Quillette Isn't a Platform for Debate. It's a Soapbox for Self-Pity. - 2019-01-08
In November, Politico Magazine published what was billed as "the first serious profile" of Quillette.com, and of the website's founder, Claire Lehmann. The crowdfunded online journal, which Lehmann launched from her home in Sydney in 2015, has gained a major following among aggrieved rationalists, oppressed contrarians, and sundry other stifled surfers of the Intellectual Dark Web. As of this year, 1 million unique visitors are said to visit the site each month, and its output of politically incorrect, freethinker-y essays on identity politics, campus protests, and evolutionary psychology has been cheered by IDW celebrities such as Jordan Peterson, Steven Pinker, and Sam Harris.
Lehmann describes her online magazine as "a space for unusual viewpoints" that is free of "puritanical partisan hysteria" and protects "the freedom of expression and conscience that allows imagination and fearless creativity to thrive." Here's another slogan for the site, which Lehmann shares with pride: Back in 2016, before Quillette attained its present notoriety, the A-list atheist Jerry Coyne instructed his readers to "think of it as Slate, but more serious, more intellectual, and without any Regressive Leftism."
As a longtime Slate contributor, I found that gloss provocative. I would say this site has stood out for its commitment to intellectualism and a freedom from political orthodoxy. But Coyne and Lehmann suggest that creed is now defunct—that today, it's Quillette that holds these values. So when I read Coyne's descriptive—more serious, more intellectual, no leftism—I couldn't help but make my own translation: "Think of it as Slate," perhaps, "but the way Slate used to be."