WaPo: Opinion: A Berkeley professor’s Senate testimony didn’t go how the left thinks it did

Colonoscopy

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Great job pointing out the problem of political (group) insularity, you don't properly address your own weaknesses:



Everyone agrees it was an epic own. There’s much less agreement about who got owned.
In Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) asked University of California at Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges whether she thought a baby that is not yet born has value. This ensued:
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“I believe a person with the capacity for pregnancy has value,” she answered. “They have intelligence. They have agency —”
“No, I’m talking about the baby,” Cornyn interrupted.
“And I’m talking about the person with a capacity for pregnancy,” she retorted. When Cornyn noted that she wasn’t answering the question, she said, “I’m answering a more interesting question to me.”

Then, when it was his turn to speak, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) returned to this exchange, saying, “You’ve referred to people with a capacity for pregnancy. Would that be ... women?”

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In even tones, Bridges replied that while many cisgender women have the capacity for pregnancy, many don’t, while some trans men and nonbinary people do. But after a little back-and-forth, she gave up. “So, I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic,” she said with an exasperated laugh, “and it opens up trans people to violence.”
Fareed Zakaria: Forget pronouns. Democrats need to become the party of building things.
The whole thing quickly became a Rorschach test. Many progressives cheered to see Professor Bridges school a reactionary Republican. But conservatives also cheered, because they see a gift to Republican election campaigns.

Unlike a Rorschach test, however, this one has a right answer, and the progressives have it wrong. Moreover, the fact that they can’t see just how badly this exchange went for their side shows what a big mistake it was to let academia and media institutions turn into left-wing monocultures.

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Within those rarefied circles, Bridges’s answers were exquisitely and exactly correct. She allowed no hint that late-term fetuses might have moral value, because that might suggest their interests could be weighed against those of the, well, pregnancy-capable. Nor did she concede an inch to the idea that biology can trump gender identity. And when she ran out of patience with Hawley’s questions, she pounced in exactly the prescribed manner: Your questions are transphobic, Senator, and you are putting trans people at risk of violence or suicide by denying their lived reality.

Yet outside those circles, Bridges’s answers don’t really sound so convincing. In most of America, “Does a late-term fetus have value?” is a softball. And when Hawley leaped in to ask whether women are the ones who give birth — a question few Americans today would struggle with — she resorted to extended question-begging. That might be fine for a Berkeley classroom. But it just won’t do for a political debate in which the majority of voters disagree with you.


Anyone who has ever tried to convince anyone of anything should be able to see that Bridges’s approach was counterproductive. Why, then, did so many articles and tweets cheer the way she “SHUT DOWN” Hawley?


Because there is one place that snickering, eye-rolling and so forth are very effective: within an insular group, where they help delineate the lines of acceptable belief. A sufficiently incredulous “Are you suggesting … ?” effectively signals a silent corollary: “… because if you are, we’ll shun you.” It tells people that this topic is not up for discussion.
Within progressive institutions, “that’s transphobic” is another such signal, and it works … within progressive institutions. In fact, it works too well; it leaves them unprepared to argue with outsiders.

When I was reporting on the story of transgender college swimmer Lia Thomas, I noticed a curious disconnect. If you read newspapers, watched television or listened to academic experts, you might have thought that most people supported Thomas, with some dissent from a few reactionaries or jealous competitors. Yet the overwhelming majority of people I actually spoke to thought it was unfair for her to compete in women’s events, even though most of them were liberals who would never dream of voting Republican.


They were, however, a fearfully silent majority, which meant Thomas’s supporters never had to come up with good arguments. Instead, many of my questions got essentially the same answer as the one Bridges ultimately gave to Hawley: Even asking the question is transphobic and dangerous.
Within a narrow set of media and academic circles, this was a devastatingly effective tactic that made it impossible for opponents to organize an effective response. Outside those circles, however, it failed utterly; the swim federation swiftly made new rules to bar Thomas, along with other athletes who transitioned after puberty, from participating in future races.

I wondered then whether that decision might have gone differently, or at least been less surprising, if Thomas’s supporters had been forced to grapple more directly with the things her opponents were saying — quietly, in private, where they couldn’t be overheard. And I wonder, now, what further surprises are in store if progressives can’t figure out how to talk to the majority of the country that disagrees with them on a whole lot of things.
 

Colonoscopy

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A strong argument for seeking out the strongest arguments from the opposition and engaging them:
He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them...he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
 

Chishawk1425

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Great job pointing out the problem of political (group) insularity, you don't properly address your own weaknesses:



Everyone agrees it was an epic own. There’s much less agreement about who got owned.
In Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) asked University of California at Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges whether she thought a baby that is not yet born has value. This ensued:
Sign up for a weekly roundup of thought-provoking ideas and debates
“I believe a person with the capacity for pregnancy has value,” she answered. “They have intelligence. They have agency —”
“No, I’m talking about the baby,” Cornyn interrupted.
“And I’m talking about the person with a capacity for pregnancy,” she retorted. When Cornyn noted that she wasn’t answering the question, she said, “I’m answering a more interesting question to me.”

