OK, I Am Failing the Ideological Touring Test Here

I pride myself on being able, generally, to craft arguments on various issues along any of Arnold Kling's three axes of political discourse.  But I can't come up with an argument for why college students (likely Progressives on the oppressor-oppressed axis) would be legitimately afraid of the beach ball (via Maggies Farm).  My libertarian axis explanation of course is that having found that the "those guys' speech scares us" approach has been successful at shutting down speech of their opponents in the past, they are rationally pursuing a proven winning strategy.  But what is the Progressive argument here?


  1. me:

    Fake news - note that there are no actual Progressives being scared of the ball, there are conservatives and anonymous reports to the police with a report on a pretty one-sided news outlet. Wonder who called that in for a nice news stunt...

  2. morganovich:

    i suspect the argument would be one of aggression/micro aggression and coded speech.

    if one first posits that "free speech" is a code word for "racism, sexism, and homophobia" or "hate speech" then one can cast those espousing free speech as oppressors who are using the ball to intimidate and push an agenda of victimization.

    eg. "free speech" = "hate speech" therefore i feel unsafe because this is a way to attack my race,gender, or sexual preference or, at the very least, is speech in support of those who would.

  3. Not Sure:

    "But what is the Progressive argument here?"

    If conservatives are doing *it* (whatever *it* might be), progressives want to stop them. They can't stop them as easily by saying they don't like it as they can if they say they're threatened by it

  4. August Hurtel:

    Go look up Anonymous Conservative and his r/K theory.

    Key take away here- this is legitimate brain damage, not ideology. When the amygdala is healthy, it perceives and responds to threats in ways we would recognize as normal. When they manage to shrivel their amygdala up by obsessively avoiding anything that conflicts with their world view, we get this beach ball effect. They'd probably be less triggered by a hand grenade.

    This stuff shows up on brain-scans. And the last few decades of psych medications has not helped.

  5. reason:

    Oddly enough, that's been more of a Reptile hallmark lately. Remember how the Reps weren't able to get together any meaningful healthcare plan despite having had years to prepare? All they were running for and aiming at was "remove the Obama thing" and that went so badly that even a few Reps couldn't bring themselves to vote along party lines even though threatened with death and destruction.

  6. The_Big_W:

    I think you have it. Mao would be so proud of these children.

  7. The_Big_W:

    Ah, yes because seeing something like this is sooo abnormal these days. Leftists never over react to conservative speech!!

  8. Dan Wendlick:

    Tangential editorial point: it's Turing Test

  9. Dan Wendlick:

    You're missing the point. Even if, arguendo, it was the conservative students who called in the anonymous complaints, the police still felt it was both necessary and proper to stop it. They didn't just tell the complainers, yeah, well you're grownups now and you're going to need to get used to people who disagree with you.

  10. roystgnr:

    Attempt at a steelman argument:

    Supporting an expansive definition of free speech forces us to tolerate white nationalists, fascists, and others who would never return such tolerance if they had the upper hand. Some of those groups like to hijack "free speech" advocacy as a way of filtering for potential converts, because truly principled people who approve of free speech even for their enemies are rare, so many of them must really *be* enemies hiding behind feigned belief in those principles. If these groups do gain more converts and become better organized, the next stage of action will be covert violence against their intended victims, so anyone who might be in one of their intended victim classes has reason to be afraid of the possibility of such organization happening nearby.

    Attempt to get the bad taste out of my mouth:

    The transition from "Hollywood blacklists of suspected communists were evil!" to "Silicon Valley blacklists of suspected reactionaries are awesome!" is most simply explained if we presume a large chunk of proponents of the former thesis were not actually anti-blacklist, they were just pro-communist. So, if you're a vile totalitarian who thinks that freedom of speech is just a trick for preventing useful idiots from shunning you, why *wouldn't* you constantly be on the lookout for vile enemy totalitarians who think that freedom of speech is just a trick for preventing useful idiots from shunning them?

  11. August Hurtel:

    It's the same treatment Jessie Ventura got from the Minnesotan politicians.

  12. August Hurtel:

    If you look at history you'll see we have these crazy rights like freedom of association, private property, etc...

