Sunday, October 18, 2020

Mutual Fear

What is the biggest fear of American liberals? That Trump is an authoritarian who will move the country in the direction of a white Christian dictatorship. What is the biggest fear of American conservatives? That the Democratic Party wants to move the country in the direction of a thought dictatorship, in which nobody who expresses the wrong opinions can get a job or otherwise live a decent life. Ross Douthat:

A striking thing about the current moment is that if you switch back and forth between reading conservatives and liberals, you see mirror-image anxieties about authoritarianism and totalitarianism, which each side believes are developing across the partisan divide.

I think these mutual fears define the politics of our time.

Millions of Americans live in fear that the police will harass, beat or shoot them; the police live in fear that "bad guys" will kill them.

Millions of American women live in fear that men will harass, assault or rape them; millions of American men live in fear that women will accuse them of harassment, assault or rape.

Gay Americans fear their newly-won rights will be taken away by conservative Christians; conservative Christians fear the Democrats will close all the churches that don't endorse gay rights.

Many Americans fear that protesters and self-proclaimed anarchists will burn down our cities; the protesters fear that the government will jail or kill them.

You can argue, if you want, that these fears are unbalanced, that the fears of the disempowered are more justified than those of straight white men. But the cold reality is that all of our fears, justified or not, are driving our politics away from dialogue and toward apocalyptic partisanship. It does not matter in the least whether you think somebody's else's fear is stupid; that fear is the reality you have to deal with, and if you respond to it with scorn it will only get worse.

I hope that this election will help to ease up on the fear, but I worry that it won't. I worry that nothing will change, and our politics will go from bad to worse, until we can somehow reassure Americans that half the country doesn't want to destroy them.


G. Veloren said...


"Millions of Americans live in fear that the police will harass, beat or shoot them; the police live in fear that "bad guys" will kill them."

So one side holds a sane view that matches reality, the other doesn't?

"Millions of American women live in fear that men will harass, assault or rape them; millions of American men live in fear that women will accuse them of harassment, assault or rape."

Again, one side lives with a reasonable fear, the other side (by and large) does not?

Gay Americans fear their newly-won rights will be taken away by conservative Christians; conservative Christians fear the Democrats will close all the churches that don't endorse gay rights.

And once again, reality vs fantasy...

"Many Americans fear that protesters and self-proclaimed anarchists will burn down our cities; the protesters fear that the government will jail or kill them."

This one mixes it up - this time the fantasy is stated first, reality second.

You can argue, if you want, that these fears are unbalanced, that the fears of the disempowered are more justified than those of straight white men.

I can and absolutely do, because reality doesn't care about your feelings.

But the cold reality is that all of our fears, justified or not, are driving our politics away from dialogue and toward apocalyptic partisanship.

This is technically true, but justified fears driving politics is the way politics is supposed to work - not unjustified ones.

Context matters. If you shout fire in a crowded theatre that is actually on fire, you are acting wholly appropriately, because people need to be informed of the reality of the fire so they can take appropriate action such as escape the danger of the flames. But if you shout fire when there is no fire, you've either been negligent in failing to actually confirm your fears / suspicions / delusions of a fire, or you've been outright malicious in intentionally lying.

G. Verloren said...


"It does not matter in the least whether you think somebody's else's fear is stupid; that fear is the reality you have to deal with, and if you respond to it with scorn it will only get worse."

Au contraire, it absolutely does matter - there's a reason why mens rea applies so frequently in the application of the law. A person's actions are frequently only defensible if they act reasonably and sanely. And those who commit indefensible acts get removed from society, for the safety and wellbeing of others.

Once again, you are playing the part of Neville Chamberlain, insisting that we must deal politely and civilly with the delusional madmen pointing guns at people, respect their fears and anxieties, and pacify them with gestures of good will.

Some people simply cannot, will not, be reasoned with. Goodness knows, as the American right has slowly slid further and further towards extremism, countless attempts were made to ameliorate and reassure them, and halt their goosestep march toward Fascism and White Supremacy and Religious Fundamentalism and wild paranoia.

These people think vaccines cause autism, and it's not because people weren't civil enough toward their fears - scientists have for decades now been calmly, politely, civilly, patiently explaining to everyone and their dog that vaccines are safe, that they have been rigorously tested and retested for literal centuries at this point, and that they are a powerful and vital tool in protecting people's lives.

They still don't care. Vaccines are evil, the doctors are lying to them, it's all a conspiracy, and no amount of civility can possibly change their minds.

