Joy Reid and Chris Hayes of MSNBC Tried To Get Me Killed By Lying About Me For Money YouTube Channel Video Script

Below please find my YouTube Channel Video Script for the video: Joy Reid and Chris Hayes of MSNBC Tried to Get Me Killed by Lying About Me for Money.

On May 29th, 2018, while I was in hiding to save my own life, after I had to flee Yale’s campus while being taunted by a mob, and while I was receiving thousands upon thousands of death threats and threats of violence, including sexual violence, while I was curled up in the fetal position in a state of literal physical shock, convulsing with the chills, terrified to leave my room, knowing that my life and career had been wrongfully destroyed, MSNBC aired a Town Hall called “Everyday Racism in America” during which Joy Reid and Chris Hayes made grossly false and defamatory statements about me and what happened during the Living or Napping While Black Hate Crime Hoax at Yale that can only be construed as an attempt to destroy my life and career as a human and civil rights licensed attorney activist and to bring about the death of an innocent civil rights activist and older disabled woman (my death) by either driving me to suicide or inciting my murder.  

Joy Reid and Chris Hayes concocted a grotesque fairy tale about what occurred, and what I had done, and what my motivations were, and who I am.

I was shocked that they included a portion of the illegal video of me from May 8th, 2018, the video in which my attacker, Lolade Siyonbola, makes clear that she was targeting me because of my mental health disability.  But, they failed to include the portions where my attacker, Lolade Siyonbola, makes clear that she was targeting me because of my mental health disability, and that Yale had been illegally feeding her my personal information, including my name and mental health history, and that she illegally distributed this illegal video of me to publicly shame me for my mental health disability.  So, Joy Reid and Chris Hayes and MSNBC were knowingly participating in an illegal campaign to shame an older, disabled woman for her mental health disability.  

Chris Hayes begins by telling a straight up bald faced lie and trying to make it seem like I just happened to come across a random sleeping black person in the huge, ground floor common room of my Yale dorm in the middle of the night, instead of what actually happened, which was that the person who had been terrorizing me that evening and for months in my isolated dorm room was camped out immediately outside of my isolated dorm room, in the small, little used room next door, the only other room on that floor, at the top of a tower.  

Chris Hayes described the Living or Napping While Black Hate Crime Hoax, of which I was the victim, as a trauma that I inflicted on my attacker, and he said that I othered her. 

I want to let Chris Hayes know that I was the person who was being terrorized in my isolated dorm room that evening and for months.  I want to let Chris Hayes know that I was the person who was being targeted for my sex, disability, age, and, yes, race.  I was the person who was traumatized.  I was the person who was being othered.  I was the person being policed.  I was the person being excluded from her own campus, from her own home.  

Chris Hayes actually asked my attacker what it was like to spend time in the common room of my Yale dorm after the video had gone viral, meaning the huge, ground floor common room of my Yale dorm.  This is a preposterous and gross and willful mischaracterization of the Living or Napping While Black Hate Crime Hoax at Yale.  

Joy Reid asked my attacker, Lolade Siyonbola, if she had seen me on campus since May 8th, 2018, and what had occurred if she had.  Well, Joy Reid, she wouldn’t have seen me on campus, because I had to immediately go into hiding for my personal safety.  I had to move into a part of the dorm that was under construction, where I wouldn’t be attacked, especially after pundits like Ijeoma Oluo called for me to be harassed and stalked in my own home, my isolated dorm room.  I had to flee Yale’s campus for my personal safety, and I feared for my life while I was being taunted by a mob, while I was waiting, desperately, for my uber.  

While listening to this video, this was the first time that I heard my attacker lie and say that one of my other attackers, Jean Louis Reneson, kept running into me after February 24th, 2018, which is a straight up, bald faced lie.  I never saw him again.  Let me repeat that.  I never saw him again.  She goes on to say that he was re-traumatized each time he saw me, and that every black student on Yale’s campus would be re-traumatized by seeing me on campus. This is a preposterous, disgusting, straight-up, bald-faced lie almost beyond belief.  

I thought it was very telling when my attacker, Lolade Siyonbola, said that she was supposed to leave that next day for Nigeria.  I knew and had made clear to the Yale Administration and the Yale Campus Police that the harassment and stalking and attacks against me were gaining in frequency and intensity, and I believed that this was because the end of the academic year was fast approaching and my attackers were becoming desperate to wreak their vengeance upon me for their delusional, jealous, and obsessive personal vendetta against me.  

On May 7th, I was up in the middle of the night, because I was trying desperately to pack up my belongings, clean my room, and flee my home, because I was terrified of being attacked.  I had made arrangements to stay with friends in NYC.  I had also been moving items into a storage unit in New Haven.  

Joy Reid said that it feels like we’re back in the fight over whether black people are going to have access to public spaces.  I want to let Joy Reid know that one of the key points of my legal and human and civil rights advocacy has been the desegregation of the public space.  I want her to know that that’s why I chose to go work as a Human Rights Fellow at Ni Putes Ni Soumises in France, a women’s rights organization comprised primarily of women from the predominantly Muslim immigrant communities surrounding the major cities of France, for whom desegregation of the public space is a pillar of their movement.  I want to ask Joy Reid why I didn’t have the right to feel safe and to be free from harassment, stalking, and attacks in my own home, my isolated dorm room, and as I walked across campus?  

Of course, the entire panel and its assorted guests, a panel on everyday racism in America, in which I was included as an example of a racist, made grossly false and defamatory statement after statement about how what I did was racist, and how I was suspicious of my attacker, because of the color of her skin, and how I was trying to weaponize the police against black and brown people, and how I was trying to exclude black and brown people from my white space, and how I thought I had the authority to police my white space.  It was, frankly, grotesque.  It was a grotesque fairy tale concocted to endanger my life and destroy my lifelong career as an innocent human and civil rights licensed attorney activist.  

Tim Wise, the author of White Like Me:  Reflections on Race From a Privileged Son, said that I called the Yale campus police on my attacker, Lolade Siyonbola, with the knowledge of Tamir Rice’s death at the hands of the police, and he made the following, absolutely obscene statement about what I was thinking during the Living or Napping While Black Hate Crime Hoax at Yale:

“My discomfort with you right now is worth more than the potential that your life could be snuffed in ten minutes.  Until that stops, nothing is going to change.”

I am literally in a state of shock right now, listening to this grotesque lie about me, about who I am, about what happened during the Living or Napping While Black Hate Crime Hoax at Yale, about what I did, and about what my motivations were.  

When Tim Wise says something like this about me on MSNBC, this can only be construed as an attempt to endanger my life and destroy my career.  He is trying to get me killed by saying that I was trying to kill a black person by weaponizing the police, which is the most grotesque and disgusting lie imaginable.  

Then, Chris Hayes concocted a grotesque fairy tale immediately thereafter about what happened during the Living or Napping While Black Hate Crime Hoax at Yale.

Chris Hayes explicitly states that I called 911, which is a bald faced lie.

Chris Hayes explicitly states that I never tried to speak to my attacker, Lolade Siyonbola, before calling the Yale campus police, which is a bald faced lie.  

Chris Hayes explicitly states that I was so uncomfortable with my attacker, because of the color of her skin, which is why I didn’t even bother to try to speak to her before dialing 911, which is a straight up, bald faced lie.

Joy Reid explicitly states that what I did was a nuisance call, and that there should be legal repercussions for what I did.  

Then the panel discussed how much of this is the result of gentrification and white people moving into black communities.  

I just want to let Joy Reid and Chris Hayes and Tim Wise and MSNBC know that I grew up among black and brown people in a racially integrated religious cult, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the notion that I would regard a black or brown person as suspicious, because of the color of their skin is so ludicrous and asinine that it is too preposterous to be considered, except as an indication of how stupid someone is.  

The panel also spoke about how all of these racist 911 callers who are trying to get black and brown people killed by weaponizing the police are motivated by Trump and Trump’s rhetoric, and how Trump unleashed our racism and empowered us to be racist.  

These are all straight up, bald faced lies meant to destroy my life and career as a lifelong and innocent human and civil rights licensed attorney activist and to bring about my death by either driving me to suicide or inciting my murder.  

I have a message for Joy Reid and Chris Hayes and Tim Wise and MSNBC:

I hope selling your souls was worth it.  You are evil. You are evil.  You need to ask God for forgiveness.

You destroyed the Living While Black movement.  It is because of charlatans and frauds like you, who tell lies and broadcast lies to the world for moral outrage industry profit and gain, no matter how many innocent lives you destroy and no matter how many innocent people you get killed, that the Living While Black movement no longer exists.  

You are the racists. You are the bigots.  You are the ones who participated in the illegal campaign to publicly shame an older, poor, disabled woman for her mental health disability.  

You are the ones who turned the Living While Black movement into the Great Racist Scare of 2018.  You are the ones who turned the Living While Black movement into a blood sport of trying to get older, poor, white women with obvious or seeming mental health disabilities killed for moral outrage industry profit and gain.  

You chose them for your victims, because you thought that they were too weak and too poor and too disabled to fight back.  Well, I want to let you know that I’m going to fight back.  I’m not going to let you get away with your bigotry and your mercenary and venal wrongdoing.  

Shame on you. Shame.  I don’t know how you live with yourselves.  

If you wish to support me, as I seek justice, it would mean the world to me. Here are my PayPalMe and GoFundMe links. 

PayPalMe:  https://www.paypal.me/SarahBraasch

GoFundMe:  https://www.gofundme.com/sarah-braasch-legal-fund

You can follow me on twitter here:  https://twitter.com/sarahbraasch1?lang=en

Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz4xV2R6mTVJhAu9OQzwp5g

Advertisements

The ACLU is Continuing Their Illegal Campaign to Try to Get Me Killed and to Publicly Shame Me for My Mental Health Disability

I just wanted to write a quick post to let the whole world know that I heard back from the ACLU, after I sent them a letter, informing them that their distribution of the illegal video recording of me from May 8th, 2018, is grossly illegal, and to demand that they retract their grossly false and defamatory claims about me, and to demand that they cease and desist in their illegal campaign to publicly shame an older, disabled woman for her mental health disability.

The ACLU told me that they are continuing their illegal campaign to try to get an innocent and lifelong human and civil rights licensed attorney activist and older, poor, disabled woman (me) killed. The ACLU told me that they are continuing their illegal campaign to publicly shame an older, poor, disabled woman (me) for her mental health disability.

Apparently, the ACLU is disavowing their disability rights and privacy rights campaigns.

Apparently, the ACLU is disavowing its once proud legacy of defending the civil liberties of one and all.

No one should join the ACLU. No one should support the ACLU.

The ACLU is an entirely evil organization that publicly shames older, poor, disabled women for their mental health disabilities for moral outrage industry money and gain.

The ACLU destroyed the Living While Black movement by turning it into a blood sport of trying to get older, poor, disabled white women with obvious or seeming mental health disabilities killed for moral outrage industry money and gain.

The ACLU are charlatans and frauds.

The ACLU should shutter themselves in shame. They have exposed themselves as bigots who don’t care if they destroy innocent persons’ lives and who don’t care if they get innocent persons killed, as long as they make moral outrage money off of their corpses.

Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar of The View on ABC Tried to Get Me Killed by Lying About Me for Money YouTube Channel Video Script

On May 11th, 2018, The View aired a segment on ABC during which Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, and Sunny Hostin made grossly false and defamatory statements about me and what happened during the Living or Napping While Black Hate Crime Hoax at Yale that can only be construed as an attempt to destroy my life and career as a human and civil rights licensed attorney activist and to bring about the death of an innocent civil rights activist and older disabled woman (my death) by either driving me to suicide or inciting my murder.  

Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar and Sunny Hostin concocted a grotesque fairy tale about what occurred, and what I had done, and what my motivations were, and who I am.

I was shocked that they actually included a portion of the illegal video of me from May 8th, 2018, where my attacker, Lolade Siyonbola, makes clear that she was targeting me because of my mental health disability.  So, Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar and Sunny Hostin and The View and ABC were knowingly participating in an illegal campaign to shame an older, disabled woman for her mental health disability.  

Whoopi Goldberg explicitly states that I called the police, because I found a black Yale graduate student sleeping in the common room of my dorm, meaning the huge, ground floor common room of the dorm.  This is a straight up, bald faced lie.  

Both Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar explicitly state that I was motivated by racial bias.  This is a straight up, bald faced lie.  

Whoopi Goldberg explicitly states that she thought the US had “moved past” my obviously racist actions and my not wanting black people in my white space.  This is a straight up, bald faced lie.  

Both Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar explicitly state that I was motivated by President Trump’s rhetoric, which “rots from the top” and “unleashed the worst parts of me.”  This is a straight up, bald faced lie.  

Joy Behar explicitly states that I was “up at 130 in the morning, patrolling the area,” meaning that I was trolling the huge, ground floor common room of my dorm for random sleeping black people on whom to call the police, because I’m a racist who hates black people.  This is a straight up, bald faced lie.  

(When actually I was being terrorized in my isolated dorm room at the top of a tower that evening and for months by my attackers.)

Joy Behar asked, “What’s with her?”

Sonny Hostin asked, “Is she the dorm police?”

Joy Behar asked, “What’s this other one doing?”

Then, they all laughed, because, apparently, it’s funny to drive an innocent civil rights activist to suicide for money.  

Someone then says, “The idea that you go from 0 to 911 every time something goes wrong.”

These are straight up, bald faced lies meant to destroy my life and career as a human and civil rights licensed attorney activist and to bring about my death, by either driving me to suicide or inciting my murder.  

Sunny Hostin then speaks at length about how I was motivated by racial bias, that what I did was a micro-aggression, and that I was suspicious of my attacker because of the color of her skin.  These are straight up, bald faced lies.  

Sunny Hostin then says that my attacker was either arrested or detained by police for sleeping in her dorm room.  This is a straight up, bald faced lie.  

Then, Whoopi Goldberg says that “something else has been unleashed in the country.”

Whoopi Goldberg says that my racist behavior came from Trump and was motivated by Trump.  

Whoopi Goldberg says, “I feel that he’s given people permission to say whatever they want.”

Then, Whoopi Goldberg says that I engaged in bad behavior.

Whoopi Goldberg says that I “called the police from the first beat,” without even trying to talk to my attacker first.  

Whoopi Goldberg says, “Go and ask.”  As if I didn’t do exactly that.  

These are all straight up, bald faced lies meant to destroy my life and career as a lifelong and innocent human and civil rights licensed attorney activist and to bring about my death by either driving me to suicide or inciting my murder.  

On July 9, 2018, The View had another Living While Black segment, and during the entire segment they had a screen shot of me from the illegally recorded and distributed video of me from May 8th, 2018, meant to shame me for my mental health disability, blown up on the screen behind the hosts, where I am mid-sentence, so my mouth is open, to make it look like I’m yelling and screaming, when I did nothing of the kind.  This is the vilest behavior imaginable.  

I have a message for The View and for ABC and for Whoopi Goldberg and for Joy Behar and for Sunny Hostin.

I hope selling your souls was worth it.  You are evil. You are evil.  You need to ask God for forgiveness.

You destroyed the Living While Black movement.  It is because of charlatans and frauds like you, who tell lies and broadcast lies to the world for moral outrage industry profit and gain, no matter how many innocent lives you destroy and no matter how many innocent people you get killed, that the Living While Black movement no longer exists.  

You are the racists. You are the bigots.  

You are the ones who turned the Living While Black movement into the Great Racist Scare of 2018.  You are the ones who turned the Living While Black movement into a blood sport of trying to get older, poor, white women with obvious or seeming mental health disabilities killed for moral outrage industry profit and gain.  

Shame on you. Shame.  I don’t know how you live with yourselves.  

If you wish to support me, as I seek justice, it would mean the world to me. Here are my PayPalMe and GoFundMe links. 

PayPalMe:  https://www.paypal.me/SarahBraasch

GoFundMe:  https://www.gofundme.com/sarah-braasch-legal-fund

You can follow me on twitter here:  https://twitter.com/sarahbraasch1?lang=en

Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz4xV2R6mTVJhAu9OQzwp5g

Appeal to the Federal Office for Civil Rights, Asking The OCR to Open an Investigation at Yale

Below please find the primary text of my appeal to the Federal Office for Civil Rights, asking them to open an investigation into Yale University’s gross violations of civil rights law during the Living or Napping While Black Hate Crime Hoax:

The OCR’s letter dismissing the complaint only indicates that I am alleging that University Officials harassed me and retaliated against me on the basis of race, sex, disability, and age, AFTER May 8th, 2018.  This is incorrect.  I am alleging that University Officials and the Campus Police harassed me and retaliated against me on the basis of race, sex, disability, and age, BETWEEN AND ON the dates of February 24th, 2018, and May 8th, 2018.  

I am explicitly alleging that University Officials and the Yale Campus Police participated in the harassment and retaliation against me on and between these dates, and that University Officials and the Campus Police assisted my attackers, Lolade Siyonbola and Jean Louis Reneson, and others, in harassing me and retaliating against me on the basis of race, sex, disability, and age between and on these dates.

This is made clear in the illegal video recording of me, made on May 8th, 2018, which was widely distributed around the world to shame me for my mental health disabilty, when my attacker, Lolade Siyonbola, repeatedly states that I’m psychotic and crazy and that I should be put in a mental institution, and repeatedly states that Yale knows that I’m psychotic and crazy and that I should be put in a mental institution.  I was being targeted as the victim of harassment and retaliation on the basis of my mental health disability by both my student and Resident Coordinator attackers AND University Officials AND the Campus Police.  The illegal video recording of me makes more than clear that my attacker was intimately familiar with who I was.  She knew all of these personal details of my life, even though she had never met me, because Yale was illegally feeding her my personal information, including my mental health history, a fact which she also makes clear in the illegally recorded and distributed video.  Additionally, Provost Stephanie Spangler accidentally revealed to me when I met with her in March & April, 2018, that Yale was illegally feeding my personal information to my attackers, including my name and my mental health history.  

I am alleging that, as told to me by Housing Director George Longyear on March 2nd, 2018, Yale Deans, including Grad School Dean Lynn Cooley and Grad School Diversity Dean Michelle Nearon, and others, harassed and retaliated against me on the basis of race, sex, disability, and age, between the dates of February 24th, and March 2nd, 2018, and that this harassment and retaliation continued thereafter and continues to this day.  

By March 2nd, 2018, I had been fully exonerated by the Housing Managers for the February 24th, 2018 incident.  The Housing Managers told me that not only had I done absolutely nothing wrong, but that I was the only person involved who had done nothing wrong.  Moreover, I was the person who was terrorized in my isolated dorm room on the evening of February 24th, 2018.  The Deans who harassed and retaliated against me on the basis of race, sex, disability, and age thereafter knew that I was entirely innocent of racial harassment.  They were not harassing me and retaliating against me, because they believed that I had been accused of or had perpetrated racial harassment.  They were harassing me and retaliating against me on the basis of race, sex, disability, and age.  This harassment and retaliation took the form of them determining that I should participate in a town hall, during which I was supposed to publicly declare myself a racist, as well as undergo implicit bias training.  This harassment and retaliation also took the form of them spreading across campus that I was guilty of racial harassment, as was told me by the Housing Director, when he told me that the allegations against me were “going around” and “gaining traction,” including by a group of Deans. I experienced walking across campus on multiple occasions and overhearing myself being discussed as a racist who should be kicked off campus and thrown out of school.  I am alleging that these Deans desired to publicly brand me a racist to destroy my lifelong career as a human and civil rights licensed attorney activist to harass and retaliate against me on the basis of race, sex, disability, and age.  

I am alleging that when Grad School Diversity Dean Michelle Nearon told me, via email, that not only did she have no interest in addressing the fact that I had been and was still being harassed and stalked on campus on the basis of race, disability, sex, and age, but also that if I had any concerns for my personal safety on campus that I should move out of my home and leave campus, that this was harassment and retaliation against me on the basis of race, disability, sex, and age.  I told Dean Nearon as much via email.  I am alleging that after I threatened to take civil legal action to protect my rights and interests, Dean Michelle Nearon’s refusal to meet with me on the record and refusal to work with me in writing and refusal to help me restore my good name and reputation on campus, while I was being defamed across campus as guilty of racial harassment, was harassment and retaliation against me on the basis of race, disability, sex, and age. I told Dean Nearon as much via email. 

I am alleging that the Administration’s and the Campus Police’s refusals to do anything to protect me and to make me safe in my isolated dorm room and on campus BETWEEN February 24th, 2018, and May 8th, 2018, was harassment and retaliation on the basis of race, sex, disability, and age.  They knew who my attackers were, and they not only did nothing to stop them, but they also assisted my attackers in harassing me and retaliating against me on the basis of race, sex, disability, and age.  

Yale’s recent farcical Title VI Review Report, which further defames me and is a further instance of retaliation and harassment against me on the basis of race, sex, disability, and age does clarify the follow:  “Race-based D&H falls under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . . . universities receiving federal funds cannot discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color or national origin, either directly or indirectly.” This means that the Administration’s and the Campus Police’s outright refusals to do anything about the harassment and stalking that I was enduring in my dorm room in on campus housing and as I walked across campus was itself harassment and retaliation on the basis of race, sex, disability, and age.   

I am alleging that after I threatened to take civil legal action to protect my rights and interests, Yale General Counsel Attorney Caroline Hendel’s refusal to help me in any way, and her insistence that I deal with Dean Nearon, after I told Attorney Hendel that I believed Dean Nearon was in gross violation of Title IX and ADA regulations, and after I told her that Dean Nearon had expressed callous disregard for my personal safety on campus, was harassment and retaliation against me on the basis of race, disability, sex, and age.  I told Attorney Hendel as much via email.  This occurred in March, 2018.  

I also wish to make clear that the Yale Campus Police Department considers itself a private force hired by Yale University, and they often attempt to circumvent their obligations to the general public by claiming such, including FOIA requests.  They are agents of Yale University.  As such, given that Yale University receives federal funding, the Campus Police cannot discriminate on the basis of race, sex, disability, and age. I am alleging that the Campus Police grossly discriminated and harassed and retaliated against me on the basis of race, age, disability, and sex, as I detailed in my original complaint to the OCR. The OCR should open an investigation into the illegal acts of the Campus Police.  The OCR’s letter dismissing the complaint failed to address any of these gross violations.  

The OCR’s letter dismissing the complaint claims that the harassment and stalking and retaliation and discrimination that I have endured from students, Resident Coordinators, University Officials, and the Campus Police, cannot be taken to have been on the basis of race, sex, disability, or age, because this is too speculative.  Frankly, I find this claim to be preposterous.  First and foremost, as I made clear above, the harassment, discrimination, and retaliation need not be direct; it may be indirect as well.  I am alleging both direct and indirect harassment, stalking, discrimination, and retaliation on the part of students, Resident Coordinators, University Officials, and the Campus Police.  

