Podcasts/Sacred Tension-Getting Canceled With Katie HerzogMASTEREDbhxyh
Getting_Canceled_With_Katie_HerzogMASTEREDbhxyh SUMMARY KEYWORDS people, twitter, canceled, jk rowling, culture, trans, gay, herzog, called, find, world, seattle, left, exist, podcast, person, leftist, patrons, piece, queer SPEAKERS Will, Katie Herzog, Stephen Bradford Long
00:00 You're listening to a rock candy podcast.
Will 00:02 Hey, I'm Will and they call me the doctor. And I'm Joe, the maestro, we host a podcast called common creatives where we break apart the art, we love to see what makes it tick. Basically, we give you the definitive take on whatever or whoever we're discussing, you don't need to go anywhere else. So check out common creatives wherever you listen to podcasts.
Stephen Bradford Long 00:47 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com. All right. Well, before we get started, I have just a few pieces of housekeeping. First, we're all struggling financially right now, due to the pandemic, the impending financial Apocalypse that we're all in right now. So my pay has been considerably cut. I'm no longer teaching yoga, that was a huge portion of my income, I'm working less as an essential worker to reduce my exposure to the public. So I'm relying on my patrons now, more now than ever, and if you are able to afford to support small independent creators, if you're able, if you have some small, independent creators in your life, who you love you listen to their show every week. Please do take the time to support them, not just me, but as many small independent creators as you can. And the way you can do that. For me, the way you can join my patrons number is by going to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long. For $1 A month or $5 a month you get extra content every week, you get to hear my patrons only podcast house of heretics with the Christian minister Timothy we sometimes have challenging and interesting conversations where you get to hear all about my butthole or fisting. You know all sorts of things that you don't want to hear on the main show. You get to hear that on House of heretics. It's just for patrons I leave you know, my, my horror sex stories just for my patrons and I traumatize the poor pastor who has to do the show with me. So if that interests you, please go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long I understand if you are not able to give right now. It's hard for everyone. I need you to first and foremost take care of yourself. Take care of your family. And if you just don't have the margin to give right now there are other ways to support the show. Please leave a five star review wherever you listen to this show, especially on Apple podcasts that helps enormously it helps our digital overlords taken notice of my show and recommend it to others. If you aren't subscribed, go ahead and subscribe to the show. That helps a lot too. And finally, another way to support the show, go to the satanic temple.tv They are a sponsor of my show. If you're interested in occult rituals, new religious movements, weird kinky stuff, then you can sign up you can use my code at checkout. It is sacred tension all caps, no space and you will get one month free. There is a link in the show notes. TST TV has all kinds of documentaries, feature films, live streams, all kinds of awesome stuff to keep you entertained while you are in quarantine. Oh, and I forgot to to thank my latest patrons. Let me do that real fast for this show. I have to thank Richard J. Halina William. Lucy voere. Rene will JC Kurt and Azrael thank you so much. You're my personal lords and saviors and you are keeping the show going. All right. Well, with all of that out of the way. I'm delighted to welcome Katie Herzog to the show, Katie?
Katie Herzog 04:20 Hello. Hi, thanks for having me.
Stephen Bradford Long 04:22 So no relation to Verner Herzog, I assume,
Katie Herzog 04:26 You know, not that I know of but he actually has a sort of uncanny resemblance to my dad I saw a picture of him I'm serious. I saw a picture of him as a young man the other day and it was like looking at my at my father, I might have been a mustache. They both had that like 1970s 1980s It could have just been that but but as far as I know, no, no shared DNA.
Stephen Bradford Long 04:47 Great. Okay, so I'm taking a bit of a risk having you on my show, just to be honest. You probably hear that all the time because, you know, in on Twitter, on like leftist Internet of which I'm very much a part. I'm very much a leftist. I know that that's like a right talking point, you know, like, I know. Oh, what's that blank doll? I had a gay guy who? who's like, I'm a libertarian. I'm not oh, what's his name? I can't Dave Rubin. I know that that's like Dave Reubens whole thing like, I'm actually a liberal. So I know that that's a talking point for a lot of people on the right, but I am actually a progressive, like, I'm actually very far left and within far left spaces, you're a pretty radioactive person. And so tell us some about who you are and what you do.
Katie Herzog 05:41 Yeah, it is. I'm glad you brought that up. It's sort of ironic, because I am also of the left, I have started issuing labels in recent years, because I think labels are problematic to borrow a term from from my work friends. And I don't mean problematic it in that sense. I mean, I think that labels actually can hinder people's ability to think clearly, when your identity is wrapped up in being a leftist or being a rightist, or being a liberal or a classical liberal or whatever, or an activist, I think that it becomes really difficult to evaluate policy, evaluate movements, on their own merits and not sort of have your you know, your own identity wrapped up into this. So for that reason, I don't even consider myself I don't call myself a feminist or an environmentalist or anything like that anymore. But I am, but politically, I am, I am of the left I vote for I vote for, you know, I wrote for Democrats, because that's the choices that are provided to us, at least in national and national races. But yeah, as you mentioned, I do have sort of this radioactive and I think unfair reputation among them, among among the left, and I'll just sort of tell you the backstory here until COVID, I was a staff writer, I am, by the way, a native of western North Carolina, not far from from where you are, right? Yes. And so my politics, I went to school at UNC Asheville, my politics are sort of informed by that environment. Yeah. It's been a long time since I lived there. But I was there when, like my first girlfriend was a campaigner for brownie. What's Brett what was brought his last name, the fame City Council? Or maybe former city council member of? I
Stephen Bradford Long 07:17 don't know, I don't remember. I don't remember. Yeah, but I know who you're talking about.
