Well, That Was Interesting (But Not Much Fun)

I am pleased to report that I was yesterday informed that I will not be prosecuted for opinions I expressed here on the Orthosphere.  Regular readers may recall a post I wrote in late July that said an anonymous SJW had accused me of “racism/sexism” through the university’s Stop Hate program, and that this SJW had thereby exhibited a lively hatred of me.

After ten weeks of investigation, the university has decided that my Orthosphere posts are “protected speech,” although it adds the admonition that “the blog in which you participate can elicit feelings of discrimination in some who read it.”  I will come back to those elicited feelings at the end of this post, but will here simply reiterate how pleased I am to learn that speech remains more or less free in the United States of America.

I am pleased as a matter of principal, but also for the very practical reason that successful prosecution of this complaint could have resulted in my being summarily fired, tenure being a very frail reed when the mighty wind of Title IX blows.  As I am neither wealthy nor skilled outside my profession (and not abundantly skilled within it), a summary firing would have been a personal calamity of the first order.  In addition to acute pecuniary embarrassment, it would have forced me into early retirement under a cloud of social shame.  I am not an intellectual conformist, and I have the psychological stamina to sustain a reputation for unpopular opinions, but I know I would have crumpled in the frozen social Siberia of vilified outcasts and detested pariahs.

“Many people of balanced mind and congenial activity scarcely know that they care what others think of them . . . . But this is an illusion.  If failure or disgrace arrives . . . he will perceive from the shock, the fear, the sense of being outcast and helpless, that he was living in the minds of others without knowing it.”  (Charles Horton Cooley, Human Nature and the Social Order [1902])

I will here relate some of the things that I learned from this harrowing experience.   If you are reading this blog, there is a good chance you also hold unpopular opinions.  Since none of you have offered to endow the Orthosphere, or to award its writers fat stipends, there is also a good chance that summary firing would be for you a pecuniary calamity.  And I trust you all have the social sensibility to see the truth of Cooley’s lines.  You may have the fortitude to bear the chill wind that frets every ideological nonconformist, but you still have a rational fear of being sent to social Siberia.

Falling Under the Baleful Eye
It is evident from the complaint that I first fell under the baleful eye of this SJW because I wrote two posts disproving the claim that Matthew Gaines played a significant role in writing or passing the legislation that established the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, precursor to Texas A&M University (here and here).  This false claim has been loudly bruited by parties who wish to erect a statue of Mr. Gaines, a Black state Senator of the Reconstruction era, in the hope that this will render the A&M campus more welcoming to Aggies of Color.  I do not oppose a statue of Matthew Gaines, or efforts to render the A&M campus welcoming; but I do oppose draping the man and statue in a pious fraud.

Some of the parties who advocate erection of a statue of Matthew Gaines also advocate removing an existing statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross, one-time President of the Agricultural and Mechanical College, and one-time officer in the Army of the Confederate States of America.  Acting under the BLM banner, some of the more avid members of the Remove Ross faction vandalized the Ross statue last spring, and the A&M Statue Controversy has been raging ever since.  In late June, the Controversy was raging on an internet forum called TexAgs, and my posts about Matthew Gaines were linked on at least four occasions.

Thus it was that I fell under the baleful eye of the SJW.

What this shows is that you will draw down the ire of SJWs when you interfere with their plans.  I have been writing at the Orthosphere for five years without drawing down anyone’s ire, and I have not hidden (or flaunted) my activity; but no one tried to hurt me until I put a spoke in the wheel of the Matthew Gaines myth.

I should add that no one has disputed the truth of what I wrote about Gaines, either in the comments to my posts or by private communication, so the SJW who filed the complaint was seeking to hurt me for saying what he (or she) could not deny was true.  Matthew Gaines had very little to do with the founding of the A&M College of Texas, and those who proclaim otherwise are either resounding gongs, clanging cymbals, or bald-faced liars.

Digging for Dirt
It is evident from the complaint that the SJW was angered by my posts on Matthew Gaines, but was immediately frustrated to find in those posts no grounds for a formal complaint.  He (or she) therefore set to rooting about in the Orthosphere archive in the hope of finding something by which to be triggered.  I should add here that the operative legal definition of hate speech is harassment or intimidation, and that the complaint maintained that this rooting SJW was harassed by words that he (or she) had gone to some trouble to dig up.