It could not be clearer that I was being harassed and stalked, in my dorm room and as I walked across campus, on the basis of my mental health disability.  As I mention above, the illegal video recording of me on May 8th, 2018, makes this more than clear.  Additionally, my attackers made it more than clear in their global defamation campaign that they waged against me immediately following the May 8th, 2018 incident, that they had always been targeting me due to my mental health disability, and that Yale was not only aware of this fact, but that the Yale Administration also assisted them in their efforts.  For the OCR to state that it’s too speculative to infer that I was being targeted on the basis of my mental health disability by students, Resident Coordinators, University Officials, and the Yale Campus Police, both directly and indirectly, is ludicrous.  

On February 24th, 2018, I made clear to my attacker, Jean Louis Reneson, that I was asking him to leave, because I was a woman, alone, and he had followed me up to my isolated dorm room to gain unauthorized access to the 12thfloor of the tower of the Hall of Graduate Studies.  I could not have made this clearer.  It was out of concern for my personal safety, as a woman living alone in an isolated dorm room, that I called the non-emergency helpline of the Yale Campus Police on February 24th, 2018.  I could not have made this fact clearer to everyone involved, including the Yale Administration, Yale Housing, and the Yale Campus Police.  This fact is reiterated in my Yale Campus Police report dated March 9th, 2018, and filed with Yale Campus Police Officer Grace Schenkle. Again, the Housing Managers investigated the February 24th, 2018 incident and fully exonerated me.  They told me that they would discipline the Resident Coordinators for not having handled the situation properly.  I am repeating these facts, because I want to make clear that the students involved, the Resident Coordinators, the University Officials, and the Yale Campus Police Department harassed and stalked me, discriminated against me, and retaliated against me, not because they believed that I had been accused of or had perpetrated racial harassment, but due to my race, sex, disability, and age.  Everyone knew that I had NOT perpetrated racial harassment.  I was being harassed and stalked and attacked, discriminated and retaliated against, because I had dared to assert my rights to be safe on Yale’s campus, as an older, disabled woman, by telling a man who had followed me up to my isolated dorm room, and who had clearly gained unauthorized access thereto, to leave, and because I had called the non emergency helpline of the Yale Campus Police, and because I had taken reasonable precautions to enter my dorm room safely.  And, moreover, I was being discriminated and retaliated against, by University Officials, when I asserted that they were in gross violation of Federal Civil Rights Laws by engaging in such discrimination and retaliation and direct and indirect harassment and stalking and attacks.  (As I made clear in my complaint to the OCR, the Yale Administration jumped at the chance to expel me again, as they had tried to do in Spring, 2015.)

I made clear to Yale Housing, the Yale Administration, and the Yale Campus Police Department that I had grave concerns that Yale was taking the position that an older, disabled woman who lives alone in an isolated dorm room in Yale’s on campus graduate student housing does not have the right to take reasonable precautions to ensure that she can enter her isolated dorm room safely; that she does not have the right to tell a man who followed her up to her isolated dorm room to gain unauthorized access thereto to leave; that she does not have the right to call the non emergency helpline of the Yale Campus Police when she is followed by a man up to her isolated dorm room, a man who had clearly gained unauthorized access thereto.  The notion that it is too speculative to infer that I was being discriminated against, harassed and stalked, and retaliated against on the basis of sex is preposterous.  

I made clear to Dean Nearon via email that I took her refusals to address the harassment and stalking and attacks against me as gross violations of Title IX and the ADA.  I made clear to Attorney Hendel that I took her refusals to address the harassment and stalking and attacks against me as gross violations of Title IX and the ADA, as well as her insistence that I deal with Dean Nearon, after I had made clear that I believed Dean Nearon to be in gross violation of Title IX and the ADA.  I made clear to Provost Spangler and Associate Provost Cynthia Smith and Yale Campus Police Chief Ronnell Higgins that I took Dean Nearon and Attorney Hendel and Sergeant Robbins-Hoffman and Yale Housing and the Yale Campus Police Department to be in gross violation of Title IX and the ADA. The notion that it is too speculative to infer that I was being discriminated against, harassed and stalked and attacked, and retaliated against on the basis of race, sex, disability, and age is preposterous.

Moreover, the May 8th, 2018 incident and subsequent global defamation campaign against me took place at the apex of the Living While Black movement.  It is more than clear from the statements of my attackers subsequent to the May 8th, 2018 incident, as well as the statements of University Officials, that they had every intention of taking full advantage of the Living While Black narrative to destroy my life and career, as well as drive me to suicide and incite my murder.  They, including University Officials, had every intention of globally and publicly branding me a racist, not because they knew that I had been accused of or had perpetrated racial harassment, but to target me for my race, sex, diability, and age.  For the OCR to suggest that it is too speculative to infer that I was harassed and stalked and attacked, and discriminated and retaliated against, including by University Officials and the Yale Campus Police department, on the basis of race, sex, disability, and age, is, quite frankly, preposterous.  Quite frankly, I was the victim of a hate crime hoax, and the Yale Administration and the Yale Campus Police were complicit.  

Finally, the OCR’s statement that I was not engaged in a protected activity is preposterous.  I was very clearly engaged in a protected activity, was a member of multiple protected classes, was being targeted because of my membership in those protected classes, and suffered adverse actions by Yale University, which adversely affected my ability to participate in those protected activities.  The OCR claims that being accused of having perpetrated racial harassment is not a protected activity.  The notion that this was the protected activity in which I was engaged is ludicrous. Clearly, I was engaged in the protected activity of studying, living, and working on Yale’s campus, as an older, disabled white woman.  Clearly, the protected activity I was engaged in was walking across campus while being free from discrimination and harassment and stalking and attacks on the basis of my race, sex, disability, and age.  Clearly, I was engaged in the protected activity of living in Yale’s on campus housing while being free from discrimination and harassment and stalking and attacks and retaliation on the basis of my race, sex, disability, and age. Clearly, I was engaged in the protected activity of having the right to tell a man who had followed me up to my isolated dorm room and gained unauthorized access thereto to leave. Clearly, I was engaged in the protected activity of having the right to call the non emergency helpline of the Yale Campus Police after having been followed up to my isolated dorm room by a man who had clearly gained unauthorized access thereto.  Clearly, I was engaged in the protected activity of pursuing my academic and occupational goals as a graduate student at Yale University without being attacked and harassed and discriminated against and retaliated against by University Officials and the Yale Campus Police department on the basis of race, age, disability, and sex.  

I suffered untold adverse actions by University Officials and the Yale Campus Police Department. They destroyed my life and career. They ruined my reputation and livelihood.  They almost drove me to suicide and almost incited my murder.  They made grossly false and wrongful and defamatory public statements about me.  They wrongfully charged me with racial harassment, even though they knew I was entirely innocent, and they did this due to my race, sex, disability, and age. They wrongfully banned me from campus. They wrongfully banned me from teaching at Yale.  I will not now be able to complete a crucial component of my dissertation – the empirical social psychological study on the nature of authority and the nature of the relationship between authority and legitimacy.  These bans remain in effect to this day.  I almost died, because of what they did to me.  I will never be able to secure gainful employment.  I will never be able to support myself.  My human and civil rights and legal and academic careers are over, through no fault of my own.  My life has been completely and utterly devastated, because of what they did to me, and I am asking the Federal Office for Civil Rights to open an investigation at Yale University for these reasons.  Please do the right thing and help me.  

If you wish to support me, as I seek justice, it would mean the world to me. Here are my PayPalMe and GoFundMe links. 

PayPalMe:  https://www.paypal.me/SarahBraasch

GoFundMe:  https://www.gofundme.com/sarah-braasch-legal-fund

You can follow me on twitter here:  https://twitter.com/sarahbraasch1?lang=en

Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz4xV2R6mTVJhAu9OQzwp5g

Letter to Kimberley D. Harris, General Counsel for NBCUniversal, Demanding a Retraction and Apology and as Notice of the Illegal Distribution of the Illegal Video Recording of Me

Notice to Cease and Desist and Notice of Demand for Retraction and Apology

April 27, 2019

Attorney Kimberley D. Harris, Executive Vice President, Comcast Corporation, and General Counsel

NBCUniversal

30 Rockefeller Plaza

New York, NY 10112

Re:  Defamation of Character of Sarah Braasch

Attorney Harris:

First and foremost, this letter serves as notice that the video recording made of me on May 8th, 2018, in my Yale University dormitory, the Hall of Graduate Studies, was made illegally, under Connecticut State Law, and the distribution of this video recording, either the audio or the video therefrom, or any part thereof, is illegal under Connecticut State Law, including under CT General Statutes, Chapter 952, Section 53A, Provisions 189 a and b.  I intend to pursue prosecution for the illegal distribution of this video recording to the full extent of the law.  The distribution of this illegal video recording is a felony under CT State Law, with a statute of limitations of 5 years.  I demand that you remove this video wherever it may have been posted by any agent of Comcast Corporation.  I demand that you remove any links to this video wherever these links may have been posted by any agent of Comcast Corporation.  

This letter serves as a demand that all Comcast Corporation agents cease and desist their grossly false and defamatory statements about me, Sarah Braasch, immediately.  This letter also serves as a demand that all Comcast Corporation agents who have made such grossly false and defamatory statements about me, including, but not limited to, NBC News, Ron Allen, and Erik Ortiz, immediately and publicly retract those statements and immediately and publicly apologize to me, Sarah Braasch, for having made those grossly false and defamatory statements.  

These grossly false and defamatory statements include, but are not limited to, the following:

NBC Nightly News has produced a broadcast video, dated May 10th, 2018, which grossly defames me as guilty of racial harassment.  This video is available on NBC’s website and their YouTube Channel, and has been widely viewed and distributed online.  Ron Allen of NBC Nightly News explicitly states in the video that I reported the woman whom I had encountered in the small common room next to my isolated dorm room to the Yale campus police, because I regarded her as suspicious, because she looked different than me, because of the color of her skin.  Ron Allen of NBC Nightly News explicitly states in the video that my call to the Yale campus police was unjustified, because the woman whom I had encountered, was, according to NBC Nightly News, doing nothing wrong.  Ron Allen of NBC Nightly News explicitly states in the video that I was motivated by racial bias.  These are straight up, bald faced lies, on the part of Ron Allen and NBC Nightly News, meant to destroy my life, my career as a lifelong human and civil rights licensed attorney activist, and ruin my reputation and livelihood, with reckless disregard for the truth, lies which almost drove me to suicide and incited my murder.  

Moreover, this video was made of me, illegally, and widely distributed online, illegally, for the purpose of shaming me for my disability, my mental health disability, including by NBC News.  The fact that I was targeted for my mental health disability is made abundantly clear in the video itself, when my attacker repeatedly calls me psychotic and says that I should be put in a mental institution.  She also explicitly states that it was Yale who illegally fed her my personal information, including my mental health history, when she says that Yale knows that I’m crazy and that I should be institutionalized. That NBC News would participate in the network news broadcast and online public shaming of a middle aged, disabled woman, who was made a target, because of her mental health disability, is reprehensible.  The most defamatory and disgusting thing that NBC News did in producing this broadcast video meant to destroy my life, a broadcast video which almost drove me to suicide and incited my murder, was to purposely and purposefully omit those portions of the video that make it clear that my attacker was targeting me for my mental health disability, as well as those portions of the video where my attacker stigmatizes mental illness and makes clear that Yale was illegally feeding her my personal information, in gross violation of my privacy, including my mental health history.  

