased as punch that when pointlessly attacked in the media he fought back and people supported him."

This is an example of abject tribalism. Hogg has spent weeks publicly defaming those that disagree with him (eg "child killers"), but one tweet that says he is "whiny" is suddenly out-of-bounds. Hogg has aggressively sought to be a high-profile public figure and he sees this as a great affront. Hogg violated Twitter's rules about private information, but given Twitter's political partisanship is unlikely to be punished. Another very negative bit about Hogg's character is that he chose to use his Twitter following in massively disproportionate response to satisfy his own ego(mania). That gun-control advocates didn't say "Enough" to Hogg long ago demonstrates that they cannot be expected to behave honorably.

Or as Joseph Walsh said to another demogogue (Sen Joseph McCarthy, R-WI): "Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. ... Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

> "I don't hear you saying much about the hundreds of right-wing..."

More "WhatAbout-ism. I am unaware of any of those groups calling for boycotts of companies for their advertising on particular programs. All I have heard of are calls for counter-boycotts for the companies that cravenly caved-in to the Hogg-led boycott.

> "Have you read ... how stacked the system is against democracy..."

If one has read my earlier blog posts (index), one would see my concerns about democracy at a local level, which is my primary focus.


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Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 2, 2018 at 9:30 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Harry Merkin

I don't subscribe to the "Original Intent" approach to the Constitution and I regard the Supreme Court as having substantially overstepped its bounds, often far into legislating on a range of issues. This has gone on for many decades and involves both Democratic- and Republican-dominated courts.

However, in reading the summaries of both decisions and dissents, I have found the ones arguing for substantial weakening of the people's right to bear arms as unconvincing and having the feel of trying to legislate.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Harry Merkin, a resident of Ventura,
on Apr 3, 2018 at 12:48 pm

"However, in reading the summaries of both decisions and dissents, I have found the ones arguing for substantial weakening of the people's right to bear arms as unconvincing and having the feel of trying to legislate."

Your opinion is your right under the First Amendment issue. It is, however, nonsubstantial and irrelevant in this matter.

The actual Constitutional "right" of individual gun ownership varies and will vary with the vote on the SCOTUS, so it cannot be counted an absolute right until 2/3 of Congress and 3/4 of states decide on definitive wording. NRA, to your mission.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Apr 3, 2018 at 4:52 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

If we blindly follow a document that was ratified 230 years ago to the letter, and don't question its relevance to the 21st century, than we should allow individuals to purchase nuclear weapons. It makes as much sense. That's how twisted the argument against any attempt by the people to regulate gun sales.

The notion that incredibly inaccurate primitive weapons of the 18 century that had to be reloaded after every discharge should be treated vis-vis the right to ownership the same as weapons of war that can kill many people in seconds and penetrate thick walls is, fairly, insane, and perhaps this is why I keep hearing "you Americans are insane" everywhere I go around the world.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Polly Wanacracker, a resident of Professorville,
on Apr 3, 2018 at 6:19 pm

"We don't want your type around here"

I agree. Please change to a serif.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 3, 2018 at 6:24 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

> Maruricio: "purchase nuclear weapons"

This is a classic fallacy known as a Strawman argument - arguing against a ridiculous position that is far from what the other side has said.

The pro-gun advocates are talking about a limited class of small arms. They are not advocating that people have a right to have RPGs (Rocket Propelled Grenades), hand grenades, ...
There is room to disagree on where the thresholds are. For example, California bans .50-caliber rifles -- which I think is more than reasonable.

> "can penetrate thick walls"

Most of the models that gun-control advocates seek to ban can't do this. They can easily penetrate normal dry walls (1/2" - 5/8" thick, gypsum), but then so can a lightly tapped nail, a knife, a fist ... However, for a wall with a brick or concrete facing? Nope.

> "weapon of war"

This is a term that is ridiculously vague and broad. It is emotional and signals that the speaker is unwilling to engage in rational discussion. Consider what could be included under this term. Knives are "weapons of war". A Molotov Cocktail -- gasoline in a small-neck bottle (eg liquor) with some non-fire-retardant cloth hanging out -- is an improvised weapon of war. Since these are so easily assembled, any meaningful ban would have to ban possession of the components. This is not an invalid Strawman argument because these are common-sense interpretations of that term. Note that those using the term are not calling to ban all "weapons of war", but rather use it as an arbitrary justification for banning whatever they want to ban.

> "The notion that incredibly inaccurate primitive weapons of the 18 century that had to be reloaded after every discharge should be treated vis-vis the right to ownership the same as weapons of war"

But those muskets and rifles were the "weapons of war" at that time. Very credible arguments can, and have, been made that the intent was that "the people" have access to the low end of "weapons of war".

As to the implicit argument that the Second Amendment shouldn't apply to modern weapons of war, how would you justify banning AR-15-type rifles and not a semi-automatic version of the M14 because the later is obsolete (production ended 1964). The M14 uses much more powerful ammunition than the AR-15-type.

As to muzzle-loaders apparently being OK: In an earlier blog, I pointed out that the Gaby Giffords gun-control group had targeted a muzzle-loader for needing to be banned (section "Example nonsense and some science").