Katie Herzog 07:21 Right. So this was at this point, almost 20 years ago. Regardless, so I I've been living in Seattle for about the past five years after living for most of my life in various areas of North Carolina. I moved out here to write for grist, which is a website at digital magazine that covers mostly climate change. And so that's sort of what my, what my background was, was writing mostly about climate change, and policy and things in sort of conservation and environmentalism. And I was laid off from that job in 2017, in my first round of media layoffs, and I started freelancing for the stranger, which is Seattle's all weekly. And the stranger is a paper that was founded by the guy who created the onion and Dan Savage. And so you can imagine what the sort of the vibe of the stranger is, it was at its height, it was satirical and cutting and funny and, and extremist, but in sort of a good way, I thought at the time, and that is that has changed a lot in recent years, in part because of these market forces. All weeklies basically don't exist anymore, like much of local media, but also the tenor of the paper changed as the tenor of sort of liberal and leftist thought has changed, what became acceptable what to say became very constricted. And so one of my first big pieces for the papers or freelancer was called the D transitioners. And it was a reported piece on a small but growing population of people who had transitioned from one gender to another and then changed their mind and transition back. And I was interested in this primarily because I think it's, uh, yeah, I guess you can say like, why anybody is interested in any one thing? I mean, maybe it's, it's, I guess, like, that question really comes down to like, does freewill even exist, but which I sort of maintain that it doesn't. But I was interested in this primarily because I'm interested in heretics. And I'm interested in people who stand up or somehow become alienated from their own tribe. And the D transitioners. I spoke to, they all told me that without fail, some of whom had transitioned in the 90s. Some of them a transition recently, they all told me that D transitioning was socially more difficult than transitioning was in the first place. And that's because they were they their communities, shutting them, the queer community, shutting them. And I found that really interesting. And so I profiled a few people. There was a lot of I wrote a lot about the science and the research on what we know about transition and D transition, which isn't a lot to be honest with you even though this has been studied for now about three decades over three decades. And the piece wasn't it wasn't an opinion piece. It was just like straight journalism. I had A, I made sure to get the voices of happily transition people in the piece, which was very important, I made sure to talk about the potential for the right to co op these stories and use them for their own for their own aims. And this was at a time when there were bathroom bills across the country, not as Washington state is not North Carolina, we did not have a PAT MCCRORY trying to ban trans people from using the bathroom that they that they preferred, at least in the governor's office. But so this was at a time when lots of trans people were, you know, rightfully afraid of these policies spreading across across American states. But I talked about that, and I had trans sensitivity readers, the piece was really not at all a condemnation of trans healthcare. It was just a story about these people who went through a remarkable experience. And there was a crazy, crazy backlash to this to the story.
Stephen Bradford Long 10:53 So So before we get to that, yeah, I mean, just just to talk briefly about that piece you wrote. So I read that piece, just because I was like, Okay, I want to have Katie Herzog on the show, I need to make sure that that, you know, I need to know what degree of of monstrous I'm having on the show. But I read it, I am not, I am not trans. I am cisgender. But I am gay. Not that that gives me you know, a special perspective when it comes to trans issues. But I read it and and found it a very humane piece, I found it thoughtful, I found it compassionate, I found it, like you said it was just straight journalism, and it and it is, you know, coming from my, you know, limited queer perspective, it's just an interesting human story. And I and I want to know, the stories and that doesn't mean that it's a majority. It's a very, I think it's probably a very, very, very small minority of people who do the transition, but it's still an interesting story. And to me it, reading it, I was just like, This just sounds like human nature, you know, human sexuality, human gender is so complex, so fluid, you know, I know, gay. I know, I know, gay people who who fully experienced gay orientation, who, and it was an authentic gay orientation that they experienced, and then almost through No, will have their own it shifted. And, and, you know, that's just, that's just a variety of human experience. You know, I'm kind of a garden variety, faggot, you know, I'm just like, I'm not, I will probably always be fixed in my orientation, maybe most gay people are, but there is this variance in human experience. And, and that's what I have. And those stories are interesting to me. And I want to be able to hear those stories with without lending credence to things like conversion therapy, anti trans policy, you know what I'm saying? And so that's, that's what I heard read. That's what I read in your article. I also just have to say, I'm not trans. And so if you didn't, like massively fuck something up in there, I wouldn't know. You know, I don't I don't have the year to be able to hear something got fucked up or not in your article, but I don't think there was, you know,
Katie Herzog 13:21 there wasn't it in all of the backlash. And I guess I'll tell you briefly what happened. So there was of course, the like, mandatory Twitter storm where I was getting piled on by 1000s of people, most of whom I don't think had actually read the piece, right. And I heard this later, I got I became friends with a trans woman who, you know, a writer who who piled on who accused me or who called me trash and told me later that she hadn't read the piece before she did this. It just becomes this rumor mill where Katie Herzog is bad. It's a bad piece. Nobody had ever act like most people hadn't read it. And then, you know, so that there's a Twitter Firestorm. And then it became it went offline. So these these people in Seattle, these activists whose identities I don't actually know, put up fliers around my neighborhood around Seattle, calling me transphobic in the piece transphobic they made stickers calling me and this is actually this has gone on over the past three years. So there are still there are new versions of stickers around Seattle calling me transphobic calling me a Nazi calling me Oh,
Stephen Bradford Long 14:21 yeah. Wasn't there like some graffiti that you were talking about on your podcast where it's like Katie Herzog is trash or something like that.