Additionally, NBC News Staff Writer Erik Ortiz has written a grossly and egregiously defamatory article titled, “Police shooting near Yale exposes complex racial divide,” which is dated April 24th, 2019, and includes a link to the grossly false and defamatory NBC Nightly News broadcast video with Ron Allen, dated May 10th, 2018.  It is difficult to believe that NBC News would do something so vile and defamatory as to link an innocent civil rights activist and older disabled woman, who is the victim of a campaign of harassment and stalking, in part due to her mental health disability, facts which are common knowledge, to a police shooting of a black woman near Yale that sparked protests about racism and police brutality.  NBC News Staff Writer Erik Ortiz explicitly states that I am the reason why there is not a better relationship between the Yale Campus Police Department and the black communities surrounding Yale University.  This is a straight up, bald faced lie, on the part of NBC News, meant to destroy my life, my career as a lifelong human and civil rights licensed attorney activist, and ruin my reputation and livelihood, with reckless disregard for the truth, a lie which almost drove me to suicide and incited my murder.  

These are straight-up, bald-faced lies, on the part of Comcast Corporation, including NBC News, Ron Allen, and Erik Ortiz, meant to destroy my life, my career as a lifelong human and civil rights licensed attorney activist, and ruin my reputation and livelihood, with reckless disregard for the truth, lies which almost drove me to suicide and incited my murder.  Ron Allen lied on NBC Nightly News about me.  He didn’t even try to find out the truth of what happened.  He did not meet the bare minimum requirement with respect to his ethical and journalistic obligations to report the truth before he endangered and destroyed my life by telling lies about me on NBC Nightly News, broadcast to the entire world.  

The damage to my life, reputation, livelihood, good name, and career are incalculable.  I was forced to flee my dorm room and then campus. I was suicidal for near a year and forced into hiding for my personal safety.  I continue to be defamed as a racist, including this week, by Erik Ortiz and NBC News.  I can’t even begin to count the death threats and threats of violence that I have received. I can’t even begin to count the number of instances of defamation as guilty of racial harassment that I have endured in the national and international news media, as well as on social media, including on NBC News and by Ron Allen and Erik Ortiz.  My academic and legal and human and civil rights careers are over.  I will never be able to secure gainful employment.  I will no longer be able to support myself.  

I had been a lifelong human and civil rights licensed attorney activist who had devoted her life to undermining oppression in all of its many forms, including racism.  No one who has ever known me has ever heard or seen me say or do anything racist ever.  Everything that I had wished for my life is no longer possible. Everything that I had strived for my entire life has been destroyed, it has been stripped from me through no fault of my own.  

As a result, I immediately demand the following: 

  1. Comcast Corporation will remove the illegal video recording of me and any part thereof, wherever it exists, including all links thereto;  

  2. Comcast Corporation will retract and remove all grossly false and defamatory statements about me, wherever they exist, including all links thereto;
  3. Comcast Corporation will produce a statement, including an apology to me, and Comcast Corporation will explain the gross illegality of all other grossly false and defamatory statements about me, as well as their grossly false and defamatory character; this new statement will take the place of the former grossly false and defamatory statements, wherever they exist, including all links thereto;
  4. Comcast Corporation will issue a public apology to me for concluding that I acted with any
racial animus or bias in connection with this incident, and stating that all the evidence known to Comcast Corporation suggests otherwise, and this public apology will be read on air on any broadcast that had previously aired grossly false and defamatory statements about me, including on NBC Nightly News, and including by Ron Allen; and 

  5. Comcast Corporation will publicly announce that I have been publicly misrepresented as engaging in
discriminatory misconduct, and this public announcement will be read on air on any broadcast that had previously aired grossly false and defamatory statements about me, including on NBC Nightly News, and including by Ron Allen.  Indeed my work at Yale and beyond evidence that I harbor no racial animus whatsoever.  To the contrary, I have dedicated myself to causes of social justice including the cause of eradicating all forms of discrimination. 


I expect a response from you in short order.

Sincerely, 

Sarah Braasch

If you wish to support me, as I seek justice, it would mean the world to me. Here are my PayPalMe and GoFundMe links. 

PayPalMe:  https://www.paypal.me/SarahBraasch

GoFundMe:  https://www.gofundme.com/sarah-braasch-legal-fund

You can follow me on twitter here:  https://twitter.com/sarahbraasch1?lang=en

Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz4xV2R6mTVJhAu9OQzwp5g

Solving Lewis and Hart’s Problems with Normativity, Evolution, and Disagreement (Journal Submission Version)

Solving Lewis and Hart’s Problems with Normativity, Evolution, and Disagreement

Introduction

David Lewis and HLA Hart have very similar problems with their accounts of social conventions in Conventionand The Concept of Law, respectively.  They both want to capture an obligatory character of social conventions. They both see an obligation to comply as being an essential feature of social conventions.  They both think that the only way to capture this obligatory character is if there is a single rational thing to do in a situation that gives rise to a social convention, which is to conform as everyone else in one’s population conforms.  They both think that if there is a single rational thing to do, then you have something very closely akin to an obligation to do that one rational thing.  But, these Lewisian social conventions only arise in situations wherein everyone is particularly motivated to align their beliefs and expectations with one another and to coordinate their behavior and achieve unanimity of conformity.  The problem with Lewisian social conventions is that they must pop into and out of existence instantaneously, and they can neither evolve nor devolve over time. Nor do they allow for disagreement or dissent or pluralism.  This is the price that one must pay to capture the obligatory character of social conventions.  But, we know that social institutions evolve and devolve over time.  People disagree about what the law is and should be. And, despite this fluidity and pluralism, we still behave and speak as if there were a real obligation to follow the law and to comply with the social conventions of one’s social group.  

The first step to solving this problem is to adopt Margaret Gilbert’s brilliant insight that social conventions are social group constituting.  The fact that a population has a social convention constitutes that population as a social group for that reason, if for no other.  The second step is to recognize the role that practical authority plays.  This is the case, even for Lewisian social conventions, because of the risk dominance of the status quo position.  No one is going to conform to an alternate Lewisian social convention, unless she knows that her entire community is going to do likewise.  The worst possible outcome is for anyone to fail to coordinate. Practical authority solves this problem, because the authority makes it known how everyone in the social group will behave, allowing the social group to overcome the risk dominance of the status quo position and move between alternate Lewisian social conventions.  The third step is to recognize that all social conventions are step public social goods.  This is the case because the authority is a freeriding defector.  Now, we no longer require unanimity to generate normativity.  Once the step public social good of the social group itself has been generated, the social group rests upon an equilibrium point.  No one wants to defect, because the social group would collapse back to the status quo.  And, the authority has no incentive to conform, because she fares far better by continuing to defect.  Thus, there is a single rational thing to do in this situation, which is to continue to conform to the social convention.  Now that we no longer need unanimity to achieve normativity/obligation, we can have sub social groups within a larger social group with their own sub social conventions that wax and wane over time.  Thus, we can have evolution and disagreement. And, we have solved Lewis and Hart’s problems.  

The Obligatory Character of Social Conventions?

Both David Lewis, in Convention, and HLA Hart, in The Concept of Law, are trying to capture what they construe as an essential feature of social conventions, namely, their obligatory character.  Hart wishes to capture a real obligation to comply with the law, and Lewis wishes to capture a real obligation to comply with the social conventions of one’s social group, and, in particular, the linguistic social conventions of one’s social group.  In Convention, Lewis has a particular interest in what it means for a certain population to have a language, for a language to be thelanguage of thatpopulation.  In The Concept of Law, Hart speaks to a legal system being a union of primary and secondary social rules, rather than conventions, precisely because he is intent on capturing the obligatory character of the legal rules that comprise a legal system, but he is in fact speaking of a union of primary and secondary social conventions.  This point of fact does not escape Hart.  He is neither invoking a mysterious supra-individual normative / obligatory character, nor one that emanates or arises from the aggregation of the intentions / agency of the individual social group members.  He knows that he has only the preferences, expectations, and actions of the individual social group members with which to work.  Neither Lewis nor Hart are under any illusions about this point.  Both Lewis and Hart are fully aware that they have only an individual instrumental (means-ends) rationality from which to generate something akin to an obligation to comply with the social conventions of one’s social group.  As Margaret Gilbert would and does say, in “Social Convention Revisited,” both Lewis’ and Hart’s accounts of social conventions are individualistic rather than holistic.  

But, this is also why Margaret Gilbert would and does say that both Lewis’ and Hart’s accounts of social conventions fail to capture the essential feature of obligatoriness.  Can there be a real obligation to comply with the social conventions of one’s social group, particularly with respect to Lewis’ and Hart’s accounts thereof?  And, moreover, is there a real obligation to comply with the social conventions of one’s social group, regardless of whether Lewis’ and Hart’s accounts thereof are able to capture this allegedly essential feature?  The simple answer is no; there is no real obligation to comply with the social conventions of one’s social group, nor the law, for that matter.  There are no normative facts.  There is no fact of the matter about how people should reason; there is only how people do reason.  Or, at least, there is only how most quasi-rational individual agents do reason most of the time.

I don’t think asking whether there is a real obligation to comply with the social conventions of one’s social group, be they linguistic or legal or what have you, is a very interesting question.  I think the answer is obviously no, there is no such thing as a real social obligation. Attempting to manifest a social ontological entity that is a real obligation to comply with the social conventions of one’s social group is a metaphysically suspect exercise in futility that obscures the real nature of human and social psychology that is vastly more interesting and useful.  If we want to talk about how we should build our social institutions, we must first understand how we do build and maintain our social institutions.  

I’m far more interested in explaining why most people most of the time behave and speak as if there were an obligation to comply with the social conventions of one’s social group. An account of social conventions should capture whatever it is about social conventions that motivates most people most of the time to behave and speak as if there were an actual obligation to comply.  This something will be something closely akin to obligation, or, at least, normative character, or as close as Lewis and Hart can hope to get under the constraint of individual instrumental rationality.  An account of social conventions like Gilbert’s, one that enshrines a real obligation into its social ontology, obscures whatever it is about human and social psychology that compels most people most of the time to behave and speak as if there were this real obligation to comply.  Both Hart and Lewis think that they are able to capture something closely akin to obligation, but they pay a heavy price for it.  The price they pay for it is only being able to give an account of what Margaret Gilbert calls “Lewisian social conventions.”  

The Obligatory Character of Lewisian Social Conventions?

In “Social Convention Revisited,” Margaret Gilbert hews very closely to Hart’s understanding, in The Concept of Law,of what it means to have an obligation to comply with the social conventions of one’s social group. You have an obligation to comply with your social group’s social conventions, if the other members of your social group are in a position to demand such compliance and sanction you for non-compliance.  But, if we’re only working with an individual instrumental (means-ends) rationality, then it doesn’t seem that we can have a real obligation.  If I am an individual agent, subject only to an individual instrumental rationality, and if I am taking my means to my ends, meaning that I am engaged in a course of action that I believe will secure whatever it is that I most desire (neglecting discussion of diachronic rationality), then I am behaving rationally.  No one, not even a member of my social group, is in any position to fault me for my choice of action, or to demand that I do otherwise, not on rational grounds, not as a requirement of rationality.  

