THE UNDEFEATED: When Kevin Drum made an accurate statement...


...a favorite Quaker fought back: Down through the annals of time, the forces of which we speak are undefeated.

We speak of tribal True Belief. We speak of the power of Dumb.

Our story starts with an accurate statement made by Kevin Drum. Alas! When Drum made a perfectly accurate statement, our tribal spear-chuckers fought back.

Drum's statement concerned the actual text of Florida's childishly-named Stop W.O.K.E. Act. Writing in yesterday's Washington Post, reporter Brittany Shammas had paraphrased the provision in question in the standard blue tribe way.

According to Shammas, the famous act had decreed "[t]hat instruction should be tailored so no student would feel guilt or 'psychological distress' over past actions by members of the same race."

According to Drum, that formulation is wrong. Specifically, Kevin wrote this:

DRUM (9/25/23): This is a myth that won't die. Florida law only bars teachers from telling students they must feel guilt over historical events...The law says nothing about "tailoring" history instruction to make sure that no one is ever uncomfortable. 
(Drum's italics)

In fact, Drum had made an accurate statement. As has happened down through the annals of time, the boldly anonymous tribal Furies quickly began to fight back.

For starters, let's get clear on the basic facts. Way back on September 7, Drum had actually quoted the relevant part of the law!

He'd produced an actual quotation! (Can you remember behavior like that?) Clear as a warning bell in the night, the proviso in question says this:

A person should not be instructed that he or she must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.

(Emphasis ours) 

That's what the proviso actually says. That said, the paraphrase offered by Shammas is completely standard among forces of our own (failing) blue tribe.

As we began to note during Campaign 2000, paraphrase is hard! That said, it's perfectly clear that the law in question actually says what Drum has now said that it says:

It says that kids shouldn't be taught or told that they must feel guilt about things other people did in the past. 

More specifically, it says they shouldn't be taught that they must feel guilt about such people's horrible conduct just because they're members of the same so-called "race."

That's what the ballyhooed law actually says. In a slightly more rational world, discussion of the law's wisdom, or of the law's alleged effects, would proceed from there.

That is what would happen in theory, in a slightly more rational world. In practice, what has happened in our world is this:

Every Tribal (and his or her crazy aunt or uncle) has paraphrased the relevant provision of the law in the way the Post reporter did. 

In comment threads, our Tribals anonymously stand and shout about how vile their paraphrase of the provision is. We never get around to saying what the provision actually says.

In comments to Kevin's new post, you can see the tribals do this. One of our long-time favorites—a Quaker no less!—even marched off to war saying this:

QUAKERINBASEMENT: Somerby has been grinding this same axe for the last week or two...

Self-identified Quaker, please! Actually, we've been calling attention to this matter for something like the past year. 

We've been "grinding this same axe" for well over two weeks! But as we noted in a reply, "Somerby has been grinding this same axe for the last week or two" actually means this:

Somerby has been grinding this same axe for the last week or two. 
Somerby has been making this same accurate statement for the last week or two.

That's what the Quaker's statement meant. The problem is, at times of war, all accurate statements must die.

Warning! If you read through the angry replies to Drum's heresy, you'll encounter a large amount of Scripted / Dumb / Stupid / Unhelpful.

A lot of people will be saying what the provision actually "means." A lot of people will be explaining how the provision has allegedly affected Florida teachers.

Because the great god Stupid is in charge, the obvious point won't occur to these yokels:

The best way to produce such bad effects is to repeatedly misparaphrase what the provision in question actually says—to keep misstating the basic facts about what the provision forbids.

Alas! All of us are currently living in a time of war. For that reason, our tribals insist on overstating what the Florida law actually says.

In doing so, we insist on drumming a misapprehension into everyone's head. This is very stupid behavior, but as we noted above, the great gods known as Anger, Dumb and Tribal Belief are undefeated down through the annals of time.

The great god Stupid rules our tribals much as he rules theirs. One anonymous Quaker, locked in a basement, is eager to march off to war!

The last century's greatest anthropologist described this syndrome with admirable precision. He came to us in humble garb, proceeded to offer this:

Where I come from, we just talk for a little while. After that, we start to hit.

We start to hit at accurate statements! We don't have time for accurate statements. We want our favorite war cries.

Drum reported what the law in question says. Back on September 7, he actually quoted the relevant provision!

Yesterday, he began to grind the same axe. As always, the undefeated and mighty god Dumb quickly took over from there.

Tomorrow: A different manifestation

This afternoon: More from Drum's September 7 post


  1. Another in a long list of Right-wing laws, abolishing things Right-wingers convinced themselves are actually happening.
    Everyone should be offended by this law, but no students should be made to feel guilty that its useless.

