37 Comments

Excellent piece, Taylor. Thoughtful nuance like this doesn’t exist much on other parts of the internet, and it’s clear you care about this “unusually positive corner.”

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Thanks, Jeff. Hopeful this place will remain better than what we have come to accept about the internet

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Dec 17, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

This helped me a lot Taylor. I'd been feeling really good about substack and the Atlantic article you mentioned made me wonder if I should be concerned about substack's approach and either leave or campaign for a change, but this intelligent and wise deconstruction of the censorship argument is extremely helpful. I 100% agree, I just didn't know how to say it. I'm off to see Elle's essay.

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Probably the coolest response I could get for this, Rick. I wrote this with compassionate people like you in mind.

Thanks for reading and always being an encouraging person.

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Gosh I just hate censorship and finger-pointing by those who define themselves as good people, or claim to stand on "the right side of history". We cannot advocate free speech and then say "yes, but". Speech is either free or it isn't. There's no grey scale. The minute you introduce a grey scale, you're by definition censoring. And censoring is what Nazis and Fascists used to do when they were in power (spoiler alert: they no longer are). So, fighting Nazis by being Nazis isn't really the most edifying thing to do. I'm all for free speech, but I hate this "Keep Nazis out of Substack" slogan. I think it's stupid: first of all we'd have to agree on a definition of Nazi, and that's hard to do if most people consider a Nazi anybody who isn't in line with their values and way of thinking; and second, anybody should be given a chance to speak and if we don't like what they say, we just ignore them. Can I be defined a Nazi just for making these statements? For a lot of people (those who embrace censorship), I can. Isn't that crazy? I'm the only one who decides who I should listen to. Nobody should do it for me.

Sorry for the rant, Taylor. But your piece is so good that made all these thoughts boil over. I just loved the AA analogy. Keep those three minutes without interruption, always. For anybody.

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This is my honest sentiment, Silvio. Totally agree.

I wanted to give people who may not see the world this way a way "in" to the worldview we share. Bc I think for most of them, the idea of Nazis is "scary" and they don't want to live in a world where bad scary men are allowed to be bad and scary. I wanted to paint a more life-like picture of what we're dealing with.

Thanks for reading man. Always love to see your name here.

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Dec 16, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

“Twitter would be more like a 12-step meeting where every time someone said, “Man, I love doing heroin,” the entire group started sharing tips about where and how to get the best heroin.”😂

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Lmk if you have any tips! Haha

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Dec 17, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

Great argument. Censorship is so ironic in our culture because we promote tolerance so much, but we’re intolerant of people who are intolerant. Let them have their say. Most zealots are insane, but sometimes they’re a savior. Regardless, they all have a point to make. Least we can do is listen. And if it’s crazy, we just keep moving. We don’t punch them in the face.

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Dec 17, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

My friend told me a story of one time when there was a crazed homeless person on a busy street shouting CAN ANYONE HEAR ME?! Over and over again, louder and louder, for a long time.. Of course, everyone around her was like "nope" and just ignored her. Finally, my friend walked up to her and said "I can hear you." After that, she was able to calm down, and a few minutes later, packed up her things, and left.

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Dec 17, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

Wow, what a powerful story!

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Dec 17, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

Beautiful

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What a fantastic story, Grant. Thanks for sharing.

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Dec 16, 2023·edited Dec 16, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

"Give them space to exist without agreeing with them, and we can all move toward something like sobriety." What a novel, cogent idea for dealing with misguided people seeking to influence others out of their woundedness. I think you're right; letting people express their worst selves does not necessarily put others at risk of infection, as long as it happens in the right environment.

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Exactly my point! Repression tends to make crazy ideas seem more valid, too. Like, "They don't want you to know the TRUTH!"

When everyone can have their say, crazy ideas tend to seem.... pretty crazy lol.

Your comment is really cool to see. thanks for reading :)

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Dec 16, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

Pretty sure you’re eating from the Tree of Life now, Taylor 😉

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Whatever I’m eating, I hope it’s good!

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Daryl Davis and Deeyah Khan are two people I hold in high esteem for their ability to engage with the

metaphorical snakes and create real positive change through their relationships with them. They show that acting in good faith can in fact create positive outcomes. If you haven't watched Khan's documentary White Right: Meeting the Enemy or listened to Davis talk about his interactions with KKK members I highly recommend you add these two people to your watch/listen list.

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I saw this in a different post and I think it's an excellent example of what I was trying to say. Thank you for pointing that out. Recommend that to anyone curious.

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Dec 18, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

Very intelligent analysis, calm and to the point, as it should be.

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This is a great one. Thanks for your balanced perspective.

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Glad it resonated Yehudis. I know you're a very reasonable person, so that's a very nice comment to get.

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Hammer meets head of nail: "Let’s also not forget that the legacy media like The Atlantic is desperate to stop the bleeding as they lose cultural relevance."

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Yeah that's probably a bigger reasons for all this than it seems.

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Dec 21, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

This is a great essay Taylor. Like you I've never seen this so called Nazi themed writing on my feed, which is why I was so surprised when I saw about the 'virtual demo'. As it is said commonly, "The path to (mental) recovery starts by talking about it". Maybe Substack can function like this AA forum you're talking about, and eventually help everyone towards better mental health. That would be great.

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Dec 20, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

Hi Taylor! I enjoyed your post, and like you said, I can see your genuine concern for the issue:

"This place can’t be a free-for-all – we all know from history how dark that can get. This is good and true, and I appreciate them for being concerned. I think it’s genuine."

I just want to say I appreciate seeing this so much. So many people on Substack are using very disingenuous arguments to push back against the critics in favor of moderating Nazi content, implying or outright saying that all we want is authoritarian censorship against anyone who disagrees.

Thank you for seeing that people on both sides of this argument simply care enough to be concerned. For me, I have my reasons to disagree with the hands-off approach--mostly that Substack already moderates porn/nudity--and I would love to invite you and your readers to check out my recent essay on this and tell me what you think.

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Amen brotha!! Proud of so many of us standing up for Democratic values!

https://michaelmohr.substack.com/p/why-i-signed-the-pro-free-speech

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Substack also provides a place to challenge ideas, which is often forgotten. In this era where many are almost encouraged to give away agency, we forget all of us have a voice. Even if it is just leaving comments.

This was demonstrated with the would-be censors themselves. They were challenged by many on here, mainly using notes. It was interesting to watch as their original claims about Nazis were watered down to more generic types, racists and misogynists. With more challenge came the admission they were out to shut down those who criticized wokery, a rather more anemic charge than Nazi.

So even with this little spat it demonstrates the power of giving everyone their say. I would argue in the Anglosphere countries we are especially good at self-policing of the type you outlined at AA. We don't need self-appointed leaders.

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Dec 18, 2023Liked by James Taylor Foreman

Love this piece Taylor. It’s true in the rooms and it’s true on SS. We have the ability to self-regulate when we serve a common purpose. Every once in awhile someone needs to be 86’ed from an AA meeting but it’s so rare and its done by the group’s conscience rather than a chair or moderator.

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