cokie roberts on morning joe, saying what everyone is saying [play trump soundbite]: that is not funny! that is bullying! to think that bullying could be elected pres (i think that's exactly how she formulated it). there are many charges you could bring against human beings, 'bully' is one of the milder ones. and it is being generalized willy-nilly, so i can bully a whole nation by standing at a podium talking to a camera (while people cheer), blogging etc. we have come a long way from the bully pulpit.
for example, i am not at all signing off on the recent american philosophical association statement on bullying.. everything has been vague; i think it arises from george yancy's "dear white america" in the nyt and the brutality of the comments. let's say i have done a lot of this for a long time. my view is that i cannot be bullied in the comments section of anything anywhere (though i am a white guy, so..). i got email death threats after i said the beatles sucked, after an abortion column, and so on. after i wrote a column saying i let my 13-year-stepson play grand theft auto (and played it with him), people who said they were lawyers said they were instituting proceedings to remove my children from my custody, which was the worst kind of horseshit. true the abortion one made me a bit jittery; it was just a flat threat, then my address. but calling that bullying seems to underplay it. i did not contact the authorities. maybe i should have whined to the apa; protect me, fellow geeks! will you take a bullet for me?
here's why they're keeping it vague: if they told us what not to say, or even what they are in fact objecting to, they would have to violate their own ban, or object to themselves. in other words, the ban is literally logically impossible. you'd think this would occur to philosophers, but of course, notoriously, philosophy professors struggle on their best days with basic logical concepts. also they live in quaking fear of the supernatural power of phonemes. they are what they think the followers of donald trump are.
it's because american k-12 education has been on an unbelievably repetitive yet singularly well-funded anti-bullying campaign for a long time; you probably think schoolchildren should be standardized-tested on an antibullying curriculum. not gonna solve your little problem, sister. by these means the word 'bullying' has gained a preternatural power: it's a thin and forgotten line between bullying and assault and murder. i just actually hear the charge as trivial, although you could have a bad kindergarten situation, i acknowledge. but every single thing the academic left (=absolutely everyone, i mean to the tune of 98%) is doing to free anyone, they twist into speech prohibitions, which i believe flamboyantly displays their totalitarian hearts and total inability to reflect on the coherence of their own belief set, as well as a stunning lack of self-reflection and honesty in public space, as well as the iq that has so richly justified their categorization as 'special needs' or 'differently abled.' they are straight-up words-that-begin-with-p. they don't know who they are.
let me ask you this, philosophy professor: when i designated you as 'special needs', did you hear that as an insult? or was it ok? why? i thought you said that one was ok! whatever i may have been thinking at that moment, i did not call you a 'cretin,' an 'idiot,' or a 'retard,' or any of the other superseded euphemisms primitive people such as yourselves thought would cure us all. i really did not. i see you as part of the special needs population, however, and i think that is obviously the right track for you; but on your own account i cannot possibly have criticized or offended you by saying that. i propose to say it all day and see how you like it.
if you've got anything, which - reading your stuff - appears to me extremely unlikely, you could come back at me; that's sort of part of this philosophy thing, or it once was. hit me in the comments as hard as you please. please? this euphemism-as-homeopathic cure thing is not going to work out. carefully ponder the possible uses of the phrase 'the n-word' as an epithet in the sort of facebook bullying that might have you cowering under your bed or hanging yourself because of your self-esteem issues. indeed, on frege's account, 'the n-word' refers to the sense of the term 'nigger,' which is certainly offensive. they are connected in a meta-referential stack that preserves offense by stipulation. if one is offensive, so is the other. i'd suggest introducing a euphemism for 'the n-word,' such as 'the t-phrase.' that might buy you a couple of months, anyway.
and i don't think you've thoroughly considered the possibility of offensive numbers, you 771. that there is an amazing new indexical slur i've devised, to encompass your race, your gender, your family, and whatever else may be bundled into your inmost identity. definitely your super-gross yet pure-vanilla sexuality. i think it'll catch on, making mathematics impossible (for you, anyway. i know that stuff was hard for you, so no loss. people have different strengths!) in a secret ceremony, i have bequeathed on '771' an offensive power that rises from it as healing arises from the relics of the saints. you are helpless (well, you are helpless whether 771 is around or not). maybe therapy will bring some racial healing for all 771s?? right, '771' doesn't seem to have the right historical connection to systematic oppression. don't worry, it will. there have actually literally been offensive numbers. check your talmud on that, or we might find it near the heart of any belief system. or it's a little hard to tell whether there have been offensive numbers. i guess first we'd have to figure out what the hell a number is.
perhaps (sucks on pipe; make that vape) if we referred to autism as a super-power...see how the world is not made by the way we talk? i did this to richard rorty, year after year, in his office; "dick" (i said) "oh, dick. the world is made of language [or however he formulated it that year]. right, we both know that's false. you don't believe it yourself, of course. then i'd march him right down the history of euphemisms - i mean the oed etymologies etc - in various dimensions. that was one of 1700 decisive counter-examples. he was immune to rationality; all he did was shrug. but at least he shrugged intelligently. still i'm holding him posthumously responsible for this breathtaking blunder y'all take as a commonplace. let me refer you to my book...oh, never mind.