Then, when it was his turn to speak, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) returned to this exchange, saying, “You’ve referred to people with a capacity for pregnancy. Would that be ... women?”

Advertisement

In even tones, Bridges replied that while many cisgender women have the capacity for pregnancy, many don’t, while some trans men and nonbinary people do. But after a little back-and-forth, she gave up. “So, I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic,” she said with an exasperated laugh, “and it opens up trans people to violence.”
Fareed Zakaria: Forget pronouns. Democrats need to become the party of building things.
The whole thing quickly became a Rorschach test. Many progressives cheered to see Professor Bridges school a reactionary Republican. But conservatives also cheered, because they see a gift to Republican election campaigns.

Unlike a Rorschach test, however, this one has a right answer, and the progressives have it wrong. Moreover, the fact that they can’t see just how badly this exchange went for their side shows what a big mistake it was to let academia and media institutions turn into left-wing monocultures.

Advertisement

Within those rarefied circles, Bridges’s answers were exquisitely and exactly correct. She allowed no hint that late-term fetuses might have moral value, because that might suggest their interests could be weighed against those of the, well, pregnancy-capable. Nor did she concede an inch to the idea that biology can trump gender identity. And when she ran out of patience with Hawley’s questions, she pounced in exactly the prescribed manner: Your questions are transphobic, Senator, and you are putting trans people at risk of violence or suicide by denying their lived reality.

Yet outside those circles, Bridges’s answers don’t really sound so convincing. In most of America, “Does a late-term fetus have value?” is a softball. And when Hawley leaped in to ask whether women are the ones who give birth — a question few Americans today would struggle with — she resorted to extended question-begging. That might be fine for a Berkeley classroom. But it just won’t do for a political debate in which the majority of voters disagree with you.


Anyone who has ever tried to convince anyone of anything should be able to see that Bridges’s approach was counterproductive. Why, then, did so many articles and tweets cheer the way she “SHUT DOWN” Hawley?


Because there is one place that snickering, eye-rolling and so forth are very effective: within an insular group, where they help delineate the lines of acceptable belief. A sufficiently incredulous “Are you suggesting … ?” effectively signals a silent corollary: “… because if you are, we’ll shun you.” It tells people that this topic is not up for discussion.
Within progressive institutions, “that’s transphobic” is another such signal, and it works … within progressive institutions. In fact, it works too well; it leaves them unprepared to argue with outsiders.

When I was reporting on the story of transgender college swimmer Lia Thomas, I noticed a curious disconnect. If you read newspapers, watched television or listened to academic experts, you might have thought that most people supported Thomas, with some dissent from a few reactionaries or jealous competitors. Yet the overwhelming majority of people I actually spoke to thought it was unfair for her to compete in women’s events, even though most of them were liberals who would never dream of voting Republican.


They were, however, a fearfully silent majority, which meant Thomas’s supporters never had to come up with good arguments. Instead, many of my questions got essentially the same answer as the one Bridges ultimately gave to Hawley: Even asking the question is transphobic and dangerous.
Within a narrow set of media and academic circles, this was a devastatingly effective tactic that made it impossible for opponents to organize an effective response. Outside those circles, however, it failed utterly; the swim federation swiftly made new rules to bar Thomas, along with other athletes who transitioned after puberty, from participating in future races.

I wondered then whether that decision might have gone differently, or at least been less surprising, if Thomas’s supporters had been forced to grapple more directly with the things her opponents were saying — quietly, in private, where they couldn’t be overheard. And I wonder, now, what further surprises are in store if progressives can’t figure out how to talk to the majority of the country that disagrees with them on a whole lot of things.
Hawley is a douchecanoe and he was destroyed. He is a pos, Seditionist scumbag and should be expelled from office.
 

Colonoscopy

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An example of group insularity that will probably lead to problems for a group: anti-abortion absolutists.

Holding extreme positions on rape and incest where abortion is concerned risks generating significant public backlash.

I doubt there was much inner group diversity of thought allowed here.
 

FAUlty Gator

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I don't agree with the article but the bootlickers on Faux dumbassness will
Remember how the left was very correct in saying “Hey republicans, how hard is it to say ‘Nazis are bad.’”?

Time to apply that logic to the left. Hey Dems, How hard is it to say “Babies have value.”?
 
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Remember how the left was very correct in saying “Hey republicans, how hard is it to say ‘Nazis are bad.’”?

Time to apply that logic to the left. Hey Dems, How hard is it to say “Babies have value.”?
Did you see how she struggles with "birthing people have value" I want to hear her say "non birthing people have value" I'm not sure she is capable of that.