Aaronson really gets it

Especially this comment (but do read the entire post):

Let me be as clear as possible. It’s not that I don’t understand the idea that many social-justice activists have been trying, with considerable success, to establish as the consensus of the educated world—namely, that there’s this huge swath of political views, even extremely mainstream ones in the US, that don’t deserve any of the usual social protections that classical Enlightenment liberalism would afford to individual conscience, because such views “cause already powerless and marginalized people to fear for their safety,” and are therefore themselves a danger to marginalized people, much as if the arguer had pulled a gun.

Rather, it’s that I do understand this idea, but that the idea itself makes me fear for my safety. I regard this idea as precisely the thing that Scott Alexander once called a rhetorical superweapon. And my own experience causes me to lack any baseline level of trust that this verbal thermonuclear bomb will be deployed only against targets who deserve it.

It’s probably easiest if I personalize the issue. As a Jew who lives his life in and around college campuses, I’m extremely used to the experience of “feeling silenced” and “fearing for my safety” whenever I pass by protesters who advocate for the nonexistence of the State of Israel, often bolstering their case with an endless loop of graphic videos of mangled Palestinian children (of course, never mangled Israeli children), in an attempt to evoke the same emotions evoked by the medieval blood libels.

To be sure, Aaronson still gets a lot of things wrong. But the plain and simple common sense expressed above is now so rare in the academia (see him being attacked for it in the comments) — that he deserves a full 2.5 cheers for it. As for feeling threatened by Palestinian activists on campus: get that carry permit already!

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