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Today I wrote two blog posts about events in the news. That writing is some of my best work. You won't see either post. And for that you can thank Jezebel.com, Gawker.com, and Salon.com.

Unfortunately, both of my posts have content that could too easily be taken out of context by the bottom-feeding parts of the media and special interest groups looking to bolster their causes. Even my standard disclaimer wouldn't be enough in these two cases. My opinions in the two posts aren't the least bit offensive, but out of context they would look so.

The law in my country allows free speech, but horrible people who live among us have learned to use the words of well-known folks out of context to weaponize the ignorant masses. It's a real limit on free discussion.

An individual can sue for slander when something is taken out of context, but you can't win unless you prove intent. For a writer at Jezebel or Salon, for example, stupidity is going to be an ironclad defense against slander. "Your honor, I thought the celebrity was saying he ate a baby for lunch. I didn't see the word carrot. It was an honest mistake."

In my defense, I'll bet half of the writers in this country censored themselves the same way this week. The other half will do it next week.

I just wanted you to know I put in the work. I didn't realize my writing wouldn't be safe for the public until I wrestled with it for a few hours. Then I ran out of time. Sorry about that.

---

Regarding yesterday's post, disturbingly motivated reader bubbaJones found a reference to the exact quote "You don't know what you don't know" that is documented about one year before I recall saying it for the first time. So I release on my claim of authorship. Based on the various sources bubbajones helpfully provided, the quote probably evolved from more than one author who said something similar and it got shortened to its best form over time.

----------------------------------------------------

Scott Adams

Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of the best graduation gift ever.

 



 
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+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 30, 2014
Whew. I haven't had time to check in as often as I used to, but I did feel the urge to click over to see how deep a hole you were digging for yourself over this issue. For your sake (personal safety-wise), I'm pleased to see the restraint.
 
 
Apr 30, 2014
I think when Scott says he misses having freedom of speech, he's referring to the idea that we can no longer express opinions, either in public or private, without someone deciding to either misinterpret what we say, or simply choosing to attack our opinion. (I could be wrong about what Scott thinks, I'm sure he'll correct me.)

And let me be clear: I'm not referring to hate speech, or racism or sexism. I'm simply referring to opinions. Imagine saying you don't like a movie and being told you're wrong. How can you be wrong when you've simply expressed an opinion.

When Carrie Prejean (former Miss America contestant) was asked about same-sex marriage, she responded by expressing a personal opinion -- and she made it clear that she didn't believe in imposing her opinion on others. But that didn't matter -- she didn't have the "right" opinion and so had to be publicly destroyed.

Scott could have written a blog about Donald Sterling -- but if just one sentence could be twisted or misinterpreted, or simply misread -- then slate.com could write articles about how wrong Scott is for not having the right opinion, or maybe had the right opinion, but he didn't write it clearly enough. And besides, he's a white guy, so the only thing he could be allowed to say was that Donald Sterling should be banned for 10 lifetimes and fined 10 times as much.

 
 
Apr 30, 2014
OK, I'll speculate that the other topic was Cliven "Let me tell you one thing I know" Bundy.

He has had several opportunities since his 1st Amendment moment in the sun to try to explain what he meant, but he just keeps repeating it! Apparently he really _does_ think that slavery somehow beats sitting on a cement porch.

I really wish that talk about "the negro" hadn't taken the focus off the real issue of 600 armed and agitated "militia" rallying to thwart Federal Law for someone who doesn't have a leg to stand on.

How anyone (Hannity?) can call this guy and those other guys "patriots" for saying "I don't recognize the existence of the federal government." is a level of oxymoronic stupor that I just can't fathom.

As for Sterling, I couldn't care less about basketball or what he thinks about anything, but a married man telling his girlfriend that she can sleep with black men, but don't bring them to the game is so up-f**ked that I find myself at a loss once again.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 30, 2014
I wish I lived in a country where anyone could say damfool things and not face prosecution. But here in the true north strong and not-so-free, we have hate speech laws. So instead of mocking someone like Sterling for the dinosaur he is, we would have given him a national platform by dragging him in front of the courts. Brilliant, eh?
 
