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the Left's War Against Literature 
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Post the Left's War Against Literature
The Left used to be in FAVOR of freedom of expression, but not now.

CANCELLED: J.K. Rowling Condemned By Twitter Mob For ‘Transphobic’ Tweet
Turns out Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling might not be as progressive as she thought. Recently, the fantasy writer angered radical LGBTQ folks on social media for tweeting a defense of a person fired for believing that there are only two genders. The author has since been called a “transphobe,” or more specifically a “TERF” (trans exclusive radical feminist.)
newsbusters.org/blogs/culture/gabriel-h ... obic-tweet

Stephen King Savaged by ‘Woke’ Mob For Saying Art Should be Judged on Quality, Not “Diversity”
Author Stephen King is facing potential cancellation from the ‘woke’ mob after he responded to the Oscar nominations by saying art should be judged on quality, not the “diversity” of its creators.
infowars.com/stephen-king-savaged-by-wo ... diversity/

‘American Dirt’ was supposed to be a publishing triumph. What went wrong?
It was poised to be a blockbuster long before copies arrived in bookstores last week: a thrilling contemporary migration story following a mother and her son, desperate to cross Mexico and reach the United States. ... Its publisher, Flatiron Books, an imprint of Macmillan, paid a seven-figure advance after outbidding several competitors for the novel. It snagged a coveted selection in Oprah’s Book Club and had been shipped to key celebrity influencers, including Stephen King, Sandra Cisneros and Salma Hayek. A reported first run of 500,000 copies was printed. The film rights were sold. ... But by week’s end, the novel “American Dirt” had garnered attention that its boosters likely didn’t expect: angry charges of cultural appropriation, stereotyping, insensitivity, and even racism against author Jeanine Cummins...
latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/20 ... ket-newtab


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Post Re: the Left's War Against Literature
I read the Stephen King link. There's so much I don't understand about the world of social media, but mainly I want to ask, who cares what a few Twitter users say? And why are you posting this crap here on BookTalk?

The article suggests that King faces "potential cancellation from the ‘woke’ mob." What does this even mean? Cancellation of what? And what is a "woke" person exactly?

Social media represents the very stupidest discourse on the planet. I just can't take it seriously. I would also suggest that the stupid is not left or right. It's just plain stupid.

I recently read something on Redditt about the actor Johnny Depp being assaulted by his girlfriend. The various posters (maybe a contingent of the aforementioned "woke" mob) were livid because people so unfairly judged Depp. Granted, I don't know enough about the story to comment intelligently, only that I would say the same thing. Who cares?

If you were stuck in a cave for the last ten years and only now were granted release, do you think that people would run up to you and say, did you hear that Stephen King is getting a bad rap from the "woke" mob for saying something racially insensitive? No, of course not. Because this isn't news, it isn't relevant. It's sheer inanity. The so-called "news" sources that "KindaSkolarly" reads are insulting to intelligent people everywhere.


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Post Re: the Left's War Against Literature
What does "woke" mean?
duckduckgo.com/?q=what+does+%27woke%27+ ... mp;ia=news

BookTalk is an appropriate venue for discussing how the "woke" mob polices the work of writers. From what I've observed, "woke" = "Nazi," at least in the way that the woke crowd browbeats those with opposing views. The first two stories above perfectly illustrate how the system operates. Rowling and King failed to mindlessly parrot the views of the woke mob on gender and diversity, so they were savaged. Each writer has cranked out millions of words, but then suddenly the "tolerant" Left censured them because of some offhanded comments. Like it or not this is the way that Leftists operate now. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union attacked writers with non-conformist views, and now we see the enlightened "woke" Left doing the same in America. And note the hot-button issues that got King and Rowling into trouble--diversity and gender. The woke mob insists that you consider skin color FIRST in all things, and you CANNOT believe that there are only two genders. You MUST believe that 2+2=5. It will be some time before we all come to see the 5, but the woke mob will get us there with their patient attention to detail. They will confront bigotry in all writers who don't expand their pronoun usage beyond he/she, and they will cancel those who don't aver that white people should be genocided. This is woke love in action.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has the right woke mindset:

Elizabeth Warren Enlists a Transgender 9-Year-Old to Choose the Education Secretary as the Political Landscape Radically Transforms
redstate.com/alexparker/2019/10/11/eliz ... ransforms/

The last of the three articles in the original post talks about a book that was just released. The person who wrote it apparently has a skin color that's not the same as the main character's. This ENORMOUS transgression against wokeness was compounded when dark-skinned Oprah Winfrey got involved, and now the media has created an Obama-era-like race story out of...nothing.

