I could start with a joke. I could offer a pithy aside. I could at least mutter something under my breath. But even that seems too dangerous these days, when one offending comment, one decade-old tweet, or one line-crossing joke can leave a person forever tarred and feathered in the online public square. These days, it’s not enough to watch your mouth. You’re apparently supposed to watch everyone else’s too. Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic: “The modern online public sphere, a place of rapid conclusions, rigid ideological prisms, and arguments of 280 characters, favors neither nuance nor ambiguity. Yet the values of that online sphere have come to dominate many American cultural institutions: universities, newspapers, foundations, museums. Heeding public demands for rapid retribution, they sometimes impose the equivalent of lifetime scarlet letters on people who have not been accused of anything remotely resembling a crime.” The New Puritans. “This is a story of moral panic, of cultural institutions policing or purifying themselves in the face of disapproving crowds. The crowds are no longer literal, as they once were in Salem, but rather online mobs, organized via Twitter, Facebook, or sometimes internal company Slack channel.” (By linking to this, am I saying Anne Applebaum is right? Am I suggesting we’ve gone too far toward a pious, punishing culture? Actually, I’m not saying that at all. I’m not saying anything. What, am I crazy?)