Katie Herzog 14:27 There was a so my, my office at the stranger. So before I was laid off, I worked in Capitol Hill, which is at the in the stranger office, which is, you know, the queer, historically queer neighborhood in Seattle. I lived close to this area, and my office was, or the stranger office was commandeered as part of Chas, the Seattle, the Capitol Hill autonomous zone. And so it was it's right down the street from the police station. And so it became it became really the hub of these of these, these wild protests in Seattle where they took over they commandeered the police Asian and, you know, set up this like six block zone that was free of policing. You know, people can look into that it's a pretty fascinating story it is. Anyway, so my office was in that and on one of the early days of the protests, somebody somebody graffiti, fuck Herzog on the door of the of the stranger, I no longer work there. So I didn't have to walk by it on my way to work, thank God. But so I became very radioactive within Seattle, Seattle's queer community, which is odd because I'm a part of it or was a part of it. And I don't think any of it holds up to scrutiny if you even do the slightest bit of digging. I mean, I'm accused of transphobia all the time. And when I ask people to find the most transphobic thing I've ever written, they cannot find it because the evidence doesn't exist doesn't exist, but it doesn't exist because I'm not transphobic I mean, I've I came out when I was a, you know, a sophomore in college in Asheville. I have known trans people since the I worked at malar. Props, the lesbian bookstore.
Stephen Bradford Long 15:57 Oh, my God, I love metal props. Yes, I worked with Oh my god.
Katie Herzog 16:01 I've known I've known trans people for much longer. For half of my life. I've been friends with trans people, which I do not think is true, you know, sort of most the, you know, younger folks today, I'm not transphobic it's just like, I can say this as many times as I want and will not change anybody's mind. But when asked to provide evidence for my sins, nobody can do it. And that doesn't matter.
Stephen Bradford Long 16:24 So So there's something really interesting here that I that has been an ongoing concern of mine and this kind of touches on the broader topic of online bullshit. When when this punitive How do I want to put this when when the pylons, the punitive mob, the uncritical, punitive, vilifying essentializing mob turns on someone, it's ironic to me when the person who is at the bottom of that pylon is themselves, a queer person is themselves a minority. Right. And, and this is, that's a part of this story that I find really, really interesting, like, I am okay, if you're JK Rowling, and you literally live in a fucking palace in in you live in a palace in Europe somewhere, and you're a millionaire. And you're one of the most powerful women in the world. That's a whole conversation that we can have at some point. But it's it's different. She is powerful. That doesn't mean all of the abuse towards her is warranted. But she doesn't rely on her own on on the queer community for support and stability. I do. Like I rely on like, I have relied on the queer community for my stability, for my safety for my sense of community, which is one reason why I'm so fucking terrified of Twitter, because it makes me feel so incredibly vulnerable. And I think that is true for a lot of minorities. I mean, you're a woman, you are queer. I am queer. And, and I am so much more terrified of my fellow queer leftists than I am of a lot of people on the right on Twitter. Yeah,
Katie Herzog 18:15 well, that's the thing about canceled culture is that I, you know, this phenomenon is evolving. I, I, the term is new. I don't think the phenomenon itself is new. But from my observation, and I'm not the first one to say this. You can only be cancelled by your own side, right? Milo Yiannopoulos was not cancelled because left his hated him he was cancelled, because he finally did something that pissed off the right. Yeah, something that I thought was actually pretty minor. I mean, he talks about the age differences in gay relationships, which is something that people might not want to talk about, but it's something that has existed forever. Less so now. Because, you know, like, there are young gay people who are out and they can find each other. But you know, in the, in the 80s, and 90s If you were living in a small town, and you were a young gay boy, and there was nobody else around you. This was a thing that happened anyway. Unimportant aside, but you can only be canceled by your own side. So there's no and there's also I had been dragged on Twitter, by crazy Maga freaks and by social justice warriors, and by people I agree with, and there's only one of those that actually has an impact on me. And that's when it comes from my political people. I feel a political allegiance to saying it doesn't matter if if a bunch of people with Pepe frog avatars dragged me on Twitter, it has like no emotional, emotional impact on my life at all. And it would also have no impact on my work. Because my like my former editors at the stranger, my bosses, if I were being dragged by a bunch of Magga freaks, they wouldn't give a shit. They don't care. They can ignore that. But if I'm being dragged by a bunch of people who say that they listen that they read the paper who who are sort of the demographic that the paper cares about, it does have an impact. And that's the other thing about this. This phenomenon is what's happening right now is really this These cultural boycotts target people's employment. And because we live in the United States, a place where employment is tied in with health insurance, losing your job losing your ability to work can be a literal death sentence for people.
Stephen Bradford Long 20:14 And it's in it's so yeah, let's talk about that, because it's also just taking advantage of the AP will policies in the United States, which is fucking anti leftism that that is it is in my opinion, that is so I mean, it's just taking advantage of the atwill system that we have here that just as strangers and alienates and ruin so many people, there's no due process, and that ruins people. And so then we have a bunch of online, quote unquote leftists who are taking advantage of this regressive, disgusting employment system to basically get at the people they don't like.
Katie Herzog 20:56 Right, right. And this is not like, you know, it is it is totally gross, it's hypocritical. And this is the reason that I find myself oftentimes defending people, I don't like defending people whose beliefs I find odious, because you you need to be consistent about this, right. And if you're in, you're right at will employment, if we had policies that protected employees from retaliation, this would not be as big a deal or if we had a social safety net where exactly you're fired from your job, that doesn't mean you're going to lose your house and your health insurance and your family is going to be totally fucked. Well, the consequences just wouldn't be as high. But yeah, there is something incredibly rich about people with, you know, Rose emojis and their Twitter bios, you know, people who brag about their leftist, bonafide, you know, values, also trying to get people fired for for having opinions they disagree with so
Stephen Bradford Long 21:48 one of the things that I really, that frustrates me that I struggle with, is the word cancel culture itself. Do you feel like do you feel like the term cancel culture at this point is useful? Do you do you feel like it is a helpful term or should it or because kind of my intuition on this is canceled culture is so so vague and weaponized and describes things that might not even be aligned with what the word expresses, you know, like, a massive pile on on Twitter. It's fucking awful and traumatic. Is it a cancellation, though, you know, there's this vagueness in the term that I struggle with. And I wonder if it would just be better to talk about the specifics of what the word means. Like if we're talking about pylons, let's, let's talk about pylons. If we're talking about if we're talking about people trying to get you fired, let's talk about that. Specifically, is it helpful at all, to even use the word cancel culture at this point?