Wokeness is a weapon that is used to divide people, that's all. Hitler used it, Lenin used it, and now the Leftists in America are using it.

I had to look back to find the stories below. The woke crowd has been chewing away on literature for a while.

SJWs Are Purging Politically Incorrect Sci-Fi Authors From Bookstores
breitbart.com/tech/2016/01/21/sjws-poli ... ge-sci-fi/
(SJW = Social Justice Warrior)

World Fantasy Awards Banish H.P. Lovecraft to R’lyeh
breitbart.com/tech/2015/11/12/world-fan ... -to-rlyeh/


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Post Re: the Left's War Against Literature
from your link:

"The rise in popularity of "woke" has been tied to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which initially surfaced in 2013 following the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. #StayWoke often accompanied social media posts about police brutality, systematic racism and the industrial prison complex. #StayWoke reminds readers to look past the provided narrative, to examine their own privilege (or lack thereof). #StayWoke reminds readers that there is more than one reality to life in the United States."

I think it's a good thing to be aware of entrenched racist attitudes in our society. As such, I see nothing wrong with being "woke" though I'm not very likely to use the term in casual conversation.

It does not surprise me that a herd mentality exists on Twitter and Facebook. If you're super famous, like King and Rowling, you're going to get trolled by those who spend way too much time on the internet and live in judgment of others. You're cherry-picking, finding stupidity on the Left, when in fact, there's plenty of stupidity on both sides of the aisle.

The Right likes to complain that freedom of speech is being infringed upon by the Left, and there may be some truth to that. But personally I couldn't care less if Rowling or Stephen King said something that offended the internet minions.

I read mainstream, credible news sources, which is probably why I'm ignorant of trendy social media crap. I hear that Stephen King has recently quit Facebook, so there's at least someone who has made an intelligent choice. The Left is against freedom of expression? That's so vague and generalized as to be meaningless. Linking to Breitbart and Infowars articles does not make a very convincing argument. And reading about a supposed "uproar" on social media is about the most pointless activity I can think of.


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Post Re: the Left's War Against Literature
geo wrote:
The Right likes to complain that freedom of speech is being infringed upon by the Left, and there may be some truth to that. But personally I couldn't care less if Rowling or Stephen King said something that offended the internet minions.

I read mainstream, credible news sources, which is probably why I'm ignorant of trendy social media crap. I hear that Stephen King has recently quit Facebook, so there's at least someone who has made an intelligent choice. The Left is against freedom of expression? That's so vague and generalized as to be meaningless. Linking to Breitbart and Infowars articles does not make a very convincing argument. And reading about a supposed "uproar" on social media is about the most pointless activity I can think of.

Well, face it, geo--you're not much of a culture warrior. If you were, you'd be better at isolating all the negative stuff on one end of the scale while whistling past examples of the same closer to your own political temperament. You'd select snippets from random sources and declare them to prove the existence of an ideological monolith threatening the nation. You'd not distinguish between the political and the personal, because of course bad people and bad politics go hand in hand. You'd remain faithful to the mission: maintaining division at all times.



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Post Re: the Left's War Against Literature
DWill wrote:
Well, face it, geo--you're not much of a culture warrior. If you were, you'd be better at isolating all the negative stuff on one end of the scale while whistling past examples of the same closer to your own political temperament. You'd select snippets from random sources and declare them to prove the existence of an ideological monolith threatening the nation. You'd not distinguish between the political and the personal, because of course bad people and bad politics go hand in hand. You'd remain faithful to the mission: maintaining division at all times.

[Laughing] But seriously though, I don't know why this particular post irked me so much. Maybe I was just grumpy.