What he (or she) came up with was my July 9th post, “In Praise of Animus.”  Regular readers with good memories may recall that this post defined animus as the emotion of an impotent but injured people who nevertheless retain the sense that they have been wronged.  I said that this was indeed a common emotion among Trump supporters, and I praised it because it means the spirit (anima) of these Trump supporters is not altogether broken.  I in fact dispraise breaking anyone’s spirit altogether.

But because the rooting SJW did not read or understand the post, he (or she) took the title to mean “In Praise of Racial Hatred.”

Because nothing in that July 9th post actually supported this malicious construction of my words, the SJW continued to root about, now descending into the comment threads of other posts.  Thus the “evidence” the SJW furnished in support of the complaint of “racism/sexism” was three quotes drawn from answers I wrote to readers’ comments on other posts.  I will not reproduce the lengthy deposition I wrote to defend the innocence of these three quotes, but will say that two of them were polite answers to impolite commenters.  Thus, the rooting SJW knew that I am not unwelcoming to commenters who disagree or ask pointed questions, and yet he (or she) did not attempt to engage me in open debate.

He (or she) already hated me, and was simply digging dirt in the hope that it would make the university give me hell.

A Strange and Unpleasant Odor
Although none of the items mentioned in the complaint contained instances of “harassment” or “intimidation,” the university proceeded to trawl through my other Orthosphere posts.  As my letter of acquittal says, they found some unpopular opinions that could “elicit feelings of discrimination in some who read it,” but they found no coarse epithets, no foam-flecked rants, no menacing threats.  I am sometimes crusty, and sometimes spunky, but I trust I am never a vulgarian.

Although I am not a vulgarian, this intrusion into my writing has sullied work of which I am both proud and fond.  I believe some of my Orthosphere posts are superior to my best academic publications, and my entire on-line corpus (excuse the pompous word) is nowadays one of the dwindling number of reasons I do not feel entirely superannuated and defunct.  But after this complaint and investigation, my five-years’ work seems to exude a faintly disreputable and mildewed smell, like a stack of old pornographic magazines.

I don’t sense this smell, but I sense that others do.  And as my quote from Cooley said, we all “live in the minds of others.”

The investigation also involved interviews with various people seeking evidence of “racism/sexism” in my dealings with colleagues and students, or evidence of “the thoughts in these blog posts impacting interaction with students or employees in a negative manner.”  Again, the university found nothing.  But the dank odor of disrepute remains, this time attached to me.

Imagine an official investigator who came and asked you if you had any knowledge of a colleague behaving inappropriately with small children.  You might answer no, but you would never see that colleague as you did before.  You would ever after sense a strange and unpleasant odor when they passed by; and when they were gone, you might very well mention this odor to someone else.

So, the anonymous SJW did not destroy me, but he (or she) still managed to hurt me pretty bad.

Some Cold Comfort
The word elicit literally means to entice by deception, although in use it properly means to bring a truth to light by indirect means.  Socrates, for instance, elicited the truth from his interlocutors by the indirect method of questioning.  I mention this because it casts an interesting light on the sentence I have twice quoted from my letter of acquittal, “the blog in which you participate can elicit feelings of discrimination in some who read it.”

Those of you who have read Plato’s Theaetetus know that Socrates described himself as a “midwife” who helped men give birth to the contents of their minds.

Socrates:  “And did you never hear, simpleton, that I am the son of a midwife, brave and burly . . .”

Theaetetus: “Yes, I have heard that.”

Socrates:  “And that I myself practice midwifery”

Theaetetus: “No, I never heard that.”

Socrates: “Let me tell you that I do . . . though the world in general have not found me out; and therefore only say of me, that I am an exceedingly strange being, who drives men to their wit’s end . . .”

The reason Socrates drove men to their wits end was that he elicited from them proof of the ignorance they sought to conceal behind fine words and bluster.  Men were exasperated by this “exceedingly strange being” because he forced them to confront something in themselves that they had no desire to confront.  Without dreaming of comparing myself to Socrates, I suspect that an SJW finds me an “exceedingly strange being,” and that this is why my writing elicits “feelings of discrimination” in a malicious and cowardly SJW.

I am not simply referring to the fact that I hold their odious opinions in low esteem, which naturally elicits a feeling of hatred in a mind that has no psychological stamina whatsoever.  It is also the humiliating observation that I am not shivering, and my teeth are not chattering, despite the chill wind that frets me as an ideological nonconformist.  SJWs have what Nietzsche called a “slave morality,” and they therefore hate, hate, hate an independent mind.  And I expect that this is why I elicited from this truckling myrmidon a primitive impulse to revile, hurt and destroy.