Civil rights activists have been politely, civilly, respectfully, dignifiedly protesting for literal generations now. And literal lifetimes later, black men and women are still the victims of unprosecuted police murders on a regular basis, still the victims of systemic and institutional racism on nearly level, still being told "Don't be uppity, now! We have to keep proving to the White Man that we're civil and respectable, even in the face of literal attempts on our lives, and in a few more decades, racism will finally just magically disappear!

Et cetera.


I hate to say it, John, but you seem blind to the fact that half of America is living in an abusive relationship under the other half. They complain that their spouse beats them, that they fear for their life, and your response is that both sides are in the wrong, and that part of the problem is the victim isn't respectful enough to their abuser.

"He wouldn't hit you if you didn't make him so angry. Think about -his- feelings! He gets anxious and angry and scared the same as you! Sure, his fears might be wholly delusional and unjustified, but you have to respond to them with respect!

And that's not even exaggeration. One side is literally being murdered, and you're telling them they need to worry about the fears of the ones murdering them.

You need to think long and hard about what you believe. A little self-doubt and reflection might reveal to you some ugly flaws in your thinking.

Mário R. Gonçalves said...

Very well put and written. Those fears, both arguable and defensible, will not disappear with the election, I'm sure, because that's what we came to: a bipolar society of fear. Most countries in Europe also fear the rightist extreme as well as the leftist, but somehow moderate centre politics keep some prevalence, some majority, I hope it is sustainable, The major problem in the US is that you simultaneously have two centre parties, not radical, with no escape votes to the extremes, but those two often shift to extreme positions, or at least to extreme language.

Anyway, get used to this Brave New World of multiple fears. It came to stay.

David said...

I think John is framing the situation fairly accurately. FWIW, I see two interrelated problems that are important factors in our current dilemma.

Problem 1: There are, as a matter of fact, many groups out there that want extreme things, things that they are almost certainly never going to get, because most Americans don’t want them and aren’t going to change their minds. The very interesting article in the NYT this morning on "the battle for America's soul" exemplifies the problem. We meet a conservative Christian woman from California who is quoted as saying, "I know this is a Christian nation, the founding fathers were influenced by the biblical values." And then we meet a radical leader from East Harlem who says, "When people talk about reforming police, there is no reforming police, there is an opportunity to abolish it and to create something new, from scratch." The thing is, neither the conservative Christian woman nor the radical leader is going to get what they want, certainly not on anything except a hyperlocal level. We're not going to turn America into a Bible kingdom, and we're not going to abolish the police. One could say the same about the Koch brothers' vision that the only acceptable economic rule for America is that corporate leaders get to do whatever they think best. That's just not gonna happen, certainly not the extent that would actually satisfy the Kochs.

Problem 2: Attempts to put in place some of these extreme visions look just enough like real, very bad historical events that the fears they inspire are quite understandable. If your company makes you attend a white fragility seminar, that’s not Mao’s Cultural Revolution. But it will look just enough like the Cultural Revolution that many people will be pretty alarmed. Likewise, mandating that there be only one ballot drop box in every county isn’t a reinstitution of Jim Crow; but it’s enough like Jim Crow disenfranchisement that many people will be alarmed. And the Charlottesville White Nationalist thing wasn’t the torchlight parade under Hitler’s balcony, but it looked enough like it that some of us found it pretty scary--and telling us we were wrong to feel that way just makes us more scared. Part of the problem is that sometimes the onus is on those causing the fear, and sometimes it’s more on the side of those voicing the fear. Torchlight parades and forced morality seminars are both scary and IMHO, unnecessary. I'd like to see a national consensus that consigns both to the despised fringe. But we need more government revenue, and if seeing your tax bill go up by 10% makes you think Lenin is around the corner, then the problem lies with you.

I think the solution Mario is suggesting, if I'm understanding him correctly--the European solution of a leadership class that sees its mission as somehow maintaining some stability and somehow keeping that centrist majority, even a bare majority--is the best one on offer. It would be good if congressional Republicans abandoned the Gingrich-McConnell approach and started playing at least a little nice again. I'm sorry to cast some specific blame in a way I know John wants to avoid, but I think that Gingrich-McConnell thing has been a real problem. Recreating a moderate Republicanism will give the Democrats someone to work with, so they can ignore their own extreme left, instead of coddling it.

Mário R. Gonçalves said...