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Post Re: the Left's War Against Literature
KindaSkolarly wrote:
From what I've observed, "woke" = "Nazi," at least in the way that the woke crowd browbeats those with opposing views.
If the worst the Nazis ever did was browbeat people, cancel them on social media, and protest people with chants and signs, then you wouldn't be using "Nazi". Just saying there's a disconnect there.
KindaSkolarly wrote:
they will cancel those who don't aver that white people should be genocided.
Further hyperbole, obviously.

News is when man bites dog, not when dog bites man. These are interesting cases, and a warning for those who are easily carried away with being right.

I do respect the effort to deconstruct assumptions that perpetuate dominance by particular groups. If it stirs up a little debate, one can at least hope that some self-examination will happen. On the other hand, I firmly believe Rush Limbaugh takes stirring the pot way too far, so I might as well admit I think these cases do, too.



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Post Re: the Left's War Against Literature
geo wrote:
I think it's a good thing to be aware of entrenched racist attitudes in our society.

I'm reading a really useful book called "Until We Reckon" at the moment, and it has pulled together for me the reality that life on the margins of US society faces much more than just racist attitudes.

Enforced housing segregation and "job deserts", combined with the effects in the family of prolonged stress and trauma, leads to an underground economy which practically railroads young men to prison and thus to further isolation from any chance in society. I don't think it was designed to do so, as some might allege, but the nation needs to reckon with the ongoing damage and failure to address the carnage happening to our young people.

In the second chapter the effect of shame is addressed. I am coming to realize in my students that ability to overcome shame is a key part of resilience, and any systematic assignment of low status is going to be reinforced by the effect of shame on those suffering from it. There are other systems which pull people into a self-reinforcing downward cycle, such as alcoholism, gambling and family violence, but white privilege includes a much easier time stepping out of these, (as my wife and I both stepped out of a moderate level of dysfunctionality in our households of origin), and far more resources for regaining equilibrium once out of the maelstrom.

"Until We Reckon" is written by a woman who conducts a program of restorative justice in Brooklyn, and it focuses on the destructive effects of incarceration. It is readable, though hardly an entertaining romp. More like D. Dennett than N.d. Tyson, you might say.



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Post Re: the Left's War Against Literature
Geo wrote:
You're cherry-picking, finding stupidity on the Left, when in fact, there's plenty of stupidity on both sides of the aisle.


So true.



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Post Re: the Left's War Against Literature
New ‘Purity Test’ Tool to Scan Hollywood Scripts For ‘Diversity Bias’

Major Hollywood studios are set to use a new tool that scans movie & TV scripts and flags up any examples where “diversity” is not portrayed positively in a chilling new development that has echoes of Soviet realism.

Called ‘Spellcheck for Bias’, the tool was developed by the Davis’ Institute on Gender in Media and USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering. It is set to be implemented by Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, Focus Features and NBC Entertainment within the near future.

“The tool supposedly breaks down diversity in material such as scripts and advertising briefs by scanning for mentions of LGBTQ, race, and disabilities, and then identifying how positively such things are portrayed,” writes Zachary Leeman....

https://governmentslaves.news/2020/02/2 ... sity-bias/


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Post Re: the Left's War Against Literature
Interesting article, KindaSkolarly. I tend to want to get my information from more mainstream sources so I searched for the keywords "Spellcheck for diversity" and found an article on The Guardian that corroborates what your source is saying.

I'd like to hear what other BookTalk.org members think of this new tool for identifying bias in Hollywood. I've got mixed feelings. On one hand I see the value in diligently working to avoid biases and give an equal chance to minorities and potentially oppressed groups but shouldn't we be more concerned with the quality of what each individual contributes? Do we really want to move toward a society where we have diversity and gender-neutrality enforced through laws, rules or procedures?

Didn't MLK, Jr. say, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." To me this quote/principle can be applied to gender, sexuality, etc... Decent people should care deeply about bias and oppression but not so much as to elevate minorities and potentially oppressed people to roles and responsibilities that exceed what they have earned through merit alone.



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Post Re: the Left's War Against Literature
Chris OConnor wrote:
I'd like to hear what other BookTalk.org members think of this new tool for identifying bias in Hollywood. I've got mixed feelings. On one hand I see the value in diligently working to avoid biases and give an equal chance to minorities and potentially oppressed groups but shouldn't we be more concerned with the quality of what each individual contributes? Do we really want to move toward a society where we have diversity and gender-neutrality enforced through laws, rules or procedures?

