Tu quoque

Progressives are resisting rightwing book banning campaigns – and are winning

It wasn’t the vicious righties who started combing the shelves in the first place tho’ was it? Replacing Huck Finn with something that didn’t use the word “nigger” for example…..hey, maybe that was right and maybe not (I think not, I think the use by Huck about the escaped slave is one of the great scenes of redemption, the triumph of empathy over propaganda) but that did come first….

19 thoughts on “Tu quoque”

  1. The Indiana legislation mirrored rightwing efforts in other states to drive honest discussion of race and sexuality from classrooms.

    Lol. As if the left want an honest discussion of either race or sex.

  2. There’s a difference between a book you may read if you fancy it and a book you are forced to read in the classroom which has nowt to do with actual education.

  3. Reminds me of a little craze of reverse censorship that went through my school. An evil genius had got a mills and boon from the local library and gone through it looking for sentences like “he brushed his hand along her cheek”. He then tipexed out “hand” and replaced it with “cock” and then returned it to the shelves. It became quite an artform for a while as everyone had a go. I recall long discussions on what was funnier, which in turn quickly divided into to “schools” – the cruder the better, or the subtler the more unexpected the better.

  4. Right censorship, left censorship. Two cheeks of the same arse.

    Speaking of which, this children’s book inspired bipartisan disapproval in the USA. “I Need a New Butt – this one’s got a crack in it”.

  5. “When did “empathy” replace “sympathy” and why?”

    Prior to roughly 1960, empathy was used very rarely, which is probably what makes it seem alien to you. But since then, it has become much more widely used than sympathy. There is considerable overlap between the meanings of the 2 words but empathy tends to mean that you understand someone without sharing their thoughts and feelings, whereas sympathy always implies sharing them. It seems odd to me that earlier generations seem to have sympathised more than they empathised

  6. ‘Empathy’ is more restricted in its meaning and the OED gives us “The power of projecting one’s personality into (and so fully comprehending) the object of contemplation”.

    ‘Sympathy’ has different meanings depending on context but the sense that Dearieme probably has in mind is “Conformity of feelings, inclinations, or temperament, which makes persons agreeable to each other; community of feeling; harmony of disposition.”

    Broadly speaking ‘sympathy’ in this sense is a feature of interactions between humans whereas ’empathy’ is more remote and concerned more with oneself and one’s relationship with abstractions so the substitution of the latter for the former is unhelpful. I suspect that many users think that sympathy is watered-down empathy with a hint of me-me-me.

  7. Empathy is the preferred tool of the psychopath for use on those he is incapable of having sympathy for. Empathy requires no generosity of feeling: often, quite the opposite.

  8. Every one of these protests should be infiltrated by people holding Nigel Farage books. Just to see how quickly the tides change in moments of inconvenience.

  9. @Philip

    I was literally about to buy that book you mentioned for a friend’s son. I like a children’s book with a sense of humor (check out “The Gas We Pass”), so I read the two pages available for preview on Amazon with a childlike mind. So here I am saying, “Haha, any 5-year-old would find this hilarious.” And then I start wondering if there’s some hidden message about sexuality or anything I should be worried about…

    So I Google search to see if there are images of any more pages of the book, and now I’m thinking, “Not exactly sexual, but this author seems to be obsessed with this boy’s bum. Might come off the wrong way when my buddy gets this in the mail.” Cancelled the order.

    Damn, now I’m remembering TGWP had a page with a man and a boy bathing in the same tub…I think my parents and I just shrugged at the time and said, “It’s Japan, they do weird things.” I just loved the fact that there was a picture book about farts. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  10. @Chris: thanks.

    Adam Smith based much of his moral philosophy on sympathy – see section 2 here.

    The sorts of people who write for the Guardian enjoy warbling about empathy.

    Intellectually that’s rather a one-sided contest.

    My own guess is that “empathy” replaced “sympathy” simply because at the time it was the more recherché term – so that using it was a form of bragging.

  11. “It wasn’t the vicious righties who started”

    Really? I thought they were doing it a very long time ago. Was the Catholic church secretly left wing?

  12. My view on the sympathy/empathy thinggy. Both can be used to engender commonality in social situations. Sympathy is something you express to others to show that are on the same wavelength. Empathy is something you keep to yourself and use to understand what the other person’s wavelength is.

  13. If this summary of Paul Bloom is accurate – “empathy – the ability to feel the suffering of others for ourselves” – then he doesn’t appear to understand the meaning of empathy. He is instead defining sympathy.

  14. Interesting that Dearieme’s link shows that Smith and Hume had different views on the meaning of sympathy –

    “When Hume describes the workings of sympathy, he says that emotions “readily pass from one person to another,” like the motion of a string equally wound up with other strings, “communicat[ing] itself to the rest” (Hume 1739–40, p. 576; see also pp. 317, 605). He then explains that we obtain our idea of the other person’s feelings by inference—from the effects (smiles, frowns) or causes of those feelings. In both cases, the other’s feeling, once inferred, communicates itself directly to us, and our imaginations only intensify our idea of that feeling so as to raise it to the level of an impression (Hume 1739–40, pp. 576, 319–20). For Smith, by contrast, we place ourselves in the other’s situation and imagine what we would feel if we were there”

    Smith might have used the word “empathy” if it had been around. I now see that it seems to be a C20 derivation from the German Einfühlung.

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