Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Contrary to Steven Pinker, support for free speech is falling

The article Pinker links to is by a square-jawed writer who took data from an academic who probably got the idea from (covertly) reading Steve Sailer, as so many of the intelligentsia do. It covers the same GSS free speech module previous posts have been based on here. There is no mention of demographic differences in support for free speech beyond the strong relationship between support for it and general intelligence.

The data Yglesias presents is not inaccurate. Expressed support for the right of homosexuals and atheists to speak publicly has steadily increased over the last several decades. People in the West no longer care if gays bugger, proselytize, marry, etc. Christianity, long since put out to pasture in Europe, is cratering in the US. After the Cold War ended, support for allowing communists and militarists to speak began to markedly increase as well. Collapsed and discredited. What's the harm?

These four categories don't deal with biological differences between individuals and populations, though. Identity is the most important issue of the 21st century, and only the question about "racists" addresses it.

The definition of "racist" has expanded enormously over the last couple of generations to encompass just about everyone to the right of, to take a random example, Steven Pinker. It now putatively includes the half of the population--and the majority of white Americans--who voted for Donald Trump. Pinker and Yglesias both know damned well that cultural elites and non-whites are increasingly applying the "racist" label to everyone who put the president in office.

Indeed, a recent poll found that a majority of people in the US think president Trump is a racist. Combine that with the graph above, and we're looking at well north of 100 million people in the US believing that the president should not be allowed to speak!

We see why they hit us with bike locks in the city that birthed the free speech movement, I guess. Deplorables must be silenced.

Support for the free speech of "racists" is most assuredly not rising. To the contrary, it is falling. And yes, it's falling among liberals. The following graph shows the percentages of people, by decade of birth and political orientation, who say racists should be permitted to speak in public (N = 32,858):

The right to openly talk about controversial or contentious subjects is a boomer ideal, one on track to die with them. It was born of a confident, victorious people during an era of nearly no immigration. The disunited polyglot of squabbling tribes now camped out from sea to shining sea have no use for it. Contrary to Pinker's opinion, it's future is bleak.

GSS variables used: SPKRAC, COHORT(1910-1919)(1920-1929)(1930-1939)(1940-1949)(1950-1959)(1960-1969)(1970-1979)(1980-1989)(1990-1999), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7)


Jim Bowery said...

The better angels of our nature, like Pinker, lie rather than commit violence -- at least until they're in control of the government in which case violence doesn't really count because what you're _really_ doing is rounding up all those lower class goy males so prone to violence and ushering, guiding and shepherding them through the process of sexual awakening in prison.

Jonathan Centauri said...

Professional Stinker knows he's lying. Its all delay and obscure. The identity groups of browns just care about themselves. Its not unusual. The lies hide it from Whites. Just share, they lie. Just stop fighting it.

Surrender Dorothy Porn.

These losers will be the first to be wiped out. They embrace Idi Amin and Pancho Villa. Reject Identity Politics. Its all about love, Little Jebbie. Smoke some pot and don't complain. Its inevitable.

The Progress of Shitholes. Its not the 1950s. Its not even Civilization. Be Nice. Wednesday is Soylent Green Day. Its always hump day for rapists.

Random Dude on the Internet said...

Yeah this reads to me like the usual "obfuscate and deflect" type of journalism where the goal is to try to downplay criticisms against the left or buy the left enough time to be able to pull off whatever it is that they want to pull off.

Everyone should be lucky that Trump got elected as this likely buys us another seven years of free speech. The first time a Democrat gets elected as President or if the SCOTUS leans left, it is over.

Kentucky Headhunter said...

All I got from that linked article is that Liberals support people who spout the Narrative right to spout the Narrative. Oh, and that White=racist. What am I missing?

Audacious Epigone said...


The presumption in Better Angels that the amount of violence in popular entertainment corresponding with the level of violence in broader society seems, at best, prone to lots of exceptions. The US has become less violent over the last generation even as the NFL has replaced the MLB as America's pastime, ultimate fighting has replaced boxing as the pugilism of choice, etc.