 
Apr 30, 2014
"I don't see the general public boycotting plush Dogberts because someone on salon says you don't believe in evolution."

No, but they don't have to do that. They put up a stink, get some official sounding groups to organize and apply pressure directly to the company that makes the plush Dogberts insisting they drop the Dilbert franchise or face a general boycott of their entire company. Manufacturer of plushies caves, because it isn't worth it to call their bluff and bet their entire company on whether the desire for Dogbert plushies will outlast the pressure from politics groups X, Y, and Z.
 
 
Apr 30, 2014
Do you have any knowledge of who the other rich guy is that provided the, uh, motivation to make the recording public so he could eventually buy the team at a bargain price - since the owner has repeatedly refused to sell?
 
 
Apr 30, 2014
[I would guestimate it at about 20-30% of my annual income. On the high end it might have prevented deals that could have doubled my income. No way to know. And any kind of publicity is not good in 2014. Might have been true in Barnum and Bailey's time. -- Scott]

It seems like if you want to get into general punditry then having some opinions perceived as radical would make you more desirable. Anne Coulter and Michael Moore have made careers out of it. I could even see it opening up a deal for you to write a book on blogging / publicity / internet marketing.

You're more fortunate than someone like Paula Dean in that the Dilbert franchise is more disconnected from the public Scott Adams persona. I don't see the general public boycotting plush Dogberts because someone on salon says you don't believe in evolution.

I also would have thought in the general business / deal making arena people would be less inclined to believe the noise or care. Are you saying a business investment didn't / couldn't happen because of negativity associated with your name? I'm really curious for a solid example though I understand you can't exactly name names either.

You could write under a pseudo name but then you wouldn't have the same audience. Or maybe you could create something like a cartoon / blog in which two protagonists argue an issue. Then you could creatively express multiple sides without directly hanging your name on a position.
 
 
Apr 30, 2014
Yes Scott, and that person is you. Prolly becuz of your ego.
 
 
Apr 30, 2014
I liked Mark Cuban's clear thinking on the whole Sterling debacle. I guess since he's an NBA owner, Jezebel.com had no power to stop his message. Actually, they probably objected more to Donald Trump's "That b itch set him up!" rant.

Remember gentlemen, you are always being recorded. A jealous mistress with a hidden microphone is lurking in your home. She baits you with "So, what do you think about Blacks...?" The old b astard is 81, even if he knew she was recording he probably forgot. And now, like Cuban said, "based on something a man said in his own home, he is now being forced to sell his property. This is not the USA that I know." ( Well, maybe it's in the NBA constitution.)

It sucks to be an old, rich white guy these days. If anything good comes out of this, it will be that more people start walking around with rainbow irridescent face shields.

 
 
Apr 30, 2014
Take each word from both posts, and alternate them, and post the results. Those of us smart enough to know how to crack the code can read the post and get your meaning, buzzfeed can buzz off..
 
 
Apr 30, 2014
Perhaps you could start another blog under a pseudonym? My interest is piqued, now I HAVE to read them.
 
 
Apr 30, 2014
The concepts of free speech, ego, censorship (and self-censoring) are not so disjoint. Those who over-exercise free speech usually have a large ego but low self-censoring. Those who self-censor are aware that ego is fragile thing. Those who are censored have (maybe) learned that free speech is not the same as freedom from the consequences of free speech.

[I often wonder if there is just one guy, using different aliases, who goes to every discussion of free speech on the Internet to "explain" how freedom of speech is different from freedom of consequences when that was never anyone's confusion. -- Scott]
 
 
Apr 30, 2014
Based on your hints I can only presume one of those posts was about Donald Sterling. There has been a bit of a backlash to the outrage being directed at him. Some of it takes a legalistic tack ("Sterling is a victim as well because he didn't consent to being taped"), and some takes a "whoa, freedom of speech!" approach. Both of these are wrong, the former because those rules only apply to the government taping you without consent and using it against you, and the latter because "freedom of speech" does NOT mean "I get to say whatever fool thing comes to mind and not suffer any consequences because of it".

