Getting the Memo, But Not Getting It

As predicted, the “content” of the Nunes memo is a ruse. The press and people who read are obsessing over it, while Trump and his minions have already declared that it demonstrates a witch hunt. It is made for waving around at cameras, not for hermeneutics. Democrats desperately trying to figure out how to rebut […]

Straw-Manning Russiagate

Why do smart people insist on manufacturing demonstrably false straw-man versions of Russiagate? Take this nugget: “The centrepiece of the faith, based on the hacking charge, is the belief that Vladimir Putin orchestrated an attack on American democracy by ordering his minions to interfere in the election on behalf of Trump.” That’s just wrong. If […]

Free Speech on Campus

In a recent Vox article, law professor Robert Post makes the striking claim that “There is no 1st Amendment right to speak on a college campus.” His argument strikes me as spectacularly wrong. Take this paragraph: “But here we are talking about public discourse: the free flow of ideas in newspapers, in public squares, on debate […]

Irrational Rationality

People get upset at Socrates (really, Plato) for disdaining democracy in favor of what today is being called epistocracy. The reason is usually that this disdain harbors an elitism, repudiating equality and thus justice. But there is a further wrinkle. It gradually emerges that equality implies autonomy (I am not free if I am subordinated), […]

Against Democratization

It’s become common to complain that social media have created “bubbles” and aided political polarization. It has also become common to object that the Internet has fallen short of serving as a public sphere, largely because of the ways commercial interests have shaped it. In this context, various technologies—from apps and online petitions to organizational […]

The Dialectics of Authenticity

Sometimes being a historian for a long time prevents one from recognizing change: “Nothing to see here. It’s all been done before.” Greenberg is casually dismissive of possibilities that he has not even paused to consider. And he’s rather shockingly oblivious to aspects of the media ecology and political economy, given his own background. Not […]