The Young Turks Supports Misogyny

Yeah, how’s that for a clickbait title? I can do it too, Buzzfeed. I can do it too.

To make things perfectly clear, I don’t think the folks over at the Young Turks support misogyny. I’m just doing some clever role playing, providing some ironic commentary.

So what happened? Cenk Uygur is the creator of the Young Turks (TYT), a very popular left-wing news commentator on YouTube. He also helped establish the Justice Democrats, a left-wing party that is against neo-liberalism and corporatism, with the intent of getting said Justice Democrats elected into major offices. And almost twenty years ago he made some very crass and insensitive comments about women while online. That may not seem like such a big deal to you, but, to quote ‘Bino: “Because the internet, mistakes are forever.” And, boy, did this mistake hit him hard, to the point where he may or may not resign as the face of the Justice Democrats because of it.

Here is the official Justice Democrat’s response:

We are deeply disturbed by recent news regarding & David Koller. Their language and conduct is horrifying and does not reflect our values at Justice Democrats. We would be hypocrites to not act immediately and ask for their resignation.

I bring this up because it raises some interesting questions about how we, as a society, should proceed. We are living in the midst of a full-blown societal moral outrage, where anything that we don’t perceive as perfectly aligned with our morals and values needs to pack its shit and GTFO. This is not me throwing leftists and liberals under the bus, by the way. The last widespread moral outrage in the US had right-wing evangelicals to blame, and there are plenty of triggered alt-righters and garden-variety conservatives cropping up in the mean time.

The thing stereotypical SJWs, right-wing and left-wing identitarians, and modern day populists have in common is that they all seem to require constant virtue signalling in order to remain a part of the club. This effectively means constant policing of morality of those both within and outside of their respective clubs. What’s happening to Cenk right now is the same thing that happened to the Bible thumping, anti-gay marriage Republican senators who were found out to have frequented gay bars back in their college days. It’s the same thing that happened to Lauren Southern when her significant number of alt-right fans found out she dated a brown guy once. It’s the same thing that happened to Pewdiepie, where some hack “journalists” scoured old vlogs for any off-color jokes they could find. It’s the same thing that’s happening to all of these liberal actors and entertainment stars who maybe touched a girl’s ass without asking once, thirty years ago. There’s absolutely no room for compromise. As the Justice Democrats stated outright, they would be hypocrites if they didn’t immediately excommunicate Cenk Uygur from the church for violating one of their most sacred laws.

And I’m just wondering how much longer the Morality Police and its ridiculous, ever-fluctuating standards of “what is moral” will be able to sustain itself in this day and age. All of the aforementioned shitstorms occurred because of the internet. Old photos uploaded to social media, old blog posts, old e-mails sitting in a forgotten account somewhere, people they used to know cropping up on Facebook or Twitter and letting the world know all these new and interesting things. If you make it your job, not only your job but your moral imperative, to make sure everyone you associate with is clean and pure from beginning to end with no regard for context or how much time has passed, then no one is going to be spared from this.

It’s almost 2018. The people who are young adults now hardly remember a time when they didn’t have some kind of online social media. The 18-year-olds just entering into the adult world have never lived in a world without online social media. And yet here we are, using the internet and digging up things from decades ago–almost two decades in Cenk’s case–in order to cast moral aspersions on people who may or may not even stand by what they did as though that moral judgement is totally and completely valid, no caveats necessary.

Cenk said piggish, sexist comments about women and how they’re defective because they don’t put out more back when the iPod was a new thing. This isn’t me saying that his comments were totally fine. This isn’t me saying he’s a great guy who gets too much flack. This isn’t me saying that the comments should just pass under the radar because “it was a long time ago.” What I am saying is that you can’t judge people for things they did or said in the past as though that questionable action just occurred, as though its something you can do anything about now, without even bothering to address the situation any further. And, when you’re playing Morality Police, it’s certainly not something you can use as a legitimate form of moral judgement. Can you imagine what kind of precedent this is setting for future social and political discourse?

