31 votes

‘Believe Women’ was a slogan. ‘Believe All Women’ is a straw man

14 comments

  1. [8]
    nothis
    Link
    One of the best articles on the politics of slogans I've come across so far. This is so important. This is a sick game but it is a game and I believe we're being played. I think progressives need...

    One of the best articles on the politics of slogans I've come across so far. This is so important. This is a sick game but it is a game and I believe we're being played. I think progressives need to better defend against such superficial attacks. It's easy to dismiss them as superficial or wrong but they work. We need to have a very clear understanding of what these slogans are about and where to draw the line. We need to care more about headlines and making it crystal clear where we're talking about exceptions and extreme cases.

    I'm leaning into dangerous territory, here, but I also believe that articles like this (which is almost literally about climate anxiety being a racist concept) are problematic. I know they mean well. I understand that there's issues and nuances that can overlap. But this kind of narrative can be used as ammunition to prove "liberals saying insane shit". People are recruited to the alt-right and Q-conspiracy-theories based on posting this and basically just pointing and saying "see? they're out of their minds!". Superficially, I can often no longer disagree and that's a problem. We need better messaging.

    21 votes
    1. [7]
      post_below
      Link Parent
      The reason, of course, is that media catering to all sides identifies emotional topics and exploits them for engagement (cash). So there's a strong incentive to exaggerate and lose nuance. We do...

      The reason, of course, is that media catering to all sides identifies emotional topics and exploits them for engagement (cash). So there's a strong incentive to exaggerate and lose nuance.

      We do need better messaging, or really better self awareness and empathy, but maybe the best thing we can do is ignore the parts of the media that are purely in it for the clicks. Or at least talk about them like the bought and paid for corporate mouthpieces that they are. WaPo included. Let's not pretend Bezos' primary motivation was investment. At his power level influence over the media is table stakes.

      I mentioned sides, but the implication these days is that means progressives versus conservatives. That's not really true though. It's capitalism (in it's current state) versus human wellbeing. We need to find ways to make that the conversation.

      10 votes
      1. [6]
        nothis
        Link Parent
        I no longer believe the "just ignore them" advice. For example, deplatforming of extremists on mainstream websites works surprisingly well while "just ignoring" them doesn't, at all. It's...

        maybe the best thing we can do is ignore the parts of the media that are purely in it for the clicks

        I no longer believe the "just ignore them" advice.

        For example, deplatforming of extremists on mainstream websites works surprisingly well while "just ignoring" them doesn't, at all. It's technically the same measure (giving less attention to them) but one is active and the other passive. Only the active measure works.

        In this case, the passive measure is just "ignoring the trolls who misrepresent the message" and I don't see that working, either. I'm not sure what the active measure would be but it might be something along the lines of rewriting slogans to be bullet-proof to bullshit interpretations. I wouldn't dismiss that.

        I guess assuming maximum cynicism and media outlets intentionally releasing misleading headlines would render this moot. But to come back to the deplatforming example, a lot of people claimed that wouldn't work because a) large companies would never deplatform one of their most active user bases and b) they'd just move to an alternative site. Turns out even the most evil companies have a breaking point and building some extremist niche site is hard. I could imagine the assumed cynicism about "headlines for clicks" being inevitable might also be overblown.

        10 votes
        1. [4]
          Gaywallet
          Link Parent
          There is no such thing, and this article is proof of how they will simply change your slogan if they need to open it up to attack. I think this is the part I'm struggling most with. You're focused...

          I'm not sure what the active measure would be but it might be something along the lines of rewriting slogans to be bullet-proof to bullshit interpretations.

          There is no such thing, and this article is proof of how they will simply change your slogan if they need to open it up to attack.

          I think this is the part I'm struggling most with. You're focused on messaging, but this article shows that messaging doesn't matter - if they want to attack your words, they simply substitute their own. They shift the goal posts to open it up to attack.