That's right, David.
Let me put the question in Covid terms:
Everybody attacks Trump on his management of the pandemic; he does have a stupid, gross, clownesque speech, but then the fatality rate is only 2,7%, way lower than most countries in Europe, Switzerland included. Nothing 'specially' more severe is happening in the States, but the ignorant President is unable to explain that in serene, rational terms. Then comes Biden and says Trump 'killed' thousands of Covid victims. That is even triple, quadruple idiot. The speech of Biden is equally stupid on the left, instead of keeping a moderate centre and some serenity, and instils false fear as much as Trump.

By far, Germany is the country to study, and then Sweden for other reasons. Of course the other 'alternative' to all that is China's dictatorship, where Covid is not specially frightening, and is perfectly under control; what is frightening and out of control is State terrorism, persecution and abuse. In my country the prime minister, left socialist Costa, proposed that Stayaway Covid App for mobile phones should be mandatory, police forces having allowance to control and fines applied. That is true fascism, the Brave New World / Triumph of the Pigs kind of fascism. That is how some kind of left easily shifts to authoritarian histery. What would right wing in Portugal do? They of course cried out loud against the leftist abuse !

I once was tired of the moderate centre politics, it can get boring, sterile. But now I'm sure it's the less frightening of all.

David said...


Sorry, but I can't join you on the Covid thing. As far as I'm concerned, Covid is plenty scary. Biden's statements on Covid are not equally as bad as Trump's. And measures to enforce disease safety compliance are not fascism. There is such a thing as sacrificing for the sake of the common good.

Sometimes we need to understand the fear that certain extreme ideas, like abolishing the police, can provoke. And sometimes complaining about public policies is just whining. A very rich man complaining that a 35% income tax rate is Communism is whining. Someone complaining that they have to wear a mask is whining. Every society has the right to ask its members to do their bit.

If this puts us back on the road that John is afraid of, then so be it.

Mário R. Gonçalves said...

No, I'm not scared by the virus, it is just a temporary and natural event that kills far less then other threats, namely wars. I'm really scared, yes, of MEN. To enforce health safety is fine but there are red lines - freedom, that old liberal, almost-anarchic freedom. Sacrificing for the sake of common good is the greatest lie of all times, there is no such thing except as demand of political propaganda.

If we all refused, revolted again, sacrifices of individuals or generations for the sake of anything bigger, for the sake of the future as the Greta followers are demanding, if we all deny them that sacrifice, we finally would reach the degree of freedom and maturity humanity is needing. Every and all abuses and genocides were comitted in the name of sacrifice to a bigger cause.

ArEn said...

So, GV, what is your solution?

JustPeachy said...

The thing to do is ask yourself which is more likely:

1) That Trump, an avowed womanizer on his third marriage, who doesn't even have a habit of attending church regularly, and who was never accused of racism in his long professional career before the presidency, would lead us into a white Christian dictatorship.. Or

2) That Biden, an ailing geriatric sock puppet on the hand of the Democrat progressive left, would allow us to keep sliding toward a dystopian future where people with traditional religious convictions will be barred from many jobs, subject to legal and social harassment, and live under constant threat from social services... things the progressive left is already pushing for in legal cases against bakers and florists, and working around the law through professional associations in the cases of mental health professionals, doctors, and in many other cases (such as college professors) simply hounding them out of their jobs by threats of violence. Cancel culture, anyone?

Seems clear to me. Also seems like 2 is the future most of the lefties I know actually want (whereas the righties I know do not want a theocratic state, they just want to be left alone). Not that they want me to be hounded out of all public life: they just think if we're sufficiently penalized for our backwardness, we'll see the error of our ways and come around to the right way of thinking. Those of us who've read a little history know very well it never actually works that way. It ends in gulags and mass graves. Not just for us, either: they'll probably eat their own first, in the cannibalistic competition to prove who is the most correct, the most righteous, and the most ruthless.

G. Verloren said...

"No, I'm not scared by the virus, it is just a temporary and natural event that kills far less than other threats, namely wars."

This is astoundingly wrong.

The Iraq War has killed 4,497 American soldiers.
The War in Afghanistan has killed 2,216.
The Gulf War killed 294.
The Vietnam War killed 58,209.
The Korean war killed 36,516.
World War II killed 405,399.
World War I killed 116,516.

Covid-19 has killed 219,428 Americans as of today.

In terms of raw numbers of deaths, Covid-19 is about twice as big a disaster for America as the entirety of World War I, and half as bad as World War II.