Katie Herzog 22:48 Yeah, that's a good question. I think the term is useful because we need a term to describe this phenomenon. But you know, Donald Trump has now weaponized it he has a unique ability to take a word and redefine it for his own ends. You know, fake news was a phenomenon before Donald Trump redefined it to be every every news story he doesn't like about himself in Kancil culture is a real thing that does not involve just people who, you know, Donald Trump doesn't like so the term itself, it's vague, and people different people think of it as different things and you will still see a lot of people, particularly people on the left, say things like canceled culture doesn't exist canceled culture is just another word for criticism. For me, for me, the distinction between canceled culture and a call out is the is the, the effort or when the effort or the result is someone getting fired. Someone losing their home, not it's not just reputational damage. You know, it's not just the pile on and pile on. I will say, as someone who has been at the bottom of a pylon, it can be emotionally incredibly difficult it becomes it's one of these things that becomes easier, the more times that happens. So now when I get piled on, I just like mute the thread and like go about my day. But especially if you're not someone who who is who has put themselves in the public eye, if you're not single, if you're just a random person who you know becomes the story of the character of the day on Twitter. It is incredibly stressful,
Stephen Bradford Long 24:14 like Justine Sacco. For example, several several years ago, who was who was definitely trending on Twitter for a joke that was misunderstood, right. So
Katie Herzog 24:23 so public shaming is the mechanism that we're really talking about here. And public shaming is in no way new. What is new is social media in the ease at which 1000s of people can join a campaign or a pylon at basically no cost to themselves. And, you know, I think one of the, one of the characteristics of Kancil culture is that the punishment tends to to to be it doesn't reflect the severity of the crime. Oftentimes, it's out of proportion, right. And so I think you're right the term is flawed is usually followed flawed, but we need a term to describe the thing that is happening. I don't think public shaming quite does it, I don't think call out culture quite does it. So I think it's a handy term, but it is clearly one that that is, you know, the definition is sort of in the eye of the beholder, including the you know, people who continue to maintain that it doesn't exist at all,
Stephen Bradford Long 25:19 let's talk about the it doesn't exist thing because on the one hand, I, I hear their point, which is very often well, you know, powerful people are now closer to their audience in a way that has never happened before free speech is not being suppressed. We now have more free speech because of the internet than ever before. Which, which has a kind of intuitive sense to me. And, and there are times when I, when the criticism of canceled culture is these are just people voicing their opinion about your work in a way that you may or might not have been as closely aware of as you used to. And there's a way in which that makes sense to me. However, I also get frustrated, because it also feels like gaslighting. You know, Nathan J. Robinson at current affairs, I generally love his writing, I think he's great, but he's he's done this series of articles that just really frustrate me. And maybe I'm wrong about this. Maybe I missed reading him. But basically, there there's like this refusal to admit that there is a problem on on the online left, and that feels like gaslighting to me, because I have experienced it, I have witnessed it. And I have friends I have content creators who have been fucking demolished. And, and them saying, Oh, this is just the consequences of your actions, feel it, it feels like gaslighting to me. It feels like just playing into the abuse more. Does that make sense?
Katie Herzog 26:55 It does. I don't understand why people, especially people on the left, pretend that this thing doesn't exist. I mean, I think a better argument is to say this is not a phenomenon that is that is exclusive. It feels defensive. I think a more honest criticism from the Nathan J. Robinson of the world would, would be to say canceled culture exists because it obviously does. But we like it. But we think it's it's a valid form of registering descent, you know, but that's not what we hear. Instead, we hear people say this, this thing doesn't exist. And when other people can see it in real time happening. It does feel like gaslighting. So I'm not really sure why, why this is why this, you know, people maintain this. Or, you know, another like honest critique would be to say, this is not purely a phenomenon of the left, which I think is very true, absolutely right, is absolutely prone to these sort of punitive campaigns as well, maybe even more. So. It's just that we live in these in these, you know, these echo chambers in these bubbles, so that we can't even see it happening on the right. You know, I like you I don't I don't go to any sort of, you know, Christian church. But, you know, my wife is a was raised evangelical Christian, if you want to talk about people being canceled being cast out from their homes, go to an evangelical church and say that you're gay, you know, this is or, or, or a Mormon church or whatever. And I do think that lots of Christians have become more tolerant in recent years. This exists on the right, it absolutely exists on the right. And so I think that's a valid criticism of the of the idea that this is purely a leftist phenomenon. But that being said, I do think it is accelerated on the left, I think it's more visible on the left, in part because the left has more cultural power than the right does.
Stephen Bradford Long 28:38 That was one of the things that was addressed in the now infamous, the letter the letter B, capital T letter capital L from Harper's, that you signed. And you know, my take we don't, I'm so not interested in talking about that letter. Because every single fucking podcast on the planet has talked about it at this point. I basically just found it very, like milk toast and boring. I'm like, Yeah, sure. This is fine. And I do not understand the controversy that erupted from it. I'm like, you know, this is this is just kind of the most broad and boring statement imaginable. But one of the things that it said was, this is these behaviors are mostly associated with the right you know, and it and it kind of made that point like these. These are things that we have come to expect from the right but they're now permeating. Are there aspects of canceled culture? That that you would find more that you find more? Oh, my kitten just fell off the table. I'm sorry, kid. My Are there aspects of canceled culture that you would find actually more helpful, for example, boycotting or no longer giving your your, your service or your money to a particular business artist, et cetera? That is also often categorized Just as canceled culture, you know, for example, me personally, there is a musician who I love I have listened to this musician my whole life well, it's it's becoming pretty apparent that this musician has done some pretty horrific sexual abuse. And I'm just like, You know what, I don't want to listen to this person anymore other people can I don't care if other people do, but me personally, I'm not going to stream their music anymore. So I haven't. And some people would look at that and say, well, you're engaging in Kancil culture. So are there some parts of Kancil culture that you find more appropriate?