My take on this is: I think that when people claim they are "afraid" to speak their minds, it is usually because they know that their opinions are backward and wrong. Sterling didn't want his opinions to be made public, not because he feared the controversy, but because he knows his position is indefensible from any sort of rational, humanist viewpoint. There is No. Possible. Way. that he doesn't know that. It's not a "I feel pressured to remain silent" thing. It's a "I don't want to be exposed as a f*cking assh*le racist scumbag" thing. Those two are not the same in any sense of the word.

Bigots aren't some poor, misguided souls. They KNOW they are full of it; they just don't care. So they take great pains (sometimes) to hide their bigotry; they put on a hypocritical mask and then whine about how they are being denied their freedom of speech. That's a crock of sh*t. If they REALLY believed they were right, they would speak up.

MLK held some pretty unpopular (and, at the time, potentially dangerous) opinions about the equality of the races, but that didn't stop him from speaking out, because he knew that from a rational, humanist standpoint, he was right and the majority was wrong, and that in order to effect social change, he needed to speak his opinions. Sterling, and other bigots like him, aren't looking for social change. They are just unwilling or unable to let go of their outdated ideas, even though intellectually they know the ideas ARE outdated.

Scott, as a public figure, probably has a motivation that most people do not, namely, he doesn't want to be misquoted and dragged through the mud for something he really didn't say. OK, I can buy a nuisance angle, primarily because I'm fairly certain that the opinions that he would bring forth wouldn't be out of line with a rational point of view, based on his previous writings. The mud-dragging would be because of misunderstanding, not because he actually held some creepy, weird beliefs.

[Good presuming. What was the other topic? You can guess that one too. -- Scott]
 
 
-17 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 30, 2014
You miss it? When did you ever have it? As Mark Twain said, "free speech is a privilege of the dead".

"The living man is not really without this privilege – strictly speaking – but as he possesses it merely as an empty formality, and knows better than to make use of it, it cannot be seriously regarded as an actual possession. As an active privilege, it ranks with the privilege of committing murder: we may exercise it if we are willing to take the consequences. Murder is forbidden both in form and in fact; free speech is granted in form but forbidden in fact."

(from http://www.thelibertyvoice.com/privilege-of-the-grave)

It isn't free speech you want. You want a guarantee that everyone will like what you have to say.

[What I fucking want is for people to not assign stupid opinions to me and then criticize me for their own delusions. Like you just did. -- Scott]
 
 
Apr 30, 2014
https://www.xkcd.com/1357/

I'm not sure where you're come from Scott. Do the attacks from them actually hurt you financially or otherwise? If yes can you elaborate on that? You seem to enjoy provoking them. Your regulars pretty well know where you're coming from. And I would think the population at large is oblivious to both this blog and their craptastic journalism. Isn't "all publicity is good publicity".

[It's hard to measure financial damage from the evil idiots who take my writing out of context and use it as a club but I would guestimate it at about 20-30% of my annual income. On the high end it might have prevented deals that could have doubled my income. No way to know. And any kind of publicity is not good in 2014. Might have been true in Barnum and Bailey's time. -- Scott]
 
 
Apr 30, 2014
OOH, you hit on a good one, here.

You're right - we're lucky, in a way, that we have the first amendment. If we lived in, say, a repressive, thought-crime laden country like, say, Canada, then the government would get to determine what is acceptable speech and what isn't. They call it 'hate speech,' but of course it's only applied in a politically-correct manner. You can't, for example, 'hate speech' gays, but it's no problem if you 'hate speech' Christians.

So what to do for those who wish to control American's speech in politically-correct ways? Simple. Since they can't do it themselves, and they can't get the government to do it, they need to force you to do it. They need to get you to censor you.

