Archive | March, 2012

More Facebook Fascism

31 Mar

Ten days ago, I posted about this new trend of employers demanding that their employees hand over to the boss the passwords to their Facebook accounts. Yesterday, the Daily Dot reported that Kimberly Hester, a teacher’s aide in Michigan, was fired for refusing to give her password to her supervisor at the elementary school where she works. The district’s special education director wrote her: “[I]n the absence of you voluntarily granting Lewis Cass ISD administration access to you[r] Facebook page, we will assume the worst and act accordingly.” And they did.

Perhaps not coincidentally, last Tuesday, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted down a proposal that would have made it illegal for an employer to demands his or her employees’ Facebook passwords. The vote against the bill was 236-184, with only one Republican voting in favor of it.

Ah, freedom: ain’t it grand?

(Sorry about using the F word in the title; just couldn’t resist the alliteration. My weakness, I know. I’m working on it.)

h/t Dina Oh

News of the Book

30 Mar

Paul Hockenos, journalist and author, reviewed The Reactionary Mind for The National, which is published out of Abu Dhabi and features a lot of great cultural reporting. His verdict? “Robin, a New York-based political scientist and regular contributor to publications like The Nation and the London Review of Books, has written an original book with an armful of theses that shed revealing light on the whys and wherefores of right-wing politics in the United States and beyond.”

Andrew Tonkovich interviewed me for his show Bibliocracy, which airs on KPFK out in Los Angeles. It was a fun interview, in which he had me read some passages from the book. Listen here (link should be good for another 90 days).

David Johnson of The Boston Review did a great interview with me, in which I got to explore some of the deeper strands of conservatism that I don’t always get to talk about.

And if you didn’t catch the Bloggingheads interview I did with Michael Brendan Dougherty, you can watch it here on my blog, or here on Bloggingheads where the wingers chime in with their comments.

Update (April 3, 12:30 pm)

The New Criterion has just published a review of the book.  It’s titled “The Echo Chamber”—a reference perhaps to the fact that there’s nothing in this review that hasn’t been said before? The reviewer complains that I apply “an ideological template to familiar material in order to make it seem unfamiliar.” Making the familiar unfamiliar—and the unfamiliar familiar—is usually considered an achievement in my line of work. But, then, I’m just a “professor.”

My Bloggingheads Debut!

26 Mar

Conservative journalist Michael Brendan Dougherty, who happens to be the politics editor at Business Insider, and I rapped on Bloggingheads about violence, the market, and the right—as well as Michael’s crazy funky love.

What Happens to a Bathroom Break Deferred?

24 Mar

From The Huffington Post

“When I used to go to the bathroom, I literally had somebody counting down the minutes,” Dickerson says.

It was particularly difficult when she was having her period and felt she couldn’t use the restroom when she needed to. Eventually, she was being reprimanded for too many breaks, she says. Worried about losing her job, she says she tried so hard to avoid using the bathroom that she eventually developed a bladder infection.

In case you missed my earlier post on the history of the bathroom break (turns out, it’s not just history)…

Reactionary Mindz

24 Mar


“If he can run his household, he can run the country. Amen!”

Haley Harris, Rick Santorum supporter and chanteuse, profiled in today’s New York Times (h/t Elias Isquith)

“In order to keep the state out of the hands of the people, it is necessary to keep the family out of the hands of women and children.”

Louis de Bonald, French counterrevolutionary quoted in The Reactionary Mind


21 Mar

Social conservatives are targeting the underlying framework of Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972). One of the less well known birth-control Supreme Court cases, Eisenstadt established that unmarried women and men have a right to use birth control. Jonathan Moreno and Francis Killing have a good analysis over at The Nation:

In Liberty and Sexuality, [historian David] Garrow quotes extensively from conservative commentators who claim that Eisenstadt was intended to legitimize sexual liberty and to extend separate the privacy right from marriage and family. Privacy, up to then, was essentially a patriarchal concept with the family as the property of the husband. Limbaugh expresses the same sentiment in cruder ways. Sexually active women who are freed from the fear of pregnancy are “sluts.” Had Sandra Fluke, the 30-year-old single Georgetown Law student, been married, would Limbaugh have ranted that she wanted us to “pay for her to have sex?” We doubt it.

(Just days later Limbaugh wondered about Tracie McMillan who had just won a literary prize: “What is it with all these young single white women? Overeducated doesn’t mean intelligent.”)

Indeed, the opposition to the Affordable Care Act’s no-cost birth control mandate is not actually about contraception or religious freedom but about sexual liberty. Garrow notes that several of the clerks for the Eisenstadt justices suspected sexual freedom was as much a part of the thinking of the justices as was the shadowy penumbra of privacy rights that were explicitly cited. It is about those whose consensual sexual unions are not legitimized by a state or sanctified by a faith.  Today more women are simple eschewing marriage or postponing it, as well as postponing childbearing, than ever before, yet a simmering unease about unmarried sex remains.

h/t Sarah Posner

The Private Life of Power

20 Mar

From the Seattle Times:

When Justin Bassett interviewed for a new job, he expected the usual questions about experience and references. So he was astonished when the interviewer asked for something else: his Facebook username and password.

Bassett, a New York City statistician, had just finished answering a few character questions when the interviewer turned to her computer to search for his Facebook page. But she couldn’t see his private profile. She turned back and asked him to hand over his login information.

Bassett refused and withdrew his application, saying he didn’t want to work for a company that would seek such personal information. But as the job market steadily improves, other job candidates are confronting the same question from prospective employers, and some of them cannot afford to say no.

Since the rise of social networking, it has become common for managers to review publically available Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts and other sites to learn more about job candidates. But many users, especially on Facebook, have their profiles set to private, making them available only to selected people or certain networks.

Companies that don’t ask for passwords have taken other steps – such as asking applicants to friend human resource managers or to log in to a company computer during an interview. Once employed, some workers have been required to sign non-disparagement agreements that ban them from talking negatively about an employer on social media.

From The Reactionary Mind:

Historically, the conservative has sought to forestall the march of democracy in both the public and the private spheres, on the assumption that advances in the one necessarily spur advances in the other. Still, the more profound and prophetic stance on the right has been to cede the field of the public, if he must, but stand fast in the private. Allow men and women to become democratic citizens of the state; make sure they remain feudal subjects in the family, the factory, and the field.

h/t Aaron Bady and Brian Schefke

Update (March 21, 7 am)

Incidentally, that quote above from The Reactionary Mind plus this story make clear why I treat libertarianism as a creature of the right, and not the left or something that transcends left and right.


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