Katie Herzog 30:35 Sure. I think that's that's a good point, you know, or take someone like, like Michael Jackson, or Kelly, although I think Michael Jackson is sort of an interesting case, because it's not like you, you are not streaming him on on Spotify is going to have any impact on Michael Jackson, right? Michael Jackson can't be hurt. So if anybody would be hurt, there would be the, you know, be his his children, you know, his heirs? So I think that is that is one thing to consider when we're making these decisions about who to boycott. No, I think that canceled culture is a form of cultural boycott. To me, the difference is, or at least the part that makes it sort of canceled culture is not saying I'm not going to listen to Michael Jackson again it anymore. It's saying nobody can listen to Michael Jackson anymore, saying Spotify needs to take him off his off the streaming platform, it's saying his CD is neat. Or let's say JK Rowling, you know, a living example, who has been accused, I think unfairly of transphobia, even though I don't entirely agree on some of her perspectives on this, when you actually read what she's read, you know, she's often accused of things like trying to erase the existence of trans people, that is not what she's doing. Anyway. So it's not saying I'm not going to buy Harry Potter books anymore. It's saying nobody can buy Harry Potter Potter books anymore. No stores can sell Harry Potter books anymore. It's inserting yourself between between the artist and the consumer and trying to control what other people do, which I find to be that's a conservative value. And it's not one that I that I like to see proliferating on the left. And I think that it is that said, you know, boycotts can be valuable, and they can change. They can change companies, you know, like, Exxon Valdez, right, let's, let's, let's take the Exxon Valdez oil spill, nothing happened with that. But if, let's say that people had started boycotting Exxon, and then had made Exxon, you know, you know, change their practices or boycotting, you know, the gas industry entirely, which would be incredibly difficult because we still have to live our lives. Because, you know, the fossil fuel industry refuses to, to, you know, grapple with climate change. Well, would that be would that, would that be positive? I would say that, I would say that it would. So, you know, these cases are complicated. And I think we need to sort of take them one by one, as opposed to saying all boycotts are good, or all boycotts are bad.
Stephen Bradford Long 32:51 You brought up JK Rowling and Michael Jackson, two very different situations. But I think that there's a similar dilemma in with both of them, which is, in a way, both of them are utterly on cancelable in that, you know, turn on any pop song composed after the reign of Michael Jackson, you know, turn on any pop song written after thriller, and you will hear his influence. Jackson is ubiquitous, he has created our modern pop music world and and what do we do as a culture? I mean, same with JK Rowling, JK Rowling almost single handedly created the young adult genre, you know, the young adult genre would not be what it is today, without JK Rowling, Harry Potter is the reason that young adult fiction is is marketable, and has been for the past two or three decades, or however long it's been now, you know, and so it's the same as JK Rowling. And, and I really think that these that this presents hard cultural problems that we have to face, you know, we have to face that dragon and really, just not have a not have an easy answer to it. I think the temptation on Twitter is to, is to just haven't have a simple answer to this cultural dilemma of what happens when one of our one of the architects of our modern world is an alleged child rapist, like, what do we do with that? And what and the and what we should do with it is have a long, earnest conversation. We should write books about, you know,
Katie Herzog 34:27 I think what should happen in the case of Michael Jackson is that there should be and I'm not just talking about documentaries, I think there should be like, real investigation into into the claims against him. Yeah. Which, you know, there were at the time, and they've been sort of re litigated in recent years. But I mean, Michael Jackson also can't be canceled because he's dead. Right. And, and if you are not someone who believes in the afterlife, well, he's not like looking down, you know, sort of wringing his hands about his about his his cancellation now.
Stephen Bradford Long 34:55 Yeah, definitely. I mean, it's it's a big issue. And what I see on Twitter are people just wanting to have simple solutions to big complicated problems, and it just doesn't work like that, you know?
Katie Herzog 35:08 Well, I want to say one more. One more. Absolutely. Please do JK Rowling and about the letter. So as you noted, I was one of the signatories of this of this Harper's letter. And a lot of the criticism of the letter was that this is just powerful people, which I love that people love to be into the category of powerful people.
Stephen Bradford Long 35:27 Yes, that was flattering. That was really hilarious like
Katie Herzog 35:31 that. Yeah, you know that this is just powerful people trying to protect themselves protect their place and in the hierarchy. Well, it really wasn't because the reality is JK Rowling cannot be cancelled, Steven Pinker can now be cancelled, I in some respects cannot be cancelled, because I am funded by patrons, I cannot be fired any longer I can only be I can take a financial hit, but it will, it will take lots of people sort of divesting from me, I would have to piss off a lot more people than just you know, my boss is deciding to fire me if it is, it would if I just, you know, had had a regular job. So for me, the reason I sent a letter was not because I'm worried about my own reputation, I don't think my reputation gets that much slower to be honest with you. It's about other people. It's about people. I hear from people every single day who work in universities and media, and tech and other white collar primarily white collar industries, which I think also tells you something about, about about this fight in the first place. Who who's paying attention? How much should we really be paying attention to this when it's, you know, when it's these sort of PMC? People who are getting targeted? Not entirely that's, that's their working class people who have also fallen afoul of council culture for sure. But it's about the reason I signed the letter was really because of those people, people who do not have podcasts who do not have independent funding, who don't have a voice, who also feel like they cannot say what they think. And I'm not talking about like, you know, Holocaust denial ism, or, or overt racism or anything like that. People who are concerned about free speech, and feel terrified that if they say the wrong thing on Facebook, if they insult if they accidentally, you know, say the wrong word, then they're gonna get publicly shamed and possibly lose their jobs. And I think that was the motivation for many people who sign the letter. I do not think Steven Pinker or JK Rowling are worried about their own jobs. And I'm not worried about my own job. It was really about other people. But yes, the criticism was, often just this is powerful people tried to protect their own houses.
