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Culture war games: moral panics and comstockery

A Book of Prefaces
By H. L. Mencken

The moral gladiators, in brief, know the game. They come before a legislature with a bill ostensibly designed to cure some great and admitted evil, they procure its enactment by scarcely veiled insinuations that all who stand against it must be apologists for the evil itself, and then they proceed to extend its aims by bold inferences, and to dragoon the courts into ratifying those inferences, and to employ it as a means of persecution, terrorism and blackmail.

The newspapers, with very few exceptions, give them ready aid. Theoretically, perhaps, many newspaper editors are opposed to comstockery, and sometimes they denounce it with great eloquence, but when a good show is offered they are always in favour of the showman—and the Comstocks are showmen of undoubted skill. They know how to make a victim jump and writhe in the ring; they have a talent for finding victims who are prominent enough to arrest attention; they shrewdly capitalize the fact that the pursuer appears more heroic than the prey, and the further fact that the newspaper reader is impatient of artistic pretensions and glad to see an artist made ridiculous. And behind them there is always the steady pressure of Puritan prejudice—the Puritan feeling that “immorality” is the blackest of crimes, and that its practitioner has no rights. It was by making use of these elements that Comstock achieved his prodigies, and it is by making use of them that his heirs and assigns keep up the sport today. Their livelihood depends upon the money they can raise among the righteous, and the amount they can raise depends upon the quality of the entertainment they offer. Hence their adept search for shining marks.

Arnold Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association
Amicus brief of the Cato Institute (PDF, 330 KB)

In the mid-to-late 1800s, the “dime novel” and “penny dreadfuls” first brought inexpensive literary entertainment to the masses. They were decried as overly violent and harmful to young readers. Dime novels averaged, by one estimate, some twenty killings per novel, and were often blamed for antisocial conduct. … Newspaper articles of the time are replete with tales like that of 13-year old Ernest Rossies of Brooklyn, N.Y., who fired a gun during a robbery and whose “friends say that he is the victim of dime novel literature.”

The arrival of moving pictures sparked similar concerns about their depictions of violence. As the New York Times wrote in 1909:

The days when the police looked upon dime novels as the most dangerous of textbooks in the school for crime are drawing to a close. They have found a new subject for attack. They say that the moving picture machine, when operated by the unscrupulous, or possibly unthinking, tends even more than did the dime novel to turn the thoughts of the easily influenced to paths which sometimes lead to prison.

Much like film, radio dramas were also criticized for bringing sensational fare into the home. … In 1941, pediatrician Dr. Mary Preston released a study concluding that a majority of children had a “severe addiction” to radio crime drama. … According to Preston, children obsessed over the horror and violence presented in such programs, often identifying with criminals and daydreaming about murder and mayhem. Preston believed that exposure to this “indigestible mass forced into [a child’s] mental craw” through radio and films had made children callous.

Just as depictions of violence in films and radio were decried as “different” and more damaging than those of earlier entertainment forms, similar claims were leveled against comic books in the 1940s and ‘50s.

BAM! WAP! KA-POW! Library prof bops doc who K.O.’d comic book industry
By Dusty Rhodes

Behavioral problems among teenagers and preteens can be blamed on the violence, sex and gore portrayed in the media marketed to them – that was the topic of televised public hearings held by the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency in 1954 to address the scourge of comic books. The hearings, which resulted in the decimation of what was an enormous comic book industry, had been inspired in large part by the book “Seduction of the Innocent,” by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, based on his own case studies.

Wertham’s personal archives, however, show that the doctor revised children’s ages, distorted their quotes, omitted other causal factors and in general “played fast and loose with the data he gathered on comics,” according to an article by Carol Tilley, published in a recent issue of Information and Culture: A Journal of History.

“Lots of people have suspected for years that Wertham fudged his so-called clinical evidence in arguing against comics, but there’s been no proof,” Tilley said. “My research is the first definitive indication that he misrepresented and altered children’s own words about comics.”

History of Comics Censorship, Part 1
By Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

The impression that the Senate hearings left on the public and the subsequent censorship of the Code decimated the comics industry. Creators who’d made their careers writing or illustrating comics now lied about their profession in polite company because admitting to working in comics was viewed as a calling so deviant that it was aligned with being a fringe pornographer.