44 thoughts on “Well, That Was Interesting (But Not Much Fun)

  1. This is great news, and I am very happy to hear you have been acquitted. The Orthosphere generally, and your writings especially, have been and continue to be influential on my development as a Catholic and as a human, and have further still inspired me to commit my own thoughts to the digital record (though I still lack the courage to write under my own name). You have gone forth and faced the Chill wind and survived, and showed us both that it CAN be survived, and also how to survive it.

    You wrote an article, “It is a cold wind that blows from a strange country,” and it’s not surprising that you use that imagery here in a different context. The cold wind has been blowing strongly these days, and it is reassuring to know that the pioneers who venture forth can find that strange country inhabitable if inhospitable.

    I wish you all the best and many more years of happy writing. Cheers!

    • Thanks, Scoot. I think it is prudent for you to write under a pseudonym. I will be retired in a few years, and presumably dead not too long after that, but you will be subject to harassment for things you write today by some turbocharged SJW thirty or forty years from now. And it is not only SJWs. You may someday have an enemy, or a rival at work, and it will be just as well that they cannot easily fish up something your wrote in 2020.

  2. I’m very glad to hear about this, JMSmith! It must be a frightening experience to be investigated like this, since the administration is inviting anyone with a grudge to try to remember anything you’ve ever said that could be construed negatively. I guess you’ve been very professional, and your enemies are sufficiently honest.

    I’m actually kind of surprised that the things you mentioned were the worst the anonymous SJW could dig up on you. You’ve written about a lot of sensitive topics. I guess I still don’t understand what are the triggers that really get their attention and ire. The fact that someone was upset about the Gaines posts seems very strange. They didn’t strike me as particularly controversial or ideological; they might have been written by a liberal rolling his eyes at his own side’s tendency to mythologize unimportant bits of history. Someday, when they come for me, I probably won’t be surprised that they’re doing it, but I probably will be surprised about what they decide is my fireable offense. I’ll say again what I’ve said so many times: it would be very nice if we had an official list to tell us what we are not allowed to say.

    By the way, I’m also more proud of my pseudonymous writing than my published academic work. I’ve felt bad about that, but I’m glad I’m not alone. I’m quite pleased with some of the “Bonald” essays and even reread them myself. Sad to say, I usually hate my papers by the time they’re published. They have been so much reduced from my original plans for them–because my computational tools were inadequate to the original task, or I was scooped on the original task, or because I needed something more modest so it could be done by the time a graduate student defends–that I look at the final product in disgust; I see nothing of myself in it.

    • If my experience is a guide to what yours might be, the people who come for you will be angered by something else you have done, and then use your violations of political correctness to harass and punish you. My Gaines posts angered Gaines supporters because they can no longer put a plaque on his statue saying he was “father of A&M,” or something like that. I’m not a participant in this fight, but other students and alumni are using the evidence I found to good effect. Your problems might begin with an ambitious junior colleague or an aggrieved graduate student. I don’t know how close you play it to your chest in real life, but Bonald is not easy to dox. After reading T&A for a few years, I was fairly sure I had identified the academic physicist who wrote as Bonald, but it wasn’t easy and I wasn’t certain.

      • Sorry you had to go through that professor – thanks for your bravery. Hopefully you can’t be blamed for comments from readers – I try to keep them decent and am not offended by deletion/comment rejection.

        Probably that feminist girl from a couple of weeks ago – hell hath no fury……

        Leftists love “people” in the abstract but find it easy to hate individuals and, by extension, those individuals families. How weird to root around (quite a time investment) to find something to be offended about.

      • Thanks. The evidence in the complaint was actually drawn from answers I wrote to comments, but a comment can take one places one would not have gone by choice. A good deal of what one says in a lively intellectual conversation is “for the sake of the argument,” and to treat such words as a personal testimony is just ignorant or malicious. I think think these are things a doctrinaire thinker cannot understand. They never say anything that is not a declaration of their creed, and they presume that everyone else is equally hidebound.

  3. I hope and trust that you shall not, my friend, ever suffer such a fate as Socrates. But, if that should ever happen – to either of us – I hope and trust that we shall suffer with his same equanimity, courage, understanding – and, indeed, compassion.

    May God bless you and keep you.

    • Thanks, Kristor, and it’s good to hear from you. I should have mentioned in the post that Socrates, despite being such an odd and vexing character, also knew that he would crumple under ostracism. Hope we will be hearing more from you.

