Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 3

Finally, an end to these questions! This is the last batch. If you haven’t, see Part 1 and Part 2.

  • In your version of equality, will white men ever have a voice in society, or will white men always be too privileged to participate in discussion?
Photo of about a dozen and a half questions marks stenciled onto black pavement in white paint. Alternating right-side up and upside down in three rows.
Crop of “What?” by Véronique Debord-Lazaro, CC BY-SA 2.0

This isn’t one of the most coherent questions in this bunch, but I’ll still give it a go. I’ll assume “ever” here means “Will they still get to talk then?” not “Will they come to be able to talk then?” since the latter is ridiculous. White men still have far more say in our halls of power and in our cultural touchstones of movies, television (pdf), and publishing than their numbers would account for. Not to mention YouTube.

Since equality and being privileged are contradictory, I’ll also give this questioner the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn’t mean for this question to be taken literally. I would assume, then, the question actually means “Aren’t you just trying to grab all the power for yourselves and push white men into the crappy positions you’ve all been in for ages?”

The answer is no. Whatever you yourself might do in my position, that’s not what I and the people around me are going for at all.

  •  What makes you think that the power of censorship that you are so desperately trying to establish now will at no point be used against you?

On the short list of things that have been done in an attempt to shut me up: Posting my employer information online, contacting my (then-former) employer, petitioning the wrong people to have me removed from a book, complaining to a board that I hosted their radio show, complaining to a group that had me speak at their event, complaints to groups I do activist work with, and several years of continual background harassment including threats.

If you start from the assumption that “SJWs” have never met any attempts to censor them, you’re starting by being wrong. This is the world we already live in. It’s just unequal.

In fact, this is one of the things that makes it so hard to combat the relatively small portion of harassment and threats that do come from SJWs. When the stuff coming at them is constant and pervasive, it gets much harder to persuade people that it isn’t a valid tool. People think they need it because other people do it to them. So if y’all could stop pointing your followers at SJWs without being clear that pile-ons and threats aren’t just part of the fun, that would be very helpful. Continue reading “Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 3”

Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 3

Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 2

Another day, another nine questions rendered largely impenetrable by having bounced around the alt-right echo chamber for so long. Still, I’ll give them a go. In case you missed it, Part 1 is here.

  • What do you hope to gain by bringing back racial segregation?
Photo of about a dozen and a half questions marks stenciled onto black pavement in white paint. Alternating right-side up and upside down in three rows.
Crop of “What?” by Véronique Debord-Lazaro, CC BY-SA 2.0

Racial segregation has never gone away. It’s gotten better in many places, but the U.S. remains highly segregated long after the Jim Crow laws that enforced that segregation were taken off the books. White suburban flight, informal hostilities, the need of those in poverty to live close to services, redlining and other practices that haven’t gone away just because they’re illegal all make racial segregation an ongoing reality.

It doesn’t make much sense for you to be asking me about wanting to bring back Jim Crow laws though. That’s just not a position that’s taken among “SJWs”. So I assume you’re asking me about groups or policies that involve spending resources specifically on marginalized populations. Those resources might be money, attention, or time. The simple answer here is that people who do this expect to be able to get more for those resources by aiming them where they’re most needed. It’s certainly reasonable at least in theory, though it does sometimes have unintended consequences, often as a response to white people being unhappy about the allocation of resources.

  • When my granduncle was dropping bombs on London, did your grandparents get out of their bunkers to protest with signs that read Not All Nazis?

This is vague and strange. If I weren’t trying to seriously engage with these questions, I’d just invoke Godwin’s Law. But I am, so let’s see what I can suss out of the assumptions behind this one. Continue reading “Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 2”

Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 2

Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 1

Photo of about a dozen and a half questions marks stenciled onto black pavement in white paint. Alternating right-side up and upside down in three rows.
Crop of “What?” by Véronique Debord-Lazaro, CC BY-SA 2.0

Niki transcribed the latest video of “unanswerable” gotcha questions. No, this isn’t another one aimed at atheists by Christians, though it’s about as effective and as grounded in real attempts to understand another person’s position. This one is aimed at social justice warriors by the status quo warriors.

Niki’s answers were mostly snark. I love them. You should read them. But it’s also worthwhile to have a few people answer even questions like these seriously, so I’m going to take a stab at that. I’m technically a social justice assassin, so not all the warriors want to admit I’m in the guild, but whatever.