I have mixed feelings too. Yes, we need to be aware of gender bias and entrenched racist attitudes in our society. But to use a computer algorithm to force political correctness in works of fiction is probably misguided at best. For one thing, who gets to decide what is properly diverse? Who gets to be the purity police? Hollywood?

In the end, we live in a world with many diverse attitudes. There is no magic formula that will work with all audiences. Such efforts will turn scripts into bland and homogenous narratives lacking verisimilitude. Also, as the article states, "Forced diversity is not diversity at all."

I'm reminded of Kurt Vonnegut's short story—"Harrison Bergeron"—which takes place in the year 2081 in a dystopian society that mandates equality through the use of physical and mental handicaps. For example, the father in the story is very intelligent, and so he has to wear mental handicap earphones that buzz very obnoxiously in his ears whenever he starts thinking about something too deeply.

The story is rather absurd and comical, but it is also a warning against the potential for Big Government to limit our freedoms in pursuit of a hopeless and unrealistic ideal of equality for all.

However—and this is a big however—the bad guy in Vonnegut's story is an evil, overbearing government. Likewise, the article tries to compare Hollywood's attempts to sanitize movie scripts to Stalin's socialist dictatorship that murdered millions. I'm afraid that's rather a leap.


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Post Re: the Left's War Against Literature
Chris O'Connor wrote:
Decent people should care deeply about bias and oppression but not so much as to elevate minorities and potentially oppressed people to roles and responsibilities that exceed what they have earned through merit alone.

If minorities, LGTBQ, members of certain ethnicities, etc. are victims of bias and oppression, how are they supposed to earn roles and responsibilities through merit alone? If they are denied the ability to earn through merit, which is then reinforced by continued bias and oppression, then how are they supposed to succeed? Obviously I'm asking in a purely philosophical sense as these questions have zero grounding in the real world let alone America.

As to the bias checking tool described in the Guardian (Chris' link), it appears a single company, Disney is using it as a test. You may have noticed Disney is an extremely profitable brand with a squeaky clean image and a global audience. Perhaps Disney doesn't want to offend anyone or risk shareholder value and takes pains to avoid problems. Other media companies do not have the same image and probably would not be interested in that tool. I don't see it as a big problem. As Geo states of course right wing paranoids imagine this turning into a censorship tool enforced by Gummint, but their hysteria runs wild.



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Post Re: the Left's War Against Literature
geo wrote:
I have mixed feelings too. Yes, we need to be aware of gender bias and entrenched racist attitudes in our society. But to use a computer algorithm to force political correctness in works of fiction is probably misguided at best. For one thing, who gets to decide what is properly diverse? Who gets to be the purity police? Hollywood?

In the end, we live in a world with many diverse attitudes. There is no magic formula that will work with all audiences. Such efforts will turn scripts into bland and homogenous narratives lacking verisimilitude. Also, as the article states, "Forced diversity is not diversity at all."


The difference between enforcement and intrinsic motivation is much neglected in political discussions. I don't suppose creating a pro-diversity metric is likely to force any censorship, but it is likely to bring the attention of the gatekeepers to any bias in their gatekeeping. I tried to explain this function of Affirmative Action to my students, and they mainly ended up reverting to the concept of quotas that I had explicitly pointed out was NOT the way affirmative action works. The human mind loves to convert almost any narrative into one of conflict.

It's interesting to me that Disney is in the thick of this. Disney made a big transition. They started out reinforcing ethnic stereotypes from "Song of the South" to "The Jungle Book" and gender stereotypes with "Snow White", "Sleeping Beauty" and "Cinderella". But eventually they realized that diversity is the source of deeper storytelling, and gave us "Moana", "Beauty and the Beast", "Pocahontas", "Mulan", "Lion King" and "Frozen" (to name a few). Obviously changing audience sensibilities had a lot to do with that. But nobody forced Disney to look for more diverse story lines. Maybe they got religion, or maybe they woke up to the richness, but either way they got better. I suspect that the two reinforce each other.