Stephen Bradford Long 37:32 What do you think, is the mechanism by which this all happens? This This can't this culture of canceling? Why do you think it exists?
Katie Herzog 37:46 Well, I think part of it is human nature there, for one thing, the desire to be part of something, it's fun to be a part of a mob. And this is something that I sort of struggle with all the time because I'm, I'm very vocal on Twitter, I'm, unfortunately, an active user of the platform. And when I see something egregiously stupid, or in my case, the thing that that really sort of, sort of gets me is, is hypocrisy. When I see someone, especially some like, you know, blue checkmark, just like a like, for instance, a leftist trying to get people fired for thoughtcrime. Oftentimes, it makes me mad, and I want nothing more than to, quote tweet this person and what might happen, then the goal isn't to start a mob, but the goal is to criticize, and this can result in a mob. So I struggle with that all the time, my own my own sort of desire to take part in it, but also the knowledge that this is that this is wrong, and it's making the world a worse place. So I think that's part of it. And I think this is social media, rewards, rewards, you know, you get this sort of quick hit that took the dopamine or the serotonin, and I'm not sure which transmit neurotransmitter is connected Twitter. But I think that's part of it. And I think there's also something just inherently people. Well, I don't know, I don't know about if this is just a human nature thing. But I think the desire to be a part of something, a punitive impulse, I think those are all sort of deeply ingrained in us. And I also think that that the Trump election had something to do with this because there was such a, I think, justified fear that he was going to usher in totalitarianism and authoritarian ism and fascism into the into the government, into the United States into into society, that a lot of people want to feel like they are on the right side of history. And their way of being on the right side of history. And I use this in broad quotation marks is to drag people on Twitter, you know, I don't think that history will prove that this is the right side of history and in that sense, but I think that that's also a part of it. So you have all of these confounding factors, the rise of social media, the Trump election, human nature, which gets us to the sort of perfect storm that we're in today.
Stephen Bradford Long 39:57 Yeah, I think that's right. And And, you know, just thinking about my own life there. I remember this scene from the movie doubt where and and granted I don't know if I have if I made this scene up because I was on some pretty heavy drugs at the time when I watched it and it was years ago, so I might have just completely made up this scene. But it there's that there's the scene where, you know, Meryl Streep, the Mother Superior, you know, she hates this new priest and is trying to condemn him. And one of the younger nuns says, you just don't like him. You don't like that he has modern pens, you don't like that? He is modern. You don't like him? That's what all of this is about. Did I make that scene
Katie Herzog 40:45 up? Oh, I don't remember. But it sounds. Okay. Sounds like something that would have happened.
Stephen Bradford Long 40:49 Yeah. Okay, so I made the I made that scene up. But it had a big impact on me when I was, you know, on on super intense pain medication. And I was addled out of my brain. So hopefully I didn't make that up. But I keep thinking about that scene. Because it just, there are so many times when I when I see a pylon on Twitter, and I try to find the motivation behind it. What is the real criticism here? And so often? I don't find a real criticism. And I think so very often, it just comes down to you don't like this person? Right? You know, and I Yeah, go on, please.
Katie Herzog 41:28 I mean, think about it. Like if you have a friend, and your friend does something that you think is wrong, truly wrong, maybe not egregious, but just immoral, unethical, whatever. What is going to be the more effective way to get your friend to reform his or her or their behavior, going to your friend privately and saying, like, Look, buddy, I love you. But I think you fucked up this one up or blasting this person on social media. Yeah, we both know what's what is more likely to be effective. It is not the public humiliation. And that's the other thing about this is that it does, it is not an effective way of reforming individual behavior. Except if you're if the goal is to get people to stop saying what they think.
Stephen Bradford Long 42:08 And the you only take the latter option, if you just don't like that person. It's alright. So I'm like thinking about thinking about a lot of the people who I have struggled with over the years online. Okay, so for example, I don't like Sam Harris, I think he's arrogant. I think he's an asshole kind of, I don't like his personality, you know, I listen to his show, and he just rubs me the wrong way. And, and thinking about it really deeply. I I've, and, you know, I have been for a long time very anti Harris. But then I have to really think about it. And I have to ask myself how much of this is because I'm critiquing his ideas. And how much of this is because I just find him an asshole. I just he just rubs me the wrong way. Right? And I have to be really cognizant of that like, and there are and when I think about it, there are things that Harris has said and done that I disagree with, and I can talk about those. But when I go into that conversation Am I being motivated by the goal of of getting down to the bottom of these ideas and understanding or am I just wanting to bash Harris and you know, so I've been going through a Twitter purge lately. So I've I've deleted Twitter off of my phone, and I only scroll it on my laptop now. And I've been doing this for several weeks now and I have noticed a scary change in my brain my my disc Yeah, I really have oh my god it's it's huge. It's really subtle but it's huge. My disgust responses lower to people and you know, I feel like I've always consciously you know, pursued values of conversation and and you know, resisting purity and all of that kind of stuff. But now I'm actually now Okay, take your co host, Jesse single on on your show blocked and reported. I think I would have seen the hatred against Jesse single, and I just would have dismissed dismissed him I would have just been like a you know, it would have triggered my disgust response. And I just would have completely dismissed him and and I don't and I don't do that anymore. It's like my disgust response is lower and I'm more likely to just be and people I blatantly disagree with like, like, you know, rad femmes I will or or libertarian conservative libertarians or what have you. I'm like, Okay, I'm going to hear this person out. Like I'm going to actually go out try to find a podcast and I'm going to listen to this two hour and a half show. And I'm going to hear this person out and and that is totally new for me. I It's this weird shifting of my brain after kind of this Twitter detox and, and it really worries me. Because it makes me worry if, if it is even possible to find to come to any kind of Justice on social media as it currently stance, I feel like I am more just now in my thinking because I'm able to hear people out, I'm able to get over that disgust response. It makes me a more just person. And it really makes me worry about our current landscape. You know, we're we're working through the killing of George Floyd, we're working through racism, we're working through income inequality, but we're doing all that on Twitter. And it really worries me if it is even possible now to to do to have any kind of justice via Twitter.