          I think articles like this and other people paying very close attention to how messaging is worded is important, but it's not the end of the story. The recent superstraight movement is proof of this. They looked to redefine sexuality from who you are attracted to, to who you are not attracted to. It's a very small goalpost shift but an important one. I spent days on reddit responding to everything from trolls to people who mean well but are uneducated who were promoting the movement. Some were able to accept that this was an important shift, but many simply did not care. I believe we are in a bit of an echo chamber here where people reading the article are in agreement. But what of someone who exists more on the conservative spectrum? How would they feel? And how would someone who didn't hold a stance but was swayed by the change from 'believe women' to 'believe all women' view this article? I'm not sure they'd have such a charitable stance and that deeply troubles me.

          I'm of the mind at this point that we have a problem that only education can fix. We need to spend time repeatedly educating people about these subversive tactics being employed until people are naturally skeptical of the source of a movement or saying. I also think we need to spend more time teaching people about diversity and targeting specific education on privilege at those of us who are more privileged. I think this is a long term problem - one that's been born over subtle shifts in population, education, and resources over the past 30-40 years and we're not going to fix anything so simply.

          9 votes
          1. [2]
            nothis
            Link Parent
            Long term? 100% this. But I'm increasingly scared of our world literally burning to the ground before "education reform" (I need to use quotation marks around that phrase) genuinely works out....

            I'm of the mind at this point that we have a problem that only education can fix.

            Long term? 100% this. But I'm increasingly scared of our world literally burning to the ground before "education reform" (I need to use quotation marks around that phrase) genuinely works out. It's a decades (plural) long process with no clear, positive trend.

            I also agree about the goalpost moving being the problem and this not being something you have a lot of control over. The reason I still believe you have to try making it harder is that, ultimately, nobody cares whose "fault" it is, in the end what stays is the message.

            So if you have a slogan like "disband the police", you're making it very easy to interpret that as "get rid of the police". It's an example of the kind of hubris that is not going to end well, politically. This shit works for your small college club, gluing posters onto the cafeteria wall, but we're talking about very mainstream shit, here.

            I believe it's a problem to have a slogan that can be misinterpreted by adding an intensifying adjective. You can't misinterpret "Make America Great Again". With a lot of slogans of the left in recent years, it feels to me like they almost revel in ambiguity.

            9 votes
            1. DrStone
              Link Parent
              I wonder if it's not exactly intentional, but rather like when you hum a song for someone. You know exactly what you're trying to hum and the though process for choosing it, so you believe it...

              With a lot of slogans of the left in recent years, it feels to me like they almost revel in ambiguity.

              I wonder if it's not exactly intentional, but rather like when you hum a song for someone. You know exactly what you're trying to hum and the though process for choosing it, so you believe it sounds great and is so obvious and couldn't possibly be anything else. It might work with someone who knows you or the song well. To a general listener, who doesn't share the context, it sounds like a mess only vaguely resembling the intended song as well as a dozen other songs. Then you double down since "they should get it, it's so obvious", hum the same thing again louder, and everyone gets increasingly frustrated. At that point, any attempt at discussion can make you and the listener think the other is either a moron or acting in bad faith.

              8 votes
          2. EgoEimi
            Link Parent
            I'm unsure if it's a problem that only education can fix. Information is exponentially growing while our individual ability to independently process information and sort through the disorder is...

            I'm unsure if it's a problem that only education can fix. Information is exponentially growing while our individual ability to independently process information and sort through the disorder is more-or-less fixed (unless we choose to delegate to some third party).

            I don't think it's fake actors who are distorting messages, but genuine actors who see an opportunity to use an established cultural meme to spread their message rather than try to spin up a new one from scratch. The Defund the Police movement had a lot of genuine actors defined the slogan differently, from "we don't mean literally defund, just reform the police" to "we want to shift some funds to community programs" to "we want to abolish the police".

