What is Quillette and Why Can't We Talk About John Kerry

We know what Quillette says it is. It is on the About Page

What is Quillette?

Quillette is a platform for free thought. We respect ideas, even dangerous ones. We also believe that free expression and the free exchange of ideas help human societies flourish and progress. Quillette aims to provide a platform for this exchange.

@claire, I assume you wrote that statement and @swipewright , I assume that you support that statement. I certainly believed that statement. I made numerous posts because of that statement. I donated because of that statement. But it has been a tumultuous week. First QC was canceled, then it was uncanceled. Then several people were suspended, one of which @stephanie, for seemingly no reason. I deserved to be suspended more than she did. Then she was unsuspended. A letter was posted by @claire accusing the former moderator @Tj2mag , of things that are clearly not true. AFAIAA, no regular poster was questioned as to the authenticity of those accusations. Even @K_Dershem who disagreed with @Tj2mag 's moderation for other reasons agrees that the assertions are not true. When regular posters questioned the accusations the thread was locked. But rules were posted which many agreed with. The ad hominem attacks by a few had gotten out of hand. We all thought that QC was moving forward

Then the post locking started. None of the rules were violated in the posts that were locked. One of them was about John Kerry potentially colluding with Iran by giving them sensitive information about Israel. It is hardly a secret that Israel and the U.S. share intelligence about Iran. It is also hardly a secret that Iran was responsible for the deaths of around 600 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The post referenced this article.

The National Review, to which I subscribe, is not a far-right wing rag. It is the gold standard in conservative thought and is well-respected by classic liberals on both sides of the fence, even those who disagree with its views. The leaked comments, were actually first published in the NYT

NO ONE WHO POSTED TO THE THREAD MADE AN AD HOMINEM ATTACK. And yet this thread was almost immediately locked. So were others. The only logical reason is the Quillette staff felt that some would be offended by criticism of Kerry. And some will be. There are many who believe that all criticism of the status quo should be suppressed. Does Quillette agree?

So I ask again what is Quillette? Does Quillette truly stand for free thought? Does it truly allow discussion of "dangerous ideas? John Kerry is a well-known politician. Discussion of Kerry’s desire to cozy up to Iran and resuscitate the Iran deal is clearly a subject worthy of discussion Criticism of Kerry and his policies is IMO fair game in any forum that declares itself as standing for free thought. That includes comments published in both conservative ( NR) and Progressive media (NYT).

I am scientist. Scientists present a hypothesis then try to disprove it. So let’s present one and test it. The hypothesis is that Quillette is telling the truth when the owners state that they have platform for free thought. Now let’s test that hypothesis by reviving the discussion of John Kerry’s policy on Iran, including leaking of sensitive data. In order to maintain scientific integrity. I further propose that the discussion occur according to the rules published by @claire.

@claire and @swipewright, you have a choice. You can lock this post like you did the previous one. If you decide to do this, we will all know that Quillette is now Twitter. You can also either ban or suspend me. Again Twitter. Or you can stay true to the words on your About Page and prove the hypothesis correct. It’s your bat and your ball.

To the rest of you , I look forward to posts about Kerry , his Iran policy and his leaked comments…or not.


And surely ad hominems directed against Democratic politicians in the US who aren’t commenters here are allowed.


Kerry has a face like a slapped arse.


What makes you think John Kerry isn’t active on QC? What do you think the “K” stands for?

I completely agree. I subscribe to NR and have great respect for its journalistic integrity, even though I don’t always (or often) agree with its editorial views.


Why are you complimenting Kerry?


Just call me a charitable old soul.

I can’t help feeling that if Kerry (Kezza in Australian English) was a Repubilcan the media would be running hot with the allegations, especially if they weren’t true.


History has your back.


Out of the threads that have been locked, all but two were meta-threads about QC’s future and moderation policy. The two exceptions were the “Kerry’s treason” thread and the “David Cole” thread. My best guess (but still just a guess) is that @claire was worried about antisemitic themes taking over those discussions. Second guess is that threads devoted to discussing an article outside Quillette are being discouraged.

I had actually wanted to rebut the Kerry article. Fortunately I could still mail @jdfree49 about it, and that exchange helped clarify things… From an Iranian perspective, other things that Zarif said or implied (that the military kept secrets from the diplomats, and various claims about Russia) are what is impactful. So far, the Iranian press seems not to care at all about whether Kerry was sharing a secret, or just stating something that everyone already knew.

Kerry’s defenders have been arguing that Israel had already repeatedly confirmed, in a vague way, that many Iranian targets were being struck in Syria. Meanwhile, it seems to be the Iranian policy to deny the existence of those targets. Summarizing what I have read from Bahram Ghasemi, an Iranian military spokesman (?), the Iranian position seems to be, that there are Iranian volunteers in Syria fighting ISIS et al, and there are Iranian military advisors in Syria assisting the Syrian army, but there are no “Iranian bases” in Syria. (And presumably, no Iranian convoys carrying missiles across Syrian territory to Hezbollah.)

Here’s an example from 2018. Someone, perhaps IRGC units, fire missiles from Syria into the Golan Heights. Israel bombards these sites and says they were from Iran. Iran denies this and says Israel was inventing reasons to bomb its Syrian ally.