  2. It's sad. But they are just people. They are scared.

  3. What's taking the Florida Legislature so long to pass a law that a public school teacher can't have twelve arms?

  4. You really have to be dumb to think that people always mean what they say, or that the wording of a political pronouncement or law tells you exactly what it means.

    Actually the meaning of laws passed in Florida is quite clear from what DeSantis (for example) has said himself - he is going to wipe out "woke" in Florida, and in the US if he is elected President. "Woke" of course does not mean "not asleep", it means primarily "anti-racist" and "pro-LGBTQ".

    If you don't understand the common practices of euphemization and dog-whistling maybe you shouldn't pretend to understand politics.

    1. "You really have to be dumb to think that a law tells you exactly what it means."

      Sounds like the Biden administration's official stance on the first amendment.

      (They have been found guilty of "blatantly ignoring" American's first amendment rights in an attempt to "suppress alleged disinformation".)

    2. 10:41 makes an obvious but necessary point, and 2:48 responds by demonstrating the point via making a misleading claim.

      The Biden admin was “found guilty” by a Trump appointed right wing nut judge, whose order was first gutted and then paused on appeal.

      This was over the Biden admin requesting, not ordering, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to remove misinformation about Covid, a notable public health issue that has resulted in the unnecessary deaths of over a million Americans, in part due to misinformation campaigns. Generally, the social media ignored the requests, thus making the actions of the right wing judged more asinine, and more obviously a publicity stunt, meant to have a chilling effect - just like the obvious ploy of the right wing Florida law.

    3. 10:41

      The appeals court full upheld the court's ruling that the Biden administration coerced social media giants into possible free speech violations:

      The 5th Circuit panel found that the White House coerced the platforms through “intimidating messages and threats of adverse consequences” and commandeered the decision-making processes of social media companies, particularly in handling pandemic-related and 2020 election posts.

      “It is true that the officials have an interest in engaging with social media companies, including on issues such as misinformation and election interference. But the government is not permitted to advance these interests to the extent that it engages in viewpoint suppression,” the judges wrote.


      You're mistaking the appeals court's limiting the scope of the preliminary injunction with a gutting of the guilty ruling itself which stands. (And is on appeal to the Burrito Supreme Court.)

    4. And so you know, the appeals court upheld the preliminary injunction prohibiting the Biden administration from further intimidating and engaging in viewpoint suppression.

      So please research this issue a little further so we can move the discussion on to matters that have not been settled and in the public record for months.

    5. 4:25 I understand the narrative you are trying to push, but it’s false.

      The panel was of three right wing Republican judges, who did not fully uphold the injunction and did in fact gut the injunction before putting it on hold, here is how the biased 5th Circuit themselves put it:

      “So, we affirm in part, reverse in part, vacate the injunction in part, and modify the injunction in part.”


      Then they put it on hold.

      The plaintiffs in the original case were all right wing nuts complaining that they could no longer push their fake news in social media, fake news that was causing deaths in a once in a lifetime public health issue.

      You and Taibbi can cry me a river of crocodile tears, it’s still utter nonsense.

      Trump as president issued an executive order in an attempt to intimidate social media companies from posting evidence that contradicted right wing nonsense about Covid and non existent voter fraud, yet nary a peep from judges or Taibbi and the like. Just silence. Which makes it clear, the lawsuit and the injunction and the 5th Circuit are all engaging in right wing partisan propaganda.

    6. I didn't realize it was that simple. I apologize for accurately pointing out that the Biden administration was found guilty of censorship and that their guilt was upheld by an appeals court. But I didn't realize that none of that was real. Thank you for showing me that I didn't remember what happened correctly, and that what I believed was true is really crazy and irrational. Thank you for helping me question my memories thoughts and perceptions about reality.

    7. No problem. Anytime.

    8. You just admitted to gaslighting.

    9. The Biden admin was not “found guilty”, a right wing Trumper judge issued an injunction during an ongoing lawsuit, which the Biden admin appealed to the right wing 5th Circuit panel of three Trumper judges that affirmed part of the injunction, but then reversed, vacated, and modified the injunction, thusly gutting the injunction, and then after doing that, they put a hold on the injunction (obviously if Trump is re-elected they will remove the injunction).

      The injunction is complete nonsense, the Biden admin never violated the “First Amendment rights” of any social media corporation, they did not even bring the suit, the plantiffs are just random right wing nuts upset that they could not continue to post misinformation that could lead to actual deaths during a public health crisis. Oh the horror of having to behave responsibly when it comes to public health! Brother, please.

      Your phony response to being accurately called out on your nonsense is embarrassing, but more importantly, irrelevant.