According to David Hajdu in The 10-Cent Plague, the work for cartoonists dried up, with the number of titles published dropping from 650 titles in 1954 to 250 in 1956. The consequence was that more than 800 working creators lost their jobs. The commercial rejection of comics and the business altering restrictions of the Code were still not enough for some critics. Hajdu writes: “More than a hundred acts of legislation were introduced on the state and municipal levels to ban or limit the sale of comics: Scores of titles were outlawed in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and other states, and ordinances to regulate comics were passed in dozens of cities.”

Among the most egregious censorship bills was a New York law that served to:
prohibit the publication or the distribution of lurid comics, defined as those ‘devoted to or principally made up of pictures or accounts of methods of crime, or illicit sex, horror, terror, physical torture, brutality, or physical violence’ bar the sale of any such books to those under the age of 18 ban the use of the words ‘crime,’ ‘terror,’ ‘horror,’ or ‘sex’ in comic book titles.

Violations were punishable by one year in jail, a $500 fine, or both. The law was passed by the legislature on March 22, 1955, and signed into law on May 2, 1955.

The Senate Subcommittee hearings, the Comics Code, and the subsequent flurry of laws regulating the sale of comics combined to form the most brutal era of censorship arising from moral panic that American pop culture has ever known.

Arnold Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association
Amicus brief of Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

So goes the cycle of outrage in the typical moral panic. “Whenever the introduction of a new mass medium is defined as a threat to the young, we can expect a campaign by adults to regulate, ban or censor, followed by a lessening of interest until the appearance of a new medium reopens public debate.” … Despite this well-trodden path, the reaction carries with it “an intrinsic historical amnesia.” … “Every new panic develops as if it were the first time such issues were debated in public and yet the debates are strikingly similar.” … At the same time, “preoccupation with the latest media fad immediately relegates older media to the shadows of acceptance.”

Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association
Opinion of the Court

California relies primarily on the research of Dr. Craig Anderson and a few other research psychologists whose studies purport to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children. These studies have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with good reason: They do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively (which would at least be a beginning). Instead, “[n]early all of the research is based on correlation, not evidence of causation, and most of the studies suffer from significant, admitted flaws in methodology.” … They show at best some correlation between exposure to violent entertainment and minuscule real-world effects, such as children’s feeling more aggressive or making louder noises in the few minutes after playing a violent game than after playing a nonviolent game.

Even taking for granted Dr. Anderson’s conclusions that violent video games produce some effect on children’s feelings of aggression, those effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media. In his testimony in a similar lawsuit, Dr. Anderson admitted that the “effect sizes” of children’s exposure to violent video games are “about the same” as that produced by their exposure to violence on television. … And he admits that the same effects have been found when children watch cartoons starring Bugs Bunny or the Road Runner … or when they play video games like Sonic the Hedgehog that are rated “E” (appropriate for all ages) … or even when they “vie[w] a picture of a gun” …

Does Media Violence Predict Societal Violence? It Depends on What You Look at and When
By Christopher J. Ferguson

As a matter of policy, consistent with the statement by the Consortium of Scholars (2013), it may be best for such professional organizations to retire their policy statements on media violence as such statements tend to be misleading and may cause more harm than good. Certainly, such statements risk damaging the credibility of social science (Hall et al., 2011), but they may also do damage to the extent that they distract society from other pressing issues. Indeed, some scholars have argued that politicians and groups such as the National Rifle Association specifically use moral panics over media or youth to focus attention onto culture war issues rather than intractable social problems requiring great political capital and investment to solve (Males, 2013). It is difficult to fully explore the inside motivations for professional organizations to release such policy statements, particularly when media-based policy statements released by professional organizations have so often been revealed to be flawed (e.g., Ferguson, 2013; Magid, 2011). It could be that such policy statements are part of a larger system of politics and social narratives that do not well-reflect actual science. For instance, it has been revealed that past policy statements were typically developed by specially selected researchers heavily invested in antimedia views, with no dissenting voices (Ferguson, 2013). Such scholars typically reviewed their own work and declared such work beyond further debate. Such review processes, which are more the norm than the exception, should not be mistaken for careful and objective scholarly reviews. Professional organizations may arguably do well to take a wider view and consider the larger negative impact such policy statements can have, both on the field (Hall et al., 2011) but also on society to the extent that such policy statements fuel moral panics (Muschert, 2007) and inadvertently act as impediments for progress in other areas (Males, 2013).