    If you look at the last few decades, you'll see these rights being abrogated. As well as various stupid regulations that just so happened to take a very large amount of decent jobs away from us. And this both Republican and Democrat failures.

    So, what has always been needed is to address the injustice. And, frankly, take care of these people- who our leadership were actually supposed to take care of. I think they know it because they like to say 'disavow'. Because they want to conveniently exclude them. They use the government as if they are our 'parents', but then they do a crap job and some of the kids turn out nasty. Well, tough- you need to fix what you broke- not disavow.

    But keep going the wrong way, and keep shoving these people down, and you'll get the nightmare. There is a way to de-escalate, and then theres a way to get what you claim to hate- which is the way of antifa. They are literally creating fascists.

  13. Mercury:

    Leftist/Marxist inspired agitation is about and ONLY about putting a stick in the eye of anyone who represents or defends whatever established cultural norms are vulnerable to attack, today.

    Why? because they can. That's it. There is no logic, no argument or "three axes of political discourse" to understand or try to square the circle with.

    You can only fight fire with fire here. So, put away the beach ball, get yourselves organized and then parade down the middle of campus while re-enacting (with pin-point accuracy) Jan & Dean's 'Surf City' promo.

    It will blow their minds:

  14. Petri:

    They are not 'afraid'. They recognize the code words needed to mobilize the power structures with the ability to shut down their opponents - regardless of the message.

  15. marque2:

    You're alive! I was wondering if you got caught up in the storm and were trying to tread swollen rivers for news cameras while tring to get drinkable water on the other side.

    Haven't seen any posts from you at the fake economics site either, where I now merely occasionally lurk.

  16. Agammamon:

    "My libertarian axis explanation of course is that having found that the
    "those guys' speech scares us" approach has been successful at shutting
    down speech of their opponents in the past, they are rationally pursuing
    a proven winning strategy. But what is the Progressive argument here?"

    That *is* the Progressive argument. Everything else is just a cover for their manipulating the levers of power. 'I'm afraid' get results where 'I don't like' or 'I'm offended' won't. So they say they're afraid. That gets them the results they want. They get what they want and use 'I'm afraid' to cover it.

  17. Maximum Liberty:

    Also trying a steelman, but assuming some facts that are not reflected in the article --

    "Look, you've got a group of all-white, all-male guys with a giant beach ball, blocking the walkway that student use to get to class. Those students can't really avoid those guys, and the situation was intimidating, and some of the things being written on the beach ball were either micro-aggressions or were straight up offensive."

    Yeaaah, ok, there wasn;t much steel in that steelman, so I guess I fail, too.

  18. Rick C:

    To be specific: they are lying.

  19. ErikTheRed:

    Am I the only one reminded of this scene?


  20. Robert Zeh:

    During the eclipse a woman thought my son was wear NAZI regalia because he had a t-shirt with the Hyrda logo.
    Human stupidity has no limits.

  21. CC:

    when wearing a red ball cap or chalking support for a presidential candidate causes a campus lockdown and the vapors, it is clear that your definition is correct. The very existence of conservatives is "hate" and letting them speak is thus beyond the pale.

  22. me:

    I'd agree that the police overreach is the real issue, but if you look at Warren's original post and 99% of the comments above, it's exactly the hur-hur-progressives-so-stupid argument that is at the core of tribal us-vs-them logic.

  23. Peabody:

    Though if you read much of Warren's writings you will realize that rather it is is, "hur-hur progressive-so-stupid", "hur-hur Republicans so hypocritical". If you actually are accusing Warren of picking sides in political tribal warfare then you have not read much of his writings.

  24. Petri:

    Bingo. ;)

  25. Conqueror of All Foes Cheese:

    I taught there about 20 years ago. Assuming for the moment that not much has changed, about half the student body is from Metro Chicago. It's not a bad train ride between the two. You can ride the City of New Orleans and the Panama City Limited. Anyway, the Chicago students even then had been thoroughly steeped in whatever the latest Leftist cultural "thing" was. I don't find it difficult to believe that many current students have been taught the "Progressive" line about racism and micro-aggressions and work it vigorously.