    10. So I should question the reality of what the judges say? I should be embarrassed for accurately quoting them? Is that what you are suggesting?

    11. From the appeals court decision:

      "The Supreme Court has rarely been faced with a coordinated campaign of this magnitude orchestrated by federal officials that jeopardized a fundamental aspect of American life."

      And The Supremes will weigh in on it this week or next week. And I'll check in with you then for more of your bullshit gaslighting.

  5. Here's another one of those vague harmless Florida laws.

    Florida Republicans passed a bill criminalizing the transport of undocumented people into Florida, requiring hospitals to ask about immigration status on intake forms, invalidating out of state driver’s licenses or other forms of government ID issued to undocumented people, and preventing local governments from issuing identification cards to undocumented people.

    Now, after sparking backlash among thousands of immigrants (who make up a great deal of Florida’s economy), some Florida Republicans are trying to backpedal and do damage control.

    “This bill is 100 percent supposed to scare you,” said Roth. “I’m a farmer, and the farmers are mad as hell. We are losing employees. They’re already starting to move to Georgia and other states. It’s urgent that you talk to all your people and convince them that you have resources, state representatives, and other people that can explain the bill to you,” he added, essentially begging Florida’s labor force to not leave the state that cares little for them.

    “This is more of a political bill than it is policy. It does give more police state powers going forward to deal with immigration, but still this is mainly a political bill,” Roth concluded incoherently.

    Just politics, you see. No one expected anyone to take it seriously, you know, wink wink wink....

    But sure Bob, join the mob villainizing public school teachers. Who cares about them anyway, they're just woke fascists.

    1. "But sure Bob, join the mob villainizing public school teachers."

      This is a wild, wild misstatement of Somerby's thesis.

    2. Overstatement, maybe.
      At minimum, he'd rather students not learn about the history of black people.

    3. You have not a speck of evidence to support your despicable accusation that Somerby prefers that students not learn about the history of black people.

    4. Not a wild misstatement at all. Villainizing public school teachers is team sport for the fascist republican party. This law is just one more front in their ongoing attack to undermine public education. Apparently Bob believes the schools are littered with woke fascists who are indoctrinating their students to "feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past". I say that's bullshit.

    5. "Apparently Bob believes the schools are littered with woke fascists who are indoctrinating their students to "feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past"."

      You say "apparently" because you have absolutely no evidence that Bob believes this at all.

    6. Well, he hasn't written one word arguing against the absurdity of the law or the harm it is inflicting on professionals who don't need more shit thrown at them as they get enough already from the magats.

    7. Worse, Somerby has wondered if this type of law has a good point, using a case in South Carolina, where, yes, in his own coy way, vilified the teacher.

      Somerby never offers any credible evidence to support his nonsense claims, yet his fanboys leap to his defense at any slight, demanding court-level evidence to support making obvious “sky is blue” comments.

  6. No child should be made to feel guilty that they live in a state run by big-government Republicans.

    1. Anonymouse 11:14am, but should they be made to feel accountable for the evils of past members of their race?

      Should they be told that as white people, they are the beneficiaries of a white privilege that is’t human failure as a part of past history , but was and is THE system.

      That colorblindness is yet another white supremacist tactic to negate and obscure America’s endemic oppression of everyone of color and that whites are responsible for being actively engaged in fighting and reversing against this corrupt culture?


    2. White privilege and racism are two prevalent traits of our contemporary society. This is not in dispute, and is evidenced by reams of data.

      For example, for every dollar a White person has, a Black person has only 15 cents. This is a shocking circumstance, but no more shocking than some claiming it’s root cause is genetic.

      When learning about the nature of our society, if one is moved to empathize with those oppressed and become motivated to fight that oppression, that is a right that one should not be denied.

      Considering the psychological nature of right wingers, it is highly unlikely for one to feel guilty about oppression, or accountable to past unpaid work of others, therefore, the law in dispute is all the more laid bare as a both a publicity stunt as well as a way of coercing teachers to keep students ignorant.

    3. Racial pay gaps are the case for every developed country in the world. However, there’s virtually no gap between East Asians and whites, which would bode that they’re cultural factors that affect gaps as well and economic ones, such as the deindustrialization of the country

      Don’t teach children that we live in a country that is endemically racist. That whites are endemically privileged and therefore accountable in ways that other people are not. Don’t encourage nonwhites to resent and to separate their public lives from the norms of the dominant culture.

      Stop trying to divide and conquer.

    4. It’s a wealth gap, not just a pay gap, and it’s just one metric among many.

      East Asians have experienced a completely different historical context than other people of color, so the comparison is nonsense.

