Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Doxing Fail: Amateur Sleuths Aim to Identify Charlottesville Marchers, but Sometimes Misfire - The New York Times

Amateur Sleuths Aim to Identify Charlottesville Marchers, but Sometimes Misfire - The New York Times: "A man at the rally had been photographed wearing an “Arkansas Engineering” shirt, and the amateur investigators found a photo of Mr. Quinn that looked somewhat similar. They were both bearded and had similar builds. By internet frenzy standards, that was proof enough."

Monday, August 7, 2017

When video exonerates men of rape

Security video outside nightclub clears USC student of rape - CBS News

There have been several cases like this one, of men who were charged with rape who were exonerated by video that showed the women gave enthusiastic consent by every objective measure. This does not mean the women were liars—there's no reason to assume they did not honestly remember what they said they forgot.

But it does mean "believe the victim" is a bad principle. The better one is "investigate every charge."

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Excellent historical overview: The Panthers Can't Save Us Now

The Panthers Can't Save Us Now:
When confronted with the figure of the white convict, Alexander has argued that he is in fact “collateral damage,” the unintended victim in what is a fundamentally anti-black War on Drugs. Even when presented with the contradiction between the Jim Crow analogy and the class dynamics of incarceration, Alexander doubles down and seems to think that referring to nonblack prisoners as collateral damage is still a politically useful approach. “When a white kid in rural Nebraska gets a prison sentence rather than drug treatment he needs but cannot afford, he’s suffering because of a drug war declared with Black folks in mind,” Alexander contends. “And by describing white people as collateral damage in the drug war it creates an opportunity for us to see the ways in which people of all colors can be harmed by race-based initiatives or attacks that are aimed at another racially defined group.”30 This is a terrible evasion, an attempt to cling to an ideological faith even when actual social conditions require a different approach. The prison expansion and the turn to militaristic hyper-policing are not motivated principally by racism. Whether in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood or the Ozark country of southern Missouri, the process of policing the poor is orchestrated by the same diverse cast of beat cops, case managers, probation officers, district attorneys, public defenders, prison guards and wardens, social reformers, conservative and liberal politicians, weapons manufacturers, lobbyists, nonprofits, and foundations: a kind of social control complex that has been growing by leaps and bounds as poverty, cynicism, and the surplus population increase and the neoliberal era grinds on.
Read it all.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Kenan Malik on the origins of identity politics

NOT ALL POLITICS IS IDENTITY POLITICS | Pandaemonium:
The origins of identity politics in the late eighteenth century lie with the reactionary right. The original politics of identity was racism and nationalism, and it developed out of the counter-Enlightenment. These early critics of the Enlightenment opposed the idea of universal human values by stressing particularist values embodied in group identities. ‘There is no such thing as Man’, wrote the French arch-reactionary Joseph de Maistre in his polemic against the concept of the Rights of Man. ‘I have seen Frenchmen, Italians and Russians… As for Man, I have never come across him anywhere.’
This is why I sometimes refer to left identitarianism and right identitarianism.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Telling Students ‘Speech is Violence’ Could Be Dangerous

Telling Students ‘Speech is Violence’ Could Be Dangerous:
Setting aside the fact that no one will ever be able to agree on what’s “abusive” versus what’s “merely offensive,” the articles Barrett links to are mostly about chronic stress — the stress elicited by, for example, spending one’s childhood in an impoverished environment of serious neglect and violence. Growing up in a dangerous neighborhood with a poor single mother who has to work so much she doesn’t have time to nurture you is not the same as being a college student at a campus where Yiannopoulos is coming to speak, and where you are free to ignore him or to protest his presence there.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Doctor Who: invasion of the identitarians | spiked

Doctor Who: invasion of the identitarians | spiked:
...when a diverse sci-fi fantasy franchise succeeds (like Wonder Woman), it is held up as proof that the public is thirsting for more diverse output, but when a diverse franchise bombs (as the Ghostbusters reboot did), it is blamed on a bigoted nerd culture. Even when a production fails, the dogma of diversity wins. The quality of the material never comes into it. 
The female Doctor isn’t a victory for women, but for the BBC. Through identity politics, and the media fuss it always generates, the BBC has created the illusion that Doctor Who is more popular and cutting edge than it is.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Powwow Dancer vs. the People of Privilege - Mobbing William Sanders

Note: William Sanders has died. To mark his passing, I'm resharing an old post.

