We've detected that you're using an ad content blocking browser plug-in or feature. Ads provide a critical source of revenue to the continued operation of Silicon Investor. We ask that you disable ad blocking while on Silicon
Investor in the best interests of our community. If you are not using an ad blocker but are still receiving this message, make sure your browser's tracking protection is set to the 'standard' level.
In a report released yesterday, entitled “Cyber Violence Against Women And Girls: A Global Wake-up Call,” UN Women, the group behind last year’s risible “He for She” campaign, called on governments to use their “licensing prerogative” to ensure that “telecoms and search engines” are only “allowed to connect with the public” if they “supervise content and its dissemination.”In other words, if search engines and ISPs don’t comply with a list of the UN’s censorship demands, the UN wants national governments to cut off their access to the public.
So, what sort of content does the UN want to censor? ISIS recruitment videos, perhaps, which lure women into lives of rape and servitude? Live-streamed executions from Syria? Revenge porn or snuff videos? There’s no shortage of dangerous and potentially traumatising content on the web, after all, much of it disproportionately affecting women.
Alas not. The UN is hung up on “cyber violence against women,” a Kafkaesque term that is apparently shorthand for “women being criticised on the internet.” At least, that’s how at least two attendees at the launch of the UN report, published by the United Nations Broadband Commission, explained it yesterday.
According to feminist culture critic Anita Sarkeesian, who spoke at the event, online “harassment” doesn’t simply consist of what is “legal and illegal,” but “also the day-to-day grind of ‘you’re a liar’ and ‘you suck,’ including all of these hate videos that attack us on a regular basis.”
Unable to prove that they are the victims of a wave of “misogynistic hate” – no bomb threat against a feminist critic of video games has ever been deemed credible and there are serious doubts about threats supposedly levelled at transsexual activist Brianna Wu – feminists are trying to redefine violence and harassment to include disobliging tweets and criticisms of their work.
Sarkeesian’s comments were echoed by former video game developer, feminist activist and professional victim Zoe Quinn, who told the United Nations: “There are individuals on YouTube who have made a living off of [sic] abusing Anita and I.” Quinn does not name any specific YouTubers, and we are left guessing as to who these mysterious “abusers” really are.
The message from the UN seems to be: “cyber-violence” against women, at least according to their invited guests, is somehow equivalent to getting thumped, or bullied, or abused in real life, and it’s worth clamping down on basic free speech provisions to insulate these delicate first-world feminist wallflowers from the consequences of their own purposefully provocative statements.
The UN ignores the fact that both of their high-profile invitees are professional wind-up merchants who have capitalised on a media environment in which it has become acceptable to say almost anything about “straight white males” and which women, no matter how preposterous their opinions, can get column inches for saying they’ve been “threatened.” (No journalist will ever check their claims.)
Sarkeesian and Quinn are perhaps the finest living examples of what I call quantum superstate feminism, whose figureheads are at once aggressor and victim; trolling, provoking and ridiculing their ideological opponents while at the same time crying foul when their provocative language is returned in kind.
Somehow, I doubt women in actual peril outside Europe and the US will have much time for this self-regarding baloney.
The UN report itself contains a number of bizarre attempts to equate critical tweets on the internet with physical violence. “A cyber-touch is recognised as equally as harmful as a physical touch” says the report. In their press release, UN Women claim that “cyber violence … places a premium on emotional bandwidth.”
It doesn’t tell us what “emotional bandwidth” means, so we are left to guess. It sounds like “emotional quotient,” which girls say their boyfriends are lacking despite their higher IQs. Nonetheless, the concept of “emotional bandwidth” raises interesting questions. Is it a crime when Netflix starts buffering during a romantic comedy?
Inventing nebulous terms is a speciality of the UN. It allows them to “take action” (that is: issue reports no one reads) on something that doesn’t exist, which disguises their impotence when dealing with real human rights abuses. Needless to say, not everyone agrees that “cyber-violence” and “emotional bandwidth” are urgent humanitarian issues.
Tyler isn’t alone. As the Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey points out, the UN’s grand plan to censor the web fights against the rising tide of cultural libertarianism. If UN Women think they have civil society on their side, they are mistaken. Everyone from academics and Hollywood actors to gamers and reddit users are sick of mendacious, sinister and profoundly anti-intellectual attempts to attack free expression with bizarre concepts like “cyber-violence” and “safe spaces.”
The UN report’s ham-fisted attempt to equate unwelcome words with violence isn’t its only problem. Its explicit focus on women is never justified, and runs contrary to the data. Research from the Pew Centre has found that “men and women are equally likely overall to have experienced “severe” [online] harassment.” (The research also found that women are twice as likely to be upset by online harassment, but that’s a separate question.) Yet the U.N. group appears to think women’s online harassment merits a special focus. Why?
The UN report’s explanation of the causes of “online cyber violence” echoes the tired language of 1990s moral panics, and in some cases even relies on outdated research from the same period. It blames the “mainstreaming of violence against women” on “popular music, movies, the gaming industry, and the general portrayal of women in popular culture.”
The report also has a strange preoccupation with pornography, which it accuses of causing “aggressive behavioural tendencies” as well as “increased interest in coercing their partners into unwanted sex acts.” Their citation is a link to “Stop Porn Culture,” a campaign group chaired by the militantly sex-negative and widely criticised feminist Gail Dines.