The fact that officially, there is no Iranian military infrastructure in Syria, I believe must be taken into account in interpreting Zarif’s remarks. In public, he must deny that it was there. In private? It’s hard to tell without a full transcript. But he seems to concede that it was there, but he claims that he got a fuller report on the damage done, from Kerry, than he did from members of his own military. (Just to illustrate how things were: at another point in the tape, Zarif describes how things were when that Ukrainian plane was shot down - Iran’s NSC didn’t tell him any facts and told him to just go and deny it on Twitter.)

I would also call attention to this Jerusalem Post op-ed, specifically Kerry’s comments to Hugh Hewitt about what he was up to with Zarif, during the Trump years. As Kerry tells it, he was solemnly informing Zarif that the world “does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen”, and looking for some clue from Zarif, about what Iran could do to de-escalate.

I guess I would also say this. There is no indication that Kerry mentioned anything beyond a number - the number of times Israel had attacked Iranian forces in a certain period. That is the kind of “secret” that has no strategic significance, but which a nation doesn’t talk about because it prefers to keep everything about that topic, vague. If Kerry did disclose an Israeli secret to Zarif, well, Kerry is an American politician and not bound to all of Isrel’s own strictures, and in any case, it does not seem to be anything whose disclosure would adversely affect Israel.


I somehow can’t believe that was the reason @claire closed these threads, but just in case it was, and since it can’t be ruled out that she or @SwipeWright might have some false expectations due to past complaints, some clarification:

Anti-Semitism has never had a chance to gain a foothold on QC. The participants here are far too reasonable and immune to fall for it. In addition, several of the contributors in the two closed threads are Jewish themselves.

Once in a while the odd anti-Semite stumbles into the forum, tries to spread such views, and quickly realizes that they don’t fly here. The extremely few outspoken anti-Semites we had the displeasure of experiencing had to give up quickly every time. They were simply completely outnumbered.

And while I’m at it: In all my time here, I remember exactly one (1) person who claimed that fascism and Nazism were a good thing. Never have I seen anyone more isolated. He quickly got into fights with everyone and left the next day, never to return.

Those more familiar with QC know that when it comes to hate ideologies of all kinds, this community has pretty good self-cleansing powers that can be relied upon.


Brilliant @Oilman
I’m betting Claire will not close this, she is a free-speech God


I voluntarily pulled my original response to @PeterfromOZ because I didn’t want to get @Oilman’s thread canceled due to my irreverence. @Oilman has set up a serious test, and it would be unfair for me to mess it up over a chuckle.

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It’s all good, @TommyB. I’m certain no one is going to cancel this thread over a jest. But you are correct that we should try our best to ensure that @Oilman’s central question as to the propriety of John Kerry’s actions is not lost amongst too much irreverent jollity.


Good point. Post edited accordingly. :blush:


I have no interest in John Kerry. But it’s a strange time we’re living in. I just stumbled across this quote,

“There’s something truly strange about living in a historical moment in which the conservative anxiety and despair about queers bringing down civilization and its institutions (marriage, most notably) is met by the anxiety and despair so many queers feel about the failure or incapacity of queerness to bring down civilization and its institutions, and their frustration with the assimilationist, unthinkingly neoliberal bent of the mainstream GLBTQ+ movement, which has spent fine coin begging entrance into two historically repressive structures: marriage and the military.”
― Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts


Changing your avatar was hilarious

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I can assure you that anyone who promotes anti-Semitism on this forum will be hammered by me.

Israel and the U.S share intelligence on the Middle East. It is very likely that the Mossad is far more effective, particularly when it come to HUMINT, than the U.S. in the region. Good Iranian intelligence is extremely important for those who are charged with maintaining and planning strategic options in the Middle East. If Israel feels that it cannot trust the U.S with this intelligence, why would they continue to share it.

Kerry is not acting as a politician. He is acting as a representative of the U.S. government. Therefore he should be looking out for our interests, not Iran’s. Perhaps you can explain how Kerry furthers U.S. interests by giving intelligence to the enemy about an ally’s actions.


Please – it’s not about anti-semitism and the presence or lack thereof. Anyway, as a Jew, I have no problem whatever with people posting whatever ill-informed or obnoxious thoughts they have (as long as there are no ad hominems and we are ‘polite’!); I’m free to disagree or walk away or block. Lots of options. Sometimes free speech means there will be an idea you might…disagree with.

What I see instead is political party. Kerry is ‘of the left’ and therefore of saintly status and cannot be criticized. The other one is ‘of the right’ and so cannot be brought up and discussed, lest any association with him spreads unmentionable cooties. The actual issue here seems to be what we are seeing all over: Does this post threaten the axis of power I am in favor of, or even appear to threaten it, or sit next door to it, or make the people I like think it does; or does it help the opposing power source, thereby also threatening my axis of power?

I’m disappointed Quillette demonstrated so quickly that their rules would be non-transparent and inconsistently enforced. Though I respect that this is their baby and the staff is small, I hope there’s still time for a shift back to what seemed to be core principles.


Hey, Trump was too rude for you, you chose not to do all you could for the guy who was most against all of this censorship. Welcome to the world you thought you wanted. Enjoy.

Elections have consequences.


Kevin makes a good point. If Trump were in office he would have surely interceded in the internal affairs of an anti-Woke internet forum to ensure that free thought continues to live in all its forms, including ad hominem attacks. Yet another catastrophic consequence of the stolen election.


This sums it up for me.

I trusted the creators had integrity otherwise I never would have donated or posted. But like JP says, look for the lesson in it, then move on.