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Posted by mauricio, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Apr 3, 2018 at 6:57 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

I actually agree. Every weapon used by soldiers in the battlefield should be banned. Only single action revolvers and hunting rifles should be sold, and only to applicants who have no criminal or mental illness records and can pass a similar psychiatric evaluation to the one police applicants have to pass. Any person caught with any other type of firearm should be subjected to a mandatory draconian prison sentence, up to life and no less than 30 years. I have no doubt that all Framers, if they could be brought back to life for just one day, would support this. It goes directly to "The pursuit of life and happiness".


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 4, 2018 at 10:54 am

Thanks to Douglas Moran for the breath of fresh air. I appreciate your column. Keep fighting the good fight against all these sanctimonious collectivists who flood these forums with their trite bleeding heart comments.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by dejiii, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 5, 2018 at 9:16 am

dejiii is a registered user.

Did not read too long :----).....
All I know is TOLERANCE is the greatest gift to
Democracy and this saving grace for the USA and our
contribution to the world......
SF in the 1970s was a disaster. Gay population moved
in Castro street area. Created Jobs, cleaned up block
after block, then families with fathers, mothers, children
started moving in, businesses flourished. Goes on and on.
Tech industry, similar. Tolerance, ability of Santa Clara area
to allowed local and international contributions. Goes on and on.....
No screaming liberal here. Just logical and aware.
III


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 5, 2018 at 10:08 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

As usual, this is an interesting and thought-provoking piece.

I look forward to the Second Amendment lawsuits by county residents who actually understand and respect the Constitution (versus those who wish to reinterpret it to suit their own whims) against Santa Clara County. The fact is that the county would lose any such suit and the precedent set by the Supreme Court would have more lasting impact on everyone in the county.

Interestingly, activists -- like anti-Second Amendment activists -- have an avenue to carry out their liberal dreams. Instead of desperately trying to "reinterpret" the law, they can change the law. They can attempt to push for a repeal of any amendments to the Constitution -- like the the Second Amendment -- that they dislike.

The Constitution can be amended by a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Congress or via a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. Any proposed amendment would only become a part of the Constitution as soon as it is ratified by three-fourths (38/50)of the States.

Of course, liberals know that they are not a majority in this nation. In fact, they are far from it.

This is why liberals tend to shy away from any "strict constructionist" view of the Constitution. They believe that the Constitution is flawed and the easiest route to transforming the nation into their own ideological image is to "interpret" it that way. After all, any attempt to transform this country via amending the Constitution of this republic would fail miserably.


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Posted by Lindsay O'Toole, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Apr 5, 2018 at 10:34 pm

"This is why liberals tend to shy away from any "strict constructionist" view of the Constitution. They believe that the Constitution is flawed..."

Try to grasp that the Second Amendment is itself an amendment to an initially "flawed" Constitution. Likewise the Nineteenth Amendment--or do you insist on the Framers' sacred original construction that women should not have a Constitutionally assured right to vote? [[Blogger: This nudges up to the line of being WhatAbout-ism (Web Link), which is to be discouraged.]]


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Posted by promote the general welfare, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Apr 6, 2018 at 9:44 am

[[Blogger: This comment violates the guidelines for this blog.
-- It is disrespectful of those with different opinions.
-- It fails to include respond to arguments already given, and is thus only a statement of personal opinion, which makes it clutter.
I am not deleting this comment, but leaving it as a reminders of the guidelines.
]]

"They believe that the Constitution is flawed" - wotta bunch of tripe.

It's conservatives who, when espousing their awkward 2nd amendment defense, fail to use the whole amendment. Just take a look at the NRA's lobby wall - the part where they carved part of the 2nd amendment into the wall, sans 'Well Regulated Militia'.

Only half an amendment, yet it is the rest of America who "believe that the Constitution is flawed"?!?

Puh-leeze.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Right American, a resident of Palo Alto Hills,
on Apr 6, 2018 at 12:57 pm

>> Interestingly, activists -- like anti-Second Amendment activists -- have an avenue to carry out their liberal dreams. Instead of desperately trying to "reinterpret" the law, they can change the law. They can attempt to push for a repeal of any amendments to the Constitution -- like the the Second Amendment -- that they dislike.

In my view the NRA has failed us. Why has it not pressed for a 28-th amendment to supplant the ambiguous 2-nd amendment and explicitly guarantee the right of any American to own any weapon regardless of age or other personal circumstance?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 6, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Re: Lindsay O'Toole: "Likewise the Nineteenth Amendment--or do you insist on the Framers' sacred original construction that women should not have a Constitutionally assured right to vote?"

Until the 19th Amendment, voting rights were determined by the states (the 14th Amendment covered citizenship). Early America followed the British: Voting rights were for property owners, and that included women, although that was rare because property was typically not inherited by the widow, but a male heir.

In the expansion of the franchise in the US in the early 1800s to include men without property, the state laws came to exclude women (I don't have adequate recollections of how that happened). There were states that did provide voting rights to women, although it seems from expediency rather than principle. Some western territory(s) gave women the right to vote, but my recollection is that it was a mix of:
1. being seen as a way to attract women to come to the territory.
2. being a way to speed statehood because the threshold for that territory was not population, but number of voters.
Before anyone says that the 19th was the feds usurping states' powers, recognized that to take effect, it had to be ratified by 3/4 of the states.