“But why so little published fiction by real Indians—a people, after all, with a wonderfully rich storytelling tradition? One little-recognized problem lies in what might be called the expectation barrier. White America has certain definite ideas as to what it wants to hear from Indians—at least the publishing industry thinks so, and for once it is probably right—and the Indian writer whose work fails to fit the accepted template can expect a lot of frustration.” —William Sanders, reviewing Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues

“You have to remember, the SF writing community is mostly a lot of very nice people who have led very sheltered lives. They’re very easily shocked. It’s always amazed me that so many of these people who write all this stuff about strange worlds and fantastic adventures are such conventional, boring types in person. As Ajay Budrys once said to me, ‘They are a cautious and conservative lot, these probers on Man’s ultimate frontier. A trail of sheep shit marks their passing.’” —William Sanders, in an interview in Chronicle




In 1991, I saw a biplane with a Confederate flag on the cover of a paperback novel, The Wild Blue and the Grey. The back copy said it was about a Cherokee pilot in an alternate Earth’s world war. I bought the book knowing nothing about the author, but I knew I liked the way his mind worked. Whenever anyone asks me about Civil War alternate universe stories, my short list of recommendations includes William Sanders.

I began reading less fantasy and science fiction around then, so I didn’t follow his career closely. When I did read something of his, I was impressed. One of the few unique visions in a genre filled with generic tales is his Sidewise Award-winning “The Undiscovered,” a sad and funny short story about Shakespeare living among the Cherokee. You would think that anyone in the field who values diversity would make William Sanders one of their poster kids. He’s Cherokee and a damn fine writer. What more could they want?

Too many of them want someone with middle-class manners who shares their identitarian beliefs. Sanders, a self-described “redbone hillbilly” from Arkansas who served in Vietnam, has no time for ideologues.

In 2006, he started an on-line magazine called Helix SF. The first issue included Janis Ian’s “Mahmoud’s Wives,” a feminist story that was very critical of its titular muslim character. In Ian’s online forum, Sanders wrote:

There have been a number of complaints and criticisms of that story. Not, as you might think, from enraged Islamist types (we’ve been rather disappointed, actually; we were hoping for at least one little old fatwa) but from whining super-PC types in this country.

Believe it or not, we even got a letter from one nitwit who said she should have named the characters Doug and Griselda. “Doug’s Wives” would have been more Politically Correct, you see.

When you annoy people like that, you know you must be doing something right.

Take no prisoners!

That’s a fine example of his online style: he took no prisoners. He expressed himself bluntly and honestly and expected to get as good as he gave. He made many enemies, and I’m sorry to say I let myself become one over something I can’t even remember today.

Helix SF developed a reputation for solid stories from a diverse group of writers. Sanders helped the budding careers of writers like N. K. Jemisin and Yoon Ha Lee. When he noticed he had acquired a lot of stories from women, he published an all-female issue. The International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) invited him to be their Guest of Honor. He was on his way to becoming one of the field’s grand old men.

But his redbone hillbilly ways didn’t just ruffle the feathers of people who expected everyone to practice white middle-class etiquette. He set feathers on fire and laughed when people got huffy.

I’ll say as little as I can about the next part of the story because too many writers set scenes like magicians controlling what the audience sees. I’ll only offer three things to prepare you:

In July of 2008, feelings about the war in the Middle East were strong, and many Muslims suffered for what a handful of Islamists had done.

Social justice fandom had just outed and terrorized Zathlazip.

