Making Me Safer

The mosque shootings in Christchurch aren’t about me. I’m not Muslim. I’m not an immigrant. I’m not a brown-skinned other. As much as my heart embraces the dead and injured as my fellows, I don’t live with that target painted on me. I have no business that would take me into a mosque during worship.

The rhetoric that got us here, though? That is about me. It’s about me as a white person doomed to see “my race” die out. It’s about me as city-dwelling possible target of terrorism. It’s about me as a woman facing religious sexism. It’s about me and the threat I present as an atheist. It’s about me as a sinner where the cost of sin is death.

I’ve lived for nearly 20 years being told we must talk about the “unique dangers” of Islam to keep me safe.

I’ve lived for nearly a decade with atheist movement leaders who tell me I can’t talk about their racism and sexism because I need them to keep me safe.

I live with increasingly unstable international politics and diminishing civil rights in the name of keeping me safe.

I live with grifters coming to my beautiful frozen city and lying about being threatened, because how else are they to keep me safe?

I live with terrorists from out of state making road trips to blow up my neighbors. You’ll never guess why. Oh, it’s to keep me safe?

None of this makes me safer. I mean, I don’t really have to say that to you, do I? It’s obvious that fewer rights and more violence don’t make me any safer, isn’t it? Isn’t it?

Yet here I am. Again. Not directly threatened by the violence, but still less safe than I was. Again. And still being told it’s all being done for me.

To make me safe.

It doesn’t. If you say these things, you are the threat to my safety. Not the Muslims. Not the immigrants. Not the black and brown people. You. If you say these things, you make me less safe.

So stop acting shocked when I treat you that way. I’d just like to be safe.

Making Me Safer

Mock the Movie: Blonde Bombshell Edition

Really, we’re just watching The Navy vs. the Night Monsters for Mamie Van Doren. And really, we’re just doing that to honor this tweet. We’ve watched worse movies for worse reasons. Probably.

This one is available on YouTube. You’ll notice the timing is unusual. We’re watching this tomorrow (Wednesday) at 9 p.m. Eastern. Continue reading “Mock the Movie: Blonde Bombshell Edition”

Mock the Movie: Blonde Bombshell Edition

On Lefty Gatekeeping

I’m really not ready for 2020 elections talk yet. There’s a lot of work to do just to get that far while remaining a democracy, and watching the hyperfocus on the presidency at the expense of all other politics is like sleeping on 100-grit sheets. With Biden and Sanders.

Still, the 2018 election is done. There are myriad implications to be talked over and contrasted and turned into feelers for this or that potential candidate. So I’ll talk about this now and again as warranted, if reluctantly.

Today’s political thoughts are brought to you by this look at Beto O’Rourke’s voting record.

But Sanders actually did not amass the most left-wing voting record in the 115th Senate. That distinction belongs to Elizabeth Warren. Kamala Harris was No. 2, Cory Booker was No. 3, and then Sanders and Tammy Baldwin are basically the same. Kirsten Gillibrand is closer to the middle of the pack but still more liberal than 76 percent of Senate Democrats.

A rough equivalent to O’Rourke’s record would be Amy Klobuchar, who in the most recent Senate was more conservative than 72 percent of Senate Democrats. She has had a voting record that’s a bit to the right of the median Democrat’s throughout her time as a senator.

What does this mean for what we want in a presidential candidate? That depends on what kind of relative importance you place on campaign contributions vs. turning out minority voters vs. turning out the undecided middle vs. blah, I’m bored now. I’m not here for making big predictions for the future. There are, however, a couple of points I want to make related to this. Continue reading “On Lefty Gatekeeping”

On Lefty Gatekeeping

Ladies, Mind Your Manners

I was recently sent a copy of a column titled “He, Too” (pdf) from the September issue of The Rational Alternative, the newsletter of Atheists United in Los Angeles. Sadly, it’s not a call to remember that women and nonbinary people are not the only ones subject to harassment in the secular movement. It is, instead, a suggestion that #metoo is somehow obviating due process in the movement’s efforts to deal with sexual harassment and assault.

The first half of author Bobbie Kirkhart’s article is essentially summed up in one paragraph.