This study sought to examine whether media violence and societal violence co-occur in a meaningful fashion that would lend credence to fears regarding media violence influences on society. By and large societal data do not appear to support this contention. Indeed, despite an explosion in the availability of mass media and liberalization of violent content in the same, we are living in what is likely the most peaceful epoch in human history (Pinker, 2011). Further, preliminary analyses suggest that nations with the highest level of violent media consumption are among the most nonviolent (Washington Post, 2012). It is difficult to say to what degree associations that scholars made between media and societal violence in published work may have contributed to the difficulty the field has sometimes had in accommodating newer research and societal data. However, it may be prudent for scholars, in the future, to be more cautious in making claims linking societal violence and media violence. Such claims, though having political appeal, may do more damage than good to both the field and society in the long run.

Arnold Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association
Amicus brief of the Progress & Freedom Foundation & The Electronic Frontier Foundation

Harold Schechter has meticulously documented the prevalence of violent fare throughout the history of art and entertainment, noting that even “the supposedly halcyon days of the 1950s” were replete with violent media, much of it aimed at children. For example, the top-rated television program of 1954, Disney’s Davy Crockett series (aired Wednesday nights at 7:30 p.m. to target elementary school children before they went to bed), “contained a staggering amount of graphic violence,” including scalpings, stabbings, “brainings,” hatchet and tomahawk blows, and so on. Perhaps then, as Judge Posner suggested in Kendrick, nothing much has really changed throughout the history of art and entertainment: “Self-defense, protection of others, dread of the ‘undead,’ fighting against overwhelming odds—these are all age-old themes of literature, and ones particularly appealing to the young.” He continued: “To shield children right up to the age of 18 from exposure to violent descriptions and images would not only be quixotic, but deforming; it would leave them unequipped to cope with the world as we know it.”

Similarly, the co-founders and directors of the Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health and Media, argue:

The threads of violence are woven throughout the fabric of children‘s play and literature from a very early age. We sing them to sleep with lullabies that describe boughs breaking, cradles falling and babies plummeting helplessly to earth. We entertain them with fairy tales in which a talking wolf devours a girl‘s grandmother and an old woman tries to roast children alive in her oven. Even religious instruction is replete with stories about plagues, pestilence, jealousy, betrayal, torture and death. While the stories and songs may be different, the underlying themes are generally the same in cultures throughout the world. Ogres, monsters, sexual infidelities, beheadings, thievery, abandonment, cannibalism, drownings—such was the stuff of children‘s literature long before video games.

Kutner and Olson conclude that “children are drawn to violent themes because listening to and playing with those frightening images helps them safely master the experience of being frightened. This is an important skill, perhaps even a life-saving one.” Indeed, this is entirely normal; even healthy. Children might imagine themselves to be roleplaying or living out fantasies in the imaginary worlds created by videogame designers:

One of the functions of stories and games is to help children rehearse for what they‘ll be in later life. Anthropologists and psychologists who study play, however, have shown that there are many other functions as well— one of which is to enable children to pretend to be just what they know they‘ll never be. Exploring, in a safe and controlled context, what is impossible or too dangerous or forbidden to them is a crucial tool in accepting the limits of reality. Playing with rage is a valuable way to reduce its power. Being evil and destructive in imagination is a vital compensation for the wildness we all have to surrender on our way to being good people.

As Judge Posner concluded in Kendrick, “People are unlikely to become well-functioning, independent-minded adults and responsible citizens if they are raised in an intellectual bubble.”

Video Game Violence and Pseudoscience: Bad Science, Fear, and Politics
By Christopher J. Ferguson

Ultimately, however, it is the culture of the media scholars themselves that has been problematic. In one recent essay, a prominent scholar labeled all those who disagree with him as “industry apologists” (Anderson 2013). Science is about open inquiry, skepticism, attempts to critically replicate findings, and put the burden of proof on a theory to be replicated. Yet, in this field, the burden of proof is often reversed, with skeptical scholars personally subjected to ad hominem attacks. Increasingly, like other areas of social psychology, the “harm” position of video game violence is suffering a crisis of replication (see Ballard et al. 2012; Charles et al. 2013; and Tear and Nielson 2013 for just a few recent examples). Youth violence continues to plummet during the era in which video game sales have skyrocketed ( 2013). And yet I’d argue that at least parts of the academic field of video game violence have stubbornly calcified around an inflexible ideology and view all critics not as scholars who respectfully disagree but as enemies of a lesser moral fiber (hence the “industry apologists” comment). More than one outside researcher has asked me what it is about aggression researchers that makes them so aggressive. Perhaps that is what we should be asking: Does conducting video game violence research make you aggressive? If so, perhaps we should put warning stickers on academics. But jesting aside, the time has come to reevaluate the culture of video game research and what it has done to the objectivity of the data it has produced. At the current stage, the field risks becoming little more than opinions with numbers. Still, I note a new cadre of researchers doing excellent work (as exemplified by the scholarship on display throughout Quandt and Kroger 2013) wherein games are examined as an integral part of society rather than assumed a priori to be an enemy of it. This does not rule out the possibility that media influence us, of course, but rather places media within society, and the process of media as user-driven rather than content-driven, idiosyncratic rather than generalized. This trend toward greater sophistication in games research has been a relatively new trend, and it’s one I hope will thrive despite an academic culture that often actively discourages it.