      We do live in a country that was founded on racism, built on racism, racism that is today different than how it was historically applied but continues unabated.

      We do live in a country where Whites have a built in privilege, where the American Dream has always been that most Whites won’t have much relative to the elite wealthy and powerful, but they’ll always have more than a person of color.

      One should not be denied learning about the slave owning/raping founders, to the 3/5 compromise, to Dred Scott, to Lincoln saying Blacks are inferior to Whites but viciously fought a war to have them freed from chattel slavery, to Lincoln then being concerned about wage slavery and then he was promptly shot, to MLK jr engaging with violent protest while noting:

      “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination”

      “The Republican Party geared its appeal and program to racism”

      “Justice for black people will not flow into this society merely from court decisions nor from fountains of political oratory…White America must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society”

      “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality”

      MLK jr spoke about CRT, explaining we need “radical changes in the structure of our society”, then he started protesting for workers rights, and was promptly shot. (A poll at the time showed over 30% of Americans thought he brought it on himself - oof, we don’t really need to ponder what that cohort’s party affiliation was)

      I don’t think you have a coherent definition of culture, thus your garbled claims on what might motivate racial resentment.

      It is White racist right wingers that are dividing and conquering, don’t try to deny racism with such a trite and meaningless appeal.

      As MLK jr said “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice”.

  7. Why is it that Somerby will engage in discussion with Drum's commenters but he won't bother to read or interact with his own commenters?

    When the letter of the law says "It says that kids shouldn't be taught or told that they must feel guilt about things other people did in the past", then what constitutes such teaching or telling? Is the teacher instructing kids when he or she models such guilt by saying they themselves feel upset about what was done in the past? A lot of teaching is modeling of appropriate behavior. If the teacher admits and self-discloses feelings, is that instructing or teaching or telling, or is it something kids can ignore? If a teacher tells students that certain past behavior was wrong or illegal or a violation of human rights, is that telling kids how to feel about that behavior? What is the line and when is it crossed with a law concerning feelings of the teacher or of someone like Coates, who himself is demonstrating anguish but perhaps not guilt over wrongs done to his people? Is the existence of such feelings among some sensitive subset of students sufficient to condemn the teacher for evoking the distress? Teachers don't know the answers to such questions, and if they don't know what may jeopardize their jobs, they will tend to play it safe and avoid the subject entirely, which is what someone like DeSantis actually wants.

    Somerby is a master of this sort of coy evasion of responsibility. I would have expected him to recognize it when others do it, but instead he is using more evasion to pretend this law exists in only its most restrictive form and that no teacher will be blamed as long as they do not REQUIRE students to feel certain feelings (how does one compel feelings anyway). That is pure nonsense.

    So, we all know what is going on with the law, but Somerby and Drum think they can pretend it isn't meant to suppress teaching the truth about American history (all of it). This casts a huge shadow on Somerby's credibility and his integrity as a blogger. Word games are not the purpose of political discussion. Siding with administrators like DeSantis who want to conceal their actions using word games in legislation makes Somerby seem either terminally stupid himself, or as venal as this conservative bigot in FL.

    How do we know this is true? Look at the teachers who have already been removed from their jobs under this law. Did they at any time say that their students were required to feel any particular way? Of course not. So, if people are being persecuted in their jobs for the looser interpretation of the law, how can Somerby and Drum claim that only the strict interpretation is valid? They are not discussing this in good faith, and that gives comfort to those trying to suppress legitimate teaching of history in red states.

    Calling those of us who feel this way "stupid" or "tribal" is just name-calling, which is not good faith discussion either. Somerby and Drum are, of course, entitled to their opinions. But when they say these things and behave this way, they reveal who they are for others to see. They must live with that. That is perhaps why Somerby is so coy, but it doesn't conceal his intentions or the fact that he is supporting the wrongdoers in FL. That is dismaying given that he was once a teacher himself, but those days are apparently long gone.

    1. "Somerby seem either terminally stupid himself, or as venal as this conservative bigot"

      "Calling those of us who feel this way "stupid" or "tribal" is just name-calling, which is not good faith discussion either."

    2. "Calling those of us who feel this way "stupid" or "tribal" is just name-calling"

      Somerby's insults are directed, not at those who speak out against any 'too loose' application of the law, but at those who misstate what the law says.

      As usual he makes a narrow point and is attacked for a broader statement he didn't make.

    3. Misstating what the law says? Or accurately stating how the law is being applied?

    4. Amen to Hector, I mean.

    5. "As usual he makes a narrow point and is attacked for a broader statement he didn't make."

      That is a succinct summary of the usual discourse in these comments.

    6. Somerby is generally attacked (a) for what he "seems" to say or (b) for what he "doesn't say." Rarely is he attacked for what he actually says.