Historical aside: Tammany Hall was created in the 1780s as the center of Jeffersonians in New York City, with Aaron Burr as one of the leaders. To extend voting rights to non-property owners (the working class ...), it would buy chunks of typically worthless land and subdivide them into tiny parcels and sell those cheaply to members, thereby turning them into property owners = voters.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Former PA resident, a resident of Mountain View,
on Apr 6, 2018 at 3:24 pm

Don't overlook that the US was ahead of some "Western industrialized" nations in granting voting rights for women. Although it's seldom mentioned, France didn't give them until after World War II. Switzerland not until 1971, and that was just for federal elections, full voting rights in the cantons (provinces) arriving only in 1990.


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Posted by Lindsay O'Toole, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Apr 6, 2018 at 5:51 pm

I should have made my point more explicit: The existence of amendments to the US Constitution argues against a "strict constructionist" interpretation of it. Omitting the aberration of Prohibition and its repeal, the Constitution has been rigorously deemed an imperfect document 25 times.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 6, 2018 at 6:20 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Categorizing the Constitution as "flawed" was introduced here by Nayeli in characterizing Liberals (others).
But subsequent commenters supported the notion that it is "flawed", citing the amendments. This is disingenuous: The Constitution was never seen as perfect, otherwise it wouldn't have included a section on how to amended it. The Bill of Rights are closer to being part of the original Constitution than being like the other amendments: The Constitution would not have been ratified without there being a Bill of Rights, however, rather than delay while it was debated and finalized, the compromise what to ratify quickly with a commitment to have that addition.

There is a large difference between being characterized on the whole as being "flawed" or "imperfect" versus potentially needing an amendment.

Characterizing the Constitution as "flawed" is perceived as highly antagonistic to the basic beliefs of many Americans. A failure to recognize this is indicative of a very strong "filter bubble".


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Colin Overbye, a resident of College Terrace,
on Apr 6, 2018 at 8:51 pm

"Characterizing the Constitution as "flawed" is perceived as highly antagonistic to the basic beliefs of many Americans. A failure to recognize this is indicative of a very strong "filter bubble".

Or a rejection of PC [[Political Correctness]].


 +   3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 8, 2018 at 10:02 am

>> > "If it is the only way to get anything done I am all for it."

>> First, it isn't the only way to get things done

American has a very long and loud history of right-wing nuts with
big financial backing, and I am sure you know this. From preachers
to the latest models young kids raised under right-wing and libertarian
ideas and processed through and financially supported by right-wing
thing tanks. Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, all the way to your quoted
Jonathon Haidt they are supported by a small but militant billionaire
elite while pretending to be populist and using focus-grouped messages
to trick people.

The only way they ever move out of their positions is by passing on,
scandal or boycott.

The balance who are often excluded from our supposed Liberal media,
which is a lie, are folks like Noam Chomsky, ( the late ) Howard Zinn,
Thomas Frank, Nancy MacLean, George Lakoff, Jane Mayer, Stephen
Druker, Ha-Joon Chang, Joseph Stiglitz, Phil Donahue or Kim Phillips-Fein.

It is not just the people we are forced to listen to by default, but the
facts that some never ever get any voice at all, while the people doing
that brag about our free speech rights.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 8, 2018 at 2:12 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: CrescentParkAnon

That comment was across the line into being off-topic and was flagged by an anonymous reader. However, I am leaving it and responding because it is instructive about underlying attitudes that are relevant to this topic.

Summary: Notice that this comment shares a lot with the Far Right: claims of being victimized, a shadowy cabal, ...

> "all the way to your quoted Jonathon (sic) Haidt they are supported by a small but militant billionaire elite"

Haidt describes himself as having changed from being a Liberal to being a centrist because of how the meaning of Liberal has shifted left. I have been seeing an increasing amount of this. That CrescentParkAnon puts Haidt in the category of right-wing and makes the unsupported, and likely false, claim of his being supported by a right-wing elite indicates how far Left his politics are. I mentioned the effect of this shift in the previous blog.

> "raised under right-wing and libertarian ideas and processed through and financially supported by right-wing thing tanks."

The Progressive/Left have their think tanks. They have their billionaires and other deep-pockets. And there are many complaints from a wide political spectrum that the elite colleges, and even some/many secondary schools, are involved in indoctrination of students to the Progressive/Left world view. CrescentParkAnon's claim may be a case of tribalism.

> "pretending to be populist and using focus-grouped messages to trick people."

The claim here seems to be that the other side is more effective than my side. One common observation of reporters covering the March for Our Lives was that most of the marchers interviewed didn't know what they were talking about and that many of the marchers approached were unwilling to be interviewed. At earlier demonstrations involving counter-demonstrations, a common observation was that members of the right-leaning group were happy to discuss their positions while the left-leaning group wasn't. This suggests that the Progressive/Left is being very ineffective in educating their supporters and providing them with arguments.

> "The balance who are often excluded from our supposed Liberal media, which is a lie, are folks like Noam Chomsky, ..."