It’s going to be long and tedious, since there are plenty of assumptions to unpack along with the questions themselves and the list itself is long and repetitive. But if we’re going to adopt this kind of tactic from the Christians, we might as well gallop while we’re at it, right? In order to keep it from getting unreadable, I’ll break it into thirds.

  • Do you realize that your war on language through political correctness has made you bedfellows with true rape culture? In other words, Islam, the world’s most misogynistic ideology.

Let’s start with your assumptions. Continue reading “Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 1”

Serious Answers to Sloppy Questions, Part 1

Not Looking Away

Oh, man. 2016. Fuck this year. It can’t end soon enough.

Or was that 2015? I distinctly remember people saying that about 2015. Maybe 2014 too. Huh.

Yes, 2016 has its unique challenges. Presidential elections don’t happen every year, much less close nomination races. Major parties imploding under the weight of their own racism, sexism, and fascism happens rather less frequently than that. The rock stars who sustained us as teenagers frequently fade away instead of becoming institutions before they die.

Many of this year’s stresses, however, happen all the time. Refugee crises brought on by sectarian violence and climate change have been a regular part of my decades on this Earth. I’ve watched too many national governments fall apart to count. Violent pushback to civil rights gains has been a constant, alongside the erosion of those rights. Sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry–they’ve all been a constant drumbeat.

So why has 2016 been so bruising? Continue reading “Not Looking Away”

Not Looking Away

Your Reaction Is Normal

Yesterday saw one hugely traumatic event in Orlando and another event in Los Angeles that would be considered very traumatic if it hadn’t happened in such close proximity to the Orlando shootings. This trauma mostly affected a set of communities with a high exposure to trauma already.

As I watched my friends in these communities react to these traumas, I was struck by how many people were evaluating their own responses, often negatively. I’ll keep saying this individually to people in the words they need, but it’s worth saying generally as well. As someone with both a substantial personal and an academic background in how people react to traumatic events, I’m here to tell you that your reaction is normal. Continue reading “Your Reaction Is Normal”

Your Reaction Is Normal

Yes, This Is About…

As the news rolls in from Orlando, with 50 people reported dead and that many more reported injured, the disavowals are flying. Everyone wants to tell us what didn’t cause all this death and trauma. But, well, yeah, it did.

Yes, this is about religion.

Religion is what it takes to give us the authority to look at another person’s consensual pleasure and decide that gives us jurisdiction over their life and death. Nothing else gives us that permission. Nothing else puts us above someone else this way but the borrowed mantle of a god’s judgment. Secular arguments fail spectacularly to do so, which is why LGB rights are a staple of secular activism.

Not only are religious arguments the only one that can give us this permission, they routinely do. It isn’t possible to actively participate in U.S. culture–to view our media, to pay attention to our current events, to educate one’s self in preparation for voting–without being inundated with religious arguments that same-sex attraction and sexual behavior are wrong and harming our society. Nor is this confined to any one religion, making it all the more potent as an idea. Someone raised in a homophobic religious tradition will not have their ideas challenged simply by looking outside their home or community.

Religion planted this idea, makes it pervasive, and gives it power.

Yes, this is about homophobia and transphobia. Continue reading “Yes, This Is About…”

Yes, This Is About…

“You Need Us!” Yeah, About That

One of the common responses I’ve seen to the past few days of criticism of Sanders supporters and campaign workers over their behavior at the Nevada state convention, and of Sanders himself over his abysmal response, is “You need to be nicer to us Sanders supporters. You’re going to need us in November!”

Um, yeah, about that? If you’re one of those people, there are a few things you should be thinking about.

Hostages

There are the purely social aspects of trying to change people’s behavior with threats. When you tell me you’re willing to engage in behavior that will put Donald Trump in charge of the U.S. and hurt me and others as a result, I don’t exactly feel warm and fuzzy about you. Let me quote myself from months ago, because I’ve already told you this.

Those of you out there now saying you’re determined to let a Republican win if your choice for Democrat doesn’t get the nomination? You don’t even get to claim religious fervor. You’re just straight up holding hostages, and you’ve chosen the most vulnerable among us to throw between you and the gun.

Continue reading ““You Need Us!” Yeah, About That”

“You Need Us!” Yeah, About That

The Pretty Problem

I guess I’m a problem. Also a girl.