    7. Yes, Somerby likes to examine each little tree and sapling under a microscope. I'm looking at the fucking forest.

    8. You're using the blog as a scapegoat and an outlet for your bitterness and resentment. Which is human. I do it too.

    9. I will break it to you though. You are not looking for the forest or the trees.

    10. Being excessively literal is no defense, and it is weaponized pointedly only in cases where it endorses the peculiar agenda of Somerby and his right wing fanboys.

      Somerby has not invented these techniques, being vague or coy, for example, he is merely repeating common right wing talking points and tactics, designed to manufacture ignorance. With some, this has worked, for most, it has failed, in part because we make the stronger case.

      Btw, no, Saddam was not seeking significant quantities of uranium, and more broadly, and more importantly, he had no weapons of mass destruction.

      You can tip your king over now.

    11. "As usual he makes a narrow point and is attacked for a broader statement he didn't make."

      This brings to mind the Florida law in question. The law very plainly says students should not be instructed they *MUST* feel shame. Yet, teachers who are clearly in aboslute compliance with this edict are challenged, sanctioned, and harassed by students and parents who declare that any mention of the legacies of race in America are very obviously intended to induce such shame.

      Is it possible that a state law can be written--intentionally!--with enough vagueness to skirt obvious violations of the Consitution, but with just enough latitude to allow enforcement of the law to achieve unconstitutional aims?

      Opinions differ!

  8. "Where I come from, we just talk for a little while. After that, we start to hit."

    Somerby lifted this from a baseball book (without attribution today), but it is a good description of what happens on the right. They are the people who believe that violence is a legitimate way to resolve political disagreements. That are the masters of the death threat, rolling coal, vandalizing people's property, waving guns around in public to strike fear into bystanders, use of eliminationist language on social media, and ultimately mass shootings. These are not the tools of the left.

    1. Worse, Somerby is misusing this quote, it was not an indication of the speaker’s violent tendency.

  9. "We start to hit at accurate statements! We don't have time for accurate statements. We want our favorite war cries."

    The main difference between the paraphrase and the actual law is a single word about telling kids they MUST feel a particular way. The paraphrase restates that as saying that teachers will be prosecuted if the kids DO feel that way. It allows the kids to be the evidence of a teacher's wrongdoing, instead of requiring that someone record the teacher enacting that requirement for guilt over historical wrongs.

    In the South Carolina case (where the law is modeled on FL), the teacher was reported and removed from teaching because the students claimed they felt distress, not because the teacher told her students they must feel distress. This supports the paraphrase, not the strict wording that Somerby claims is what the law requires.

    Are these wrongs being done in the name of a law that is being misinterpreted in red states? Somerby doesn't say that. He doesn't blame an injustice in the application of the law (that is essentially the same as the paraphrase). He blames his readers. That is a kind of gaslighting. Somerby says the red states are not persecuting teachers under the meaning of the paraphrase but under the strict wording of the law, but that is not what is happening in these various cases where teachers are being removed.

    Note that Somerby has no interest in protecting teachers and no interest in making sure that children learn history. His concern is that DeSantis is being maligned because his law is being misunderstood. And, his larger concern is to call liberals names again today, because that is what he does every day. And that is the biggest axe Somerby grinds, as he calls all of us dumb for noticing what is happening under this actual law, instead of his insistence that the law is worded in a way where the various real life injustices would not be happening -- except they are.

    Somerby and Drum are apologists for injustice today as they have been in the past. I would be ashamed, but I wouldn't want to require either of them to feel any noble emotions showing feeling for the grievances of others.

    1. "Somerby says the red states are not persecuting teachers under the meaning of the paraphrase but under the strict wording of the law,"

      Somerby's entire post is directed at making a single point: that the wording of the law is being paraphrased inaccurately.

      He makes no statement--none--zero--zip a dee do dah--about whether teachers are or are not being persecuted under the law.

    2. Agreed, Hector. That would give away Bob's game.

    3. Hector, your claim is ignorant, as Somerby engages in a daily blog where he will develop ideas over multiple postings, sometimes dragging on for weeks and even years. To ignore the context, is to be ignorant, and thus, irrelevant.

    4. Hector: Well, there you go! Did the Washington Post bungle a basic fact in its reporting? Well, if they misquoted the text of a state law, then yes. I suppose they did. Was the rest of the Post's reporting on the effect of the law on a featured teacher accurate? Apparently so.

      Is it possible to hold these two thoughts simultaneously? Well, now, that's a chin-scratcher worthy of many months of investigation, wouldn't you say?