This state of affairs has motivated many a practical and moral and legal philosopher to posit the existence of other branches of practical rationality, including prudential and social and moral rationality, that may or may not supersede an individual instrumental (means-ends) rationality, with morality generally construed as the paramount branch of practical rationality.  That this enterprise is metaphysically suspect, i.e., the positing of normative facts, has not been lost on many a practical and moral and legal philosopher.  The moral contractarians, like David Gauthier, in Morals by Agreement, have taken great pains to construct elaborate moral theories out of aggregations of individual agents’ preferences, expectations, and actions.  Margaret Gilbert engages in a similar exercise of constructing a real social obligation, i.e., joint commitment, out of the public demonstrations of the individual commitments of social group members to all other members of their respective social groups.  I think these are exercises in futility that, while not positing a supra-individual, metaphysically suspect social ontological entity of obligation, not only fail to hit upon their intended target, but also obscure what is true about the real nature of human and social psychology.  That it is true that most quasi-rational individual agents behave and speak as if there were a real obligation to comply with the social conventions of one’s social group most of the time has also not been lost on many a practical and moral and legal philosopher.  I think this is one of the great philosophical problems of our time. 

Both Hart and Lewis seem to think that there can be something closely akin to a real obligation when there is a single rational thing to do in a situation that gives rise to a social convention, which is what everyone else in your social group is doing.  If there is a single rational thing to do, then you have something closely akin to an obligation, even in terms of an individual instrumental (means-ends) rationality, to do that one rational thing.  And, if there is a single rational thing to do in a situation, then everyone in your social group has something closely akin to an obligation to do that one rational thing.

In The Concept of Law, Hart argues that this is what distinguishes social conventions (or rules, as he would put it, because there is an obligation to comply), from mere patterns of behavior, descriptive norms, and lesser, quasi-social rules, such as rules of etiquette.  A social rule is a social rule, for Hart, because there is a real pressing need for everyone in the social group to conform thereto.  No unilateral deviation from the rule can be tolerated.  Everyone in the social group fares far worse if anyone deviates.  The only rational thing to do in the situation that gives rise to the social rule / Lewisian social convention is what everyone else in your social group is doing.  This is what places your social group members in a quasi-position of being justified in demanding your compliance and sanctioning you for non-compliance.  This is why Hart says that a social rule (Lewisian social convention) is a social rule, because of the social fact that every single member of the social group takes the internal point of view towards the social rule and accepts it.  But, then, social conventions, Lewisian social conventions, only arise in situations wherein everyone in a population is particularly motivated to align their beliefs and expectations with one another and to coordinate their behavior to achieve unanimity of conformity.  And, Hart accepts or concedes as much.  And, this is the beginning of the downfall of his theory of a legal system, even though I think it can be saved, and my goal is to save it. 

The text book example of a Lewisian social convention is driving on the right or left hand side of the road.  If everyone drives on the right hand side of the road, then no one wants anyone to drive on the left hand side of the road, and everyone fares very poorly (injury, property damage), if anyone drives on the left hand side of the road.  The only rational thing to do is to drive on the same side of the road as everyone else in one’s community.  This is what places all of the social group members in the quasi-position of being justified in demanding compliance and sanctioning for non-compliance. This is why there is something very closely akin to obligation in situations wherein Lewisian social conventions arise.  We can certainly appreciate why social group members would behave and speak as if there were a real obligation to comply with the Lewisian social convention of driving on the right hand side of the road.  

The Problem(s) with Lewisian Social Conventions

With respect to a situation that gives rise to a Lewisian social convention, the worst possible outcome is a failure, any failure to coordinate.  Lewis allows for merely negligible deviation.  No one wants anyone to deviate.  But, this entails some very unfortunate consequences with respect to Lewis’ and Hart’s accounts of social conventions.  Their accounts of social conventions are accounts of Lewisian social conventions.  And, Lewisian social conventions are severely constrained.  Lewisian social conventions must pop into and out of existence instantaneously.  Lewisian social conventions can neither evolve nor devolve over time.  Lewisian social conventions do not allow for disagreement or dissent or pluralism.  This is because the worst possible outcome is any failure to coordinate; any act of unilateral deviation is grossly unacceptable.  Everyone in the social group fares far, far worse, if even a single social group member unilaterally deviates.  This is why the status quo is risk dominant, and risk dominant to such a degree, that no one in the social group would risk conforming to an alternate Lewisian social convention, unless she were absolutely certain that everyone else in her social group was going to jump instantaneously and simultaneously to this alternate Lewisian social convention.  But, that seems like a very high bar.  

Think again about the Lewisian social convention of driving on either the left or right hand side of the road.  Imagine a population wherein everyone drives on the left hand side of the road.  It matters little why, but imagine that there was some pressing reason for the community to switch to driving on the right hand side of the road, perhaps to bring themselves into alignment with a neighboring community.  Regardless of how pressing this need might be, no one in the social group is going to switch to driving on the right hand side of the road, unless she was absolutely certain that everyone in the social group was going to make this change, instantaneously and simultaneously.  This intuitively makes sense.  The worst possible outcome would be for even a single driver to make the switch unilaterally.  This could have catastrophic results.  This is why the status quo is risk dominant.  This is why Lewisian social conventions cannot evolve and devolve over time. This is why they must pop into and out of existence.  This is the price that one must pay to capture the obligatory character of social conventions.  If obligatory character demands unanimity of conformity at every moment, then social conventions that possess an obligatory character can never evolve or devolve over time.  There can be no disagreement about what the social convention is.  

For the reasons I mention immediately above, some feel that Lewisian social conventions don’t actually exist in the real world.  They believe that they are a mere idealization.  This matters little to me.  My intention is to modify Lewis’ account of social conventions so as to accommodate a whole range of social conventions, of varying degrees of conventionality and varying degrees of normative (and perhaps obligatory) character. My account will be able to accommodate Lewisian social conventions, whether they actually exist in the real world or no.  I will be able to accommodate these Lewisian social conventions of the highest degree of conventionality and the highest degree of normative / obligatory character, even if they are only a useful idealization.  

Ronald Dworkin famously offers a withering critique, in Law’s Empire, of Hart’s account of a legal system for just this reason, that for Hart, as for Lewis, there can be no disagreement about what the Lewisian social convention or social rule is, nor the law for that matter.  Dworkin was actually quite brilliant to notice that Hart’s account of a legal system, because his legal system is a union of primary and secondary Lewisian social conventions, despite the fact that Hart refers to these Lewisian social conventions as social rules, doesn’t allow for theoretical disagreement about what the law is or should be.  If the normative / obligatory character of a legal rule (that is a Lewisian social convention) is premised upon the social fact that everyone in the social group whose legal system it is conforms to that legal rule, expects everyone to conform to that legal rule, and prefers to conform to that legal rule, as long as everyone else in the social group does likewise, then a legal rule for which this were not the case, would not be a legal rule (a Lewisian social convention) with a normative / obligatory character. Dworkin astutely points out that, per Hart’s theory of a legal system, any disagreement with respect to whether a particular legal rule is a legal rule of whichever legal system, means that it isn’t a legal rule of that legal system.  (I address elsewhere how Hart attempts to salvage his legal theory in the most disastrous way possible – i.e., by alienating the citizenry / general public from their own legal system, which only serves to lead him into a quandary.)

Ronald Dworkin was quite brilliant to notice this flaw in Hart’s legal theory, a flaw which Dworkin exploited to great effect, and which gave us what is perhaps one of the foundational dialectics in legal philosophy, the Hart-Dworkin debate.  But, much as I admire Gilbert and fully recognize her brilliant insight that social conventions are social group constituting, while I am highly critical of her paradigmatically wholly normative account of social conventions, I also admire Dworkin’s brilliant insight into the flawed nature of Hart’s legal theory, while I reject Dworkin’s natural law theory. I reside upon the Hart side of this debate, as an exclusive legal positivist, regardless of the flaws in Hart’s legal theory.  Hart argues that a legal system is comprised of the union between primary, duty imposing social rules (Lewisian social conventions) of obligation and secondary, power conferring social rules of authority.  Dworkin argues that legal systems are not merely comprised of rules, but also principles, moral principles, which are not rules and cannot be rules.  I agree with Hart.  Dworkin’s principles are rules, and they can be rules.  Or, as I would say, Dworkin’s principles are social conventions, and they can be social conventions.  

In his attempt to capture an obligatory character as an essential feature of social conventions, and, in particular, linguistic social conventions, Lewis finds himself in a similar quandary to Hart.  In Convention, Lewis is particularly interested in establishing what it means or what it is for a particular population to have or to speak a certain language.  And, not surprisingly, he settles upon the notion that for a certain population to possess or to speak a certain language is for that population to have a social convention of truthfulness in that language.  But, just as we have strong pre-theoretical intuitions that our social conventions wax and wane over time and we disagree about what the law is and should be, we also have strong pre-theoretical intuitions that our languages, not only evolve over time, but that we also make statements and employ linguistic terms for many other reasons than to indicate true facts about the world. Hart thinks that in order for it to be the case that a certain social group has a legal system with an obligatory character, everyone in that social group has to take the internal point of view towards that legal system and accept it.  Lewis thinks something very similar in Conventionwith respect to language.  Lewis thinks that in order for it to be the case that a certain social group has a language with an obligatory character (it is an actual obligation to employ linguistic terms to refer to certain objects in the world), everyone in that social group expects everyone else in that social group to conform to the social convention of truthfulness in that language; everyone in that social group prefers that everyone in that social group conforms to the social convention of truthfulness in that language, as long as everyone else in that social group does likewise; and, in fact, everyone in that social group actually does conform to the social convention of truthfulness in that language. But, this seems intuitively wrong. Lewis seems to think that people only engage in conversation, in order to align their beliefs about what is true about the world.  But, I argue, in my non-ideal philosophy of language, that people actually engage in conversation for the purpose of imposing their worldviews upon one another. Just as I think Hart’s theory of legal systems can be saved, I also think that Lewis’ account of linguistic social conventions can be saved.  We can have a much more realistic account of what it means for a population to have a certain language, and we can still allow for the meanings of linguistic terms to evolve over time, and we can still allow for the conventional meanings of linguistic terms to evolve within the course of a single conversation, because a conversation is no longer only about aligning one’s beliefs with another person, with respect to true facts about the world.  

Can We Modify Lewis’ Account of Social Conventions?

As Ronald Dworkin so brilliantly pointed out, we disagree about what the law is and should be.  Likewise, we have strong pre-theoretical intuitions that our social conventions evolve and devolve over time, waxing and waning, arising and collapsing, as quasi-rational individual agents pressure the evolution and devolution of their social groups’ social conventions.  And, despite this fluidity and pluralism, we still speak and behave (most of us; most of the time) as if there were a real obligation to follow the law and to comply with one’s social groups’ social conventions.  

So, both Lewis’ and Hart’s accounts of social conventions are terrifically and woefully inadequate. Both Lewis’ and Hart’s accounts of social conventions are merely accounts of Lewisian social conventions. Lewisian social conventions only capture one class of social conventions, social conventions with the highest degree of conventionality and the strongest normative (perhaps obligatory) character.  A “degree of conventionality” is Lewis’ term, but regardless of his circumspection, he still allows for merely negligible unilateral deviation.  He only allows for social conventions of the very highest degrees of conventionality to exist, i.e., Lewisian social conventions, because these are the only social conventions that may boast, according to Lewis, something closely akin to an essential feature of normative (and perhaps obligatory) character.  

