Category Archives: Media

Safe Spaces Aren’t Just for SJWs

spAs much as I despise Donald Trump, on some level I understand why he has die hard supporters. The most popular reason for this phenomenon is he seems to be the answer to the political correctness of our time. Trump may be many, many, horrible things, but being politically correct isn’t one of them.

Indeed, political correctness is a significant problem in our culture. Participation trophies, zero tolerance, and the very Orwellian PC language in which the Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) insist we use in our public discourse are doing great harm to the Millennials. The concept of ‘safe spaces’ on college campuses wraps all of the above (and more) in one tidy bow which infantilizes young adults. Not too long ago, college campuses were once considered the place to debate and explore controversial ideas, now have spaces to protect the precious Millennial snowflakes from debate and controversial ideas.

Yes, the SJWs certainly do suck. I’m sure that SJWs who read the above two paragraphs are angry I didn’t include a trigger warning before challenging their world view but here’s the thing: it’s not just SJWs who retreat into safe spaces nor just the generation raised in this very PC culture. As it turns out, some of the very people who are most critical of political correctness, Millennials, and safe spaces don’t want their worldviews challenged either!

I can’t speak for anyone else’s social media feed other than my own but I have seen people leave controversial comments followed by something to the effect of ‘I’m not going to debate this, if you post something that disagrees with me on my wall it will be deleted.’ Or s/he will simply delete the post without explanation (I’ve seen this behavior from conservatives and progressives alike).

Of course, having different opinions and refusing to debate opinions is one thing; being upset that someone shares an inconvenient fact completely destroying the basis of an opinion is another. Around Memorial Day Weekend, someone posted on my FaceBook wall about how awful it was that President Obama went to Hiroshima, Japan on Memorial Day instead of the traditional laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There was just one problem with this person’s complaint: it wasn’t true. All it took to see if this person had a legitimate beef with Obama was a five second Google search (in the age of information, ignorance is a choice). In fact Obama visited Hiroshima on Friday, May 27, 2016 and visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Monday, May 30, 2016 (AKA Memorial Day).

In response to my posting readily available news articles reporting that Obama attended both of these ceremonies, I received a private message asking me: ‘Why are you always defending Obama?’ I don’t remember my exact response but it would have went something like ‘I’m not always defending Obama but the truth matters.’

The same sort of thing happened when someone blamed Obama for pulling the troops out of Iraq too soon and I dutifully pointed out that Obama was carrying out the troop withdrawal signed by President Bush.

These were just two examples off the top of my head; there are certainly other examples I could have used. As we are getting mercifully closer to the end of the 2016 campaign, conservatives, progressives, and yes, even some libertarians are retreating to their safe spaces refusing to be challenged at all.

The worst offenders IMO are the Trump supporters who are oh so critical of safe spaces on college campuses and Trump himself. The Trumpster divers tell us that all of Bill Clinton’s sexual assault accusers are to be believed while Trump’s accusers are all liars. Why did they all wait to come forward until a month before election day? Surely, they are all either opportunists and/or working directly for Hillary!

This is entirely possible. It’s possible that some if not all of them are lying. It’s also possible that because the world has now been exposed to Trump being Trump, these women now feel like the public will listen when prior to the leak the public otherwise would not.

Then there’s the issue of Trump’s poll numbers. As I look at my FaceBook feed, I see several Trump supporters posting articles from Trump friendly sites claiming that Trump is polling at 67% to Hillary’s 19%. In contrast, Real Clear Politics, averaging the leading scientific polls show Hillary leading Trump 44.7% to 39.4%.

Of course in terms of the election itself, it’s the electoral college map that matters not the popular vote. How are the candidates fairing on the electoral map? The Real Clear Politics Map is showing 262 electoral votes for Clinton, 164 for Trump, and another 112 are considered toss ups. The candidate who receives a minimum of 270 electoral votes becomes the next POTUS. By my math, that means that HRC is within 8 electoral votes of the magic number in this projection. This doesn’t provide much room for error for Mr. Trump. In order for Trump to win based on the above, he would have to win just about every one of the toss up states and not lose a single state projected to be in his column. If he wins all of the toss up states except for Florida, Trump still loses.

Clearly, either Real Clear Politics with its scientific polling or Trump biased Arizona Freedom Alliance will be proven wrong on Election Day, safe spaces be damned. One would think that but with Trump openly saying he won’t necessarily accept the election results (whatever that means!), he and his supporters will remain in their safe spaces for a bit longer.

It’s not too difficult to see how damaging the safe space phenomenon will be to our culture. Verifiable facts are ignored while rumors and provable falsehoods are considered truth when it aligns with an agenda.