            I think that we need new social technologies and e-etiquettes — I'm not necessarily talking about social media à la Zuckerberg but Robert's Rules of Order, news, and other procedures and organisations by which humans socially exchange and process information — to be widely adopted (or evolved) in order to facilitate more productive, coherent conversations. Especially in the cacophony of the World Wide Web which has enabled billions of humans to shout whatever they want at each other. Right now, we're still using institutions and social procedures carried from the 20th century and learned from our small IRL social groups.

            7 votes
        2. post_below
          Link Parent
          It's not really black or white. Ignoring versus deplatforming. Who's going to deplatform mainstream media in any case? Ignoring them isn't entirely realistic either. There's a sort of network...

          It's not really black or white. Ignoring versus deplatforming. Who's going to deplatform mainstream media in any case?

          Ignoring them isn't entirely realistic either. There's a sort of network effect there. I meant it more as a device to illustrate that our perspective on media consumption will have to shift, hopefully already is.

          The same where our perspective on social change is concerned. All the rules are a little different than they used to be, and evolving.

          I agree, btw, that deplatforming not only works in some cases, but is absolutely necessary. I don't love the free speech implications, and it's about as slippery a slope as you can imagine, but we have the Trump and Qanon realities to remind us that mass anti-intellectualism is a real possibility.

          3 votes
  2. [5]
    post_below
    Link
    It's a standard playbook, use exaggeration to make a strawman from part of the opposition's view and then rally around it so people hear it from multiple sources over a short period of time......

    It's a standard playbook, use exaggeration to make a strawman from part of the opposition's view and then rally around it so people hear it from multiple sources over a short period of time... Instant thing. Bonus points if you can appeal to emotion and bypass the forebrain entirely.

    It's good to see it pointed out, even if it's WaPo.

    12 votes
    1. kfwyre
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Yeah, it’s a really easy way of creating the illusion of hypocrisy or inconsistency. By intentionally distorting someone’s beliefs, it becomes easy to fabricate a supposed violation of them. This...

      Yeah, it’s a really easy way of creating the illusion of hypocrisy or inconsistency. By intentionally distorting someone’s beliefs, it becomes easy to fabricate a supposed violation of them. This creates the perception that your target is untrustworthy, unfair, or duplicitous.

      A similar sort of thing also happens when people pose as particular identities in order to support regressive viewpoints (c.f. r/AsABlackMan). It’s not about truth or fairness but about primping the pump for your side through deceit.

      I think the author’s right that we could come up with plenty more slogans and it won’t really matter. If people are unwilling to hear them for what they really are in the first place, then the solution doesn’t lie in better messaging. This highlights what happens in discourse when the principle of charity isn’t just absent, but actively opposed.

      12 votes
    2. [3]
      Jedi
      Link Parent
      Anything particular against the Washington Post?

      Anything particular against the Washington Post?

      5 votes
      1. post_below
        Link Parent
        It's been sad to see the paper that broke watergate lose it's integrity and become another corporate outlet.

        It's been sad to see the paper that broke watergate lose it's integrity and become another corporate outlet.

        2 votes
      2. grahamiam
        Link Parent
        I was pretty disappointed to hear they banned a victim of sexual assault from covering sexual assault stories, but after it came to light they reversed it:...

        I was pretty disappointed to hear they banned a victim of sexual assault from covering sexual assault stories, but after it came to light they reversed it: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/media/washington-post-reverses-prohibition-on-reporter-from-writing-about-sexual-assault/2021/03/29/c0ee3be0-90c5-11eb-9668-89be11273c09_story.html

        1 vote
  3. Lobachevsky
    Link
    It's a case where both sides use exaggeration and misleading slogans/phrases/expressions to advance their preferred outcome. I'm a firm believer that honesty and sticking to the facts is way more...

    It's a case where both sides use exaggeration and misleading slogans/phrases/expressions to advance their preferred outcome. I'm a firm believer that honesty and sticking to the facts is way more effective in the long run, rather than trying to appeal to emotional response of twitter users.

    7 votes