Coffeeandink was calling for a boycott of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction because it published Dave Truesdale, a conservative.

Since I’m trying to present this in the way the internet received it, you may be temped to assume one of two things, depending on whether you hate Muslims or hate bigotry. Either will be wrong.

Sanders returned a Helix submission from Luke Jackson with a personal note. Jackson then committed one of publishing’s deadly sins: he made the rejection letter public. It’s now available on many sites, so I’ll share it. Sanders wrote:

No, I’m sorry but I can’t use this.

There’s much to like. I’m impressed by your knowledge of the Q’uran and Islamic traditions. (Having spent a couple of years in the Middle East, I know something about these things.) You did a good job of exploring the worm-brained mentality of those people—at the end we still don’t really understand it, but then no one from the civilized world ever can—and I was pleased to see that you didn’t engage in the typical error of trying to make this evil bastard sympathetic, or give him human qualities.

However, as I say, I can’t use it. Because Helix is a speculative fiction magazine, and this isn’t speculative fiction.

Oh, you’ve tacked on some near-future elements at the end, but the future stuff isn’t in any way necessary to the story; it isn’t even connected with it in any causal way. True, the narrator seems to be saying that it was this incident which caused him to take up the jihad, but he’s being mendacious (like all his kind, he’s incapable of honesty); he was headed in that direction from the start, and if it hadn’t been the encounter with the stripper it would have been something else.

Now if it could be shown that something in this incident showed him HOW the West could be overthrown, then perhaps the story would qualify as SF. That might have been interesting. As it is, though, no connection is shown and in fact we are never told just how this conquest—a highly improbable event, to say the least—came about.

There are some other problems with the story, but there’s no point in going into them, because they don’t really matter from my viewpoint. It’s not speculative fiction and I can’t use it in my magazine.

And I don’t think you’re going to sell it to any other genre magazine, for that reason—though you’d have a hard time anyway; most of the SF magazines are very leery of publishing anything that might offend the sheet heads. I think you might have a better chance with some non-genre publication. But I could be wrong.

Sorry.

The letter sparked flames across scifi’s electronic turf. The left side of fandom denounced Sanders as racist. Some Islamophobes thought he was simply telling the truth about Muslims or Middle Easterners or both. Sanders, Lawrence Watt-Evans, and a few others said a third interpretation was meant. At the site where Jackson posted the letter, Sanders left this comment:

Son, hasn’t anybody ever told you that public posting of a private email message is contrary to the rules both of accepted internet practice and common courtesy?

I do appreciate your efforts to be fair—certainly far more so than most of the other people in this ward, ah, group—but the fact remains that you’ve done something both socially and professionally unacceptable in posting it at all. So if you had any idea of submitting anything else to Helix, forget it. I won’t work with people who pull this kind of shit.

I suppose this is what I get for trying to be a nice guy, and give you a little encouragement rather than the standard thanks-but-no-thanks form rejection. Silly me.

(I notice, too, the presence in the lynch mob of another person I’ve tried to help, and to whom I thought I’d been particularly kind. No good deed, etc.)

Of course none of these people have read the story, and so they fail to grasp the context—that I was talking not about Muslims, or Arabs, or Oompa Loompas or any other religious or ethnic group, but about terrorists and violent extremists. (That being, after all, what your story was about.)

But I don’t feel any need to defend myself, or Helix, to these people; indeed I doubt that there’s anybody outside their little Mutual Masturbation Society who gives a damn what they think about anything at all.

They are cordially invited to have intercourse with their precious selves. I’m sure most of them could use the practice.

As the flames burned hotter, Jackson defended Sanders:

There is a truly despicable Muslim character in my story. Sorry, world. Maybe I was playing into prejudices. Sanders was talking about that character, so it wasn’t an out-of-the-blue rant, it was targeted to the content of my story. In context, his comments were directed at MY character and those types of extremists. People are taking it out of context and interpreting it too broadly if they think that Sanders was referring to all Arabs or all Muslims. I’m sure that if my character was a Timothy McVeigh-like extremist, Sanders would have used different but equally scornful language. The extremism of MY character is what drew his ire, and so if there is any blame it’s MY blame.