And how do they do it? Simple again: a hominem attacks. They attack the person rather than the idea. Nobody wants to be told that they're a (fill in the blank) bigot, racist, homophobe, hater of old (or young) people, etc.

Just go after the person, and you never have to address the ideas. Let's say Scott Adams writes a post that says, for example, there's too much reliance on government and not enough reliance on self (not that he ever would, but you get the idea), as evidenced by the number of people receiving unemployment benefits and food stamps.

How do I destroy his argument? I don't have to. All I need to say is that Scott Adams obviously is a racist who hates minorities, because since they're getting 50% of food stamps, which come from government, then since Scott wants to make them self-reliant, he's saying he wants to starve minority children by cutting off their access to food stamps and unemployment. Attack him, and I don't have to discuss his idea at all.

Think that's an extreme example? That's exactly the argument put forward by Nancy Pelosi against the Republicans not wanting to extend unemployment benefits without paying for them through other cuts or efficiencies.

Here's the really sad thing about it: it works. As shown by Scott's self-censorship with those two blog posts that we'll never see.

I think 99% of Scott's ideas are hooey. But the last thing I'd ever want to do is to get him to stop putting forth his drivel. I wish he'd talk less about himself than about his other ideas (canals, for example), and I often suggest he should do just that, but that's just me. He has every right to put whatever he wants into his blog, and I support that 100%.

Scott is only human (moist robot?), so he takes criticism to heart. Any decent person would. But there has to come a time when we stand up for our hard-won freedoms and tell the small minds to go f*** themselves.

We Americans need to recall that there was a time when the soon-to-be citizens of this country could be hung for saying things against the Crown. Yet those brave people were able to risk 'their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor' to give us the freedoms that most of us take for granted today.

I can't tell Scott what to do. It's not my life. I'm not a public figure. I know how tough it is to take personal criticism and ad hominem attacks.

I can only say, I hope we can all learn to live, not for the small-minded ideologues among us, but for the free exchange of ideas. We all need to remember that when someone engages in an ad hominem attack, they are admitting that they have no counter to the argument. You win by default.

So don't engage them. State your argument, and refuse to let them put you on the defensive. Point out that since they have no counter-argument, they're resorting to personal attacks to avoid having to make that obvious. It might not make them stop, but it will at least point out to fair-minded people what's really going on.

And that's a victory in itself.

Don't live for the small minds. Elevate the discussion by ignoring them.

[Great advice. Now go tell the idiots at your job to fuck off and tell me how that goes. Don't let them rule you. Have some courage! -- Scott]
 
 
Apr 30, 2014
So publish a compressed version disguised as a comment to this blog under my handle. The folks with the pitchforks and torches are delicious, too.
 
 
+25 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 30, 2014
I'm guessing that the real damage the idiots can do has increased over time as the population of idiots has increased. At some point, there are enough idiots to trump reason and law. Then, they elect themselves and nobody is safe.

[Exactly. It used to be that a low ratio of evil-idiots in the general population combined with their inability to publish their thoughts was enough to keep evil in check. But thanks to the Internet, it's the raw number of idiots that matters, not the percentage, and even idiots have access to the Internet. Add to that the fact that shitty writers everywhere have discovered they can become well-known by taking celebrity quotes out of context to generate fake rage and you have a bad situation for freedom of thought. Functional (as opposed to legal) freedom of speech is totally different than it once was. -- Scott]
 
 
Apr 30, 2014
This is an odd misunderstanding of freedom of speech. You've _never_ had the freedom to say something and not have idiots harass you for it (or to reveal yourself to be an idiot and not have nonidiots harass you for it). You generally can express yourself on a political issue -- there are exceptions but they are few -- and not be discriminated against by the government for that speech. What Mr. Adams describes is not well characterized as a loss of "freedom of speech," nor is it new, only maybe times have sped up.
 
 
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 30, 2014
If you're feeling especially petty, why not find a few of their articles that can be used out of context to support some crazy positions?
 
 
 
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