But we also have to consider the speed that people are dying - deaths over time.

Covid-19 has killed 219,428 Americans in only 9 months - 24,380 a month.
World War I killed 116,515 Americans over 19 months - only 6,132 a month.
World War II killed 405,399 Americans over 45 months - only 9,008 a month.

Covid-19 is killing Americans 3.9x as quickly as World War I did.
Covid-19 is killing Americans 2.7x as quickly as World War II did.

No sane argument can be made that this disease "kills far less then other threats, namely wars". Left unchecked, as it has been in America, it has proven itself far deadlier than the largest and most destructive wars in recorded history.

And you, Mr Gonçalves, by lying about these deaths, are spitting on the graves of hundreds of thousands of dead civilians - innocent men, women, and children - killed wholly needlessly, during peacetime, by the incompetence, selfishness, and wickedness of the very people whose sworn duty is to protect and serve the lives and interests of each and every American citizen.

The contempt I hold you and your depraved lies in is absolute. You may be incapable of feeling shame, but the world should be ashamed that people like you are in it.

David said...


You can't have human society without some concept of the common good. So unless you want to live in absolute solitude, you're stuck with it and will have to make the best of it.

G. Verloren said...

ArEn said...

"So, GV, what is your solution?"

The same solution you use to try to salvage an actual domestic abuse relationship:

Stop blaming the victim, and demand that the abuser be held accountable.


Police are murdering African Americans in the streets and getting away with it. That has to be stopped, by whatever means is necessary. There are lots of different proposals on how exactly to achieve that, but all of them involve massive reforms to the police system, restricting their powers and introducing strict oversight.

One thing virtually all proposals agree on is that Qualified Immunity must be abolished, so that police can be held accountable to the same laws they are sworn to uphold - so that no one is above the law, and police face justice for their crimes.

Another thing people agree upon is that police need to be far better trained. Compared to most other developed nations, American police are incredibly poorly trained, with absurdly short minimum training period requirements, despite our officers generally being more heavily armed and having broader powers.

Yet another thing that is overwhelmingly agreed upon is that Use of Force needs to be much more heavily restricted. Patrol officers in other comparable countries tend to not carry weapons at all, and those that do have much stricter limits and oversight placed on how, when, and why they are allowed to employ force.

The popular slogan is "Defund The Police", but what people actually mean by that is take the money that the police are spending on excessive force and reallocate it elsewhere, to people like social workers, mental health experts, and other forms of "soft authority" that can respond to problems with different tools than the threat and application of lethal force - or even prevent problems before they happen.


Similar tacks should be taken with the other problems John mentioned.

Protesters fear they will be jailed or killed? That ties directly into holding the police accountable and maintaining proper oversight.

Women (and some men) fear they will be harassed, assaulted, or rapes? That also ties directly into reforming our police system, but also strays into the realm of our laws, courts, and justice system - all of which need extensive reforms, once again, holding authorities accountable and maintaining proper oversight.

Gay Americans fear their rights will be stripped from them by conservative so-called "Christians"? Then it's high time we enshrined their rights (and the rights of other minorities and marginalized groups) in the highest laws of the land, up to and including the Constitution itself.

In that same vein, it's also high time we held so-called "Christians" accountable for their actions. They need to learn to live and let live, and those who can't must face the consequences. We need to introduce rules and laws which prevent them from trying to strip gay Americans of their rights, and assign suitable punishments for those who refuse to comply. I think stripping offending churches of their special tax exemptions would probably be a good place to start.

Et cetera.


There can be no growth and healing in the relationship so long as the abuser is free to keep tormenting their victim. There must be clear and obvious rules made to protect the victim; those rules must be strictly enforced; and there must be serious consequences for the abuser when those rules are broken.

It's either that, or the relationship must come to an end. The abuse cannot go on.

G. Verloren said...

Ultimately, you can boil the issue down to one simple fact:

We need to eliminate corruption in our government and protect minority victims.

David said...

I think what we're seeing is that, with a lot of public debates, there truly, truly isn't much common ground or room for compromise. On the issues we've debated here, I can't see much possibility of compromise between JP and GV, or between GV and MG, or between MG and me. This is regardless of how temperate, or not, the tone of debate is. The incompatibility comes from the positions themselves.

Perhaps we are looking at the death of the common good and the public as it has been conceived in the West since the revolutions of the eighteenth century. Perhaps we need to go back to a more medieval system, in which the commonality is split up into a multitude of more or less exclusive jurisdictions, including those of faith, interest group, political allegiance, etc.