As a people, we need to realize that being skeptical isn’t a bad thing. We must be careful of confirmation bias. We should read articles we disagree with and have friends we can argue important issues with (and remain friends at the end of the day).

And if you want to take a short break in your safe space (we all do, don’t kid yourself), then do so. Just don’t make it your permanent address. One can deny reality but cannot escape its consequences.

Katie Couric and Her New Documentary “Under the Gun”

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Katie Couric is taking heat for a misleadingly edited scene in her new gun control documentary called Under the Gun, which is currently airing on the cable channel EPIX. In the scene, Couric asks a group of gun rights supporters how we can prevent “felons or terrorists” from purchasing guns if we fail to perform background checks.

In response, her interviewees are seemingly stumped by the question, relegated to awkward silence. For nine seconds, they twitch and shift and flutter their eyes. One looks off into the distance, searching for an answer.

It is laughable to anyone who has not reduced gun rights supporters to caricatures.

To be sure, the question is a confusingly worded one. What is the set of circumstances in which someone walking around free, buying guns, would be revealed by background check as a “felon” or “terrorist?” If Couric meant convicted felons and terrorists, then presumably they are in prison, not out buying guns. If she meant convicted felons and terrorists who have served their time and been permitted back into society, then there is a legitimate question as to whether their Constitutional rights should be restored. In any event, we already have laws precluding convicted felons from owning guns and requiring background checks to ensure they do not.

However the question is meant to be interpreted, it is not exactly groundbreaking. This is not new terrain. This is not something gun rights advocates have never considered. The vast majority of gun rights supporters have already extensively considered this issue and come to a reasoned opinion.

Thus, to anyone in the gun rights community, Couric’s footage is an easily identifiable fraud. Unsurprisingly, audio footage obtained by the Washington Free Beacon has confirmed it to be precisely that. What actually occurred, as would be expected, was that the interviewees gave immediate, polite responses to the question.

In fact, with varying degrees of clarity and eloquence, they tried to articulate the points I raised above. Their responses may not have been the best way to cover those points in the film. If the director had wanted to play Couric asking the question and then explore responsive concepts in some other manner, I doubt anyone would have faulted the creative decision. But manufacturing nine seconds of awkward, twitchy silence suggests the director had another goal in mind.

Called out on the manipulative editing, director Stephanie Soechtig explained that her intention was to “provide a pause for the viewer to have a moment to consider this important question” and that she “never intended to make anyone look bad.” Shortly thereafter, Couric said she supported Soechtig’s statement and was “very proud of the film.”

There are a couple different ways to interpret all of this.

One is that Soechtig and/or Couric are being dishonest about their motivation for altering the footage. The real reason was to perpetuate a narrative in which gun rights supporters are portrayed as reckless and ignorant, red state dullards without the most basic concerns for public safety. Showing the interviewees answering the question—or cutting away without playing the nine manufactured seconds of silence—would detract from that narrative and leave an unfortunate impression that gun rights supporters actually have reasons for their positions.

Alternatively, Soechtig/Couric are telling the truth. It is not gun supporters they perceive as simple, but rather their own audience. The viewers needed those nine extra seconds of silence to confront such a groundbreaking question, to wrap their neophyte minds around its unprecedented implications.

Or perhaps there is simply a strange sort of narcissism at play. In this interpretation, it is Soechtig/Couric who are the simpletons. In their minds, no one had ever confronted this mind-blowing question until Katie Couric so amazingly thought of it. Playing the actual footage would have interfered with viewers’ appreciation of Couric’s prowess in asking this life-altering question. So instead the filmmakers faked some footage to leave a more suitable impression.

It is certainly possible to be both a journalist and an activist. While I do not always agree with his positions, I acknowledge that Glenn Greenwald does both so well that each component is made more powerful by the other. It works because he is honest and transparent about the activism, while approaching the journalism part ethically and with humility.

In contrast, altering footage to show something that flat out did not happen is neither journalism nor a particularly competent form of activism. It is storytelling for naïve audiences. It is fundamentally dishonest and narcissistic. And it will not promote dialogue about gun safety.

Update: Couric has provided further response to the accusations.

Sarah Baker is a libertarian, attorney and writer. She lives in Montana with her daughter and a house full of pets.

Libertarians Debate on Stossel (Part 2 of 2)

Watch-Part-One-Of-The-Libertarian-Party-Debate-On-Stossel-702x336This isn’t by any means an exhaustive analysis of the second part of the Stossel LP presidential debate but I wanted to share the video now before too much time passes and this becomes irrelevant.

