I. F. Stone, The Trial of Socrates

The Trial of Socrates by I.F. Stone My rating: 4 of 5 stars If the independent left-wing journalist I. F. Stone had lived to write this 1988 bestseller in 2019 instead, he might have expressed its thesis this way: Socrates was an alt-right troll redpilling young men with corrosive irony and anti-democratic sentiment; therefore, democratic … Continue reading I. F. Stone, The Trial of Socrates

Against Intellectual Biblioclasm II

I wrote my first manifesto "Against Intellectual Biblioclasm" over a year ago. I concluded it was time for an update when I read this earlier today: Yet I am more persuaded by a former jihadi named Shahid Butt, who now spends his time deradicalising misguided souls in Birmingham. To him, another rioter from 1989, Rushdie … Continue reading Against Intellectual Biblioclasm II

Why Speech Is Not Violence

Psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett has written an article for the New York Times entitled "When Speech Is Violence." It begins: Imagine that a bully threatens to punch you in the face. A week later, he walks up to you and breaks your nose with his fist. Which is more harmful: the punch or the threat? … Continue reading Why Speech Is Not Violence

Fredric Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent

Seduction of the Innocent by Fredric Wertham My rating: 2 of 5 stars When I was younger—say in the late 1980s, early 1990s—the concept of free artistic expression was associated with the social and political left. The totalitarian states of international communism were discredited and second-wave feminism had clearly overreached in its anti-porn crusades; meanwhile, tirades … Continue reading Fredric Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent

“Tear Him for His Bad Verses”: PEN, Charlie Hebdo, and the Cosmopolitical Writer in Bad Faith

[The following is more of a collage than an argument, strictly speaking, so please feel free to fill in some of the gaps with your own imagination. For a quality argument on the topic, see here.] Teju Cole: I’m a free-speech fundamentalist, but I don’t think it’s a good use of our headspace or moral commitments to lionize … Continue reading “Tear Him for His Bad Verses”: PEN, Charlie Hebdo, and the Cosmopolitical Writer in Bad Faith