The corporate/legacy media also excludes many important voices of Centrist, Conservative and Classic Liberal perspectives, and when it does, produces distorted accounts (incompetence or bias?).

> "It is not just the people we are forced to listen to by default, but the facts that some never ever get any voice at all, while the people doing that brag about our free speech rights."

This is an argument being heard increasingly from Progressives/Leftist to justify denying free speech rights to those they disagree with. Outside the duopoly of Google/YouTube and Facebook which has the ability to significantly suppress free speech, there is a broad range of media where a wide spectrum of voices are being heard.
Aside: I have thought about writing about this, but don't know if there is an audience.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by promote the general welfare, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Apr 9, 2018 at 10:05 am

"The corporate/legacy media also excludes many important voices of Centrist..."

Centrists, such as?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 11, 2018 at 3:04 am

[[Blogger: This comment does not address the issue, but is instead about my moderating. This statement was added after several of the below comments. Note: Almost all the comments I delete are ad hominen attacks or so off-topic that they would likely send the discussion into irrelevant areas.]]

> However, I am leaving it and responding because it is instructive
> about underlying attitudes that are relevant to this topic.

Gee Thanks. I'd say you were getting over-confident, but you know
you can always delete anything you don't like.

Considering north of 95% of any comments I have ever made on your
heavily censored blogs have been deleted I cannot be very grateful
for that unsupported backhanded comment you left in just to attack.
To wit:

> I have been seeing an increasing amount of this.

Your standards of proof or open-mindedness seem right in line with
our President's when you talk like that. Trump loves to talk like
that about what he is hearing, like it is a objective representative
sample of America, and call what he doesn't like fake-news.

I watched and listened to many interviews by Haidt, and I that is
that the right wing cabals to which Haidt belongs have developed a
rhetoric which sounds open-minded and bi-partisan, but which is not
and relies on tricks and censorship as your blog does. Deemed
political centrism it is a very sophisticated way to push the center
of discussion to the right. I could point you to interviews and
debates, but as I say why put in the effort merely to get deleted.
It is incredibly ironic that you seem to think your editing of any
discussion here has no effect on the POV allowed, it is completely
self-righteous faux non-partisanship.

> The claim here seems to be that the other side is more effective
> than my side.

I think you deliberately misread me there. I was quite clear that
my claim is that both sides are managed in a way that cuts out
certain points of view. That you reduce that to the ridiculous
merely again shows your heavy-handed editing and fear of dealing
with certain ideas.

> This suggests that the Progressive/Left is being very ineffective
> in educating their supporters and providing them with arguments.

If I made this claim about what you said it would be immediately
deleted with no explanation. What good is making arguments when
they are straight-armed away by several canned broad to the point
of meaningless responses?

> The corporate/legacy media also excludes many important voices
> of Centrist, Conservative and Classic Liberal perspectives

"Many" ????? Good argument there, again totally unqualified. I
would say that when Roy Moore and Donald Trump can pop-off with
nonsense, making a broad unqualified statement like this goes so
far over the border to absurd. I often listen to a podcast called
the Ralph Nader Radio Hour - published weekly on Sunday that contains
often Leftists points view. Responsible people, like Nader, Chomsky
and many others. One of the questions he makes sure to ask them
is how many times have they been on mainstream news shows. The
answer is never, or vanishingly rarely. Best selling social science
writer Thomas Frank has written many acclaimed books that got a lot
of postive reviews, but when he turned that criticism to the Right,
even with impeccable documentation, now he is persona non-grata,
he is never asked on. Your claim here is totally without qualification
or merit - using that favorite "the false equivalency", and it is
measurably abused by the right, and more so when they can shut
opposing voices down and appear unchallenged as you do in your blog
here. And now you rarely get any comments, and no discussion.

> This is an argument being heard increasingly from Progressives/Leftist
> to justify denying free speech rights to those they disagree with.

Listen to yourself. Maybe you hear that argument because it is
true, and validate-able, but like a typical right-wing propagandist
you turn the very question around trying to use it as a "fact" to
show the opposite. I guess you can feel safe and free to do that
when you can delete anything you want any time with no answerability,
or professionalism.

> there is a broad range of media where a wide spectrum of voices
> are being heard.

Where would that be? You mention Google and You-Tube. Do you ever
go there, and do you ever read the comments? Even the lowly Palo
Alto Patch at the minute of publications of any article of the
slightest political tangent right-wing nuts descent on it will
name-calling and insults so much so that they shut out anyone other
form of opinion, debate or discussion. You either do not know or
you are deliberately being untruthful.

You mentioned You-Tube ... go look for an interview with Phil Donahue
about how during the run up to the Iraq war - a long time back where
he talked about MSNBC, which is criticized for being communist,
Left-wing, Liberal ... laid the law down to him that he was to never
had a Liberal voice alone on the show. If there was a Liberal voice
there needed to be 2 Conservative voices to balance it.

Do you think Phil Donahue is a commie worthy of being run off the
media because of dangerous ideas? What is it you actually think
happened there? Too much Liberal media?

