The Demetriou Debacle and the Shameless Hypocrisy of Daily Nous

Daily Nous recently reported on a controversy surrounding philosopher Dan Demetriou (University of Minnesota, Morris). Demetriou, who describes himself as “ideologically right,” published a Facebook post (whose privacy status was set to “friends only”) that someone decided to share publicly. Comments from his post were then widely circulated at the University of Minnesota in an effort to shame him. The chancellor issued a typical virtue-signalling statement about how she found Demetriou’s comments “both personally and professionally distressing,” and reassured students of the university’s commitment to the leftist summum bonum of “diversity.”

So, what exactly did Demetriou say that was so uncouth? The “controversial” comments were pulled from this Facebook post, which we include in full here for context (something both Daily Nous and Inside Higher Ed felt unnecessary to do):

We’d like to make two points here. The first concerns the actual content of Demetriou’s remarks, which we regard as demonstrably true. This website, for instance, thoroughly documents their truth, and there is no need to repeat them here. Besides, Demetriou is defending himself quite capably elsewhere. But a simpler observation does bear repeating: it is a fact that the US has immigration laws. It is also a fact that those who violate said immigration laws are criminals; they have broken the law. Furthermore, when a society allows persons who are in violation of the law to persist in breaking those laws with impunity, that society is actively undermining its citizens’ confidence in the rule of law.

Now, we understand that leftists are deeply confused about this. Not long ago, Nancy Pelosi perfectly displayed such confusion when she was questioned by a mother whose son was tortured by an illegal alien. This illegal alien beat up Laura Wilkerson’s son, tied him up, and set him on fire. In her condescending response to Wilkerson, Pelosi stated that illegals living in sanctuary cities are not disobeying the law, and described them instead as law-abiding citizens. To reiterate, if someone breaks immigration laws and remains here in violation of said laws, that person is disobeying the law. Therefore, it is plainly false to state that such a person, if living in a sanctuary city, is not disobeying the law. Furthermore—and it is incredible that this even needs to be said—illegal aliens are not citizens, much less law-abiding ones.

The second point we want to make concerns what is both an unfortunate failure of reasoning on the part of Justin Weinberg at Daily Nous, and his absolute shameless hypocrisy. He prominently objects to publicly broadcasting Facebook posts not intended for the general public. For this reason, he placed a ban on linking to this blog because of our use of screenshots in exposing leftist bigotry during the Swinburne controversy. Not only will he not link to our blog, he deleted comments if they included links to our posts with screenshots. In Jon Cogburn’s plea for us to stop using screenshots, Weinberg writes, “Since those comments were not written for the broader profession to see, I do not want to contribute to their visibility.” Yet, in the case of Demetriou, he includes in his own post (not merely in comments) a link to a post on Inside Higher Ed, and that very link goes to a post that contains Demetriou’s screenshot. Apparently, Weinberg has no problems abandoning his moral convictions when he thinks doing so will bring shame on conservatives.

Now, in the comments of his post, he tries to justify himself:

Except in some special cases, I am not interested in participating directly in publicly exposing remarks not intended for public consumption…I knew my refraining from posting it (or about it) would not do much to limit its publicity, given that it had already appeared on IHE (which has a larger audience than DN) and a local news website, and that a screenshot or link would soon be appearing on at least one other well-known philosophy blog.

But if the broadcasting is what is problematic, then why is contributing even just a little bit to that broadcasting acceptable? And, given his own justification for posting the Demetriou comments—that they have been made public elsewhere—one wonders at how high his high horse is, since what we reported was made public by The Washington TimesThe American Conservative, The Federalist, and other websites and blogs, including the well-known fauxlosophy blog Leiter Reports. It would appear that Weinberg’s standard only applies when, conveniently for hypocrites like him, it is leftist philosophers who are under fire. But the case of Demetriou is oh-so-different, because, you see, publicly drawing attention to his comments helps promote leftist shaming of conservatives. You know what’s really different in the two cases? We’ll tell you: the bigotry of leftists Jason Stanley and Rebecca Kukla that we reported was actual hate speech that included calls for sexual violence against Christians, whereas Demetriou’s comments were merely unpopular. See how that works?

Interestingly, further down on the Cogburn comment thread, Weinberg says that he thinks it’s wrong to post such screenshots without permission. Well, did he have the moral fiber to follow his own standard and ask for Demetriou’s permission before linking to the IHE piece? It doesn’t look like it, since he doesn’t mention that in his post.

