Jezebel’s Vigilante Squad

Reading Jezebel’s “An Idiot’s Guide to Free Speech,” a quote from Alexis de Tocqueville comes to mind:

I do not know a country where there is in general less intellectual independence and less freedom of discussion than in America… In America the majority builds an impregnable wall around the process of thinking.
The Inquisition was never able to prevent the circulation in Spain of books opposed to the religion of the majority. The majestic rule of the majority does better in the United States; it has removed even the thought of publishing them.

John Stuart Mill:

Our mere social intolerance kills no one, roots out no opinions, but induces men to disguise them, or to abstain from any active effort for their diffusion. With us, heretic opinions do not perceptibly gain, or even lose, ground in each decade or generation; they never blaze out far and wide, but continue to smoulder in the narrow circles of thinking and studious persons among whom they originate, without ever lighting up the general affairs of mankind with either a true or deceptive light. …A convenient plan for having peace in the intellectual world, and keeping all things going on therein very much as they do already. But the price paid for this sort of intellectual pacification is the sacrifice of the entire moral courage of the human mind.

“Heretic opinions” may be incredibly simple. For instance, yesterday on Twitter I said:




I responded:


Examining male/female differences is forbidden for males because oppression. Because of “oppression,” a vague construct that seems to be attributed superhero powers, and for which culpability is heritable between generations, every male (especially white “cishetero” males) is forbidden from making any statements whatsoever about cultural or cognitive differences between men and women. That’s a strong implication I’ve experienced hundreds of times, online and offline.

How about, no? How about, I’ll say whatever I want and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it?

Jezebel’s “Idiots Guide to Free Speech” is part of a culture that seeks to systematically “name and shame” anyone with the nerve to violate social progressive rules. The “guide” focuses on particularly egregious violations of civility, for instance creepily posting pictures of women on Reddit without their permission, but that’s not what this is all about. There’s something deeper, and that is the feeling among many (but not all) feminist women that men should be forbidden from investigating or commenting upon cultural or cognitive differences between men and women, scientifically or otherwise.

Think this is a straw man? It is not. I hesitate to name specific examples because specific examples can be distracting — objections to a specific case may be used as a rationalization against the notion of the overall phenomenon existing, while it clearly does.

Jezebel’s article implicitly encourages systematic contacting of “friends/family/school/employer” when socially taboo statements are uttered. (By the way, the space of ideas that is considered “socially taboo” is expanding faster than the universe a fraction of a second after the Big Bang.) For instance, say I were to implicate that, on average, overweight women have less value on the dating market than thin women. However obviously true this is, it might be considered “fat-shaming,” and a vigilante brigade would feel obligated to make a point of attacking me. However, I might point out an equally obvious fact, that less wealthy men have a lesser value on the dating market, and the backlash would surely be much less, if there were any backlash at all. This is because men, all else equal, are prepared to accept such facts, whereas feminist women are taught to launch crusades against equally uncomfortable facts applied to them.

I refuse to be subjected to “intellectual pacification” that discourages me from publicly discussing and considering facts about human nature, however uncomfortable they may be. I refuse to sacrifice the “entire moral courage of the human mind,” which I consider essential to intellectual thought, especially among scientifically oriented people. Progressivism wishes to destroy those aspects of human behavioral science that might offend people. Since this is practically everything in the field, they wish to destroy an entire scientific field. It’s time to draw a line in the sand and say:

“Stop right there. Not a single step further.”

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