Just here on Palo Alto Online, there is no Liberal voice, and heavy
censorship. You and Steve Levy shut down any comment you do not
like or would not like to deal with or argue - for years now -
unchallenged. There is nothing even middle of the road here, thus
here on PAO that center line has been moved drastically to the
right, yet here you are basically insulting my posts, and I am
supposed to be happy you did not completely delete it. Amazing.

Look at all your constant deletions here and on all of your "articles"
- all explained away, and yet none explained away. And why is it
you have to be so draconian about deleting everything that you think
is off topic. The topic should be decided by the readers like any
organic interaction between people or any natural conversation ,
not imposed from above. Why do you pretend that what appears in
this blog is important that it must be cleansed to completely reflect
your point of view? This is a Town Square Forum, not a legal brief
... is it not? Your faux-academic rigor is a poor excuse for
censorship


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Former PA resident, a resident of Mountain View,
on Apr 11, 2018 at 9:13 am

This blog addresses lively, thorny issues with vastly more thought and research than the typical blogger on these or other newspapers' websites. It naturally attracts a wide range of comments. What some commenters mainly manage to express (consciously or not) is their own rigid intolerance of any editing or disputation of their own words, no matter how thoroughly justified it is, and even though they were informed in advance by the blogger's "boilerplate" text above about comment Guidelines specific to this blog. I'm told that public comment opportunities disproportionately attract individuals with personality disorders such as NPD, people who not only don't but sometimes even *can't* understand that their own perspective has limits, or that on someone else's turf they're subject to their host's rules, not their own or "the readers'."

Particularly ironic in a recent 3-AM comment's long, rambling screed is the whining about "constant deletions" and "censorship." An amazing take. Of all bloggers, this one goes out of his way to leave even inappropriate comment text intact, even adding explanatory responses, when simple deletion would be amply warranted by the advance Guidelines. This bending-over-backwards restraint, even with plainly unreasonable commenters, contrasts so spectacularly against (for example) Steve Levy's blog, where the blogger posts arguments that have serious weaknesses, yet when any commenter is so impertinent as to point out those weaknesses, the blogger (like the ruling clique in "Animal Farm" deeming some animals more "equal" than others) newly defines the comment "off-topic" and suppresses it without trace, certainly without explanation -- so that the casual reader of that blog, unlike this one, encounters no vestige of the range of comments that were actually posted to it.

Doug is doing great work here -- please keep it up.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Apr 11, 2018 at 9:40 am

I just want to say to the previous commenter, and to others, a reminder that just because something is posted at 3.00 am local time, it doesn't mean that it was 3.00 am where the commenter happened to be when posting.

I for one travel outside the country and with jet lag as well as time differences, people do real Palo Alto Online at all times of the day and night without it being the sign of anything to be concerned about.

In fact, it is quite possible that something which appears at any moment could be written tomorrow morning the other side of the dateline. Now that is something to think about when you can't sleep!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 11, 2018 at 10:58 am

[[Blogger: To readers: This doesn't touch on the issue until the very end. Mostly it is more outrage by this poster.]]

>> Particularly ironic in a recent 3-AM comment's long, rambling screed is the whining about "constant deletions" and "censorship." An amazing take.

... 3AM .... "long, rambling screed" ... whining ????

So glad you could address the facts of my comment.

First, I'll give you a positive example so maybe you can try to be objective. When I said constant deletions and censorship, please go back and look as far as you want to go into this blogger's history and just notice at how many deletions, edits there are compared to everyone else's blogs. Or you could pay me lots of money and I'll write a web scraper for you to automate the task. Objectively and measurably these bloggers, Levy and Moran "moderate" in censorship in a way that is over the top, and unjustifiable in a Town Square Forum. That this has been going on for years seems to imply that the PAO management supports this partisanship and censorship.

Second, I'll refer you to a negative example. The lack of critical thinking on your part when you imply that because I wrote, or clicked the submit button at 3am and that you are valid in characterizing my comment as "whining" and a "rambling screed" and that the facts and opinions are somehow dismissible by hand-waving. Please explain the functional relationship between truth value and time of posting or as pointed out, assumed time of posting.

You mention that because someone posts "on someone else's turf they're subject to their host's rules". By that are you inferring that since there is no media or Town Square forum that is public, i.e. not owned by someone, that it is fine in every respect for opinions not to their liking to be manipulated or deleted? Because that proves my point about censorship. Since in your eyes there is no such thing as censorship, why do we even have this word in our dictionaries?

To tie this to the subject, lest I be accused of digressing, when rational and peaceful means of getting redress or being heard are impossible, and violent means are ruled out by a basic belief and faith in our system and our citizens, then boycotts, strikes and demonstrations are some or the only means to bring about change or force opinions into the public foreground. That was the point in my first which dismissed ...

>> "If it is the only way to get anything done I am all for it."

> First, it isn't the only way to get things done:

The argument was in the abstract and rhetorically evaded by the blogger in order to be dismissed and not have to be dealt with. Same thing here

>> " though I believe in what is coming to be called "common sense gun reform"."

> This is a slogan, not an actual proposal.