Weinberg should drop the pretense; he discriminates against certain blogs on the basis of political affiliation. End of story.

Walter Montgomery

Walter is a philosophy graduate student in New Hampshire. He sometimes wishes he was a lawyer, and other times wishes he was a basketball coach. Some of his favorite childhood memories involve traveling with his immediate family, grandparents, and cousins’ family in big gas-guzzling vans towing campers. He sees philosophy as a tool for getting at Truth, and thinks too many contemporary philosophers see it as a tool for advancing their ideological preferences.

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  1. JW is of course a hypocrite, but we can only hope that he will continue to discriminate against this blog. After all, as long as he discriminates against it, his own blog won’t have the informational value that readers expect from it, and they—the readers—will have to check RC directly to know what’s really going on in philosophy.

    • Oh I don’t know. I doubt that there will ever be much overlap in viewership. Leftists routinely cloak their aversion to considering viewpoints unlike their own in ostensibly moral dress, and that’s what they did to justify ignoring us from the very beginning. It’s a way for them to both avoid challenge and think of themselves as victors and at the same.

  2. Thanks for the support, Walter Montgomery! I realize you’re making a point about Justin’s consistency across cases with regard to screenshots. I don’t know about the other situations and I don’t really have views about whether Justin was consistent or whether he needs to be. I just want to say here that although Justin seriously disagrees with many political positions I favor, and since I was in an extremely vulnerable spot, he could have framed the situation in a way that would have invited a hailstorm of righteous fury down upon my head. Instead, he did just the opposite, saying that I’m competent as a philosopher, interesting, and open to reason. That, along with handsome, is all obvious to those who know me, but he didn’t need to say it.

    • I appreciate this comment, Dan. The consistency point has little to do with you, other than it just so happens that your story is the one in which he seems to have acted inconsistently with what he has said elsewhere. I don’t have a problem with his use of screenshots; it’s, again, the seeming inconsistency with what he has said elsewhere and the self-righteous judgment he has placed on this blog. I agree with you that he could have set things up much worse for you than he did, so kudos to him for that.

  3. “It is also a fact that those who violate said immigration laws are criminals.”

    Immigration law falls under civil code, not criminal, i.e., it is not a fact that those who violate immigration laws are criminals.

    • The charitable understanding of “criminal” in the context of the post is “one who has broken the law”. It is a fact that illegal aliens are breaking the law.

    • She knows that, Urban II. But don’t judge her too harshly. The job market is tough, and Kathryn is probably on it, or will be soon. These sorts of comments may engender positive vibes toward her by those on hiring committees who suffer from liberal implicit bias.

    • Walter Montgomery,

      I will withhold harsh judgement. At least we weren’t hit with one of the dumbest of liberal slogans: no human being is illegal. That could have really impressed the hiring committees.

    • Kathryn Pogin · February 18, 2017 at 2:06 am:

      …I’m not saying I don’t rant on facebook, or that I’ve never said anything hurtful. I’m also not saying it was right that someone publicized this, and I agree with Leiter that it’s protected anyway. I’m saying I don’t think this looks bad just because it’s lacking further context. I don’t know. Maybe if I did know you, knew the context, I would react differently. But the words of Elie Wiesel keep ringing in my ears — “No human being is illegal.”

    • But the words of Elie Wiesel keep ringing in my ears — “No human being is illegal.

      Ah. There it is. Well, no human being is legal either.

    • Yeah, clearly, she had already heard the “no human being is illegal” line from some leftist before, but rather than just repeat it (because, you know, she’s smarter than the hoi polloi), she Googled it to find its source so she could pretend like she actually read it from Wiesel.

    • “The charitable understanding of “criminal” in the context of the post is “one who has broken the law”.”

      True. Then again, the OP is not exactly interpreting Pelosi’s “law-abiding citizens” remark very charitably, is he? And Pelosi, unlike the OP, is not a trained philosopher. Maybe we should all stop being so political, so often, and just hold everyone to the same standards of argument, regardless of whether they’re on our side politically. I know, crazy idea.

    • True. Then again, the OP is not exactly interpreting Pelosi’s “law-abiding citizens” remark very charitably, is he?

      I’m not sure what the charitable interpretation of the comment is, but I’ll give it a shot. By “law abiding” she means “not breaking any additional laws” in the same way meth addicts are “law abiding” if violating drug laws is the only law being broken. By “citizen” she means “anyone living in the United States”.

