Free speech is in danger. We must protect it. But the Harper’s letter mistakes both problem and solution.

Protestors and police in Washington, DC, May 31, 2020 (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty)

On Tuesday, Harper’s Magazine published an open letter decrying a growing intolerance for free speech on the left. It was signed by 150 writers—several of whom I admire—who are critical of the Trump administration. The letter is a formalization of the arguments that have been made over the past several years by the group whom Bari Weiss, one of the signers, termed the “Intellectual Dark Web,” or IDW for short.

Some have objected to the IDW by criticizing free speech absolutism. I, however, am strongly in favor of free speech. …


I’m ready to share with you my expertise in creating content that fails to set the internet aflame!

Credit: BuzzFeed / Arc Illustration

Do you want less traffic?

Are you creating content with an eye toward a small handful of mildly interested readers? Would you like to see more muted ad sales? Perhaps a spot on that coveted fifth or sixth page of search results?

Over my six-year career as a freelance journalist, I’ve developed and honed a remarkable set of protocols for creating content that reliably fails to move the conversational needle.

I want to show you the proven techniques that will allow your pieces to garner nothing more than a bit of Twitter conversation and some pity comments from your friends.


Democrats grateful for Romney's moral strength should feel no guilt for the politics-as-usual election of 2012

Credit: Spencer Platt (Getty)

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) offered a reflective and heartfelt speech at the conclusion of Trump’s impeachment trial, declaring that his conscience forbade him from acquitting President Trump. More than a few Democrats and left-leaners felt moved to express their appreciation and admiration for his moral stance.

Several conservatives observed these tributes with bitterness, reviving an ongoing lament about Democrats’ treatment of Romney in the 2012 election, when he was the Republican nominee for president. …


In the run-up to the primaries, most Democrats—especially Bernie Sanders—are finally appealing to the disability community

On the Friday before Iowans caucus and the primaries officially get underway, Bernie Sanders released the most ambitious disability plan ever put together by an American presidential candidate.

This follows ambitious plans released by Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro, and substantial—though less ambitious—plans by others, including Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris. Klobuchar’s and Harris’ plans were among those less well-received by disability activists.

Joe Biden is the only major Democratic candidate for president who has not released his own disability plan.

Sanders’ disability moon shot represents a major turn-around from his 2016 candidacy. Disability advocacy has never cleanly…


Obama’s comments criticizing woke culture differ from the IDW

Credit: Marcelo del Pozo (Getty)

On Tuesday, video of a mildly-exasperated President Obama went viral, in which he criticized online and college campus “woke” culture.

“I do get a sense sometimes now among certain young people — and this is accelerated by social media — there is this sense, sometimes, of ‘the way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people, and that’s enough,” he said. “Like if I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right, or used the wrong verb or — then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself.”

“That’s not…


It may seem like Trump supporters will swallow anything he says—but Trumpian epistemology is a bit more complicated

Donald Trump at a “Keep America Great” campaign rally on October 17, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. | Credit: Tom Pennington (Getty)

President Trump lies.

Trump lies so frequently and so freely that he seems to lack any regard for, or even a conception of, the very idea of truth and falsity.

I know he lies. You know he lies. I suspect even Fox Business host Stuart Varney—who contended in an August interview with GOP presidential candidate Joe Walsh that Trump never lies—knows he lies.

The depth and breadth of his lies, though, are what make his impeachable actions so mind-boggling.

Trump’s ask from Ukraine was not an American foreign policy goal. Neither was it for a large Ukrainian delegation to stay…


Fictional characters don’t exist. Why do we feel so deeply for them?

My kids love to mock my mawkishness as the movie Coco draws to a close. It is a psychological impossibility for me to watch it end without unseemly wailing and snurfling.

But why on earth am I crying? I obviously know Coco is not a true story. In fact, I don’t think it could be. So, what gives?

When I ask people for their thoughts, they often challenge me: Why shouldn’t we emote at fictional stories? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with emoting at fictional stories. It’s one of the great joys of my life! …


William Barr is receiving public vitriol in the wake of his Mueller Report summary—but we should also look at Rod Rosenstein

On Wednesday and Thursday, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team leaked to the press for the first time in two years. Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the Mueller report, they alleged, left the public with a false belief that Trump’s hands were clean.

While Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had decided there was insufficient evidence to implicate Trump in obstruction, Mueller’s team thought the obstruction evidence was quite serious. …


Wealthy parents were not purchasing an education for their children, but the ability to continue an undeservedly frictionless path

(Arc Illustration)

On Tuesday, Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling announced the indictment of dozens of parents, university employees, exam administrators and exam proctors for engaging in a scheme in which the wealthy parents allegedly fraudulently purchased higher test scores or acceptances for their undeserving children at elite universities.

On reading the coverage, I was reminded of a passage in the novel Rameau’s Niece, in which Cathleen Schine wrote:

It was, she concluded, a freak of nature, a happy fluke, like being born a strawberry blonde. No one deserves to be a strawberry blonde, no one earns it, it is not the reward…


I had to forgive myself for having ADHD before I could live with it

I sat down to write this article a little while ago. Before I typed a word, I called my mom, messaged several friends, read half of a scholarly article on the topic of working memory, clicked to see why Tad Devine was trending on Twitter, got a Diet Coke, and fixed my lipstick.

This is nothing new.

But here is something new: my closet is neat and organized. The shirts hang where they should, the shoes are lined up. It has been that way for a while. In the context of my life, this state of affairs is near-miraculous.

What…

Elizabeth Picciuto

Writer. Associate Editor at Arc Digital. Cinema Studies MA, Philosophy PhD. Accessibility zealot. Will garden for food & flowers. Twitter: @epicciuto

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