Rhetorically dismissed as a "slogan" in order to not have to engage in debate. "Common Sense Gun Control" gets 391 thousand returns when Googled. Maybe it is a slogan, or maybe it is an umbrella term for beginning to describe something that is of overwhelming concern to the vast majority of Americans that is over-ridden by what we should really be discussing.

[[Blogger: 391,000 returns from Google only means that that *phrase* was used that often, not that it was ever defined, or has a coherent definition. In all the interviews I have seen of people using this term, many could not define it, some gave answers that were seemingly made up on the spot and some gave answers that were substantially in conflict.
In the tech industry, there is a saying: "Everyone supports having standards. Why else would they have so many of their own!"
]]

I think I have more than proven my points.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 11, 2018 at 11:37 am

[[Blogger: I am inserting my responses into this comment because it was too hard to maintain context for what I was responding to.]]

>> That CrescentParkAnon puts Haidt in the category of right-wing and makes the unsupported, and likely false, claim of his being supported by a right-wing elite indicates how far Left his politics are.

Clever of you to figured out that my politics are Liberal and socialistic ( in the sense that I believe in one person one vote, not one dollar one vote ) but not communistic. I don't like using the "S" word, but I will not run away from it either.

Haidt is Conservative. My proof of that is that in his writings and books there are clear one-sided partisan statement s of opinion that he characterizes as fact, and can do that because he panders for Conservative support. Look at some of his articles and statements that are basically of the form "Conservatives are more open-minded than Liberals",
[[False. Open-mindedness has long been attributed much more to liberals than conservatives and Haidt also takes that position. What CrescentParkAnon is apparently referencing is Haidt's criticism of the Social Justice Warriors (SJW)/Progressives/Left *repressing* the presentation of other perspectives. Historically, it has been conservatives who have tried to repress free speech, but now it is them (with the center-left) who are defending it.
Haidt is very opposed to "safe spaces" (inhibit intellectual growth) and the "victimhood culture" of SJWs and the Left.
Web Link is my very rough collection of links to talks and some articles by Haidt (it was also linked to in my 2017-09 blog on Simitian's talk "Trump's America...").
]]
or "Conservatives are more moral than Liberals"
[[False. Haidt's work has been on the multiple *components* of moral decision-making and how they are weighted differently by different groups, such as liberals and conservatives.
]]
- but NEVER EVER the reverse. When you read and understand Haidt you see that he goes through all these rhetorical gyrations in order to come out on the other end with something like "well, I'll be, everything we thought we knew is wrong and conservatives are measurably better than liberals in every respect I study". Thus we get articles and books that ostensibly talk about uniting and words that sound reasonable, but always praise conservatives and denigrate liberals in some way.
[[There is a substantial difference between liberals and "Progressives"/Leftist. Web search on "illiberal Left" or "regressive Left" will provide a hook into those discussions.]]

Conservatives or Establishment agents desperately need this kind of fake-propped up authority to be able to dismiss arguments from the Left with a hand wave ... such as your statement .... "indicates how far Left his politics are." ... really a disguised judge that I am Left, and that all the Left is wrong, anti-American, or in some way pathological and a threat to our system and way of life.
[[It was a trivial deduction because the "Progressives"/Left increasingly characterizes anyone not as far left as them to be right-wing. (Pinker's "Left Pole")]]

Now, contrast that with the Liberal writer George Lakoff who talks about modeling the differences in morality in terms of Conservative "strict father" morality as opposed to Liberal "nurturing parent" morality. There is a real difference there, the difference between an open search for truth and reconciliation on the one hand, and a twisting of truth and reality to make one side authoritarian and the other side the enemy.
[[Lakoff's strict/nurturing distinction is an interesting start for considering the differences because it addresses what may well be the most basic of the differences. However, it is very simplistic, especially compared to the multi-variate analyses of Haidt and of those starting with the "Big 5 Personality Traits".]]

Then above all of this is the owners of the system who are more and more uneasy about the grumbling from below and who fashion and shape the pubic discourse, because they feel they have the right of ownership. When facts oppose them they make their own facts and push them out - example is the unequal number of scientists who accept global warming, and the small but well financed and connected who do not. When votes outnumber them they use whatever ways they can find to short-circuit that upswell - example, the gun lobby, the cigarette industry, the health care debate, right or privilege ... and the find way to ignore the will of the people. The clue here is the many different way Europe and the rest of the developed world handles health care and education.
[[The Progressive/Left has large areas where they reject science and facts or aggressively abuse statistics. There is no point in comparing who does more of this (because how would you weight these abuses?). Web search can find lists for both.]]

When facts/science and votes/human rights are trampled on, tools like the boycott, and unions work, when examined where they have worked the outcomes exceed those of the US. So, maybe Liberalism and socialism should not be denigrated out of hand and facts and votes should play a part in the system as it was designed.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Milton Immoeglien, PhD, a resident of another community,
on Apr 11, 2018 at 8:27 pm

Deleted. Troll.
Made claim that I hadn't read Haidt's work in conflict with the above (collection of links with many notes).
Cited a biography that I couldn't find with Google or in Amazon.
Additional: Deception: Implication that the commenter's name is real, not an alias (zero Google results).

