Study: racial prejudice a 'reliable predictor' you're about to hear about free speech from people who hate it

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“I support free speech” is becoming the new “I have a black friend” or “I’m not racist but… [insert racist joke here]”


A frozen peach is the new black friend.


Just like people who deny the Holocaust actually embrace its intentions.


Doesn’t this say more about which people are prepared to believe in free speech. Say you have the following categories.

Those who will defend the racist speech
1 Racists who believe in free speech
2 Racists who don’t believe in free speech but do believe that one should be free to say racist things
3 Non racists who believe in free speech for racists stuff - and are prepared to speak up about it

Those who will not defend the racist speech
4 Non racists who believe in free speech for racist stuff - but are not prepared to speak up about it
5 Non racists who do not believe in free speech for racist stuff.

So this study finds that the majority of people who speak up are in group 2. Fine, but so what? The only people here particularly breaking their principles are in group 4.


Oh boy, oh boy…

To a first approximation, nobody cares about procedural fairness. Pretty much everybody, left, right and center, just deploys fundamental principles when they happen to support their position on a given issue.


.43 is a pretty weak value for Pearson’s r.

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There is probably another category of more reserved people who entertain racist attitudes, but for whom talking about racism would seem crude. I doubt if all people go on populist crusades against groups they don’t like.


Well, specifically here I think we’re running into a case of “the alpha-boy who cried wolf.”

But generally, we like tools when we can use them for our purposes, not so much when they are used against us. My 20 oz. framing hammer is excellent for smacking nail heads. This doesn’t stop me from cursing its’ existence when a stray swing finds my thumb and leaves it a mushy, purple waffle-y mess.

A big problem is that, for whatever reason, we conceptually consider these things as absolutes, maybe to spare ourselves the time needed to really flesh out how they actually work in the real world?

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Racists who believe in free speech - but aren’t prepared to speak up about it?

Hadn’t considered them but I guess they fit in too.

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Group 2 people are at least as inconsistent as people in group 4, though. group 4 only trumps 2 if the group 2 people clearly stated their position that free speech excludes the speech of groups they don’t like…

That is a very good link, thank you for posting!

It nicely articulates some important ideas.



It’s a fake tool of the Caliphate!


we conceptually consider these things as absolutes, maybe to spare ourselves the time needed to really flesh out how they actually work in the real world

I don’t think that’s really the problem here. Almost everyone accepts there are some limits to free speech - And the issue always concerns borderline cases, no matter where exactly the border lies.

In Europe we generally have much tighter (in some instances criminal) limits to racist expressions, but that just shifts the problem to “Is this oblique reference to white supremacy covered by free expression or does it already fall into the category of hate speech?”

Add to that the tendency to automatically label e.g. any opposition to immigration (no matter the concrete reason given) as racist and you have a whole spectrum of “problematic” assailable opinions, ranging from the viciously hateful to legitimate political disagreement.

The whole blog is excellent.

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From the article:

We think of principles as ideas we use to guide behavior in our everyday lives. Our data show something different — that we tend to make up our mind on something based on our attitudes — in this case, racial attitudes — and then decide that the principle is relevant or irrelevant. People do whatever best fits their pre-existing attitudes.

[emphasis mine] Don’t “we” me, buddy.

I’m glad to have a little research to back up my “Freedom of Speech”-as-a-racist-dog-whistle point, but who in the world thought that people’s actions were guided by principles like “Freedom of Speech”? That’s got to be a fraction of a percent of people at most.



My own research shows a positive correlation (Pearson r = +1) between having racial prejudice, defending racist speech using the “free speech argument”, and at the same time saying Colin Kaepernick shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion because he plays football.

They just missed the last variable to bring the whole picture into place.


I’ll always be happy with using Colin Kaepernick as the last variable. He’s like, the rug that ties the whole room together, man.


It’s funny really - it shows just how racism impacts even the most successful black men in the U.S. In a sport where there is lack of talent at the most important spot on a team, a quarterback who has been to the superbowl and has the talent is blacklisted because he dared to speak up.

Fuck that bullshit.


Quick question, is the guy crossing his fingers in the picture the actor who plays “Major” on iZombie?