Washington Post Columnist Suggests Engaging in Stochastic Terrorism to Coerce Supreme Court Judges Into Advancing the Progressive Agenda

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Yes, I realize hypocrisy is an integral part of politics. But sometimes it gets so ridiculous that it becomes worth a mention – especially when it comes to members of the activist media schoolmarming the rest of us over our rhetoric and then doing exactly what they scold us for.

That’s where the term “stochastic terrorism” comes into play.

Last summer, Democratic politicians and members of the left-wing chattering class began trying out the new term as a way to label and discredit their political opposition. I wrote a piece explaining the definition of the term: “a psychological phenomenon in which someone carries out a violent act against an individual or group due to harsh rhetoric directed against an individual or group.”

The thing about stochastic terrorism is that the rhetoric in question does not have to be overtly inciteful and does not have to include blatant calls to violence. The idea is that demonizing people constantly can create an environment that could foster violence.

Of course, this is not the definition progressives use. As with the terms “misinformation” and “disinformation,” they define stochastic terrorism as “people saying stuff we don’t like.” They do not apply the same definition to themselves as they do to conservatives and libertarians.

Enter Washington Post columnist Perry Bacon, who wrote an op-ed recommending a new strategy to compel Supreme Court justices to rule in progressives’ favor. You might have already guessed that his suggestions sound awfully familiar.

Bacon starts by lamenting the reality that “America’s judiciary is dominated by conservatives issuing an endless stream of rulings that help corporations, the rich and the bigoted while hurting working-class people, women and minorities in particular.”

Since the makeup of the Supreme Court is mostly conservative, and will be for the foreseeable future, Bacon has devised a way to force the highest court in the land, along with lower courts, to do his bidding: Shame. He wrote:

Democratic politicians, left-leaning activist groups, newspaper editorial boards and other influential people and institutions need to start relentlessly blasting Republican-appointed judges. A sustained campaign of condemnation isn’t going to push these judges to write liberal opinions, but it could chasten them toward more moderate ones.

So what would this shame campaign look like?

The columnist provides some examples. He mentions President Joe Biden’s student loan cancellation policy, which was suspended by Republican-appointed judges. Bacon said Biden “should have immediately brought some people struggling with college debt to the White House for a news conference where both he and the college debtors would blast those judges by name.”

In the piece, Bacon seems to anticipate the argument that demonizing judges who do not kowtow to the hard left could motivate some to carry out acts of violence against them and their families. He’s right, considering the fact that someone sought to assassinate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after it became apparent that the court was going to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“There will be arguments that such high-profile criticism would put judges in physical danger. I obviously oppose violence,” Bacon wrote. “But judges are powerful figures setting policy — they should get as much scrutiny as elected officials. No one argues that Biden is imperiling the life of Florida Republican Rick Scott, even though the president has repeatedly named Scott while criticizing the senator’s Social Security proposals.”

Bacon also suggested that progressives use plain, straightforward language to attack these judges. As an example, he writes “The Republican judges are making it easier to discriminate against gay and lesbian people.”

I’m not the only one who recognized the irony in the op-ed, given what I’ve witnessed over the past year when it comes to progressives using stochastic terrorism as a talking point against the right. National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke asked if Bacon’s column itself was an example of stochastic terrorism. He wrote:

I don’t ask because I think that “stochastic terrorism” is a useful or meaningful idea. On the contrary: In my estimation, “stochastic terrorism” is merely the latest faux-academic ruse to have polluted our national conversation and made us all a bit dumber. No, I ask because, if “stochastic terrorism” is to be treated seriously — if, in other words, “stochastic terrorism” is to be regarded as a worthwhile concept, instead of yet another way for progressives to insist that conservatives must shut up — Bacon’s idea must surely be quite problematic.

Cooke rightly argued that if progressives are going to complain about supposed stochastic terrorism, they should not be willing to engage in the same type of behavior. But this is where I disagree with Cooke. The reality is that progressives are against stochastic terrorism – when it is supposedly being used against them. They like the possibility of stochastic terrorism if it is being directed at conservatives and Republicans.

But let’s be real here, shall we?

Criticizing one’s political opposition is not the same as stochastic terrorism. Calling out those who engage in what you perceive to be wrongdoing is not an incitement to violence. Progressives don’t actually believe conservatives are guilty of this type of supposed terrorism – they just hope using that label against them will cow them into self-censorship and surrender. It is the same reason they have been calling everyone racist for decades – it’s a handy political tool, not an actual threat.


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