UPDATE: Commenter posted an additional comment claiming that the biography was easily found with Google, but did not provide a link.
Furthermore, I wouldn't expect a social psychologist in his late 50s to warrant a biography.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 14, 2018 at 2:18 pm

[[Blogger: If you haven't gotten enough of this commenter, this is more of the same -- statements and re-statements of his beliefs / world view. My response to the more important aspects in the comment below.]]

>>> [[False. Open-mindedness has long been attributed much more to liberals than conservatives and Haidt also takes that position. What CrescentParkAnon is apparently referencing is Haidt's criticism of the Social Justice Warriors (SJW)/Progressives/Left *repressing* the presentation of other perspectives. Historically, it has been conservatives who have tried to repress free speech, but now it is them (with the center-left) who are defending it.

I have to express I have a real problem with you assuming the arbiter of truth role. ( That could be described as arrogance and abuse of power the way you control the flow of discussion here ) You are expressing your opinion, a lot like Donald Trump does, based on what he hears, or basing on what a large number of voices in certain select places say.

In the beginning, yeah, open-mindedness was attributed more much to Liberals than Conservatives, and that was for a reason. Business and media ran roughshod over citizen's rights, and no question of non-citizens, Native Americans and slaves, and even women. It was blatantly visible, and there was little mass media to saturate people's opinions.

Republicans and Conservatives were more business and corporate driven, and allied with extreme Libertarians like the John Birch society that has worked for more decades that we know, and whose work has been picked up by Conservative think tanks who create a nice soft road for people like Jonathan Haidt, and many others, solely because of their money, until today there are virtually no Liberal voices in the mainstream media ( reference by Phil Donahue's firing from MSNBC, while Chris Matthews stayed on, but as it turned out, one of the people reportedly pushing for Donahue to leave was Chris Matthews. Powerful people like the Koch Brothers have spent decades and billions on bringing back a country and a history that most educated people know about, reject and want to improve on.

Your overly broad use of truism and terms like Social Justice Warrior shows your arguments to be non-fact based and extremely biased. I could make a better argument for Conservatism than you do, because at the core Conservatives do not want to get mired down in facts, because from argument to argument their facts change. So, if you use terms like "social justice warrior", "snowflakes". "safe-space", and many others, so you can often derail a factual discussion to avoid the facts. What ends up happening in the mainstream media is that the discussion is about other people and what they say, not the fact.

Another fallacy you employ quite a bit is to take one cherry picked slice of Liberalism and use it to cover all of Liberals. For example on gun control, for example I believe in the 2nd Amendment, but I think these mass shootings by unbalanced people are a big problem. Most Conservatives seem to be as closed-minded on this issue as the NRA, and yet you almost comically say that because the mainstream corporate media the message is sent that it is Liberals that now have the closed-minds, it is so.

In doing this, again, you focus any discussion on Liberals, putting them on the defensive at the same time, a rhetorical strategy to avoid and corrupt the discussions that our way of life and form of government is based on. There are all kinds of people on both sides, and some people go back and forth, and many from both sides are under-informed or mis-informed. The solution to that would be to have honest discussions about issues using facts and metrics ... and science, but the goals of those who drive the Conservative issues, which is who counts, all mostly driven by corporate money, control and legislation.

Little by little all this noise that the Conservative movements generates to distract and cover from its actions has driven us to a point where the US has very poor outcomes in most measures of quality of life for Americans. The US has diverged from the entire rest of the developed and mostly Western world, and to Conservatives that is something you refuse to acknowledge or deal with. The Conservative movement seeks to gain control of everything by money and power, and oddly when you study the roots of it, it is admittedly ( by Irving Krystol for example ) based on the power grabs Lenin and Trotsky used to come to power in the USSR, while you rant and rave about Sal Alinski and how Obama was a socialist.

You mischaracterize the movement against having all speech be corporate speech as Liberals trying to shut up Conservatives. That is wrong and there is no support for it. Liberals want all citizens to have representation and the right to speak and be heard. It is clumsy Conservative operations against free speech to bring emotional turmoil as trying to force certain extreme Conservative speakers onto the university agenda at Berkeley and other schools ... such as Milo Yiannopoulos, or Ann Coulter. The desired outcome of these fake operations is to discredit all Liberals by upsetting some kids or WHO KNOWS WHO, in colleges. These are clever operations, but the way the Conservative media picks them up and the hay they try to make out of them ... and you picked up by saying that due to these astroturf events that the American free-speech paradigm has somehow reversed.

You say it is fact. I say it is your opinion, but I think you are smart enough to know it is not really your opinion, it is your job to support a status quo that is working for fewer and fewer Americans, and whose trajectory is not even slowing down.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Apr 14, 2018 at 3:55 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: CrescentParkAnon immediately above.

1. He treats my criticism of Progressives, the Left and SJWs as being criticism of Liberals. Liberals give primacy to individuals whereas the former give primacy to the group, which in discussions is referred to as "Identity Politics", "collectivism"...