    5. Quaker in a Basement,


    6. Hector: Briefly, I concur with your point that our host's focus on linguistic oopsies ignores more urgent matters that pertain to our nation's commitent to our core values.

    7. Quaker in a Basement,

      I appreciate your concurrence, but that was not my point, nor was it our host's.

      Bob argues that in a rational world, in discussing a law's purported or projected effects, the discussion should begin with an accurate statement of what the law says.

      He does not consider the misparaphrasing of the law an oopsie; he thinks it a fatal error that poisons subsequent discussion.

    8. We get it that both you and Somerby are being excessively literal when you ignore the abuse of this law for political purposes and refuse to acknowledge that most others are focused on how the law is being used (the paraphrase) and not the literal text (which is not how the law is being applied). Somerby is defending the law, not clarifying discussion.

    9. You can criticize how the law is being applied without misrepresenting what it says.

      Why is that so hard to grasp?

    10. When the law is misapplied and Somerby retreats to what the law says, Somerby is focusing on an irrelevant point in order to ignore or deny the problems with the law. That is wrong. Why do younot acknowledge that?

    11. Ah, a classic case of AMS (Attribution of Motive to Somerby).

      Tell us, please, how you know Bob focuses on what the law says in order 'to ignore or deny the problems with the law'.

      Bob says an accurate description should be the starting point for the debate. But you, you wily anonymous rascal, you know differently. You have sources, methods of divining Bob’s inner thoughts. Perhaps a mole in the Somerby household, or you've rooted through his trash to retrieve some incriminating scribblings. Or is it a Ouija board? A seance?

      Please tell us.

    12. A common tactic of gaslighters is to make their victim feel ashamed.

    13. A common tactic of people who can't think of a good reply is to accuse their opponent of gaslighting.

  10. Drum has been wrong quite a bit lately.

    1. Drum openly admits to being a “centrist”, which is merely another way of saying he is on the spectrum of being a right winger.

    2. So readers should not believe what Drum says? Readers should doubt the validity of the things he says? You feel like readers perceptions of him as a centrist are wrong?

    3. Right wingers have no ideology, they are people obsessed with dominance and hierarchy, such that they are willing to make any nonsense argument, thus their claims are irrelevant.

      Drum’s claim to fame is reporting on studies linking crime to lead, which makes his status a fluke since others had already reported the same information. Whatever.

    4. Yes, I think readers should check Drum’s work. That’s what his commenters do.

  11. Today the right wing is targeting Taylor Swift for supporting Biden. They are doing that by calling her homely. But Somerby calls us childish for using DeSantis's own words to characterize his law?

    I think the upcoming debate between Gavin Newsom and DeSantis should put his failing campaign out of its misery once and for all.

    The childish right wing (specifically Ted Cruz) is saying that Biden will step aside to let Michelle Obama run at the last minute. Aside from being race-baiting and silly, it seems a lot more likely that Biden would step aside for Newsom, which would be the Republicans worst nightmare.

    1. Newsom is an up and comer, though he is more establishment than progressive; Biden is likely our best president since FDR, even according to Heather Cox Richardson, a leading public intellectual, so supporting Biden is imperative and a benefit to society.

    2. "I think the upcoming debate between Gavin Newsom and DeSantis should put his failing campaign out of its misery once and for all."

      Do you think so? Recent public appearances by prominent Republicans has demonstrated that there's practically no embarrassment a Republican can't overcome. George Santos is still warming a seat in the House. So is Lauren Boebert. I can't think of anything that can happen during the upcoming "debate" that could be more humiliating to DeSantis than what these two have survived.

    3. Right wingers, of which Republicans are a subset, have no ideology, thus issues are merely weapons used in their attempts to attain and maintain dominance.

      Abortion is an easy example, an issue where right wingers have flopped in order to maintain racial oppression.

    4. I don’t think Boebert will survive her next election.

  12. “In comment threads, our Tribals anonymously stand and shout about how vile their paraphrase of the provision is.”

    This is not true.

    Drum’s commenters did acknowledge the wording of the law, and then proceeded to discuss it and disagree with it. It’s well known (or should be) that the mere wording of a law is not always sufficient to determine its application. Judges often look at what is called “legislative intent” as well to determine the meaning of a law. In the case of Florida’s “stop woke” act, a judge has found potentially unconstitutional vagueness.