  4. More productive would be to remind she that the Confederate statues belong to the democrats and to suggest replacement with some icon of created equal, which was Jefferson ratified by Lincoln but will also belong to the eventual abolisher of abortion.

  5. Glad to hear of your acquittal, sad to hear that your accuser was not fed to the lions. I am not the lord, but I still want vengeance. Since we all need to tread so carefully these days, you may not want to post this comment.

  6. Pingback: Well, That Was Interesting (But Not Much Fun) | Reaction Times

  7. So you never knew the name of your “accuser”?
    There is a story, I don’t know whether it is true – but anyway. The Hungarian literary critic, and communist, Georg Lukacs, did not like the writings of Franz Kafka. When Lukacs was arrested by the Communist government in Hungary, he was held prisoner in a castle. It is then that he declared Kafka was, after all, a realist writer.
    In this Lukacs was correct.

    • No, the accuse remained anonymous. It could be someone I know very well, although I doubt that. The process did bear a resemblance to Kafka’s Trial, mainly in that the alleged crime was not clear.

      • I don’t understand why the accuser is not named. It encourages the most base people to try their luck, knowing they can hide and not take responsibility for what they allege. (I am not talking about serious crimes against the person, such as murder or rape.) Justice is not done and is not seen to be done, and they will try again with somebody else another time.

      • Perhaps they would have been named if the prosecution had gone forward, but my sense is that the accuser is incidental in a case like this. They are not accusing me of having harmed them in some particular way, but rather of being a generally odious and objectionable human being. They are simply calling attention to my objectionable odiousness, which presumably has many victims.

        I think the penalties for false accusations should be much more severe. I understand the difficulty of sorting false from mistaken accusations, but false accusations do great harm. A man accused of a crime is never completely exonerated. As you say, to be raped is very bad. But to be falsely accused of rape is also very bad.

  8. Great news — and may your accuser see the light one day and beg the Lord for forgiveness for all the people he has wronged, including yourself.
    I have had similar experiences, but one good thing about naturally being a social pariah is that one lacks certain vulnerabilities that you mention. Every characteristic, it seems, comes with advantages and disadvantages . . . with potential routes for the development of virtue or vice. I remember Lewis’ writing something about that, and I have pondered it in my heart for many years . . . and have witnessed numerous confirmations of its truth.
    Your post moreover reminded me of something that reading (and listening to) Derbyshire had taught me. Contemporary right-wingers in the West do tend to be disreputable — or at least cranky, cantankerous, and not “team-players.” They are more likely than their corresponding lefty opposites to leave an odor trail — and not simply because of the status that elite approval bestows. Rather, Derb notes, in order to be a right-winger in a society where leftists dominate every sphere of influence, one must but a non-conformist. One must not care too much about what authorities — what people of good taste — think. One must flout established social norms, however novel. Many folks who have those characteristics, irrespective of politics or ethics, tend to be eccentric, weird, and socially obtuse. And so they taint their gregarious, well-adjusted fellow partisans by association. The whole lot of them, however, make for poor dinner party guests. They are instead the Dalits of the current regime — deplorables, like the uneducated, mouth-breathing back-wooder nobodies who cling to their guns and religion. If someone exhibits similar thought patterns or values to those rural, lower-class proles, it means that he wasn’t smart, rich, well-bred, or industriousness to make it into good schools . . . or, if he did, he wasn’t wise, prudent, perceptive, or classy enough to assimilate to the higher culture that he experienced. Germaine Greer is a pearl before such swine.

    • We’ve talked before about this paradox in the modern conservative. His theoretical respect for authority entails, in the modern context, a practical insolence towards authority. His theoretical respect for community prejudice entails a sturdy eccentricity. Well, as Emerson said, consistency is the bugbear of small minds. I’m not trying to cadge an invitation to a dinner party, but must disagree with what you say about conservatives making poor dinner party guests. So long as he hasn’t been embittered by the fight and knows where to draw the line, I’d say the conservative can enliven and delight a liberal dinner-party. They are all bored with one another, and will get a kick out of some daring sallies (so long as they are not too daring).

      • Hobgoblin, not bugbear!

        So far, happily, your case fits the usual pattern that SJW’s victims are usually chosen from those on the left – who will apologize, grovel and beg for forgiveness. This pattern suits their purposes best.