It is a sad surprise that the freethought community is tearing itself up over such accusations and denials. Unless the accused man confesses and apologizes immediately, our discussions on the allegations eat up much of our time and energy, destroy friendships and embarrass our movement. Although there is much emotion involved, I believe we can—and must—look at these things as the rationalists we are.

I suspect that Kirkhart means she’s distressed rather than genuinely surprised. I’ve been doing this too long to be surprised, and she’s been working in the movement longer than I have. I also disagree that confession of wrongdoing stops discussion and prevents strife. People expressing remorse for their actions are still told they have nothing to feel bad about when the subject under discussion is as politicized as harassment and assault are. I’d be a happier person if I’d never seen that happen, but I have.

Black and white, complicated flow chart of a process where every step has something to do with chickens or eggs.
Not all logic makes sense. “Chicken Chicken Flow” by healther vescent, CC BY 2.0

I do agree with Kirkhart that discussions on the topic could be more rational. The number of times I’ve seen an “argument” along the lines of “He’s nice to me/highly respected in his field/chased by other women, so he couldn’t have done that” is appalling. Harassers don’t harass everyone, and often groom others to stand up for them. We’ve seen many highly respected academics and business people turn out to be serial harassers. Harassment and assault don’t happen because people have no other choice; they are a choice. Literally none of those things are correlated with harassing people or not. Still the arguments fly with far too much of the secular movement.

Even more than rationalism, however, I would argue that the secular movement needs a heavy dose of empiricism on the topic of harassment and assault. In this respect, Kirkhart falls woefully short. Continue reading “Ladies, Mind Your Manners”

Ladies, Mind Your Manners

Mock the Movie: What Book? Edition

This month, we’re watching a Zelazny movie! Well, we’re watching a movie based on a Roger Zelazny book. Okay, we’re watching a movie with the same title as a Roger Zelazny book. All right, fine. We’re watching Damnation Alley because it’s late-70s George Peppard and Jan-Michael Vincent and Paul Winfield for however long his character survives.

This one is available on YouTube. The actual movie starts at 2:08. Continue reading “Mock the Movie: What Book? Edition”

Mock the Movie: What Book? Edition

Mock the Movie: Like a Classic Edition

As it turns out, a movie doesn’t have to be good to be treated like a classic. It can be “not as awful as I expected” or “long-awaited” or simply “not the worst video game movie out there”. That’s right. We’re watching Doom this month, because at the least the leads are entertaining.

This one is available on Netflix. Be warned that the first-person CGI sequence toward the end of the film has been known to cause motion sickness in those who are susceptible. Continue reading “Mock the Movie: Like a Classic Edition”

Mock the Movie: Like a Classic Edition

Mock the Movie: Bad Brains Edition

You could watch a movie where questions about consciousness and death are used to make us think about what it means to be human or to question the nature of existence itself. Or you could watch The Lazarus Effect and pretend that we know less about the brain than we do in order to scare people. For some reason, we’ve decided to do the latter.

[Warning: Strobe in the trailer.]

This one is available on Netflix. Watch with us this Tuesday. Continue reading “Mock the Movie: Bad Brains Edition”

Mock the Movie: Bad Brains Edition

Mock the Movie: Where It All Began Edition

Once upon a time, in the beforetimes, when The Asylum made movies that weren’t supposed to be so bad they were funny, when they operated as Faith Films and made cheap Christian ripoffs of blockbusters, Jason and I sat down to watch a bad movie in Nova Scotia. He tweeted both our reactions to the movie. People wanted to know what we were watching that was so terrible. They wanted to be part of the awful, and Mock the Movie was born.

This month, we’re going to watch a very bad YouTube video of this very bad movie to revisit our roots. Won’t you join us in watching 2012 Doomsday? You’ll hate it. We promise.

This one is available on YouTube. Please note that we’re changing the date of Mock the Movie to accommodate our schedules. We’ll be watching on first Tuesdays after this month. We weren’t quick enough to grab the first Tuesday this month, so we’re mocking this Tuesday instead. Continue reading “Mock the Movie: Where It All Began Edition”

Mock the Movie: Where It All Began Edition