“Senator, we have written verification that, thirty years ago in a YouTube comment section, you called someone a fag. Why are you homophobic? Why do you hate the gays? I can’t believe how immoral you are.”

“Our records show that, back when you were twenty-two, you made insensitive comments to one of your friends on Facebook. Why are you such a sociopath?”

“We have footage of you fifteen years ago given a speech at a Democratic convention, so why are you running as a Republican now? You hypocrite. You’re just taking advantage of people.”

It completely and utterly lacks any sense of scale. If you did something once, if you said something once, that must mean you stand by that thing forever. We can act as though nothing has changed whatsoever. And if nothing has changed, or they committed a legitimate crime, sure–rake them over the coals. Go through all the legal things necessary and called for and expected. If they most they ever did was give voice to a thought crime or do something a bit asshole-ish, that’s a situation that requires more thought than immediate banishment from the tribe.

Have they changed their opinion since then? Have they changed their behavior since then? Have they actively denounced the bad thing they did? Is the “bad thing” only a bad thing by some ever-changing societal standard that it’s unrealistic to judge any past actor by? Is the “bad thing” only a bad thing by your own incredibly subjective standards? Can they explain themselves and their past thoughts or behavior in a satisfactory fashion? That’s all very relevant to how we should currently be judging them and their character, and none of that shit matters, apparently. Because when you’re policing someone’s Moral Character (TM), the broader the brush, the better. If that thing’s any smaller than an industrial paint roller, you’re doing it wrong.

And, oh yeah, go ahead and add Cenk Uygur to the list of Men Who Respect Womyn who just seem to be compensating for being an asshole either in the past or currently.

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5 thoughts on “The Young Turks Supports Misogyny

    • 1.) I’m not going to say that it’s not funny/ironic that this happened to Cenk of all people. But the whole point of siding with “classical liberals” is to provide a better alternative to the rhetoric and tactics of progressives who we think are in the wrong. And part of that better alternative is to not be a petty jackass “because irony.”