      • Well, Texas must still have gentlemen and ladies on the left. I believe that their numbers are dwindling elsewhere. Growing up, I had many fine liberal teachers. My junior high American history teacher was a proud Democrat who had served as a marine in Vietnam. He was a hoot — and a great teacher who loved debating ideas. He gave me a lot of good-natured grief for being a right-winger, but we had a very positive rapport. From what I’ve read and heard, his kind have left the building, and rabid, intolerant ideologues have replaced them. The Onion mocked the ACLU just a few decades ago in a satirical article wherein the ACLU defended neo-Nazis’ right to burn down the ACLU headquarters (based on that organization’s former commitment to defending American freedoms, regardless of the Americans). This year, that same organization (“same” being questionable and subject to metaphysical debate) contacted Nick Sandmann’s (the “smirker” at the March for Life) new college (Transylvania) to warn them about having such a dangerous student on campus. The old liberals are retired or dead. The new new left is more honest, open, and consistent about their neo-Bolshevism. The only way they’ll invite you to dinner is in a pot as the opening course, cannibals that they are.

      • I’ve written here before about what classical political philosophy says about the decay of party politics into factional politics. Parties recognize the right of their rivals to exist, and to represent the interests of their constituents. Factions deny this right to their rivals and seek to destroy. It’s the difference between a party seeking to win a vote or an election, and faction seeking to eliminate the opposing faction from all future votes and elections. That party politics degenerates into factional politics was one of the many arguments classical political philosophy made against democracy.

    • I knew the sad story of Mike Adams, but hadn’t before seen the story from South Carolina. He was right to refuse sensitivity training because it is sub-rational manipulation of the psyche, and because dissent will be punished. He could truckle to power, dissent by not going, or dissent in the sensitivity training. So his choices were truckle or be punished.

      • That Jewish professor who didn’t want to go to sensitivity training even tried playing his J card and including lots of preposterous lies about white Gentiles to try to win them over. It looks like the BIPOC coalition isn’t falling for the “fellow people of color” routine. The possibility of Jews not being able to avoid being condemned as white, and realizing it, is probably our best hope.

    • This probably says something about what a rotten person I am, but when I read stories like that (someone tormented who commits suicide) and the story of the bar owner in Omaha who committed suicide because he was being prosecuted over shooting a rioter, my first instinct is I’d respond with homicide before I responded with suicide (I would like to think I would manage to avoid both). Yes, this isn’t Christian but neither is suicide – guess I’m more of an anger than despair type.

      • I well understand the temptation to wrath (and despair). But we must all remain happy warriors doing a dirty business with a song in our hearts.

      • In no way advocating violence which is both unChristian and counter productive. I think what bothers me is that our side doesn’t fight. Something pathetic about cowering in a corner and ending it instead of fighting – you’d think at 46 years old I’d have gotten past the hotheaded thinking – I blame the Scots-Irish genes.

  9. To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. And who is competent for this?

  10. Thanks for this update. I have been concerned about how this would all turn out for you and yours in the end. Very glad to hear (or read) the happy result.

  11. Congratulations and what a relief. I’ve grown very fond of your writing. May God have mercy on us all. Sometimes I wish my employer would just go on and fire me. I’d end up temping agaIn, and at my age, that’s quite an unpleasant thought, but at least the worry would be over with.

    • Thanks. All else is well. Although my lugubrious prose may sometimes suggest otherwise, I’m really a very fortunate and happy man.

  12. Everyone reading this account should get hold of the book SJWs Always Lie by Vox Day (Theodore Beale), which is available on Amazon. It’s a fascinating expose of the mind of the SJW, how SJWs operate, and most importantly how to defend yourself from them. He released a free extract called The SJW Attack Survival Guide which summarises the most important points. There’s also a sequel called SJWs Always Double Down. They are all essential reading.

    • I read Day’s book and found it very helpful. There is an abridged version of the practical chapter on the web for those who are in a hurry. Prepping for a SJW attack is like prepping for a hurricane–it seems silly until the lights suddenly go out.

  13. I am late to the party here, but let me join all the others in gladness to hear of your avoidance of the Gulag.
    I am, of course, appalled at the psychotic inversion of hierarchy in our time, in which virtues becomes sins, oppression the coveted mark of status, what is highest in us and in our traditions must be dragged down for shaming the lowest, and in which adults are disciplined by children.
    How will this end? At some point good people must say “Enough!”, and mean it.

    • Thanks, Malcolm. If good people don’t say “Enough” soon, I will have to conclude there are enough good people to be heard in this gibbering bedlam.

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