Katie Herzog 45:50 Yeah, I don't I don't think it's okay. And in the long arc of history, maybe we'll look back at Twitter and say Twitter it I mean, personally, for me, Twitter has been great. I mean, Twitter is it's a, it's a terrible place. But it also, I am in the mic. It has been good for my career. As an individual that said, I think on the whole, we will find much like religion, that on an individual level, religion or Twitter might be helpful, it might give you a boost to your reputation. In the case of Twitter, it might give you the case of religion, it might give you some some solace about not worrying about what happens after you die. But in the aggregate, I think that we're going to find that social media has been much has had a terrible influence on society, and not just in terms of what Twitter has done to our ability to have conversations, but also the election of Donald Trump, which I think Twitter largely enabled, at least giving him this this platform. And also, what social media, not Twitter. Okay, so So social media, Google, Facebook, Twitter, have decimated local media, right, not just them, Craigslist, also, Craigslist probably has had as much an impact on on any of the other sources, because it used to be that lots of media was funded by classified ads, which no longer exists, because they're all free on Craigslist. Same thing with Google, Google, and Facebook has scooped up, I think it's something like 80% of ad dollars, go to these two companies, right? of online advertising. So when we look back on this, and we see the decline of local media, and what that will do to local communities, when there's nobody there to, to follow the school board to follow the school board meeting to follow the city council meetings. At the same time. Twitter is not that popular a platform, right? Only I think something like 10% of Americans are on it's a pretty small number. But it's the sort of platform that has an incredible influence, because the tastemakers are there, right? The media is there spending all day on Twitter. And so the voice Twitter amplifies extremist voices. And so it gives the impression if you're following Twitter, that the world is much more extremists than it then than it actually is. And I mean that on both the right on the left, if you're on Twitter, you're probably going to think that they're that Nazis have a bigger influence on American public than they actually do. And you're also going to think that Bernie Sanders is going to win, you know, when the Democratic primary. Right, right, you know, and it is proven over and over again, that Twitter is not a good reflection of the real world what it is, however, it influences the real world because it influences how people like me people in the media see the world because we are filtering everything through this platform instead of going out and speaking to people.
Stephen Bradford Long 48:32 I Yeah. And so it has this outsized impact. And the you know, journalism is taking its cues from Twitter culture. Exactly. And, and I do feel this disconnect, because my day job, I work as a grocery store manager and the mountains of western North Carolina, it's a salvage store, we work on feeding the community. And it's in an industrial district of of the town, and I work with people who are Trump supporters who are trans, who are gay, who are women who are witches, who are Christians who are conservatives, and we all have to work together. We're all getting a paycheck to gather. We're all feeding people to gather and that world and then I log on to Twitter, and it is a completely different fucking world. And I'm like, my colleagues and I would be hurling stones at each other. Oh, yeah. It's so
Katie Herzog 49:32 maybe they're, you know, it's, it would be amazing to see that, you know, I bet there are cases where you know, somebody's actually like, likes a coworker. They're friends in real life and then it turns out they're like on Twitter battling each other out on, you know, Sockpuppet accounts, maybe not even. That is one of the things I really like about western North Carolina, though is the you do have the tension between sort of the Asheville hippies coming into contact with a real world Appalachia Appalachian
Stephen Bradford Long 49:59 right I love it. Yeah, I love it. And I love it at my work because everyone needs to eat. You know, it's the universal bond that ties everyone together. And so we get super rich people and then we get homeless people and, and like everyone in between we get hippies that come down from their, you know, tents in the mountains. And then we get, you know, vacationers from Florida, we get everyone and it is really good for me. And I'm, I'm really worried about COVID for many reasons, but one of those reasons is that I think the workplace having to go to work with people who disagree with you, was one of the last places where people actually heard opposing views, right. And now, because because of that, because everyone's working from home now, maybe they're not having as much exposure to different opposing views. And I think that's unnecessary. I think it's important to have that in one's life. Oh, I
Katie Herzog 50:57 think I think you're absolutely right, which is one of the reasons I'm against things like, you know, the New York Times having that staffers having a freakout after the New York Times published an op ed by Tom Cullen, Tom Cotton. I was opposed to that, even though I vehemently disagree with the man and his politics and everything he stands for. But I think you sometimes you need to actually force people to come to come into contact with ideas that they're not going to like, you just need to know about how the world is working outside of your bubble. And I thought after the 2016 election, the media would realize this, we would figure out, we have deeply screwed up, we are deeply out of touch with the American public, we don't know what's going on. And the opposite has happened where we have just doubled down on, you know, on sort of blaming and shaming people for not being exactly like us. Yeah.