But third options are always rejected by people who live in black and white worlds. Nick Mamatas wrote a post to prove that what he inferred must be what Sanders had implied, and others, including Patrick Nielsen Hayden, agreed with him.

And, to my shame, so did I. In a comment at Making Light, I wrote:

The Cherokee do have a problem with racism. They were slave traders. A Cherokee chief, Stand Watie, was the last Confederate general to surrender. More recently, the Cherokee voted to exclude the descendants of their black slaves from the tribe (and the tribe’s gambling wealth), even though many of those people were culturally Cherokee, living the life and speaking the language.

On the other hand, Sanders is just a racist.*

In the modern sense that race equals ethnicity.

I don’t remember writing anything else about the case at the time. It didn’t interest me. I couldn’t know that it would be the Mexican-American War to Racefail 09’s Civil War.

Like everyone who played more-literary-than-thou with Sander’s hasty note, I assumed he was a racist because I ran the text through my assumptions. No one can be more wrong than smart people who think they read subtext infallibly—they’re the literary world’s equivalent of fundamentalists who see Satan’s hand guiding the pen of nonbelievers.

Perhaps the greatest flaw in Mamatas’s explication de texte was treating the text like a polished document, so he obsessed over agreement and ignored context. To be fair to him, he didn’t have the full context. Like everyone else, he only had the note, and he fancied himself the Racistfinder General. But it’s also true that Mamatas, then editor of Clarkesworld, was hardly an unbiased interpreter. As Sanders notes in “Conversations With A Mean Old Bastard”, Helix had been nominated for a Hugo and Clarkesworld had not, so the “poor fucker probably was wild with jealousy.”

In another popular denunciation of Sanders, Tobias Buckell wrote:

...the various stages of calling someone with a prejudice or racist belief or action out are very similar to the Kubler-Ross model of catastrophic loss.

Denial: * Example—”I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening.”

Anger: * Example—”Why me? It’s not fair!” “NO! NO! How can you accept this!”

Bargaining: * Example—”Just let me live to see my children graduate.”; “I’ll do anything, can’t you stretch it out? A few more years.”

Depression: * Example—”I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die . . . What’s the point?”

Acceptance: * Example—”It’s going to be OK.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

Buckell’s right that some people accept the worldview of those who abuse them—the FBI concluded that 27% of hostages show some degree of Stockholm Syndrome. But for people who have a worldview that’s incompatible with Critical Race Theory, these are the more common stages:

Denial: “WTF?”

Amusement: “Are these people really that crazy?”

Bargaining: “Okay, they are that crazy, but we got along in the past. Let’s try to get along again, okay?”

Anger: “Keep your crazy cult beliefs to yourself!”

Rejection: “Fuck. This. Shit. I’m gone.”

Sanders raced through those five steps with the warriors baying at his heels. First he wrote:

Certain people, in response or sympathy to the things being said about me, have requested that their stories be deleted from the Helix archives.

Wait, wait; this was originally MY suggestion. One person, whose excellent work had graced the pages of Helix on two occasions, had voiced such strong sentiments that I wrote to her and, among other things, offered to delete her stories from the archives if she felt that way about it. She replied at first in the negative, but later changed her mind; but anyway, I want to make it clear that this began as an offer that I made.

I made it to only that one person, and I confess it did not occur to me that anyone else would make a similar request; but a couple more did.** Their requests have been honored as well.

But I have been informed that there are other Helix authors who are also participating in the slagfest, in private venues; and perhaps there are others as well who while not openly falling in with the lynch mob, still share the basic sentiment.

So I would like to publicly announce that if there is ANYBODY who wants his/her/etc. story removed from the Helix archives as well, a written (emailed) request to me—not Lawrence, not Melanie—will be honored.