Regardless of the inadequacies of Lewis’ account of social conventions, I still think there is so much that Lewis gets right about social conventions, including arbitrariness and common knowledge.  Arbitrariness, in Lewis’ sense, means that I want to conform as my social group conforms, and if my social group were to coordinate upon a different alternate Lewisian social convention, then, I would likewise prefer to conform upon that different alternate Lewisian social convention.  If I were to conform for the sake of an agreement, because morality compels me to do so, then this would not be conventional behavior.  (An agreement can serve as the basis of a social convention, but not for the sake of the agreement itself.)  But, this is also why, as Lewis makes clear in his account of social conventions, there must always be at least two alternate Lewisian social conventions in a situation that gives rise thereto, because, if there were only one, then conforming to that single option would not be conventional behavior.  

Contra Gilbert, I believe that individualistic accounts of social conventions are the only ones that avoid disqualification for being metaphysically suspect.  (I explain elsewhere why Gilbert’s attempt to concoct a social obligation, i.e., joint commitment, as its own branch of practical rationality, out of the individual commitments, and public demonstrations thereof, of the individual members of a social group, fails miserably.)  Lewis and Hart are both right to acknowledge that we only have the preferences, expectations, and actions of individual social group members with which to work.  (Gilbert claims that her account of social conventions requires neither conformity, i.e., an actual regularity in behavior, nor expectation of conformity, nor preference for conformity, but, nonetheless, results in a real social obligation to comply with the social conventions (or rules) of one’s social group, even when a verbal agreement is not the basis for the social convention. For Gilbert, the paramount essential feature of a social convention is its obligatory character.)  

But, they, Lewis and Hart, are also both right to notice that most people most of the time behave and speak as if there were a real obligation to comply with the law and one’s social conventions.  They err in thinking that the only way to accommodate both essential features (normativity/obligation and unanimity of conformity/a regularity in behavior) is for social conventions to only arise in situations in which there is but a single rational thing to do, which is what everyone else in one’s social group is doing. We want to capture normativity (and maybe even something closely akin to obligation) without demanding unanimity in conformity.  But, can we modify Lewis’s account of social conventions to capture evolution, disagreement, and pluralism, while also capturing something akin to normative (and perhaps obligatory) character?  I think we can fix Lewis’ account of social conventions, and, in so doing, fix Hart’s account of legal systems, as well as Lewis’ account of what it means for a population to have a language.  

How to Fix Lewis’ Account of Social Conventions

We can modify Lewis’ account of social conventions to accommodate all of the different classes of social conventions, of varying degrees of conventionality.  And, at one and the same time, we can continue to capture the quasi-obligatory character that Lewis captures, i.e., we can retain the essential feature that there is but a single rational thing to do for someone party to a social convention, which is continue to conform to the social convention, as long as everyone else party to the social convention continues to do likewise. Lewis takes himself to have captured as much of a quasi-obligatory character as he requires, if he is able to capture the fact that there is a single rational thing to do for someone party to a social convention, which is what everyone else in one’s social group is doing.  If there is a single rational thing to do, then Lewis takes it that you have something very closely akin to an obligation to do that one rational thing.  And, that’s as much as he requires, because this essential feature explains why most people most of the time behave and speak as if there were a real obligation to comply with the social conventions of one’s social group.  

How are we to go about modifying Lewis’ account of social conventions to allow for evolution and devolution, and disagreement and dissent, whilst there being a single rational thing to do?  The first step is to adopt Margaret Gilbert’s brilliant insight that social conventions are social group constituting.  The fact that a population has a social convention constitutes that population as a social group for that very reason, if no other.  The second step is to recognize the role that practical, and not merely epistemic, authority plays.  Practical authority makes it known how everyone in the social group will behave. Ultimately, I am going to say that all social coordination requires practical (and not merely epistemic) authority. The third step is to recognize that all social conventions (and social groups) are step public social goods. This is the case because the authority, the practical authority, is a freeriding defector who is not actually party to the social convention, but remains a member of the social group.  (So, if you can have a social group with two members, and I think you can, then you can have a social convention with one social group member party thereto, as counterintuitive as this might seem.)  Combining these 3 steps results in social group (and sub social group) constituting social conventions (institutions) that rest upon equilibrium points (meaning there is a single rational thing to do for one party to the convention, i.e., conform), but that can also evolve and devolve over time.  We have severed the essential feature of obligatoriness, or something closely akin thereto, from unanimity in conformity, allowing for negligible unilateral deviation.  Thus, we have normative (and perhaps obligatory) character without requiring unanimity in conformity at every moment in time.

Why is it so important to sever the essential feature of obligatoriness from the constraint of unanimity in conformity at every moment in time?  If Lewis’ and Hart’s accounts of social conventions demand unanimity in conformity at every moment in time, because there is a single rational thing to do, which is what everyone else in one’s social group is doing, so you have something closely akin to an obligation to do that one rational thing, as does everyone else in your social group, then the worst possible outcome is for anyone to deviate.  No unilateral deviation may be tolerated.  If this is what it means for a population to have a social convention, then, in order to do anything but maintain the status quo, the entire social group must always act as one, acting en masse, instantaneously and simultaneously. This means that no one is going to conform to an alternate Lewisian social convention, unless she is absolutely certain that her entire social group is going to act likewise, instantaneously and simultaneously.  This is why the status quo is overwhelmingly risk dominant, risk dominant to such a degree so as to make it impossible for the social group to do anything other than maintain the status quo, which is essentially negating the essential feature of arbitrariness.  And, as mentioned above, if there are no alternate Lewisian social conventions, to which the social group could jump, if they so choose, then continuing to conform to the status quo is not conventional behavior.  

Moreover, Lewisian social conventions do not comprise all social conventions.  Lewisian social conventions are a single class of social conventions, of the highest degree of conventionality and the strongest normative/obligatory character.  Both Lewis and Hart have backed themselves into a corner in which they have to pretend that the only social conventions that exist are Lewisian social conventions. They are both pretending that what it means for a population to have a social convention is for the population to have a Lewisian social convention.  But, this flies in the face of our pre-theoretical intuitions that our social conventions wax and wane over time, casting a larger and smaller normative shadow over our lives as they do so.  

This also means that we don’t have to make Hart’s arbitrary and, to many philosophers, nonsensical distinction between lesser and, therefore, quasi-social rules, like rules of etiquette, and greater and, therefore, real social rules, like driving on the right or left hand side of the road.  This point has long been employed to disparage Hart’s account of social and legal rules, because the distinction is so obviously desultory. If we sever obligatoriness from unanimity of conformity, then we can consider non Lewisian social conventions of lesser degrees of conventionality and weaker normative/obligatory characters. A rule of etiquette is a social rule, a real social rule, just as much as driving on one side of the road or the other is.  

What we will have to do is make a distinction between legal rules and mere social rules that are not also legal rules.  But, Hart has already done this for us.  This was his most brilliant insight, which he betrayed in his quest to establish the obligatory character of law.  A legal rule is a legal rule, because it is part of a legal system, the union of primary, duty imposing social rules of obligation and secondary, power conferring social rules of authority, for which such authority is being conferred upon public officials, and not mere citizens.  Social rules become legal rules once the social group has conferred authority upon public officials (qua public officials) to promulgate, modify, and adjudicate these social rules.  The boundaries of the power conferred are the social rules of the social group whose legal system it is.  If a public official exceeds her power, then she has not violated an obligation; she has merely failed to make law.  Hart undermined his legal theory by alienating the general public / citizenry from its own legal system in his dogged pursuit for social and legal obligation. 

Step One – Social Conventions are Social Group Constituting

I disagree with a great deal in Margaret Gilbert’s account of social conventions in “Social Convention Revisited,” BUT I think her insight that social conventions are social group constituting is absolutely brilliant.  The fact that a population has a social convention constitutes that population as a social group for that reason alone, if for no other.  This is really important for my account, as you will see below.  When a population generates a social convention, the population generates a social group.  I refer to Gilbert’s account of social conventions (really social rules) as a paradigmatic wholly normative account of social conventions.  For her, the obligatory character of social conventions is the paramount essential feature, and she requires neither conformity (a regularity in behavior), nor expectation of conformity, nor preference for conformity. In my opinion, Gilbert’s account of social conventions is really an account of social rules, but in the vein of moral rules, as not requiring actual compliance, expectation of compliance, or preference for compliance to justify their obligatory character.  Gilbert is highly critical of Lewisian social conventions, which she refers to as individualistic, rather than holistic, and she argues that there can be no real obligation to comply with Lewisian social conventions.  Gilbert is arguing for a branch of practical rationality that is social obligation, that is an obligation to comply with the social conventions of one’s social group, and that is something apart from individual instrumental (means-ends) rationality, prudential rationality, and, even, morality, although she acknowledges that morality remains the paramount branch of practical rationality, superseding all others, including social/conventional rationality.  

Why would Gilbert include an essential feature of social group constitution in her wholly normative account of social conventions (really social rules)?  This seems, at first glance, counterintuitive.  Why would it matter to her that a population manifest an actual social group when she claims not to require any manifestation of a regularity in behavior, nor any expectation of or preference for such a regularity in behavior in a population?  It is actually precisely for this reason, particularly in the instance when there is no verbal agreement to serve as the basis for a social convention. I argue elsewhere that Gilbert does in fact rely upon, and must rely upon, a regularity in behavior, as well as an expectation of and a preference for such a regularity, particularly in the instance in which there is no verbal agreement to serve as the basis for a population’s social convention.  

Gilbert relies upon her concept of “joint commitment.”  As part of a population’s joint commitment to a particular social convention, all commit all to comply with the social convention, jointly and severally.  But, in the absence of a verbal agreement to comply with a particular social convention, how would this joint commitment take place?  Gilbert indicates that she requires only that each member of a population behave as if she were a member of the social group, in the public sphere of that particular social group, or, out in the open, as it were.  Once this occurs, and the joint commitment has taken place, all social group members owe their compliance to the social conventions of the social group to the social group itself, not the other members of the social group.  Once the joint commitment takes place, the social convention has been created, as the property of the social group, and the social group has been created, as the joint and several owners of the social convention, and no individual social group member may rescind her commitment to comply with the social convention, unless the social convention, and, perhaps, the entire social group, is jointly and severally rescinded.  But, this seems odd.  First and foremost, the threshold for making such a commitment seems intolerably low.  I commit myself, and others (!), to a great deal by doing very little, by merely behaving as if I were a member of a particular social group in their public sphere. Moreover, I don’t know how I would know how to behave like a member of a particular social group in their public sphere, unless I knew of their regularities in behaviors, and I knew that they expected their social group members to conform to these regularities in behaviors, because they had a preference for these regularities in behavior. 