2. He would have you believe that the repression of free speech is a result of Conservative provocation. This has become a widely used excuse for these actions.
First, you don't support free speech if you don't protect it for people outside the mainstream ("I wholly disapprove of what you say and will defend to the death your right to say it").
Second, many of the speakers suppressed are mainstream voices.
For example, the Executive Director of the Virginia ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) speaking at the College of William and Mary on Free Speech (circa 2017-10-04) One of the protestors' chants was "The revolution will not uphold the Constitution."
Another example: A professor of Constitutional law speaking on free speech at CUNY Law School (circa 2018-04-12).
...
Then there are the disruptions of talks that mention sexual differences: At Portland State (circa 2018-02-17), it came after the speaker pointed out that on average men are taller than women (no kidding).
Then there the disruptions of meetings of college conservative groups: Republican clubs, Libertarian, ...
And college student governments refusing/withdrawing recognition from such groups, impeding their ability to have meetings and to invite speakers on campus.

3. He criticizes me for being "an arbiter of the truth" for his rejecting his claim without evidence against a substantial body of scientific research. And he claims that my use of terms such as "safe space" and "SJW" indicates my negative bias, even though such terms are used by the advocates.
Note: As SJW increasing became used in criticism, many advocates switched to "Social Justice". For me, their aggressive, belligerent and offensive behavior towards those with different beliefs warrants the "W" (Warrior).
Note: I don't claim to be unbiased. Rather I try to give fair representation of other significant perspectives. If you don't know the difference between "pragmatic" and "unbiased"... (this conflation as come up on earlier blogs), you shouldn't be commenting.

4. He repeatedly misrepresents what I said. I'll spare you the details.

5. Ad hominem attacks.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 15, 2018 at 6:15 pm

Deleted. Yet another rant, no discussion of topic, but rather "I'm right, you're evil."


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Former PA resident, a resident of Mountain View,
on Apr 16, 2018 at 9:37 am

Roger Simon wrote a book (building on earlier work by Christopher Lasch and others) about an attitude, common now in the US, that the main measure of any policy question is whether I like it, and think my heart is in the right place. Never mind the full realities, or even the outcome! ("I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism is Destroying Our Republic," Encounter Books, 2016). I see some people behaving as if they thought the passion or stubbornness or word-count of their claims about reality gauged those claims' accuracy (absurd, if you think about it for even a moment).

This blog confronts real-world dilemmas. That some people don't *like* its content confirms that the dilemmas have substance (they challenge assumptions). The occasional pure-troll comments (the ones promptly and justly expunged without even a blogger explanation) that offer no better argument than assertion and name-calling are implicitly conceding that Doug was right.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Vasche LaMou, a resident of Green Acres,
on Apr 16, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Deleted. Attributed to a commenter what he had reported as someone else saying, and attacked him on that misrepresentation.

Follow-up comment claimed: "everybody who disagrees with your preconceptions is trolling" in conflict with the many comments above that disagree. Basic bullying attempts that are common here.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 19, 2018 at 11:26 am

> Roger Simon wrote a book (building on earlier work by Christopher Lasch
> and others) about an attitude, common now in the US, that the main
> measure of any policy question is whether I like it, and think my heart is
> in the right place. Never mind the full realities, or even the outcome!
> ("I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism is Destroying Our Republic,"
> Encounter Books, 2016).

Encounter Books - Web Link - is a right-leaning Conservative militarist publisher.

Wikipedia: Encounter Books is an American conservative book publisher. It draws its name from Encounter, the now defunct literary magazine founded by Irving Kristol and Stephen Spender.[1][2]

[[Blogger: remainder deleted for violating Guidelines.]]


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Former PA resident, a resident of Mountain View,
on Apr 21, 2018 at 10:17 am

The last comment by CrescentParkAnon usefully (even if unwittingly) illustrates a rhetorical tactic commonplace in online arguments. Someone arguing from within a set of dearly held assumptions, confronted with possible evidence threatening those assumptions, tries to dismiss the evidence (unexamined) via smear-by-association. The research was supported by this [sinister] corporation, or the book was published by that [presumptively evil] conservative imprint -- therefore its content can be safely dismissed offhand. This tactic, a minor refinement on "judging a book by its cover," is kin to the googling reflex (quickly conjuring factoids that seem to support a rhetorical point -- easily done for any side of any issue). It shares with the googling reflex the convenience that you need not bother actually *reading* the materials before judging them (let alone, risk examining your own comfortable assumptions thereby -- despite the inescapable paradox that without examining assumptions honestly, without openness to letting go of them, you'll never really know if they're true). Also, disdaining sources that might challenge your existing notions implicitly supports Simon's own thesis.

Roger Simon's book actually criticizes the behavior of its title among people on both the left and the right, with many substantiating examples. Anyone interested should read for themselves, not rely on glib sound-bite-level meta-criticisms of the book by someone who's never even opened it. Simon was a leftist writer who became increasingly disillusioned with ideological games that his later writing criticizes (in the tradition of Eugene Lyons, Arthur Koestler, George Orwell).

Also, the book's theme (Simon's "moral narcisissm") is hardly original with Simon; it's a trend of our era that diverse authors have noticed and written about for decades under various labels, and that anyone can notice who is open to doing so. (I first saw it cited -- not yet as a social trend -- in a conversation among characters in a fiction work of 50 or 60 years ago; their language for it was "accountability solely to our own egos.")


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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