(That is speaking strictly of archived stories. Anything in the current issue will stay there, as per contract, for the duration of the quarter.)

But it’s not fair for Melanie to have to keep fucking with this; she’s already had a hell of a lot of extra work handed her because of it. So this offer is not going to remain open indefinitely. Speak up within a reasonable time—such time to be determined entirely by my caprice; tough shit if you don’t like it—or forever shut your pie-hole.

I should add that if anyone feels strongly enough to want to return the money they were paid, we will not accept it; I suggest donating it to Obama’s campaign instead. However, so far nobody has made any such offer, and I don’t seriously expect it.

PLEASE SPREAD THIS AROUND. For this one occasion, everyone—that includes the lurkers too—has my formal permission to quote the entire text of this message, starting with the 5th paragraph above. (Preceding text being of no relevancy or interest outside this ng.) In fact I’d appreciate it. I want the word out.

What I don’t want is some damn fool coming around a month from now with “I didn’t know! Nobody told me!”

So if you agree with the Sanders Whiners, you’ll be doing your cause a service by getting this out. And if you don’t, then you’ll be doing US a service by helping speed the process so Melanie can put all this extra work behind her.

The certain person was N. K. Jemisin. Yoon Ha Lee also took up the offer, and Sanders told her:

Certainly I would not want to continue to publish a story against the author’s wishes, especially a story like this one that never did make any sense and that I only accepted because I thought it might please those who admire your work, and also because (notorious bigot that I am) I was trying to get more work by non-Caucasian writers.

And there were more flames. “Non-Caucasian” was deemed racist even though it was used by a man no one could mistake for Caucasian.

When Jemisin’s, Lee’s, and Margaret Ronald’s stories were removed, Sanders put this notice on the web pages where they had been: “Story deleted at author’s pantiwadulous request.”

That joke was deemed sexist, perhaps because feminists are not supposed to wear panties. Maybe it’s an expression that social justice fandom doesn’t know—Sarah Palin once told Chris Christie not to get his panties in a wad, and no one attacked her for being sexist.

Soon after that, Sanders wrote:

Why should you have to do all this extra work for nothing, just so some silly people can make a big grandstand play to impress their bloggy pals with the Correctness of their convictions?

I am hereby making a change to the aforestated offer. Effective as of now, any Helix contributor who wants his/her work deleted from the archives will have to pay for the privilege. Specifically, it’ll cost you forty bucks, payable to Melanie.

Though Sanders had said the offer to take stories down would not remain open indefinitely, that created the next uproar as people quibbled over the principle and the price. Sanders then canceled the chance to pay to have a story removed:

All right, that’s it. It’s been long enough; there’s been ample opportunity for anyone else who felt soiled by the contact with Helix to step up and speak up and pay up.

I don’t believe there are going to be any others (the imposition of cash charges seems to have had a distinctly damping effect) but if there are, tough shit. You had your chance and you didn’t take it.

That fall, Sanders shut down Helix. Sometime later, he wrote “Conversations With A Mean Old Bastard.” I recommend reading it all, but for people in a hurry, here are a few important questions it answers:

While social justice fandom was never far from their keyboards, Sanders was offline for days. What was he doing during this time and why was he so harsh to Yoon Ha Lee?

I’d been on a bike in the wind and the heat for days, and I hadn’t slept well the previous night. And worse than everything else put together, I’d visited my wife at the hospital in Norman, where she’d been for a year and a half, on my way home, and found out that her condition had taken a new and extremely disturbing turn for the worse. 

And here was this message by another Helix writer, wanting in on the offer I’d made to Nora; and a look down the list showed me a couple more—and at that point I blew up. Here I’d tried to give a special break to one of my favorite Helix authors, and it was turning into a fucking exodus! It was just too much. 

So, yes, I was pretty brutal in what I said to Yoon Ha Lee. Of course I didn’t mean what I said about her story, or my reasons for accepting it; I was just saying that stuff in order to hurt her feelings, because I was in a hell of a lot of pain myself and she’d pushed me over what little edge I had left. 