But, now it makes sense why Gilbert would include social group constitution as an essential feature of social conventions in her account thereof, along with social obligation, including all other social group members being in a position to demand compliance and sanction for non-compliance.  If a social convention is the property of those who jointly and severally created it, and who, therefore, jointly and severally own it, then, necessarily, those joint and several owners form a social group, for that reason, if for no other. Gilbert speaks in “Social Convention Revisited,” at length about how social groups talk about their conventions being theirs.  It is important for Gilbert’s wholly normative account of social conventions (social rules) that a population knows that they are a social group, and that they know what their conventions are and that those conventions are theirs, precisely because she does not require actual conformity, nor expectation of conformity, nor preference for conformity.  If you don’t owe your compliance to the other social group members, because Gilbert’s account of social obligation is holistic, and not individualistic, then you must owe your compliance to the social group as a whole, as a single social entity.  (This social entity does seem quite metaphysically suspect and mysterious at this point, though.)  This is why, for Gilbert, social/conventional rationality is a stand alone branch of practical rationality, superseded only by morality, but which itself supersedes both an individual instrumental and a prudential rationality.  This is why, for Gilbert, once the joint commitment has been concluded, individual social group members are no longer in a position to rescind their individual commitments, even if they have individual instrumental and prudential interests to the contrary.  However, Gilbert’s account of joint commitment fails, particularly in the absence of a verbal agreement, without regularities of behavior that are expected of social group members and for which social group members have a preference for that reason, at least for most social group members, most of the time. 

As I mention above, I find Gilbert’s account of social conventions and social obligation implausible and metaphysically suspect, despite her claims of avoiding any untoward social ontological entities.  You just don’t get to have your social ontological cake and eat it too.  If you don’t want to employ metaphysically suspect normative facts, such as a social obligation, not to mention a social group, that emanates mysteriously from the mysterious manifestation of a social convention in a population, then you have to do as Hart and Lewis do, and make use of individual agents’ expectations, beliefs, preferences, and actions.  But, you don’t get to make use of individual agents’ expectations, beliefs, preferences, and actions, while claiming that you are doing nothing of the kind.  Either social obligation is real or it isn’t.  (Hint – it isn’t.)  And, now we have the challenging task of explaining why most people most of the time speak and behave as if it were.  This is what Hart and Lewis did, and I think they made some brilliant moves, but I think we can do even better.  

Step Two – The Role that Practical Authority Plays

Social coordination requires practical authority.  I employ the esteemed legal philosopher Joseph Raz’s definition of authority, in The Authority of Law, as the power (or capacity or ability) to alter the protected reasons of someone else –a protected reason is a first order reason to do something and a second order reason to stop considering any alternate actions.  This is the case, that social coordination requires practical, and not merely epistemic, authority, even for Lewisian social conventions, because of the risk dominance of the status quo position.  No one is going to conform to an alternate Lewisian social convention, unless she knows that her entire community is going to do likewise.  The worst possible outcome is for anyone to fail to coordinate.  Practical authority solves this problem, because the authority makes it known how everyone in the social group will behave.  

An authority communicates the salience / optimality of a particular Lewisian social convention to the population.  Communication is required, but not necessarily verbal / linguistic communication, in order for it to be the case that the entire population knows how the entire population will behave.  A communicator always bears a cost for communicating, so being a communicating authority is risky, if one’s authority is not recognized.  But, it can be in an authority’s long term rational self interest to bear this cost.  Authority is always assumed.  Therefore, for an authority to arise in a population demands that there exists at least one risk tolerant, foresighted individual.  Coordination problems can go unresolved, if such an individual does not exist.  Additionally, once such authority has been assumed, it must also be conferred by the population.  Coordination problems can also go unresolved, if a population fails to confer such authority. 

This person who communicates to make salient a Lewisian social convention, be it optimal or no, be it already salient or no, is an authority.  How does this person become an authority?  This authority is conferred by the other social group members out of necessity, in order to solve the coordination problem and overcome the risk dominance of the baseline / status quo position (or the state of nature). In the case of Lewisian social conventions, the population is particularly motivated to coordinate, to align their beliefs and expectations and behaviors with one another.  Consider the motivation to coordinate upon the Lewisian social convention of driving on the right hand side of the road (or the left). If there is nothing particularly salient about either proper coordination equilibrium point / regularity in behavior, then it will be near impossible for the population to coordinate, instantaneously and simultaneously, en masse, upon either social convention.  Additionally, in order for the population to jump as a group to an alternate Lewisian social convention, the population must overcome the risk dominance of its current state.  Therefore, a secondary social convention will arise out of necessity, a social convention to confer authority upon some individual or another.  

But, if all social coordination requires the existence of an authority, then a secondary social convention that identifies an authority to make salient a primary social convention, in order to solve a coordination problem, seems to be no solution at all. For now we require an infinite regress of higher and higher order social conventions to identify ever more authorities. Fortunately, authority is always assumed, which isn’t to say that an authority always arises when needed. Unfortunately, coordination problems sometimes remain unsolved.  Recent empirical work supports the theory that authority is always assumed.  This assumption of authority stops the regress. No social coordination to identify an authority need take place.  Only a secondary social convention is required to solve the primary coordination problem.  The social group manifests its conferral of authority by adopting the primary social convention made salient by the assumed authority.  The normative / obligatory character of the secondary power conferring social convention piggy backs on the normative / obligatory character of the primary Lewisian social convention.  There is a single rational thing to do, conform to the primary social convention to which one’s population conforms, so there is a single rational thing to do, which is to confer authority as one’s population confers authority, since this is the only way to solve the coordination problem and to overcome the risk dominance of the baseline / status quo position.  

My view of authority is very much in line with that of the esteemed legal philosopher Joseph Raz, and I adopt his account of authority as my own.  Raz argues that to have authority over persons is to have the ability to change their protected reasons.  A protected reason is a first order reason to perform some action and a second order reason to discard (not consider) any first order reasons to act otherwise (to not so act).  The first order reason to perform some action (to conform to the Lewisian social convention made salient by the authority) is the communication of the salience of this Lewisian social convention / regularity in behavior.  This is also a second order reason to not consider any other first order reasons to act otherwise, i.e., the salience of the one Lewisian social convention is a second order reason to not consider any of the alternate Lewisian social conventions.  

The individual who assumes authority is going to be a risk tolerant person with foresight. Regardless of whether the authority is making salient a new Lewisian social convention, in order to solve a new coordination problem, or whether the authority is making salient an alternate Lewisian social convention, for the social group to jump to en masse, the authority pays a cost for communicating salience.  In order for it to be rational for the authority to bear the burden of communicating salience, the authority / communicator recognizes that it will be in her long term interest to do so.  What does an authority have to gain in the long term for bearing the cost of communicating to her social group, allowing the social group to solve a coordination problem?  

First and foremost, if the alternate Lewisian social convention happens to be optimal (preferred by all social group members), then it will certainly be in the rational self interest of the authority to try and move her social group to this more optimal state.  But, it can be in an authority’s long term rational self interest to try and move her social group to any Lewisian social convention.  The reason being is that any Lewisian social convention is social group constituting.  (As I mention above, I strongly concur with Margaret Gilbert’s astute assessment that social conventions are social group constituting.)  A population with a Lewisian social convention is a social group. And, being in a position of authority within a social group confers benefits, including the benefit of being able to move one’s social group to alternate Lewisian social conventions.  

Step Three – Social Conventions (and Social Groups) are Step Public Social Goods

An authority is a foresighted, risk tolerant individual.  Authorities do not always arise in populations, even when we need them. Sometimes coordination problems go unsolved.

When an authority does arise, it is because someone was able to see that it was in her long term interest to communicate an instruction to a population, at a cost, in order to reap the benefits of the position of being an authority in a social group –someone who is a freeriding defector and not actually a party to the social convention, while still being a member of the social group, leaving her open to moving the social group to alternate social conventions.  An authority in a social group also benefits by not having to contribute to the generation nor maintenance of a social convention / institution.  This is why social conventions are step public social goods.  

I employ Hugh Ward’s brilliant account of step public social goods in, “Three Men in a Boat, Two must Row: An Analysis of a Three-Person Chicken Pregame.”  The social group rests upon an equilibrium point immediately upon generating the social group via the social group constituting social convention.  There is a single rational thing for the parties to the social convention to do, which is to continue to conform.  The authority has no incentive to do anything other than continue to defect.  Thus, we can have normative (and perhaps obligatory) character sans unanimity.  It is at least rational, if not obligatory, to affirm your social identity by continuing to confer power upon the authorities in your social group.  

I argue that Lewisian social conventions are step public social goods that are constitutive of social groups.  Step public social goods are goods that are generated when some minimum threshold level of a social group contributes to or participates in the creation of the good.  This is why step public social goods are social conventions, because everyone who contributes has an incentive to do so, as long as everyone else does so.  A textbook example of a step public social good is a group hunt for a large animal.  Taking down a large animal requires that a minimum number of social group members participate in the group hunt.  If the group hunt is successful, everyone in the social group will benefit, even those who had not participated in the hunt.  And, everyone prefers that a group hunt be successful, as they benefit far more than if each social group member hunts individually for small game. The group hunt will not be successful if this minimum threshold level of participation / contribution is not met. If the group hunt is not successful, then those who attempted to participate in the group hunt fare far worse than if they had simply hunted alone for small game.  Once this threshold level of contribution has been achieved, the population of contributors immediately finds itself at an equilibrium point, at which point the only rational thing for contributing members of the social group to do is to continue conforming to the social convention. Those social group members who did not participate in the hunt, but who benefit from a successful group hunt, have no incentive to contribute, because they fare far better by continuing to free ride, and those who participate in the hunt have no incentive to free ride, because if they stop participating, the group hunt will fail.  

Think of the generation of a step public social good, which is the social group constituting Lewisian social convention, as a successful group hunt.  How is it that the social group resides at an equilibrium point immediately upon generating the step public social good / Lewisian social convention?  This is because the authority does not herself conform to the social convention / contribute to the generation of the step public social good.  She is a free riding defector.  She benefits from the generation of the step public social good (which is the constitution of the social group), and she benefits from not having to contribute to the generation of the step public social good.  She does not herself conform to the Lewisian social convention (Lewis allows for negligible unilateral deviation).  

Because the authority is a free riding defector, the social group rests at an equilibrium point, immediately upon having generated the step public social good, which is the generation of the social group.  The pool of contributors who conform to the Lewisian social convention have no incentive to do anything other than continue to conform; otherwise, the population would collapse back to the status quo, as the case may be.  The freeriding defector / authority has no incentive to contribute, because she fares far better by continuing to free ride.

Once the step public social good / Lewisian social convention has been generated, this constitutes the population as a social group, and the free riding defector / authority is in the position of benefiting from, but not having to contribute to, the step public social good that is the social group itself.  The benefit that the authority always accrues is being in the position of being able to make salient alternate Lewisian social conventions, i.e., of being an authority, of having authority over the other social group members.  There is always some degree of risk involved, because communicating is costly, and if the population does not confer the assumed authority, then no social group constituting step public social good / Lewisian social convention is generated. The assumed authority requires some degree of foresight, because a cost is borne in the present for a payoff to be reaped only at the point at which the social group constituting Lewisian social convention is generated.  To be clear, because the authority is a free riding defector, the authority is a member of the social group, but not a party to the Lewisian social convention.  The parties to the Lewisian social convention have an obligation to conform to the social convention, because there is a single rational thing to do, which is to conform, because the social group sits at an equilibrium point.  If any one of the parties to the Lewisian social convention were to unilaterally deviate, the step public social good, which is the social group, would collapse back to the status quo.  

A Lewisian social convention is always a step public social good.  There must exist at least one member of the social group who is an authority / free riding defector.  As long as there is a free riding defector, then there is a member of the social group who has the power to communicate the salience of alternate Lewisian social conventions.  This leaves open the possibility of the social group jumping en masse to alternate Lewisian social conventions.  So, Lewis’s essential feature of arbitrariness is retained.  Likewise, as long as there is an authority member of the social group, we retain the normative / obligatory character of the social convention, because, for the parties to the Lewisian social convention, there is a single rational thing to do, which is to continue conforming to the Lewisian social convention.  And, since the authority is able to communicate authoritative instructions to the social group, we also retain the essential feature of common knowledge.  