    Here’s an example from Drum’s commenters:

    “The law is just like a lot of anti-choice laws that have "exceptions": if you parse the language carefully, and give the drafters the benefit of every doubt, then they don't look so bad. But in practice they are bad, because the ostensible loopholes are subject to interpretation, often by those inclined to interpret them as narrowly as possible, eg state officials aligned with those who designed and passed the laws in the first place. So eg with some anti-choice laws, the "exception" has to be proven, within a certain time frame, according to certain standards. And in the Florida case it looks like an awful lot hinges on the word "must." Teachers are authority figures: if a teacher says slavery was really bad and Whites were responsible, is it reasonable to assume that a White student might interpret that as mandatory? What if a student -- for any reason, even out of spite or just for kicks -- complains? And when a Florida education official loyal to DeSantis makes the decision, which way is it likely to go?
    Ultimately, the point of all such laws is deterrence. The idea is to create fear in those who would do what the officials don't want them to do, so they never try it in the first place. Add in a few showcase prosecutions, and women and doctors and teachers get the message quickly and clearly.”

    This is a legitimate point, but Somerby wants to tar the opponents of this law (and/or Drum’s commenters) as mindless tribalists who won’t admit the text of the law and resort merely to paraphrase.

    1. Well done, Sir/Madam.

  13. There is semantic meaning and there is the exact language used to express that meaning. Somerby is confusing the two.

    1. People often reduce the literal text to its semantic meaning and believe that is what was originally said, without being consciously aware that they have paraphrased.

      When someone says "I don't not want to cook tonight, someone will rightly hear that person as expressing a lack of enthusiasm for cooking. If the speaker then insists they said they would cook, the hearer rightly believes they didn't mean it. This is because people hear the meaning, not the words.

      Somerby's excessive literalism is nearly always being used instrumentally for other purposes than straightforward communication. This argument over a so-called paraphrase is just a political game that Somerby is playing, not good faith discussion of the specifics of a law.

    2. Here's a little friendly advice:

      when you're trying to make a point about how people read and interpret, and the example you find yourself using is a bunch of garbledy-gook like "I don't want to not cook tonight," your point may not be valid.

    3. If you blame other people whenever you fail to understand a point, you are behaving like Somerby, who takes no responsibility for understanding what others find clear. There is no way to force someone to understand a point they are determined to resist. There is no passive learning. It all takes effort.

    4. You say that people "often" apply a semantic meaning to a literal text, by which I take you to mean they apply a meaning beyond, or other than, the literal meaning.

      But your example using a double negative is not a way people often speak. Hence, its use does not support your contention of people "often" doing what you say they do.

    5. Here is another example of literal meaning opposite to semantic meaning — sarcasm.

    6. Chomsky shows that semantic meaning is independent of the sentence structure (literal meaning). There are many ways to express the same semantic meaning.

      People extract and think in terms of semantic meaning.

    7. Agreed.

      My final comment is: this country needs more literalism, not less. We need to agree how things are before we start arguing about how they should be.

    8. How things are is that this law is being applied to ban books and hurt teachers by restricting teaching in accord with conservative political goals. Acknowledge that. Somerby won’t.

    9. For the record, my comment at 8:18 was directed at 8:03, not 8:08 (mechanics of the posting process).

      I'm no linguist but it seems to me 'semantic meaning' would be much more relevant with face-to-face communication, where gesture and tone come into play.

      For words on a page, semantic meaning should be minimal, and should be resisted, since it opens up the very can of worms so expertly displayed by this commentariat, whereby Bob's words are ignored and instead, whatever 'semantic meaning' suits the reader is applied to them.

    10. People read words, extract the meaning and thereafter think and reason using that meaning, not the original words. There are numerous studies showing this in cognitive psychology.

    11. Hector, you are not using “semantic meaning” the way those who study such things do.

      If I say “the turtle is above the log” it means the same thing as “the log is below the turtle” but the words used are different. The spatial relationship between the turtle and log is represented in memory while the exact words used are forgotten. A person can memorize exact words, as actors do when learning lines in a play, but people do not do that when reading or speaking or thinking, without some purpose. When Somerby complains that reporters are paraphrasing, he is blaming them for reporting the gist, the extracted meaning, instead of quoting the exact law. It might be better to cite the law exactly, but sometimes that would take too much space (not be practical) so relying on the meaning is preferable. Somerby argues that the word MUST changes the law, but that is not supported by the way the law has been applied.

      The difficulty does not arise from paraphrasing but from a differing assessment of the intent of the law. The way reporters summarized the law conflicted with Somerby’s assertion about the intent of the law. He would have a point if teachers were being suspended for requiring students to feel guilt, but that isn’t what has been happening, so Somerby’s legalistic nitpicking is wrong.

    12. If someone thinks the law is being applied in a manner beyond what the text says, they should point that out by comparing the application to the text, rather than pretending the text says something it doesn't.

      And I'm skeptical of the idea that focusing on the law's intent would be dispositive in court. The legislature could easily have used a word other than 'must'. But they didn't.