The new face of game censorship
By Randolph Ramsay

“We are in a culture war here,” Walters said. “Like it or not, the video game industry is on the frontline of a war between the family values groups on one hand and the civil libertarians on the other hand. We didn’t ask for this–we’re just trying to entertain people with a product the public seem to want.”

“Just when the decency police and moral values group have been all but defeated in the courts–both of law and public opinion–a new threat has emerged from our left flank: political correctness,” he continued. “The leftist thought police are now wanting to impose their view of propriety on modern cultural discourse. We’re now seeing objections to racial slurs and sexist video game content that feminists and minority groups take offense to. Now without taking a position on the propriety on that content in modern video games, this trend is just as damaging to free expression rights.”

Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say
By Jonathan Chait

Political correctness is a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate. Two decades ago, the only communities where the left could exert such hegemonic control lay within academia, which gave it an influence on intellectual life far out of proportion to its numeric size. Today’s political correctness flourishes most consequentially on social media, where it enjoys a frisson of cool and vast new cultural reach. And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate, the new p.c. has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old.

The p.c. style of politics has one serious, possibly fatal drawback: It is exhausting. Claims of victimhood that are useful within the left-wing subculture may alienate much of America. The movement’s dour puritanism can move people to outrage, but it may prove ill suited to the hopeful mood required of mass politics. Nor does it bode well for the movement’s longevity that many of its allies are worn out.

That the new political correctness has bludgeoned even many of its own supporters into despondent silence is a triumph, but one of limited use. Politics in a democracy is still based on getting people to agree with you, not making them afraid to disagree. The historical record of political movements that sought to expand freedom for the oppressed by eliminating it for their enemies is dismal. The historical record of American liberalism, which has extended social freedoms to blacks, Jews, gays, and women, is glorious. And that glory rests in its confidence in the ultimate power of reason, not coercion, to triumph.

#GamerGate Political Attitudes, Part 1- Is The Movement Right-Wing?
By Allum Bokhari

Contrary to the narrative presented by some left-leaning journalists, GamerGate supporters continue to identify with the political left. The single largest contingent of respondents identified as liberal or left-leaning (28 percent). The second-largest contingent were left-libertarians (24 percent). A further one percent identified as left-authoritarian. Combined, this suggests that 54 percent of GamerGate identifies with some form of left-wing politics.

The left, meanwhile, should be aware that it is their own supporters who are under attack. GamerGate sympathizes with the left on almost every major issue. This has not been a left-vs-right battle, but a left-vs-left battle, between somewhat disengaged but generally left-leaning gamers and a highly politicized group of journalists.

“… they can’t tell Indiana Jones from Schindler’s List …”
By anon

No one’s against games carrying political or complex themes. Hell, I love them. Look at a Deus Ex or MGS thread when they get the ball rolling.

No, what I’m against is when people force socio/political analyses into clearly apolitical games as a self-important condemnation or ego-inflation. You can’t say that Super Mario Bros is political just because Peach is a Princess; CoD is meant to be cheap action thriller, not a serious message of how the US or Brits actually feel about Russia or the middle-east. But so often game journalists write as if they are, and their articles carry a pretentious weight as if the writer believes they’re elevating the conversation. They read like the writer smiled to themselves after finishing the last word, confident that this was the article to finally get games to grow up.

No, it’s not. In fact, this attitude carries the opposite weight. They make its critics look like they can’t tell Indiana Jones from Schindler’s List, and they see its critics saying all of their audience who disagrees are fools and ‘setting gaming back’. That ridiculing of opposite beliefs is what lowers the discussion, if not outright prevents it. And that, coupled with how game journalists handwaved all their critics as misogynists, harassers, trolls and everything in between without ever touching their actual points, is what makes it hard for people to trust you and easy for people to believe that you want your own political ideologies to have a way higher say in your work on games than they do.