In this second part, Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera each posed a video question regarding drugs. O’Reilly said he had a question for “the libertarian geniuses” which it seemed that he thought he really had a question that would stump them. As it turned out, O’Reilly’s question made him look like a fool. What he thought was a fast ball was actually a hanging curveball that any libertarian worth his or her salt would have hit out of the park (It’s clear that either he doesn’t watch Stossel’s show because he crushes these kinds of questions on a regular basis). All three candidates indeed did hit it out of the park (bonus points for Petersen for calling O’Reilly a pin head).

Geraldo’s question was a bit more nuanced: Should government have programs to help drug addicts? Among the three candidates, I thought McAfee had the best answer. Treatment cannot be forced on those who don’t want it.

From there, Stossel addressed more of the issues in which libertarians are outside the mainstream.

Combining the two parts of the debate together, my opinion hasn’t changed much. I feel like Austin Petersen “won,” I liked much of what John McAfee had to say (he has a great voice too; he should get into broadcasting), and if anyone “lost” it was Gary Johnson.

All of that being said, any one of these individuals is lightyears better than what the blue and red teams are offering.

Libertarians Debate on Stossel (Part 1 of 2)

Watch-Part-One-Of-The-Libertarian-Party-Debate-On-Stossel-702x336In case you missed it, the first half of the Libertarian Party Presidential Debate aired on Stossel on April 1st (the second half will air on Friday, April 8, 2016). The three participants were 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, software developer John McAfee, and the founder of the blog The Libertarian Republic Austin Petersen.

After watching some of the GOP debates and the first Democrat debate, watching the Libertarians debate was refreshing. No name calling or commenting on the appearance of the other candidates. No scolding the debate moderator for asking questions the candidates didn’t like. To the extent that one candidate challenged or disagreed with another they were on the substance of the issue at hand (more on that in a moment). There seemed to be more areas of agreement than disagreement (and even a kiss on the cheek) among them. This debate was more about presenting to a national cable audience the case for Libertartian policy alternatives to those of the Republicrats.

Did any candidate “win” Part 1 of the debate or help/hurt his chances with the LP faithful or viewers who are open to supporting a third party candidate?

I can only answer for myself. I enthusiastically supported Gary Johnson in 2012 all the way back from when he was running for the GOP nomination to election day as the LP’s nominee. Of the three, he’s the only one I was all that familiar with. I took the Isidewith.com survey on the issues (mentioned in the debate) several weeks ago and found that I sided with Austin Petersen 97%, Gary Johnson 92%, and Ted Cruz 77%. I’m not sure why John McAfee wasn’t among those I sided with because I found myself in agreement with much of what he said in the debate. Due to these results, though Gov. Johnson is sort of my default favorite I watched with an open mind.

To my surprise, indeed I did find myself agreeing more with the thirty-five year old Austin Petersen than the other two. For libertarians looking for “purity” of libertarian principles, Petersen is your guy it seems (based solely on one half of one debate). When asked about whether a cake decorator should be forced to make a cake for someone based on personal or religious reasons, Johnson (to my profound disappointment) said they should while Petersen said the market should decide making the freedom of association argument (an argument every good libertarian should have down pat).

The second strike against Johnson and for Petersen was the question of the so-called gender pay gap. Johnson sounded like a progressive echoing the “equal pay for equal” work line but said he would be hesitant to sign any equal pay legislation because “the devil is in the details.” Petersen on the other hand skillfully explained why the gender pay gap is a progressive myth. McAfee, for his part argued that if a person doesn’t like how much they are being paid they are free to look elsewhere.

There’s certainly more in the debate that I didn’t get into here. My conclusion as far as my opinion goes: Petersen helped himself, Johnson hurt himself, and McAfee is intriguing. In a world where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are looking to be their party’s nominee any of the three would be hands down a better choice.

Quote of the Day: 10th Anniversary of the Duke Lacrosse Case Edition

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“This entire experience has opened my eyes to a tragic world of injustice I never knew existed. If police officers and a district attorney can systematically railroad us with absolutely no evidence whatsoever, I can’t imagine what they’d do to people who do not have the resources to defend themselves.”

Reade Seligmann, one of three Duke Lacrosse players falsely accused of raping Crystal Mangum commenting on the state of the so-called criminal justice system in the U.S

Hat Tip: Fantastic Lies: 10 Appalling Moments From The Duke Lacrosse Case by Mary K. Ham at The Federalist

Related:
The Scales of Justice Need Rebalancing
25 More Reasons for Criminal Justice Reform
Arrest this Woman!
Crystal Mangum Strikes Again
Duke Accuser Crystal Mangum Charged with Stabbing Boyfriend

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