  14. This was in DeSantis’ press release April 2022:

    “By signing this legislation, which is the first in the nation to end corporate wokeness and Critical Race Theory in our schools, we are prioritizing education not indoctrination,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “We will always fight to protect our children and parents from this Marxist-inspired curriculum.”

    Since the hoary term “Marxist” has entered the discussion, would a teacher be in violation of this law if she taught that capitalism is the best of all possible economic systems? Or that labor unionism is “Marxist inspired”? (cause that’s what a lot of republicans believe).

    1. mh, the teacher could discuss economic systems from the standpoints of their critics and supporters and via examples of world nations.

    2. 1. If a teacher were to say “labor unionism is the backbone of America’s working class prosperity”, that could be deemed “woke (Marxist) indoctrination.” The Florida law specifically says that “The nature and importance of free enterprise to the United States economy” is required instruction. And labor unions are inimical to “free enterprise” according to most Republicans.
      2. Most teachers, being human beings, have a personal opinion. If a teacher wishes to introduce kids to the value (as the teacher sees it) of labor unionism/activism, she might be inclined to show her students the importance and past successes of unionism. This is a viewpoint, and could be considered indoctrination, since the Republican view is that unions destroy free enterprise.
      3. “Capitalism should be regulated to prevent its worst excesses” is disallowed. Instead, one must also bring up the idea that unbridled capitalism is desirable, when that is simply untrue.
      4. Remember that this law also applies to public universities. Are professors not allowed to take sides like this?
      5. No right winger is going to complain if students are indoctrinated into the Republican view of economics, labor, etc.Because the governor’s own press release talks about stamping out Marxist ideology, not ideology in general.

    3. mh, I don’t know where you went to school, but grade school and high school teachers generally don’t make such mere declarations within the context of teaching about history. They give the history of workers attempts to tighten the power imbalance between labor and business.

      Even if a teacher says “labor unionism is the backbone of America’s working class prosperity” it would be hard to link that with Marxism in any way that made any pertinent sense in this country. With that logic a teacher could be in trouble if she iterated a benefit of Medicare.

      It’s silly and contrived to argue that it is the role of educators to tell white kids that they are predisposed to being oppressive due to the intrinsic nature of white society, and when states object to that harangue, then quibble about teachers possibly getting into trouble for lauding the labor union movement in the U.S.

      Get some perspective.

    4. Cecelia,
      Are you suggesting "the Others" are wrong when they call the government handling of a health crisis "Marxism"?

      "Get some perspective."
      These are the words of a privileged elitist who doesn't have a rainbow on their beer can.

    5. I find mh's concerns more plausible than your assertion that such things wouldn't happen, Cecelia.

      I had a very right wing history teacher in high school. I asked questions in class and she took me aside and told me to stop disrupting the class by bringing up tangential issues, such as whether Texas had broken its agreement with Mexico by importing slaves into the Territory, and why that was allowed by the US government.

      I think that teacher was teaching biased history. Because her versions were right wing, there was nothing I could do about it except learn that teachers are not infallible, they have opinions too, and they haven't necessarily read much more than the textbook on certain topics. That was a valuable lesson to learn in high school.

      The problem with these laws is that they are being applied for political purposes to non-conservatives and they are costing kids access to books and teachers are being robbed of security in their jobs. Many are leaving either the profession or the state, worsening FL's teacher shortage. That should be more of a concern to DeSantis than reaffirming his anti-woke cred in order to run against Trump.

    6. It’s silly and contrived to argue that educators are telling white kids that they are predisposed to being oppressive due to the intrinsic nature of white society.

      The law is meant to remove knowledge of history, because that knowledge in and of itself makes clear that White privilege and racism are foundational traits of America, both past and present.

      Get a grip.

    7. Cecelia at least you are gracious in defeat.

    8. Anonymouse 5:40pm, certainly.

      I’m gracious every time you prove my point.

    9. Which has never happened. Duh.

      You lost the argument, life goes on.

    10. Anonymouse 5:51am, that the Florida guidelines will result in teachers being fired (rather than resigning) isn’t merely your “argument”/conjecture.

      It’s your fondest hope.

  15. An inaccurate headline.

  16. Did Bob find the GOP's dog-whistle?

  17. One of MSNBC’s best commentators is Carol Lam. She pushes back on conventional left wisdom they sometimes throw at her. She reminds the layman that the Justice system does not work like on the TV dramas. No serious person would not be fit from hearing her take.

    Contrast that with the clownish, unserious Bob (Trump Trump Trump!) who plays his readers for fools.

  18. "Self-identified Quaker, please! Actually, we've been calling attention to this matter for something like the past year. "

    Sorry. I was absent.