  26. me:

    Wouldn't occur to me - I keep calling for him to run in the next presidential race so that I could vote for him, and I am so left-leaning and liberal that there's nothing in the US political spectrum that'd accurately describe my political views.

    The thing here is that we have a right-wing outlet describing alleged progressive behavior which makes a suspiciously ridiculous news-bite with absolutely no indication that any real live progressives were actually involved in the event described.

    Both the original post and the majority of reactions pick up on the tribal us-vs-them theme, and while I'll subscribe all sorts of well-intentioned "now, this just doesn't make a lick of sense" to Warren's original post, the net result and the way this is read is nothing but tribal and divisive.

    I don't see America making much progress towards an improved nation unless the populace starts holding politicians accountable, and the current favorite story (on both sides) appears to be "trust us, while we have the presidency and the house and the senate, we just couldn't do anything about the major issues facing America because that other party kept interfering, but, hey, we pissed all over their favorite side issues, so keep on hating and vote for us again next time because that other party is so bad".

    I keep being amazed by just how poor a government Americans find acceptable (again, emphasizing: on both sides of the political spectrum), and the first step towards changing that is to understand that maybe the other side isn't just laughable but has some meaningful thought process behind it's approach, then to find whatever common ground there is and to put solid compromise solutions to the large problems into law ASAP instead of setting up fake battles about all-or-nothing-and-let's-try-to-undo-everything-every-time-the-power-dynamic-changes.

  27. SamWah:

    Anything they can come up with to shut down the other side, no matter how stupid it makes the lefties look...they'll use.

  28. Kph Harris:

    I believe the timid Progressive leaning students are thinking along the lines that the large sized “Free Speech” beach ball and its
    proponents are akin to someone yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theater where they could be injured in a panic to reach the exits or in an uncontrolled / overreaction by the likes of Antifa or similar groups.

    The timid Progressive leaning students feel threatened (Oppressed by the potential of violence occurring in that location) by the Free Speech proponents (Oppressors who are asking passersby to affirm their support of Free Speech and thus inviting a violent counter response). Arnold Kling’s Oppressed – Oppressor axis.

    The a Classical Liberal leaning a group is on the Kling Libertarian axis; the “Free Speech” promoters see the activity as constitutionally protected speech / promoting freedom and resist the police officer’s / School Administration’s / Progressive Groups efforts to shut it down as resisting acts of coercion.

    This is a common tactic by the left; blame Libertarian or Conservative speakers (exercising constitutionally protected free speech) for the violence perpetrated by those who share opposing views and then react in non-constitutional ways (perpetrating violent physical assaults, property theft and destruction). In their eyes Libertarian or Conservative speech should be censured (coerced into silence) because Progressives just can’t control themselves and fain justifiable acts of violence (because they are oppressed) in response to opposing views. Completely hypocritical.

  29. morganovich:

    actually, i think he was making a deliberate play on words. a turing test is a test for apparent sentience and the ability for a computer to be indistinguishable from a human.

    a "touring" test is a homophone play on words to describe moving from one political axis to another (touring, as in, going to visit other views) and arguing from a different line of reasoning and values.

    calling the above an example of failing a turing test does not actually make any sense. there is nothing reminiscent of a turing test about it.

    i think coyote was being funny and you may have missed it.

  30. karl_lembke:

    Maybe Coyote ate a political opinion that disagreed with him and has a case of ideological turista?

  31. The_Big_W:

    Ummm, there's a slight problem here. The left said "after the presidential election we need to heal the divisions in this country". I took them at their word. I thought they would win as much as everyone else did. I would have been on board with the called for healing.

    After they lost they threw the largest temper tantrum I've ever seen grown adults partake in. Suffice it to say all the "heal the divisions crap" was a bald faced lie. Those on the left became no longer my countrymen that day. A return to federalism with a vastly less powerful federal government is the only way the country survives, but that form of government is the opposite of what the left desires, and as they have shown they will destroy the country before shrinking the federal government. The country will not survive the next 40 years. The good government you speak of could happen in one of the fragments of the US, but will not come of pass in what is now the US, the die is cast, breakup is coming. Hopefully it will be peaceful, but the left will fight that outcome too...