      2.) That video is a better defense of the death penalty than lots of others, but there’s still a lot wrong with it. You can’t deride people for “being emotional for the sake of being emotional” when you open your video saying that some people are just scumbags who have “given up the right to breathe the same air as decent human beings.” He seems to have a strictly utilitarian view on it: having people in society who are worth having and not spending money on people who will never again be functional, productive members of it through their own bad actions. Okay. How about someone who has debilitating lung cancer because they’re a smoker? Someone who has degenerative cognitive abilities because they were a drug addict? Someone who sleeps around a lot and contracts crippling AIDS? Someone who drives drunk and winds up in an accident and becomes quadriplegic? Those people meet his two prereqs of a.) being degenerates who endanger themselves and others by not abiding by the social contract, and b.) being currently useless to larger society. I doubt he’d say they should be unwillingly euthanized, though. That’s not me saying drug addiction is the same as murder; this is me pointing out that the utilitarian model has lots of holes in it and eventually runs into the wall of people’s subjective opinion on what is “bad enough” or “useless enough” to warrant certain kinds of responses in the name of public utility. Near the end of the video, he justifies the death penalty for people who may or may not have committed the crime they were put on death row for by saying “well, they’re probably shitty people anyway even if they didn’t do that one thing.” So I’m actually curious to know what his standard for death row would be.
      He also sweeps the death penalty for war crime and treason under the rug as “not important” even though that’s pretty much the most pervasive reasoning behind executing people (on a global scale), because those don’t fit very well into his “we only kill scumbags” model. His point about it being a punishment not “revenge” is at least more pragmatic, but it–once again–doesn’t come across as a standard that he’d apply equally to other things. Killing someone is the only valid punishment for murder. Sure. So is raping someone the only valid punishment for rape? Is tormenting someone the only valid punishment for emotional abuse? Is crippling someone the only valid punishment for committing a hit-and-run? He says the death penalty is “earned/deserved,” but what the hell does that mean? How many girls do you have to rape in order for death to be the punishment for it? He said child molesters get the chair too, but what about people who just beat their kids? What about those religious fundie parents who don’t get their kids medical treatment and they wind up dying? Are they off the hook?
      As for the “not supposed to be a deterrent” point, he should really try to tell American law makers that if he wants people to stop bringing it up. I also take issue with him saying that the killing someone is “just like any other punishment out there.” That’s some slippery slope reasoning if I ever saw it, but that’s not my main contention. No, my main issue is that his argument about deterrents is a strawman. No one is saying, “Well, if murder still happens even with the death penalty, that means we should get rid of the death penalty.” As he points out, if that’s your logic you might as well argue from the position of abolishing prisons entirely because they don’t stop crime from happening. The main argument is that the death penalty is a violation of universal human rights (ie, the right to life and/or freedom from torture, in some cases. Fun fact: the “freedom from torture” clause is the reason most of America’s old death row tactics are illegal now). There’s already an argument to be had about whether prisons should be correctional or strictly for punishment, but even presuming that they’re 100% for punishment and nothing else, that shouldn’t open the door to human rights abuses. That’s the same logic that justifies the US’s rather pervasive problem of giving absolutely zero shits about the treatment of prisoners.
      He also makes a genuinely confusing argument that makes human empathy sound like a detriment. We are a race that has clawed our way to the top of the foodchain largely because we are social creatures with a vested interest in not wanting to see our fellow humans die (either for altruistic or altruistically selfish reasons). And he found a way to make that sound like a bad thing. Congratulations? Also, if people die everyday and it’s no big deal and nothing to elevate as especially bad, then why is the death penalty also the highest of punishments, according to him? Remember, it’s not just murderers getting the death penalty as some equal and opposite reaction metaphor–it’s anyone “bad enough.” So . . . death isn’t that big of a deal, so we shouldn’t care about a scumbag getting the death penalty, which he got because . . . death is a big deal?

      People sit in prison for decades before going on death row because, shock of all shocks, the state killing someone without their consent is a legal and bureaucratic clusterfuck. Hell, we hardly have willing euthanasia, and even that’s a clusterfuck. It’s not just the ridiculously expensive and difficult to obtain lethal injection drugs that make it take a while. We don’t have the wartime excuse where someone shoots an active and armed combatant who was a direct danger to them, therefore we don’t have to take the issue to court. Legally killing someone outside of the context of war is very difficult to do, as it should be. He is literally saying that we should eschew legal and ethical processes in order to have “faster and more effective” death penalties that would act as more effective scare tactics. This is where his ignoring of treason/war crime in the death penalty argument becomes really un-ignorable. That “get it done quick without getting the Human Rights paperwork involved” mentality becomes really questionable really fast when applied to someone like a “treasonous” whisteblower, doesn’t it?

      TL;DR–his points about punishment/not deterrent are interesting, but his utilitarian model is easy to poke holes in.

        • On a slightly unrelated note, in the comments of the Sargon vs. Richard Spencer debate, I noticed how it looks like a very similar thing to what happened with Cenk, as in the “You’re not Left/Right wing enough for us!” mindset. Thia might be stretching a bit, but in Cenk’s case, he made some old blog post that could be viewed as “sexist”. In Sargon’s case, he disagreed with the idea of an ethnostate, and was viewed as a “commie”.

          • That debate was so cringe on every conceivable side, I applaud you for watching it. Alt-righters are a bunch of moralizing collectivists who think that their own esoteric sub-niche of sociology explains the entirety of the world and everything that has ever happened in it, who absolutely rely on hyper-exclusionist Us vs. Them rhetoric in order to function. That’s literally the same way I’d describe a progressive SJW, the only difference is how much they love or hate the hu-white race.

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