Legend of Grimrock II is a Racist, Sexist, Imperialist Nightmare That Will Appeal to Entitled, Patriarchal Hypershitlords
By Decado

This is it. This is why we fight, and why this fight is not even close to being over. I have uninstalled the game from my hard drive, and I will be telling anyone who cares to listen that this game, and others like it, are rotten garbage. Anyone who plays them is implicitly supporting oppressive, patriarchal paradigms that keep women, persyns of color, and other minorities under the bootheel of a fascistic regime. After I finish this blog post I am telling my white, cis-male acquaintance that we can no longer speak. Being an ally is not a part-time thing, it is an all-the-time thing. That is uncomfortable for a lot of people to hear, but it is the truth. If there are poisonous people in your life, supporting poisonous hate speech under the guise of “Free Expression,” you have a duty to the future of humankind to ensure they are shunned, ostracized, and eventually beaten into submission. To take the side of neutrality is to support oppression.

PS To clarify my position, I do not support censorship! I simply feel that all the video game websites, stores, and digital marketplaces should refuse to carry this pus-bucket of a game. Reviewers should not be allowed to gloss over this horrific content, and everyone found playing it should be called out and publicly confronted for their choices. This is not censorship. It is activism!

Why Satire Matters
By Justin E.H. Smith

While we associate political correctness with the left, it is of course not only the left that commits this sort of error: Think of attempts to prosecute hip-hop artists, never materially associated with any crime, simply in view of the boastful violence of their lyrics. It is however at present the left that is most susceptible to the illusion that speech itself can be literally violent, and that is also most unable to distinguish between the declarative and the satirical mood. It is from the left that we hear so often these days that “It’s just a joke” can never be a valid defense in response to an accusation of offense. This point is at least half-right: One should not say “just a joke,” as if jokes were unimportant. They are vitally important, but for the very same reason they are also irrepressible—not by death squads and not by states.

The basic division in society is between those who suppose the function of language is to get things definitively right, and who strive to use this right language, codified and regulated, for the perfection of society, and those who appreciate that language is infinitely generative, creative, and free, and that it must not be subjected to the regulation.

The progressive ideas behind the lack of free speech on campus
By Wendy Kaminer

How did we get here? How did a verbal defense of free speech become tantamount to a hate crime and offensive words become the equivalent of physical assaults?

You can credit — or blame — progressives for this enthusiastic embrace of censorship. It reflects, in part, the influence of three popular movements dating back decades: the feminist anti-porn crusades, the pop-psychology recovery movement and the emergence of multiculturalism on college campuses.

Moral Panics Won’t End Campus Rape
by Megan McArdle

There are a lot of definitions of moral panic running around, but here’s mine: It’s when a community becomes hysterical about some problem — often, but not always, a real one — that becomes defined as an existential threat to public safety and moral order. In such a climate, questioning how big the threat actually is, or contesting any particular example, is not a matter of rational discussion, but of heresy.

When people are in the grip of a moral panic, going up against them to question the extent of a threat, even by doubting so much as a single case, can become dangerous. Questioning any expression of the panic is not seen as a logical debate over statistics or the details of a particular instance, but as somehow defending the threatening behavior.

The Laura Kipnis Melodrama
By Michelle Goldberg

The politics of liberation are an uneasy fit with the politics of protection. A rigid new set of taboos has emerged to paper over this tension, often expressed in a therapeutic language of trauma and triggers that everyone is obliged to at least pretend to take seriously.

“It’s the infantilization of women fused with identity politics, so that being vulnerable, a potential victim—or survivor, in the new parlance—becomes a form of identity,” Kipnis told me. “I wrote a chapter on the politics of vulnerability in The Female Thing from 2006, and since then it strikes me that vulnerability has an ever more aggressive edge to it, which is part of what makes the sexual culture of the moment so incoherent.”

Identity politics has created an army of vicious, narcissistic cowards
By Brendan O’Neill

The politics of identity is narcissistic and needy. It encourages self-reflection over solidarity with others, sectionalism over universalism. In 1979, the great American thinker Christopher Lasch noted the emergence of this new ‘narcissistic personality’, where individuals ‘cannot live without an admiring audience’. Such neediness is rampant now, as evidenced in all the identity sects demanding supine acceptance of their terminology and worldview from everyone. If you don’t respect their ideas, you hurt their minds and bodies.