Text meme. Text in the body of the post.
I am so pro-selfie.

There are so many bigger problems in the world than girls who think they’re pretty.

One of those problems is girls who don’t think they are pretty. #takeaselfie

This was being passed around on Facebook. My initial reaction was “Seriously? I’m a problem because I’m aware I’m not pretty? Take all the selfies you want, but fuck all the way off.” I still think that’s valid.

It’s not, however, particularly accessible. And since this was being passed around by thoughtful people, making my thoughts on this more accessible is probably a good thing. Continue reading “The Pretty Problem”

The Pretty Problem

Jonathan Chait, “PC”, and Liberal Responsibility for Trump

Today, Jonathan Chait uses his column over at New York Magazine to do what all the cool kids are doing, tell us how Trump ended up the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Spoiler: It’s our lack of eugenics programs.

The 2006 movie Idiocracy depicts a future in which Americans have grown progressively dumber, and eventually elect as president of the United States a professional wrestler, who caters demagogically to their nationalistic impulses and ignorance of science. Only because the film took place in an imaginary world was it possible to straightforwardly equate a political choice with a lack of intelligence. In the actual world, the bounds of taste and deference to (small-d) democratic outcomes make it gauche to do so. But the dynamic imagined in Idiocracy has obviously transpired, down to the election of a figure from pro wrestling: [There is video at the link, if you want some wrestling theater.]

While it’s impolite and politically counterproductive, if we want to accurately identify the analytic error that caused so many of us to dismiss Trump, we must return to the idiocy question. The particular idiocy involves both the party’s elites and its voters. The failures of the elites have been the source of analysis for months now. Republican insiders and donors failed to grasp the severity of the threat Trump posed to their party, many of them rallied behind obviously doomed legacy candidate Jeb Bush, or they used ineffectual messages when they did attack Trump. Or, most of all, they simply deluded themselves about the dangers he posed rather than face up to them. I never believed party insiders could fully dictate the outcome of the nomination, but I did expect them to be able to block a wildly unacceptable candidate, and they proved surprisingly inept even in the face of extreme peril to their collective self-interest.

Then there are the voters, whose behavior provided the largest surprise. It was simply impossible for me to believe that Republican voters would nominate an obvious buffoon. Everything about Trump is a joke.

I’m not going to delve deeply into the Idiocracy reference, but yes, really, eugenics. Plus a denial of the demographic facts. And a nifty little dose of ableism like a cherry on top.

I don’t want to get too far into Chait’s poor argumentation either, but I can’t quite let that paragraph about Republican Party elites pass without comment. Why are these elites “idiots”? Because they didn’t do what Chait expected them to be able to do. They were inept because what they did didn’t work. It can’t be that the problem was harder to deal with than Chait’s eyeballing it suggested. He stopped Trump, so clearly they must have been able to.

Oh, wait. He didn’t. He’s just calling people “idiots” and saying Trump is unserious at thesaurus-supported length, which will clearly solve the problem immediately. It’s a good thing someone finally thought to try it.

Oddly enough, nowhere among all the people Chait blames for Trump’s rise is Chait himself. Continue reading “Jonathan Chait, “PC”, and Liberal Responsibility for Trump”

Jonathan Chait, “PC”, and Liberal Responsibility for Trump

“How Do You Feel About Guns?”

It was a bright and sunny Saturday morning. The crabapples around the clinic were in full bloom, and the protesters were back after a very quiet weekend.

I was messaging with a friend who had visited the weekend before to tell him all the regular features of escorting that he’d missed were back. We had the huge sign on the truck showing the head of a fetus with hair (i.e., not an elective abortion), the sign of Jesus on the cross on the mountain of aborted fetuses, the conga prayer line, Ann running out to parking cars and trying to get herself hit. I apologized for showing him one of our duller weekends.

I’d just had a discussion with a couple of the new escorts. One had mentioned someone being scared for her or asking whether she was scared. We’d talked about my friends in places like Kansas who want to escort but who can’t handle having their lives and livelihoods under constant threat and about how it’s easier here. We’d laughed a little bit about very Minnesotan protesters who can be steered away from patients by stepping into their personal space.

Then he walked by. He paused when he’d nearly passed us to look at our vests. “Choice,” he said. “How do you feel about guns?” Continue reading ““How Do You Feel About Guns?””

“How Do You Feel About Guns?”