Mário R. Gonçalves said...

I hate this, but can´t keep silent when people manipulate numbers in defence of their case. All dictators and populists do so, it's in the flesh of swindlers,
As of 2018, about 700,000 people have died of HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
In 2020, an estimated 606,520 people will die of cancer in the United States.
The American Civil War killed 498,332
In Vietnam, US and allied military deaths amount to 282,000 (not counting civilians).
WWW II, you know.

So "in terms of raw numbers of deaths, Covid-19 is about a third of HIV or Cancer victims, and still far less then Vietnam disaster.

I'm not spitting on the graves of the dead, I´m spitting on the face of living scoundrels. The World, being no Creator of Man, has nothing to be ashamed of; but is is surely stained, soiled and quite miserable with people like ...

G. Verloren said...


The hypocrisy is staggering. Accuses someone else of "manipulating numbers", then brings up totally unrelated numbers AND manipulates those instead.

Let's dismantle some more lies.

"As of 2018, about 700,000 people have died of HIV/AIDS in the U.S."

I'm not sure where you get this number, but let's give you the benefit of the doubt and accept it as -technically- accurate, with the vital caveat that it can only possibly be a grand total for a disease that was first clinically observed in the United States thirty nine years ago, in 1981.

We divide your supposed 700,000 people by 37 (since the total is ostensibly from 2018), and get an average of 18,918 deaths per year, or 1,576 deaths per month.

This matches up pretty well with a source I found from which states: "In 2018, there were 15,820 deaths among adults and adolescents with diagnosed HIV in the United States and 6 dependent areas. These deaths may be due to any cause."

Note that final sentence - it tells us that the number you are citing is probably wildly misleading, since countless people who suffer from HIV/AIDS manage to live full and healthy lives, dying to unrelated causes, because advances in medicine to combat the disease transformed it from a death sentence to a mere chronic condition.

Another source,, notes that AIDS related deaths have dropped 60% from their peak in 2004. (That's in a global context, mind you. The peak in the US was much earlier, in 1995.) And the CDC notes that the average annual death rate for HIV/AIDS in the United States is 5,698 people, or 1.7 deaths per 100,000 people. (It's unclear if, once again, that includes deaths from any cause.)

Oh, and by the way... HIV/AIDS is classified as a global epidemic. Millions have died to AIDS all across the planet, particularly in impoverished and wartorn countries. The world takes HIV/AIDS incredibly seriously, and the only reason the death rates fell to such relatively low levels is because we've spent trillions of dollars and decades of research and organization combating it.

See, that's the trick - when you take a dangerous disease seriously, and take actual steps to combat it, you prevent people from dying. But the thing is, people like you don't realize that, because lives saved aren't nearly as visible as lived destroyed.

Of course, none of this is even relevant - you claimed that Covid-19 kills far less people than wars, which is absolutely wrong. HIV/AIDS has nothing to do with it.

G. Verloren said...


As for cancer, you actually quoted some accurate numbers, which is astonishing.

Unfortunately, you failed to recognize (or perhaps more likely, purposefully ignored) the vital context that cancer is not a contagious disease.

Cancer is a very serious problem - it kills a staggering amount of people. But we're doing about as much as we reasonably can to combat it - we just haven't yet found an effective answer, and we have no real alternatives but to keep searching for a cure, while treating the infected to the best of our limited abilities.

Covid-19, however, we already have the means to utterly eradicate. In fact, we've gone so already on a local level in many parts of the world. We're looking for a vaccine, because that will be helpful, but we don't actually NEED one to wipe the disease off the face of the planet. Proper quarantine measures could eliminate Covid-19 from the entire human population, if only we implemented them.

It is utter lunacy (and disgustingly immoral) to compare a disease which we physically cannot yet defeat, to one which we could render functionally extinct in a matter of months if only everyone took it seriously enough.


As for the Civil War, your number is actually weirdly low, both according to modern evidence, and according to traditional tallies. Suffice it to say, anywhere from 600,000 to 750,000 Americans died in that war.

That said, you've once again failed to recognize that the rate of deaths over time is a vital piece of context (you ignore a lot of context, do you realize?), and we have to divide the total number of deaths by the war's length.

The American Civil War lasted just over four years, about 49 months. Even using the least conservative estimates for number of deaths (750,000 total) that still works out to an average of only 15,306 deaths per month.