on the other hand, i highly approve of that other classic dick schtick: truth is what your contemporaries let you get away with saying, and suchlike. well you are letting me get away with saying everything i'm saying until you prove me wrong in my face. i don't seem to have that little tri-dot thing on my keyboard, but anyway, the only rational conclusion i can draw is that, therefore, what i'm saying is true. this will go for raw correspondence theories as well, though i admit that you could do better with coherence. except that is ridiculous.
as the membership of the apa yapyaps emptily, kind of mumbling the same euphemisms together, they pause for a parenthetical 'words are powerful.' not your flaccid quasi-words, b. also the 'i just got victimized in the comments section' approach just shows you as kind of pathetic. how did your daddy tell you to deal with a bully? alright many a fuckwad could intimidate me physically; but i feel i have the best insult-generator in the world, and if i decide to launch instead of just grinning and forgetting about it 3 seconds later (which is my usual approach), you will know what bullying is. or you won't even understand how badly i just ridiculed you, how bad i just made you look.
if it were logically possible for you to provide me with a list of banned racial slurs, i'd take a look at it, then propose to provide you with 37 new ones. you will know exactly what they mean. ban those, and i will increase geometrically from there. this language thing is copious. chomsky: infinite possibilities from a finite vocabulary + a syntax. you really need to take out language entirely. well, that thing is offensive, the source of all our real problems. very inappropriate. taboo. it will be a relief when you fall silent, i admit. you were not saying anything anyway. this is beginning to look bad for our colleagues in literature and mathematics, though. what do their associations say?
and i'm sorry, you're going to have to provide me with a specific, exhaustive list of all the terms i am not permitted to use, and all the juxtapositions of acceptable words i am not permitted to assay. obviously i have no basic intuition on that. that is some vague-ass shit you've got in that statement.
i don't think you want to do a damn thing about racism, sexism, homophobia or any of the other dozens of dimensions of oppression you've obsessively enumerated and taxonomized. i think you want to live in a world where we all play 'let's pretend.' that is how we got where we are now: no progress since king, at best. a society where hardly anyone sounds like a racist or believes themselves to be a racist, but which is structurally racist in every dimension. i blame people like you for that. please, you're not also pushing 'it's time for a frank national conversation?' you are not sincere or reflective persons, and your unanimity alldayeveryday on everything is slavish, a devastating indictment of your inmost selfhood. deep inside, you must feel your personal redundancy, yes? the fact that you yourself are making no contribution whatever, that if you did not exist, everything would just go on as before. you are as subject to peer pressure as nancy reagan thought elementary-age children were: a flock, a herd, a hive in which each individual is subsumed in a collective consciousness. unlike theirs, though, your collective consciousness is a delusion you seek to enforce on everybody with overwhelming peer pressure. that's what you mean when you condemn individualism and say 'but what about the collective?' i don't know, are you talking about that collective? i have withdrawn consciously, and i am perfectly satisfied with my decision. or, this is my contribution to the collective. swallow it.
i think you should think back and see whether you can remember the moment or process when you sold yourself, betrayed yourself; maybe it was everything from high school to tenure, a million tiny incremental compromises, a million acts of treason to yourself. then i want you to try to remember another moment: the moment you stopped noticing that you had no soul, when you stopped experiencing the hole where your soul used to be. there will be no going back. you know that more clearly than i do, for you know it deep inside. now that you know where you are, what did it all mean? what did you actually get in exchange? i'll tell you this, it compromised your work from the start to whatever you're working on now. it isn't your work.
this seems trivial after that: you have betrayed philosophy. a whole generation that means next to nothing, or every member of which sounds the same, but some of whom do have tenure. congratulations. there would be no place for the great figures of our own tradition in the american philosophical association. they held fiercely to their own vision. now you understand the price they paid, and the beauty of what they achieved. what you have done to yourselves and one another and to wisdom: that is cowardice, in its most thorough human form. maybe cowardice can be the theme of your next book, for that is what you really know best and closest up, something you can fully know by incorrigible introspection, something that is immediately present to consciousness, perfectly clear and distinct at last. a foundation.
on their own account, the statement is intended to create a safe atmosphere so that philosophers can feel free to write op-ed columns. i'll tell you what: if you are hesitating to write that column because of what the comments might look like, i do not want to read your pablum. i am going to straight-up claim credibility on this: of all the philosophy professors in america, i believe i have written exponentially the most op-ed columns. however, i haven't belonged to the apa in a very long time.
philosophy professors! hear my threat. if you publish op-ed columns, i am going troll from one to the next, effortlessly intimidating you one by one and leaving you quivering like yucky piles of semi-congealed knox-brand premium gelatin(tm). i'll time it for just when you have to go give that lecture in your ethics class. i'm going to do it while i sit right here in my living room, amusing myself immensely. oh dang i should have thought of that years ago. maybe eventually i could be the only voice left! i'll see you next month at the pacific apa in frisco. i'll have a name-tag on. i'ma straight-up take your lunch money and do your mom. (i did your dad [again] last night.)
this is where i hop off the midnight train to auschwitz. have a nice trip! headin to georgia.
shit! emory is down there. and that song was so perfect. siri! which direction is most clear of forced-labor camps? [a: "you are surrounded."]