It’s all inherently censorious. Because if your political activism is indistinguishable from your natural characteristics or cultural identity, then any criticism of your political activism will inevitably feel like an assault on *you*. This is why student politicos in particular are so insanely cagey about open debate, forever hiding themselves in ‘safe spaces’ and trying to ward off campus anyone who criticises them in the same way monks might once have wielded crucifixes to chase away witches: because their transformation of their navels into the most interesting things in the world, their politicisation of their bodies and sexual preferences, means they can brook no ridicule of their outlook.

In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas
By Judith Shulevitz

The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma.

People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their field of vision. Shield them from unfamiliar ideas, and they’ll never learn the discipline of seeing the world as other people see it. They’ll be unprepared for the social and intellectual headwinds that will hit them as soon as they step off the campuses whose climates they have so carefully controlled. What will they do when they hear opinions they’ve learned to shrink from? If they want to change the world, how will they learn to persuade people to join them?

Please Be Disturbed: Triggering Can Be Good for You, Kids
By Todd Gitlin

When students are held, or hold themselves, to be just minutes away from psychic disaster, is it because they know “real” fragility is sweeping across the land? Or has there arisen a new generational norm of fragility, against which fortifications are needed? Whatever the case, angst about fragility cuts across political lines and crosses campus borders. Shall we therefore stop talking about rape, lynching, death camps? Shall we stop reading the annals of civilization, which are, among other things, annals of slaughter? I was talking the other day to a Columbia sophomore, Tony Qian, who put the point pithily: “If you’re going to live outside Plato’s cave, you’ve got to be brave.” What ever happened to, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make ye free”? Not comfortable—free.

fighting the tide
By Fredrik deBoer

I have to believe that there is still a strong enough dedication to the principles of academic freedom within the academy to maintain a defense of the necessary controversies of intellectual life. Academic job search committees and deans can defend these principles by refusing to follow the crowd in throwing out applications that come with political baggage. Passionate undergraduates, like those who are protesting Kipnis, can help by continuing to protest without calling for the kind of heavy-handed, top-down administrative sanctions that, in the long run, are unlikely to be good for them or their values. These passionate young people are going to emerge into a world where many of the treasured political principles they learned in their universities are deeply unpopular. Perhaps then they will learn the abundant virtues of not seeking to punish views that you dislike. As it stands, I know so many young academics who, faced with the already incredible competition of the job market, live in fear of ever saying or doing anything that could be considered offensive, even unintentionally, to professors, administrators, or (especially) their students. That’s no way to build a generation of young scholars. The world is harsh enough on unpopular opinions. We should work to make protest and controversial opinion– left-wing, right-wing, tenured or contingent– a respected and defended aspect of academic life.

Our generation did not invent political correctness, but we can fight it
By Claire Lehmann

It might serve us to remember that the enforcers of dogmas today would have been the enforcers of dogmas yesterday. Those who went after Dr. Matt Taylor of the Rosetta Mission for his shirt, would have happily brought Galileo before the Inquisition – and they would have thought it was for his own good. Whether they are warriors for God, or warriors for Social Justice, the moral certainty of holier-than-thou crusaders tends to remain the same.

Today’s “Stepford Students” are indeed disconcerting. But we ought not forget where and with whom their belief system originated. The Old Guard will eventually leave their postings in the academy (and the media) and it is up to us to make sure they take their P.C. dogmas with them. Of course, the baby boomers have made wonderful contributions –in art, culture, technology and science – but we should feel free to leave their orthodoxies, taboos and political baggage behind.

#GamerGate Political Attitudes Part Two: Old Liberals vs. New Progressives
By Allum Bokhari

The politics of GamerGate (in particular the question of why left-leaning gamers are fighting left-leaning media commentators) cannot be understood in isolation from these wider political divisions. In this context, GameGate supporters’ embrace of “Grey Libertarianism” can be seen as less of an attempt to genuinely break with left-liberalism, and more of an attempt to differentiate themselves from progressive activism.

In this, the politics of GamerGate mirrors the divided politics of the cultural left in 2014. Although the polite columns of Cohen and Yoffe seem a world away from the brutal hashtag wars of Twitter, the issues and beliefs being fought over are much the same. And as the divide between the old liberals and the new progressives grows deeper, it is likely that we will see more fighting.

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