Oh, the irony! You tried to invoke the Civil War to suggest it was deadlier than Covid-19, when in reality the disease is killing an average of 10,000 more people every month than the war did. Covid-19 is killing 1.5x as quickly.

Congratulations, you played yourself.


As for Vietnam, you're including non-American deaths. I'm not even going to waste my time explaining how that invalidates your argument - figure it out yourself.

Lies, lies, and more lies. And you have the gall to accuse others of your own crimes, and lie further while doing so. Then, like a good Fascist, you start rambling incoherently about "purity". Begone.

Mário R. Gonçalves said...

I´m quitting, I don´t need this aditional stress , the things I value the most are quietness and peace. I still will be reading your posts now and then, they are a valuable source, but I can´ty stand your friend V., I declare my retreat. As I said several times, I don´t fear much a natural threat like Covid because it has its own rules and all we can do is take the basic precautions and treat the patients the best we can; that is being done in most developped countries, US included, and the increasing or decreasing of cases is the natural course of things. The same goes for the climate natural evolution. As deaths are decreasing anyway, I'm happy enough to live in a world with fewer wars and less humans killing humans then before, but I fear some crazy aggression may happen. Myself m over 65, I don´t fear an age -related death like Covid, I fear only long suffering and mind blowing shock like wars use to generate.
Most of all I fear human meanness. I fear vindictive and destructive people like I suspect your friend V. is, for all what he writes here; this kind of people would be happy to vote and give power to men like Chavez or Lula or even Lukashenko, to destroy liberal democracy and instaure some kind of authoritarian repressive left tirany. Well, I´m sorry, Trump is one of the worst ( not THE worst though: you had LBJ for example) but someone like Sanders would be the real disgrace. Like your friend V. he shows completely unforgiving, intolerant atitudes against those he does not like, wishing even their death.
So, John, thank you for most of your blog, the famous periodic list of links included, mainly the Art and History and Archeology posts, I myself published in my blog some posts inspired by yours; but from now on I will cease to recommend or quote a place where such dangerous people are welcome. Goodbye, all the best.

David said...


I will be sorry to see you go. I know we have not always agreed, but I've always found your contributions interesting and enlightening about another perspective and another part of the world. I mean that sincerely. By the way, I just took a peek at your blogs, and noticed the large number of posts and links there about Greenland, the Arctic, etc. For what it's worth, I share your enthusiasm for cold and northern places.

Good luck and best wishes,

szopen said...

I have just finished a discussion in online Polish forum I frequent and I must say John has succintly put in words a phenomenon which does not only exist in USA. The guy I discussed with was hardcore leftist (by Polish standards, which are not perfectly aligned with US) and everything he was saying seemed to me like hysterical overexxageration of real, but minor issues; while he was accusing the right about hysterically overexxagerating minor, though real, issues.

And as David has written above, I also felt we just couldnt go into any kind of agreement, because some of our differences were about fundamental values. He didn't even understood "justice" in the same way as I. Heck, he even did not understood some very basic Polish sentences in the same way as I did!

As for CV19, let's wait for excess deaths number. The real numer of CV19 victims will not be known until few years later. And I assure you no matter how incompetent any government is, it's quite easy find plenty of other matched in incompetence. Finding competent government is rather far more difficult. In fact, I'm starting to think that maybe more difference is made by society than by government (just look at the recent data about rate of CV19 cases in Belgium and sharp distinction between francophone and Flamand counties!)

JustPeachy said...


I simply skip by V's comments, as he does not seem able to contemplate other points of view than his own without contempt, and is therefore not a rewarding person to have a conversation with. He does tend to monopolize the combox. Sad to see a bit more of the variety go away :(

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I am coming late to this one but...

Am I not the only one who sees the John vs. V thing as gender based?

John--I love you, but you lost me in the equation that puts actual physical suffering vs. fear. Which is how I cannot get past seeing this particular set up.

Look, I am glad my very woman-supporting non-sexist father retired before he was disgraced by one of his 1950s out-of-step comments that he doesn't even seem to realize he's making. And he does talk to me how he was very careful of his mentoring relationships while at Harvard. He was very, very cautious about mentoring young women. It didn't stop him all the time--but it did stop him some of the time. Okay, so on some level his fear is for something real.

But equating it to my reciprocal issues as a woman?

Try setting the argument up again without this straw man, and maybe I'd even agree with you.

But this piece 100% needed more from you before you put it out.

Just my .02¢.


Mário R. Gonçalves said...


You too, fellow, welcome to the club.