Other citations in the report are dead links to old blog posts. One has to wonder if the UN expected anyone to fact-check it at all. Given that most of their “reports” are boondoggles, I suspect they’re surprised by all the attention.
It can be pointless and pedantic to play what some of us call “Oppression Olympics,” but in this case the discrepancy between this UN group’s complaints and the real suffering of women is too great to ignore. In a world afflicted by female genital mutilation, forced marriages and acid attacks on girls whose only crime is wanting an education, the UN has chosen to focus on the professional whinging of privileged and mendacious western activists.
The UN has always been a joke, but in this case, by providing a platform for such ludicrously entitled windbags, they have provided us all with the punchline themselves.
News flash! A popular stock market chat room has requested that the UN add (asking anonymous posters who claim to be an expert on the bible if they have a relevant post secondary degree) to the list of proposed banned speech. LOL!
"I STILL own the ban button, buddy" | Pastime Discussion ForumsShare
Glenn Reynolds: After Yale, Mizzou, raise the voting age — to 25
In 1971, the United States ratified the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. In retrospect, that may have been a mistake.
The idea, in those Vietnam War years, was that 18-year-olds, being old enough to be drafted, to marry and to serve on juries, deserved a vote. It seemed plausible at the time, and I myself have argued that we should set the drinking age at 18 for the same reasons.
But now I’m starting to reconsider. To be a voter, one must be able to participate in adult political discussions. It’s necessary to be able to listen to opposing arguments and even — as I’m doing right here in this column — to change your mind in response to new evidence.
This evidence suggests that, whatever one might say about the 18-year-olds of 1971, the 18-year-olds of today aren’t up to that task. And even the 21-year-olds aren’t looking so good...
For some (loud, argumentative) people, science isn’t just a collective endeavor to understand the world. It’s a moral system: To be unscientific is to be unethical, and they’ll be happy to tell you all about at the next housewarming party.
As that brand of atheistic evangelism exhibits, rationality taken to an extreme itself turns into ideology.
The authors invent the term “moralized rationality” (MR) to describe those folks who prate on about their deep love of “evidence” and such forth. Incidentally, for moralized rationalizers, only that which can be observed counts as evidence, which of course leaves out all mathematics, logic, metaphysics, and, worst of all, the rules of rational argument; a most irrational position.
As is usual, the authors gathered some folks on the Internet and asked them a series of questions to which they assigned arbitrary numbers, submitted those numbers to classical statistics routines, and discovered wee p-values.
[Participants] were presented with a hypothetical scenario: a doctor (Richard) was presented with a devoutly Christian patient (Mary) with diffuse symptoms. In both narratives, Richard told Mary to pray for her health. In one version the doctor did so in order to harness a placebo effect; in the other, he did so because he thought that God answers prayers. The higher people scored on MR, the more upset they said they were about the prayer prescription and the more they wanted Richard punished.
We did not need an “experiment” to tell us that angry atheists are angry at people who recommend prayer. Interestingly, the observational effects of prayer have been striking throughout history. When confronted by this evidence (which they agree is evidence) moralized rationalizers typically extend alternate hypotheses which might explain the observations. That any cause beside God might exist is then used to dismiss the idea God answered the prayers. Yet since for any set of contingent observations endless theories of what might have caused the observations exist, this procedure used by moralized rationalizers can be used to dismiss any causal claim. And that isn’t very rational.
There is nothing in this paper that is interesting. Here’s the opening two sentences.
Human history is replete with examples of new scientific ideas and observations creating tension with normative beliefs of the day. Despite being backed up by strong evidence, defenders of heliocentrism, the theory of evolution by natural selection, as well as the current scientific consensus that human activity causes global warming have all faced ferocious resistance against their ideas.
To which we can say, the myths of scientism are strong in these authors. Here’s the beginning of the paper’s end:
[S]ome people view it as a moral virtue to rely on reason and evidence when forming and evaluating beliefs…Moralized rationality is not only related to the rejection of traditional beliefs that are not backed up by logic and evidence, but also leads to intolerance of those who endorse such beliefs…
Somehow it slipped the attention of the authors that some theists view it as a moral virtue to rely on reason and evidence when forming and evaluating beliefs. Or did the authors want to imply that “reason and evidence” only lead to atheism? That’s not a very rational position to take.
Lastly, “Because moralized rationality centers on the appropriate processes of evaluating beliefs, rather than on their specific contents, it may also be a safeguard against motivated reasoning biases.”
Farmers could fertilize their fields with that one—although what would sprout up wouldn’t be edible.
Contrary to what the authors say, atheists who feel obliged to proselytize (“solemn nonsense” and “grave sin” says Pope Francis) are more like a cartoon (with a varying punchline) you might have seen. One gentleman is standing at the leftmost of a line of urinals; the others are empty. Entering stage right is another fellow. He eschews all empty slots except for the one next to our hero. The new fellow arrives, pauses for a blank panel, then says, “I’m an atheist.”
(I’ve also seen “I’m a vegan” and “Bernie Sanders supporter.”)
"I STILL own the ban button, buddy" | Pastime Discussion ForumsShare