At my post yesterday on race, several comments accused me of cowardice for not taking a position there on race-IQ correlations, even though that is not directly relevant to the post, and even though I have commented on that topic before. While I mostly don’t avoid taking positions on controversial topics if I think I have something interesting to say about them, I also don’t go out of my way to take controversial positions just to take them. Apparently some folks, however, take pride in going out of their way to take controversial positions even when they have nothing interesting to say on such topics.
I suppose I can appreciate that some folks want to signal they don’t fear social retribution, though I suspect many interpret them as signaling that they have no political or managerial ambitions. But it occurs to me that folks could be more systematic about this signal; imagine a Brave Position Club.
The Brave Position Club would have an official long list of, perhaps 100, brave topics, and club members would simply be defined as folks who had publicly declared a clear current position (perhaps chosen from a menu) on all those brave topics. The topics should be chosen to be the most socially awkward topics, ones for which people typically fear the most social costs for taking certain positions. The topics should also be chosen neutrally, so as to “gore everyone’s oxen” equally, rather than to preferentially expose the hypocrisies of certain disfavored groups.
The topic list should be long enough so that people who chose positions by “thinking for themselves” would likely choose socially-awkward retribution-worthy positions on at least a few of the topics. A club member who declared the safe opinion on all the brave topics would be clearly identified as a “kiss-ass brown-noser” who didn’t think for themselves.
I’d be tempted to join such a club, at least if some careful analysis had gone into picking the topics neutrally, and if I expected enough other folks to join for it to become focal. Would you join? Who should join and why?