And they certainly did not end up with bland and homogeneous scripts, whatever your opinion of Frozen might be.

Chris wrote:
Decent people should care deeply about bias and oppression but not so much as to elevate minorities and potentially oppressed people to roles and responsibilities that exceed what they have earned through merit alone.
Well, but again, who decides what is merit? Asian-Americans have ferociously pursued what our society said merit was, only to find that no, merit means other stuff, too, and achievement on tests will not automatically translate into success. I think merit has its own obvious appeal, and in the end will mostly get rewarded. But we should never turn an obsession with measurable merit into an excuse to hire "people we are comfortable with," and most especially when that obsession is really just an excuse that we abandon when it doesn't give us permission to hire "people we are comfortable with."

I prefer a couple of other guidelines, which should at least be mixed in if not actively given priority. One is to note that networking with social contacts is an enormous advantage for job candidates (or artistic entrepreneurs) from groups with historical privilege. So much of life depends on hearing about and being recommended for particular opportunities. So much of life depends on getting that little boost to get over a barrier. So why not give a little extra recognition to those who are doing well without the benefit of such advantages, as shown by overcoming prejudice?

The second is that diversity really is a rich source of access to the human soul. This goes way beyond "other perspectives should also get a hearing." Those who have been oppressed, and especially those who have made a way in life despite being oppressed, have done something that should resonate with every person's experience. Because we all face obstacles, suffering, sorrow and eventually death. Recognizing the various ways people overcome hardship (or succumb to it, as in "Parasite" or "Beloved") reaches down deeper than the usual Boy Meet Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Boy Gets Girl Back sort of "conflict". That's what I think Disney discovered, but tougher scripts like "Moonlight", "The Hurt Locker" and "The Crying Game" take it to a much higher (or deeper) level.

geo wrote:
I'm reminded of Kurt Vonnegut's short story—"Harrison Bergeron"—which takes place in the year 2081 in a dystopian society that mandates equality through the use of physical and mental handicaps. For example, the father in the story is very intelligent, and so he has to wear mental handicap earphones that buzz very obnoxiously in his ears whenever he starts thinking about something too deeply.

The story is rather absurd and comical, but it is also a warning against the potential for Big Government to limit our freedoms in pursuit of a hopeless and unrealistic ideal of equality for all.

However—and this is a big however—the bad guy in Vonnegut's story is an evil, overbearing government. Likewise, the article tries to compare Hollywood's attempts to sanitize movie scripts to Stalin's socialist dictatorship that murdered millions. I'm afraid that's rather a leap.

You think? I am a longtime admirer of the Vonnegut story, and, as one would expect with Vonnegut, it is not flat polemic against enforced equality but woven around real richness created by intersecting, conflicting values. You can read it as a story about repression of anything that takes on tough issues, like prejudice or like dumbing down in all its forms. The masses resent excellence even while being fascinated by it and dreaming about it, and being sucked in by the illusion of excellence as in the Kardashians. Government control? Not even close to a danger on the subject, and small potatoes next to the blind resentment of anything that doesn't make the viewer feel personally affirmed.



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Post Re: the Left's War Against Literature
Harry Marks wrote:
. . .You think? I am a longtime admirer of the Vonnegut story, and, as one would expect with Vonnegut, it is not flat polemic against enforced equality but woven around real richness created by intersecting, conflicting values. You can read it as a story about repression of anything that takes on tough issues, like prejudice or like dumbing down in all its forms. The masses resent excellence even while being fascinated by it and dreaming about it, and being sucked in by the illusion of excellence as in the Kardashians. Government control? Not even close to a danger on the subject, and small potatoes next to the blind resentment of anything that doesn't make the viewer feel personally affirmed.


I'm rethinking my take on the story. The masses in the story do resent excellence and—out of stupidity and laziness—have pushed to make things "equal." One can imagine the steps taken on the way to this dystopian America, like the slow boiling of a frog. The government is still evil, of course, but it more or less represents the will of the people.

One point in favor if this interpretation is that the two main characters spend all their time in front of the television set, and they are barely aware of what is happening. The wife cries at the end, knowing only on a subconscious level that she has just witnessed the death of her son. TV is the "tool of the government," as Zappa once put it.


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