Stephen Bradford Long 51:41 And also like, as a queer person myself, I want to know who the homophobes are. Yeah. And I want to be able to read what they say and know what they're thinking, so that I have a better chance of survival. Like, for me, having a diversity of opinion in the public square, is really a matter of survival for me, because I want to know, what homophobes are thinking and why that makes my life better. That that improves my quality of life, because I know how to avoid it. I know he's scary. You know, you know,
Katie Herzog 52:16 I think there's also something to be said for, you know, there's this, I think it's called contact hypothesis, this idea that, when you have people with disparate beliefs are members of different races, spending time together, there, it is more likely to change their person. Absolutely. And you can really see that when it comes to gay issues. I mean, when I was a kid growing up in western North Carolina, there were no out gay people in my area. There were there was none. I went to high school with 1000 people, I think there was one out gay kid in the 90s and are like in the theater department, you know, or the theater, you know, the star of the plays or whatever. Mercilessly bullied for this. And this was not that long ago. And I think younger, young people don't realize just how, how much society has changed in the last 2030 years when it comes to this one particular issue. And part of that is because people came out.
Stephen Bradford Long 53:07 Exactly Harvey Milk is why Harvey Milk said everyone must come out because of salutely. Yeah, absolutely. And so yeah, I guess the what I am hearing is, and the way I think about this is talking is a way of thinking and if we don't let people talk, if we don't let people talk through some of their stupid ideas or stuff that we disagree with, if we don't let people work through that, they will never improve. And I personally want a broad left, I want I want a broad coalition that that includes all different classes, all different people groups, I want a broad coalition of all kinds of minorities, and and classes working together. And the only way we can get that is if we let people talk and not shut them down. Yeah, right.
Katie Herzog 54:04 I think this is one of the problems with with the sort of Nathan J. Robinson 's of the world is that I would really like to know how many actual working class people David J. Robinson knows. Yeah,
Stephen Bradford Long 54:14 you know, people who don't dress like a plantation owner like he does, and I love Don't get me wrong. I love him. And I personally think he's fucking iconic. But like, I have a look. He has. He has a definite look. But yeah, I hear you.
Katie Herzog 54:31 Yeah, I mean, what you're gonna find if you you know if anyone has ever worked in a restaurant or worked in a factory or worked at a grocery store is that I'm, I'm gonna say this as sensitively as I can. working class people ain't always woke.
Stephen Bradford Long 54:44 Oh my god. Yes.
Katie Herzog 54:45 Oh my god. They're mostly not woke. Yeah, so if you want to have a movement that welcomes people into the left people who might otherwise vote for Donald Trump, you're policing their micro aggressions is not the way to welcome them into your movement policing their speech. You know, if any, like, have you ever worked in a restaurant? I have. Yeah. Right. So if you work, you're gonna fucking sexist. It's racist, but oftentimes good natured. Yeah, it is, you know, like people tell racist jokes about their about the Ecuadorians, you know, you know, washing the dishes and the Ecuadorian say racist jokes right back like, this is just a, and that's actually a bonding experience. It's not built, it's not cruelty. It's just the way that people talk. You know, and if you if you if you problematize, all of that you are going to these people are not going to come to your movement.
Stephen Bradford Long 55:35 Yeah. And and one thing that also really worries me, I worry about the mental health of queer people like us who are coming of age on Twitter, because as a faggot growing up in western North Carolina, I'm just like, you have to be resilient. And I do Oh, my God. Yeah. And I need to not I do not see this, this delicate, simultaneously delicate and brutal culture on Twitter, cultivating the resiliency necessary. And when I see a lot of my fellow queer people really struggling on Twitter, expressing their rage, expressing their hurt, I see really deep pain. And because I've experienced that, you know, I remember like years ago when I first came out, and I was all kinds of fucked up, and just really, really struggling and I lived online. And it got to the point where I could only internalize stuff as an attack. Like father, James Martin, who is a Catholic, Jesuit, super pro gay, he would often come to the defense of gay people, and the Catholic Church. And it got to the point where I all I could, I could only see him as another white, straight man using LGBT as a platform and, and there is this like, deep hurt and rage inside of me. And eventually, I just realized, this is not healthy, I am hurting, I need to log the fuck off and go for a hike like, and and. And so I really, truly worry about a lot of LGBT people who are already in a vulnerable position. Because I do not think social media. I think a lot of a lot of it comes from pain. And I don't think that pain is being resolved in a healthy way on Twitter. I think it does not cultivate resiliency. I mean, and like if I had the level of sensitivity that they have on Twitter, I would have killed myself a long fucking time ago. Like just being real. Growing growing up in the South, I would have shot myself years ago.
Katie Herzog 57:43 Yeah, yeah. And I think you can, you know, I think that's true across many populations. victimhood is more prized and resiliency right now, which is having a interesting effect on on people's mental health.
Stephen Bradford Long 57:55 I agree. And I really, really, really worry about that. Okay, well, we could probably talk for much longer, but we're, we're coming to the end. So I'll go ahead and wrap this up and ask you, where can people find you if they are interested in your work?
Katie Herzog 58:10 So I have a podcast called blocked and reported that I host along with Jesse single. I'm on Twitter at Kitty Parag. I'm on Patreon. Future search for blocked and reported you should be able to funny,
Stephen Bradford Long 58:21 fantastic. Well, Katie, it has been a pleasure speaking with you and you're welcome back anytime. Yeah. Thanks for having me. All right. Well, that is it for this show. The music is by the jelly rocks and eleventy seven, you can listen to them on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to music. If you love my work and want to support it, please consider becoming a patron by going to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long or leaving a five star review. This show is written produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and as a production of rock candy media. You can find other shows like this one by going to rock candy recordings.com And as always Hail Satan and thanks for listening
59:13 same old movies click here for the next one we take the blame. Training the microbes got the socks and the slim fit down to the wonder as I wander draining the microbes you tables because as we wait in the mind