Jonathan/Random Dude,

Yeah, it very much seems to be sending a message of "nothing to see here, folks. Move on along, all is well", while the vise continues to tighten.


That Yglesias at least linked to an academic who looked at the GSS. Hey, it's something. Other than that, I don't think you're missing anything!

Toddy Cat said...

Pinker is getting way out of his league. Guys like Nassim Taleb and John Gray have torn much of his "Better Angels" work to shreds.

Tashkent Lutsow said...

Here's a good commentary on that overrated book. I'm unsure if Pinker ever wrote another good book after The Blank Slate, and even she has seriously flaws e.g Pinker's disingenuous equation of conservatives with religious fundamentalists.


Feryl said...

You didn't adjust for race? Those born from 1930-1970 were mostly white people born in America. And they also felt good enough that they were willing to give a platform to those considered lepers (e.g., racists). Aside from "child molester", the only kind of person who's been consistently demonized since 1970 is a racist. So that's why it's probably best to use the "racist speaker" variable as a way to gauge support for free speech.

Younger people are much more foreign, much less white, and also grew up in a very difficult time, as measured by things like the economy and war. Those born in 1930 experienced the full benefits of the post-WW2 boom, and Vietnam, vis a vis WW2, asked very little of hardly anyone, much less those born in the 1930's who saw very little action in Vietnam.

The cynical climate of the last 40+ years, and the growing diversity, has made more and more situations fraught with possible misunderstandings and violent outburts. And that's why respect for free speech has fallen so far. We don't trust that random strangers will not take an "offensive" comment in the worst possible way, and use it as an excuse to cause trouble...Including going to the HR department, the media, or Congress and saying that "offensive" speakers have ruined their life. Parallel to this has been the growing hysteria about "sexual harassment" since the mid-80's. Silent and Boomer women took it for granted that some men are pigs, and dealt with it as best they could. In the later 80's, elite women from these generations started grousing a lot about harassment, but still most people didn't care that much. It's only been among Gen X and Millennial women, over the last 25 or so years, that even many of the proles in these generations believe in draconian policing of male behavior, like not permitting comments on attractiveness that would've been regarded as polite in the 1950's, and even the 1970's. Of course, this anti-septic climate has reduced male mischief to a level that would've been considered impossible to reach in say, 1980. But the hysteria over a mirage of "toxic" masculinity nonetheless has deepened recently.

To put it another way: those born over the last 45 years have been alive only during a time of rapid deterioration of good faith, trust, and civility. It's not that surprising that they are much less libertarian than older generations. Younger generations blame the older generations for having, and abusing/squandering, so many freedoms and opportunities. So younger people are more comfortable relinquishing rights, since they might feel that it's the first step to restoring peace and prosperity. And finally ending the decades long binge on self-indugence and hedonism.

Audacious Epigone said...


Great review. That they would all be so empirical and precise! Thanks.


We know how important race is (linked to a previous post that looked at exactly that), of course, but the purpose here was to confront Pinker/Yglesias on their own terms.

Anonymous said...

We have to come down from our etymological high horse, racist does not mean what we think it means, and to quote a certain hipster: "Calling a white person racist is like calling a black person the n word. Racist is nothing but a hate slur against white people."

BannableOffense said...

Most political entities are now cognizant of how certain statistical realities are painting a picture that they don't want -- And taking measures to counteract it. Hence Zimmerman as "White Hispanic," more leniency afforded to NAM suspects by police, failing to enforce school discipline, etc.

When your job depends on being able to say, "Reduced incidence of urban youth crime by X000 / annually" or, "Increased percentage of women in leadership by 25%" you get good at figuring out ways to game this system. I don't think awareness of these statistics was nearly as prevalent or important in decades past, rather a genuine sense of community, shared values & purpose would have prevailed over a technocratic statistical approach in guiding what was good.

Audacious Epigone said...



Step #1: Label all white people as racist. Step #2: Ban racist speech. Congratulations, you have just dispossessed white people in the country they built.


Yes, incentives matter, and we are now incentivizing the maintenance of the perception that Diversity! is increasing. Collateral consequences? Who cares?!