Given that this is the case, and given that Lewis does reformulate his definition of social conventions to allow for negligible unilateral deviation, I am able to capture the normative / obligatory character of Lewisian social conventions sans unanimity. I no longer require that it be the case that there is a single rational thing to do for every single social group member, which is what everyone else in one’s population is doing, en masse; now, I am able to achieve a normative / obligatory character of Lewisian social conventions, even in the case where there is a single (or potentially more) free riding defector(s).  This is so, because the equilibrium point, which is the step public social good that constitutes the social group as a social group, makes it the case that there is a single rational thing to do for the minimum threshold level of cooperators who actually generate the step public social good.  At one and the same time, there is a single rational thing to do for those party to the Lewisian social convention, and it can also be the case that there are social group members who deviate from the Lewisian social convention (the free riding defectors / the authority(ies)).  My normative / obligatory character of Lewisian social conventions no longer requires complete unanimity.  And, as discussed above, all Lewisian social conventions demand that there exists at least a single free riding defector / a single authority, not only to move between alternate Lewisian social conventions, but also to coordinate at all, to escape the state of nature.  This has the interesting result that the authority who makes salient the one or the other Lewisian social convention, is not herself a party to the social convention, nor is she under any obligation to conform to the social convention, in the sense of an individual instrumental rationality.  

So, authority is assumed, then conferred out of necessity to solve coordination problems.  Social coordination takes place, not in deference to authority for its own sake, but because the authority has made salient one Lewisian social convention or another.  Authority is necessary for a social group to move between alternate Lewisian social conventions.  And, the authority is the free riding defector that makes the step public social good that is generated by a minimum threshold level of cooperators stable, because the step public social good only rests upon an equilibrium point, because of the existence of the free riding defector / authority.  It is because the step public social good rests upon an equilibrium point that the Lewisian social convention possesses its normative / obligatory character, because there is a single rational thing to do – for the pool of cooperators / parties to the Lewisian social convention.  

Conclusion – We Fixed Lewis and Hart’s Problems with Normativity, Evolution, and Disagreement

Now that we have an account of social conventions that recognizes that social conventions are social group constituting step public social goods (wherein the social group is itself a social good generated, even if there are others) including freeriding defector-authorities with the power to move the social group amongst alternate social conventions (providing arbitrariness and common knowledge).  Now, we can have normative (and perhaps a quasi-obligatory) character sans unanimity.  There is a single rational thing to do, which is to continue to conform to the social convention, if you are a party thereto.  If we have normative (and perhaps a quasi-obligatory) character sans unanimity, we can have social groups and sub social groups evolving and devolving over time (growing and subsiding), along with disagreement and pluralism.

Lewisian social conventions are social group constituting step public social goods that are only possible via the conferral of authority.  The authority in a population makes it possible for the social group to overcome the risk dominance of either the state of nature or an existing Lewisian social convention.  Because the authority is a free riding defector who is not herself subject to the Lewisian social convention, but benefits from it, the social group constituted by the Lewisian social convention rests at an equilibrium point. Therefore, there is a single rational thing for parties to the Lewisian social convention to do, which is to continue conforming to the Lewisian social convention; they have an obligation to continue conforming.  Because the authority reaps the benefit of being a free riding defector, which is the authority to make salient alternate Lewisian social conventions, Lewis’s essential feature of arbitrariness is retained, even in the case of the social group jumping en masse from a more optimal Lewisian social convention to a less optimal Lewisian social convention (social devolution), which would not otherwise be rational.  

Future work will include revising Lewis’s definition of social conventions to include social conventions other than Lewisian social conventions, social conventions of varying degrees of conventionality and greater and lesser normative / obligatory character.  This is now possible, due to the conferral of authority, because we no longer require unanimity to obtain a normative / obligatory character of social conventions. Because we now think of social conventions as step public social goods, requiring a minimum threshold level of contribution to generate the good, which constitutes the population whose social convention it is as a social group, we can think of step public social goods that require varying threshold levels of participation, constituting sub social groups. This opens the door for an account of how social conventions evolve and devolve over time, sometimes slowly, sometimes precipitously, and, yet, those party to the conventions are still under an obligation to conform to them.  

Work Cited

Gauthier, David (1986). Morals By Agreement. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gauthier, David (1997) Resolute Choice and Rational Deliberation: A Critique and a Defense. Noûs 31(1):1-25.

Gilbert, Margaret, 1989. On Social Facts, New York: Routledge.

Gilbert, Margaret, 2008. “Social Convention Revisited,” Topoi, 27: 5–16.

Hart, H.L.A., 2012, The Concept of Law, 3rd edition (first edition 1961), Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Lewis, David, 1969. Convention, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Ranehill, Eva, Schneider, Frédéric, & Weber, Roberto, “The unrealized value of centralization for coordination” (unpublished manuscript dated January 1, 2017 received from authors).

Raz, Joseph, 1979. The Authority of Law, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Ward, Hugh, 1990. “Three Men in a Boat, Two must Row: An Analysis of a Three-Person Chicken Pregame,” The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 34(3): 371-400. 

If you wish to support me, as I seek justice, it would mean the world to me. Here are my PayPalMe and GoFundMe links. 

PayPalMe:  https://www.paypal.me/SarahBraasch

GoFundMe:  https://www.gofundme.com/sarah-braasch-legal-fund

You can follow me on twitter here:  https://twitter.com/sarahbraasch1?lang=en

Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz4xV2R6mTVJhAu9OQzwp5g

Letter of Demand for Retraction and Apology and Notice of Illegal Distribution of the Illegal Video of Me, Addressed to CNN

Notice to Cease and Desist and Notice of Demand for Retraction and Apology

April 18, 2019

Attorney Louise Sams, Executive Vice President and General Counsel

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.

One CNN Center

Atlanta, GA 30303

Re:  Defamation of Character of Sarah Braasch

Attorney Sams:

First and foremost, this letter serves as notice that the video recording made of me on May 8th, 2018, in my Yale University dormitory, the Hall of Graduate Studies, was made illegally, under Connecticut State Law, and the distribution of this video recording, either the audio or the video therefrom, is illegal under Connecticut State Law, including under CT General Statutes, Chapter 952, Section 53A, Provisions 189 a and b.  I intend to pursue prosecution for the illegal distribution of this video recording to the full extent of the law.  The distribution of this illegal video recording is a felony under CT State Law, with a statute of limitations of 5 years.  I demand that you remove this video wherever it may have been posted by any agent of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.  I demand that you remove any links to this video wherever these links may have been posted by any agent of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.  

This letter serves as a demand that all Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. agents cease and desist their grossly false and defamatory statements about me, Sarah Braasch, immediately.  This letter also serves as a demand that all Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. agents who have made such grossly false and defamatory statements about me, including, but not limited to, CNN and Don Lemon, immediately and publicly retract those statements and immediately and publicly apologize to me, Sarah Braasch, for having made those grossly false and defamatory statements.  

These grossly false and defamatory statements include, but are not limited to, the following:

Don Lemon concocted a grotesque fairy tale out of whole cloth on CNN about what had happened during the Living or Napping While Black Hate Crime Hoax at Yale this past spring, and about what I had done and about what my motivations were, and about who I am.

Don Lemon explicitly stated on CNN that what I did was harassment.  

Don Lemon strongly implied on CNN that I was trolling the halls of my Yale dorm at 2 am for random sleeping black people to call the police on.

Don Lemon explicitly stated on CNN that I did this for one reason and for one reason only – out of racial animus, because of the color of my attackers’ skin.  

Don Lemon strongly implied on CNN that I had just come across a random sleeping black person in the huge main common room of my dorm on the ground floor and then immediately called the police for no reason other than I’m a racist, and I wanted to evict a black person from my white space.  

Don Lemon explicitly stated on CNN that I didn’t even try to speak with the woman whom I had encountered before I called the police.  

Don Lemon explicitly stated on CNN that I had no good reason to call the police.  

Don Lemon explicitly stated on CNN that I did the same thing back in February, 2018, during the February 24thincident.  

When asked why I did what I did he said:

“We all know why.  We all know why.”  

These are straight-up, bald-faced lies, on the part of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., including CNN and Don Lemon, meant to destroy my life, my career as a lifelong human and civil rights licensed attorney activist, and ruin my reputation and livelihood, with reckless disregard for the truth, lies which almost drove me to suicide and incited my murder.  Don Lemon lied on CNN about me.  He didn’t even try to find out the truth of what happened.  He did not meet the bare minimum requirement with respect to his ethical and journalistic obligations to report the truth before he endangered and destroyed my life by telling lies about me on CNN, broadcast to the entire world. 

The damage to my life, reputation, livelihood, good name, and career are incalculable.  I was forced to flee my dorm room and then campus. I was suicidal for near a year and forced into hiding for my personal safety.  I continue to be defamed as a racist, including this week, by CNN.  I can’t even begin to count the death threats and threats of violence that I have received.  I can’t even begin to count the number of instances of defamation as guilty of racial harassment that I have endured in the national and international news media, as well as on social media, including on CNN and by Don Lemon. My academic and legal and human and civil rights careers are over.  I will never be able to secure gainful employment.  I will no longer be able to support myself.  

I had been a lifelong human and civil rights licensed attorney activist who had devoted her life to undermining oppression in all of its many forms, including racism.  No one who has ever known me has ever heard or seen me say or do anything racist ever.  Everything that I had wished for my life is no longer possible. Everything that I had strived for my entire life has been destroyed, it has been stripped from me through no fault of my own.  

As a result, I immediately demand the following: 

  1. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. will remove the illegal video recording of me and any part thereof, wherever it exists, including all links thereto;  
  2. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. will retract and remove all grossly false and defamatory statements about me, wherever they exist, including all links thereto;
  3. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. will produce a statement, including an apology to me, and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. will explain the gross illegality of all other grossly false and defamatory statements about me, as well as their grossly false and defamatory character; this new statement will take the place of the former grossly false and defamatory statements, wherever they exist, including all links thereto;
  4. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. will issue a public apology to me for concluding that I acted with any racial animus or bias in connection with this incident, and stating that all the evidence known to Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. suggests otherwise, and this public apology will be read on air on any broadcast that had previously aired grossly false and defamatory statements about me, including on CNN, and including by Don Lemon; and 
  5. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. will publicly announce that I have been publicly misrepresented as engaging in discriminatory misconduct, and this public announcement will be read on air on any broadcast that had previously aired grossly false and defamatory statements about me, including on CNN, and including by Don Lemon.  Indeed my work at Yale and beyond evidence that I harbor no racial animus whatsoever.  To the contrary, I have dedicated myself to causes of social justice including the cause of eradicating all forms of discrimination. 

I expect a response from you in short order.

Sincerely, 

Sarah Braasch

If you wish to support me, as I seek justice, it would mean the world to me. Here are my PayPalMe and GoFundMe links. 

PayPalMe:  https://www.paypal.me/SarahBraasch

GoFundMe:  https://www.gofundme.com/sarah-braasch-legal-fund

You can follow me on twitter here:  https://twitter.com/sarahbraasch1?lang=en

Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz4xV2R6mTVJhAu9OQzwp5g