"If one cannot voice an objection to violence done by the Israeli sate without attracting the charge of anti-Semitism, then the charge works to circumscribe the publicly acceptable domain of speech. It also works to immunize Israeli violence against critique by refusing to countenance the integrity of the claims made against that violence. One is threatened with the label, ‘anti-Semitic,’ in the same way that within the US, to oppose the most recent US wars earns one the label of ‘traitor,’ or ‘terrorist sympathizer’ or, indeed, ‘treasonous.’ These are threats with profound psychological consequence. They seek to control political behavior by imposing unbearable, stigmatized modes of identification which most people will want more than anything to avoid identification with. Fearing the identification, they fail to speak out. But such threats of stigmatization can and must be weathered, and this can only be done with the support of other actors, others who speak with you, and against the threat that seeks to silence political speech. The threat of being called ‘anti-Semitic’ seeks to control, at the level of the subject, what one is willing to say out loud and, at the level of society in general, to circumscribe what can and cannot be permissibly spoken out loud in the public sphere. More dramatically, these are threats that decide the defining limits of the public sphere through setting limits on the speakable. The world of public discourse, in other words, will be that space and time from which those critical perspectives will be excluded. The exclusion of those criticisms will effectively establish the boundaries of the public itself, and the public will come to understand itself as one that does not speak out, critically, in the face of obvious and illegitimate violence—unless, of course, a certain collective courage takes hold.”

     —Judith Butler, Precarious Life, ch. 4 (pp. 126-27 in ISBN 978-1844675449)

"In the academy we ask these questions about US traditions of political belief and practice; we consider various forms of socialism critically and openly; and we consider in a wide variety of contexts the problematic nexus of religion and nationalism. What does it mean to paralyze our capacities for critical scrutiny and historical inquiry when this topic becomes the issue, fearing that we will become exposed to the charge of ‘anti-Semitism’ if we utter our worries, our heartache, our objection, our outrage in a public form? To say, effectively, that anyone who utters their heartache and outrage out loud will be considered (belatedly, and by powerful ‘listeners’) as anti-Semitic, is to seek to control the kind of speech that circulates in the public sphere, to terrorize with the charge of anti-Semitism, and to produce a climate of fear through the tactical use of a heinous judgment with which no progressive person would want to identify. If we bury our criticism for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic, we give power to those who want to curtail the free expression of political beliefs. To live with the charge is, of course, terrible, but it is less terrible when you know that it is untrue, and one can only have this knowledge if there are others who are speaking with you, and who can help to support the sense of what you know."

     —Judith Butler, Precarious Life, ch. 4 (pp. 120-21) in ISBN 978-1844675449)

"It seems crucial not only for the purposes of academic freedom, but surely for that as well, that we consider these issues carefully, since it will not do to equate Jews with Zionists or, indeed, Jewishness with Zionism. There were debates throughout the nineteenth century and the early twentieth, and indeed at the inception of Israel, among Jews whether Zionism was a legitimate political ideology, whether it ought to become the basis of a state, whether the Jews had any right, understood in a modern sense, to lay claim to that land—land inhabited by Palestinians for centuries—and what future lay ahead for a Jewish political project based upon the violent expropriation of the land of Palestinians, dispossession on a massive scale, slaughter, and the sustained suspension of fundamental rights for Palestinians. There were those who sought to make Zionism compatible with peaceful coexistence, and other who made use of it for military aggression, and still do. There were those who thought, and who still think, that Zionism is not a legitimate basis for a democratic state in a situation where it must be assumed that a diverse population practices different religions, and that no group, on the basis of their ethnic or religious views, ought to be excluded from any right accorded to citizens in general. And there are those who maintain that the violent appropriation of Palestinian lands, and the dislocation of 700,000 Palestinians at the time that Israel was founded has produced a violent and dehumanizing basis for this particular state formation, one which repeats its founding gesture in the containment and dehumanization of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Indeed, the new ‘wall’ being built between Israel and the occupied territories threatens to leave 95,000 Palestinians homeless. These are surely questions and issues to be asked about Zionism that should and must be asked in a public domain, and universities are surely one place where we might depend upon a critical reflection on Zionism to take place. But instead of understanding the topic of ‘Zionism’ to be something worthy of critical and open debate, we are being asked, by Summers and by others, to treat any critical approach to Zionism as ‘effective anti-Semitism’ and, hence, to rule it out as a topic for legitimate disagreement and discussion.”

     —Judith Butler, Precarious Life (2004), ch. 4 (pp. 119-20 in ISBN 978-1844675449)

BLACK. Things can change.