      Maybe we should all stop being so political

      That would be nice, but it appears that this is a conservative intuition. It’s hard not to be so political when the left politicize everything, from the Super Bowl to public rest rooms. We can’t even buy clothing at Nordstrom, buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks, browse with Firefox, or watch the Grammys without hearing some Leftwing talking point.

    • That’s a common leftist strategy. As soon as you start to expose and resist the lunacy of leftist impositions, they wistfully complain about a return to civility. “Aww, why can’t we all just get along?” they say, as if they weren’t the original agitators and bullies.

    • It’s also a common leftist strategy to shamelessly abuse language to control the terms of discussion, then, when their linguistic chicanery gets called out, to demand they be given a more charitable interpretation.

  4. Wait. Isn’t Kathryn Pogin one of the psycho feminists who tried to ruin Laura Kipnis’ life and was perhaps involved in the vicious feminist attack on Peter Ludlow?

  5. Pogin has always struck me as smart but tragically misguided. Or perhaps she just suffers from lack of original thought, so her intelligence is slavishly employed in the service of leftism. I bet I could set her straight over a few cocktails. She’s only ever found herself disagreeing politically with men before. Disagreeing politically with someone like me, I bet, would turn her on.

  6. “No human being is illegal”, according to Kathryn Pogin.
    Except Peter Ludlow and Laura Kipnis, who are illegal, according to Kathryn Pogin.

  7. It’s strange for one and the same thread to contain assertions that I believe Laura Kipnis is illegal and that I only find myself disagreeing with men.

    Not on the job market, not planning on it soon either, and I suspect most of my fellow liberal philosophers won’t read this in any case.

    “No human being is illegal” is not a liberal slogan.

    And, no, I don’t take it that the charitable interpretation of “criminal” in a comment regarding legal matters is one who has broken the law. For one because it assumes one’s interlocutor doesn’t understand the legal meaning of the term. For two because we don’t call those who engage in civil violations criminals in general so to assume here that something unique was meant would be to attribute almost certain inconsistency.

    • The only thing relevant in the context of what is being discussed is breaking the law. What terminology you want to use to describe law breaking is besides the point. But you know this or maybe I’m giving you too much credit. The burden of proof is on the liberal to prove that they are worth reasoning with. You haven’t done so.

    • “No human being is illegal” is not a liberal slogan.

      Surely it’s liberal at least in the sense that libertarians who support open borders or anarchy would find it congenial. If one is an illegal alien, how could one not rightly be labeled as an illegal alien? You’re not suggesting that, in this context, someone is saying that one is illegally a human being are you?

    • “It’s strange for one and the same thread to contain assertions that I believe Laura Kipnis is illegal and that I only find myself disagreeing with men.”

      I’m not clear on why this is strange. One needn’t disagree with someone to claim they are illegal. Nor does the claim that x wants to ruin y’s life necessarily suggest (or even strongly imply) that x disagrees with y.

      Moreover, even if the two assertions are contradictories, why wouldn’t one expect to see them in the same thread? I have many edited collections which contain different chapters, where each of those chapters argues for a view which, when expressed in an assertion, contradicts each of the others.

  8. Anonymous,

    How were WM and CS uncharitable with Pelosi’s comment? If a Mexican national sneaks across the border and continues to reside here, evading detection from the authorities, in continual defiance of the law, then that is neither law abiding nor being a citizen? Whether one is on the straight and narrow otherwise is irrelevant.

    As for the the fighting over linguistic and legal real estate with “criminal” in regard to individuals who overstay their visas and such, it’s still regarded as “unlawful presence.” So in essence, they’re still breaking the law and interestingly enough subject to deportation or removal.

    The cited blog even ascribes “illegal aliens” to those persons culpable of “unlawful presence.”

  9. Nice piece!

    The hypocrisy of leftist intellectuals who extol abortion but decry meat-eating would be enough to make me laugh, if only the subject weren’t so dark.

    We are in bad times and the worst is only let to come. But what do you expect from the same people who think it’s “bigotry” to say someone who born a man is not a woman simply because he’s decided to tell everyone he is a woman?

    The absurdity is unbelievable. Leftists in the philosophy profession hardly care, and most of them can’t even see it. They’re so morally depraved they actually think they’re witnessing progress.

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