Yeah, I admit it, I was too rough on Yoon Ha Lee, and it’s unfair that she got the full blast for what four people had done. And I don’t offer the above as justification—but then I don’t feel any need to justify myself. I had nothing against Yoon Ha Lee, but she had, after all, asked for it. Not that there was anything rude or offensive in her message, but she’d chosen to side with the people who were giving me shit, and you know, when you go fucking with somebody you have to accept that there may be consequences. I’m a normal person; when you hit at me, I hit back, and if at all possible I’ll hit hard enough to discourage you from doing that again. 

(I said I was a Christian. I never claimed to be a good one. I used to feel bad about this until I realized that trying to be like Jesus was presumptuous.) 

There’s another thing, too—I was being attacked by a God-damned hysterical mob. I had all these dipshits coming at me from all over, screaming their hate; they’d been at it for a week or more and getting crazier all the time. When the wire is down and the Claymores have all been fired and your forward positions are being overrun, it’s time to go to full auto and blow the shit out of everything that comes at you. Yoon Ha Lee, or anybody else who chose to be part of that mob—or side with them—was, as far as I’m concerned, asking for it.

What did he mean by “sheet head”?

“Sheet head” is, of course, a rather crude play on “shithead.” Obviously it refers to people who are known (stereotypically, and incorrectly) for wearing textile head coverings—and indeed requiring their women to do so. Therefore it should be obvious that “sheet head” refers to a Muslim who is a shithead. More exactly, to a Muslim who acts like a shithead in the name of his religion.

Consider, for example, the young thugs who have assaulted non-Muslim women on the streets of European cities for dressing in ways they considered “immodest.” Obviously they were acting like shitheads; but “terrorist” would be too strong a term. Or the “religious police” of Iran and Saudi Arabia; no one would deny that they are shitheads of purest ray serene—well, no one but another shithead—but what they do isn’t what is usually meant by terrorism.

Or the gibbering whackjobs who demonstrated in the streets of Europe because of a few cartoons in a Danish newspaper; it would be a great exaggeration to call them terrorists, but they certainly were being shitheads.

Was the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas an act of terrorism? No, but it certainly was one of the most spectacularly shitheaded acts of the sheet heads.

So no, I never have used the term—which I’ve been using for years—to refer to Muslims in general, but I’ve never restricted it to terrorists alone, either. And never claimed that was what I meant in that email.

...Of course I’ve made derogatory remarks about certain Muslims, but then so has everybody, even other Muslims. And I’ve been known to make derogatory remarks about the Muslim religion, but that’s entirely different. Religions are fair game in my book—a religion is nothing but a set of opinions, after all, and what’s wrong with ridiculing somebody’s opinions? I’ve said plenty about Christianity, too, and I’m a Christian, even if I don’t always act like it. 

Which brings up another point: I also use the expression “Jeebus Nazi” to refer to Christians who behave like shitheads—the exact equivalent of “sheet heads”—and none of these PC geeks have ever complained about that.

Was his language racist?

Racist? Of all the stupid things people have said during this affair, that has got to be one of the stupidest, but it’s been one of the most pervasive. Some of these people have the God-damnedest ignorant-ass ideas...Muslims aren’t a race, for God’s sake. Islam includes believers from all the major races. 

Of course I realize that “race” is nowadays quite commonly used to refer to ethnic groups, but incorrectly so. “Race” simply refers to a set of genetically transmissible characteristics producing certain physical differences, distinctive but not enough so as to constitute a separate species. For example, the familiar “Baltimore” and “Bullock’s” orioles, formerly considered distinct species, are now classed merely as races of the Northern Oriole (Icterus galbula); likewise with the various races of the Northern Junco (Junco hyemalis) and so on. 