WHITE. No they cant.

BLACK. You could be wrong.

WHITE. I dont think so.

BLACK. But that aint somethin you have a lot of in your life.

WHITE. What isnt?

BLACK. Bein wrong.

WHITE. I admit it when I’m wrong.

BLACK. I dont think so.

WHITE. Well, you’re entitled to your opinion.

     —Cormac McCarthy, The Sunset Limited (p. 113 in ISBN 978-0307278364)

New Blog Comment Policy

All comments must now be approved by me before they appear. Though I do not require that comments express my position or otherwise agree with me — I do in fact welcome discussion and debate, even with people who disagree with me — I do require that comments meet these two criteria before I approve them:

  1. They must be tied to an established online identity. This could be a Tumblr account with an established posting history or a longstanding Twitter, Facebook, or Google account with an actual publicly accesible posting history — anything that the Disqus comment system allows when logging in, if I can tie it to an online identity in which someone has an actual stake. Note that it is not necessary to reveal your real name — just to tie your comment to an account in which you have an identity-building stake. No throwaway Twitter accounts that you registered for ten minutes ago. No Facebook accounts that don’t Follow Facebook’s own guidelines about name usage. Leverage a legitimate online identity that you’ve spent time and care developing in order to log in before you comment.
    • The issue involved here is ruling out anonymous trolling. If you won’t stand behind what you say, then I’m not going to give you a platform to say it.
  2. It must be a high-quality comment. You don’t have to agree with me, but you do have to be intellectually honest. This means that you can’t intentionally overlook relevant information, distort someone else’s meaning, elect to reply to tone while ignoring content, assign motives to anyone without evidence, insist that everyone must be smarmy, whine about how factual evidence that other people brings up hurts your feelings, or otherwise be an asshole. I will write a blog post early next week on what I mean, specifically, by “be an asshole,” but for now, here's a starting point.

Because, when it comes down to it, this is my blog, and I’m not obligated to host low-quality content by anonymous trolls who feel entitled to spout their ignorant bullshit all over it. If you’re thinking about yelling “Censorship!,” then I would like to remind you of what Randall Munroe said on the topic:


If you want to post low-quality, dishonest, anonymous content, even content about my content, you’re welcome to do so. You’ll just have to find somewhere else to host it.

Keep it polite. Keep it honest. Tie it to a real identity that you’re actually invested in. Or your comment won’t appear.

Yes, this will delay the actual posting of comments. Sometimes I’m offline for long periods of time, even days. This (in the context of this, as explained here) is (an example of) why we can’t have nice things, like moderation-free commenting.


Glenn Greenwald:

The intent and effect of such abuse is that it renders those guaranteed freedoms meaningless. If a population becomes bullied or intimidated out of exercising rights offered on paper, those rights effectively cease to exist. Every time the citizenry watches peaceful protesters getting pepper-sprayed — or hears that an Occupy protester suffered brain damage and almost died after being shot in the skull with a rubber bullet — many become increasingly fearful of participating in this citizen movement, and also become fearful in general of exercising their rights in a way that is bothersome or threatening to those in power. That’s a natural response, and it’s exactly what the climate of fear imposed by all abusive police state actions is intended to achieve: to coerce citizens to “decide” on their own to be passive and compliant — to refrain from exercising their rights — out of fear of what will happen if they don’t.

The genius of this approach is how insidious its effects are: because the rights continue to be offered on paper, the citizenry continues to believe it is free. They believe that they are free to do everything they choose to do, because they have been “persuaded” — through fear and intimidation — to passively accept the status quo. As Rosa Luxemburg so perfectly put it: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” Someone who sits at home and never protests or effectively challenges power factions will not realize that their rights of speech and assembly have been effectively eroded because they never seek to exercise those rights; it’s only when we see steadfast, courageous resistance from the likes of these UC-Davis students is this erosion of rights manifest.

(via slicingtheginger)


(Photo) According to the AP, Obama was handed this note today in NH: “Mr. President, over 4,000 peaceful protesters have been arrested…Your silence sends a message that police brutality is acceptable.”

(via slicingtheginger)

“They pulled me out by the stethoscope, white coat and all as I was telling them I have a patient in there. One girl has a heart condition and wasn’t feeling well. They manhandled her and threw her on the ground.”

Occupy Wall Street medic PAUL KOSTORA, on being forced to leave Zuccotti Park by the NYPD.

The police don’t care about you and your God-damned healthcare.

(via the NY Daily News)

OK I’m going to reblog this again when there’s more people on, but I want to make this very clear:



(via accordingtosami)

(via slicingtheginger)