“Race” is a useful scientific term for classifying variations within an animal species—and people, in case you’ve forgotten, are animals. (Homo sapiens, a name devised in the days before blogs.) That some have used it for evil purposes doesn’t mean it has no validity. If we get rid of every word that some shithead has used for evil purposes, we’ll be reduced to gestures and grunts. Which in the case of some of the Blogtrotters would be an improvement, but—

...All the same, if any Muslims were offended, they never said anything to me about it, or to anybody I know. Not this time, not back in ‘06 when this first came up, not when we published Janis Ian’s “Mahmoud’s Wives”—not so much as an indignant email. All the shit that came our way was from PC Westerners. If that surprises you, you haven’t been paying attention.

Did this result in the closing of Helix?

Actually we decided when we first started out that we’d go for two years, which would have ended with the spring issue; but then it looked as if we had a shot at a Hugo nomination, so we decided to go ahead and finish out this year. 

Of course the Blogtrotters don’t believe that; they’re convinced that they brought down the Evil Empire with their hooting and turd-flinging. But I’d point out that earlier this year, before this shit started, I’d already announced that I was only going to take a very few more submissions, and that was why.

Several years before the incident Sanders calls “sheet storm”, he announced his retirement, then wrote at least three more stories. On his site’s bibliography, he says about a story written after his retirement, “I said I’d retired; I didn’t say I’d quit. This one insisted on being written.” Sometimes artists announce their retirement when they think they’re done, and then the muse returns. If not for social justice fandom’s sheetstorm, who knows what other stories might’ve insisted on being written? If editing Helix had continued to be fun, who knows whether he and his friends might’ve decided to keep it going?

Well, there’s never much point in playing “what if”, for all that it’s a literary game Sanders and I have loved. The social justice posse decided an old Indian wasn’t acting white enough for them, so William Sanders has ridden into the sunset.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Scrupulosity, a useful concept for understanding some moral warriors

Simon Kongshøj wrote,
I recently learned about a concept from the psychology of religion: Scrupulosity. This isn't the same as being scrupulous (which is a good thing), but means a pathological concern with own sins and sinfulness, which drives the sufferer to compulsively engage in religious ritual in self-harming or self-denying ways: Going to confession daily, "confessing" minor unwelcome stray thoughts, excessive fasting, self-flagellation, etc. In the Catholic world, scrupulosity has been studied since at least the 1600s, where priests would write about how they desperately attempted to calm down some of their churchgoers who had become unable to function socially and unable to maintain normal daily lives. Today, it's considered a form of OCD.

But the Catholic church in the 1600s was a major social institution, and the priest *had* to be concerned about whether some of his churchgoers became so dysfunctional they couldn't contribute to society anymore. In a cult, where isolation from the surrounding society can be considered a value, leaders are probably more likely to try to *strengthen* these impulses in sick members. And the more miserable their lives become, the more demands for self-sacrifice the leaders can make.

I think certain strands of modern progressive politics can form a very fertile substrate for a kind of secular scrupulosity. And in activist communities that pride themselves on being a counterculture in opposition to the surrounding society, much as I think such a counterculture is *good* and *necessary*, I think the cult-like expression of it is likely to flourish, except that the pressure of a cult leader might be replaced with peer pressure from the community.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What's wrong with the people who get called Social Justice Warriors?

On Facebook, Elizabeth Bruenig commented,
last night i said i think abortion's a sin but shouldn't be criminal and that i would try to reduce it with welfare, not the penal-carceral state. the result: "she's disgusting trash" "you're a prominent leftist and you CANNOT be anti-choice" (i'm a 26 y/o office worker) "you're not a leftist hero" (again...office worker)

what is the matter w these people
I answered,
I have figured out part of what's wrong with these people: their intellectual roots begin with Critical Race Theory and intersectional feminism, whose theorists believed "hate speech" should be banned. The underlying assumption of banning speech is that deviance must not be allowed. (Henry Louis Gates wrote a good response to that in the early '90s.)

None of the original CRT/intersectional crowd were socialists. They came from a Christian tradition, as their love of the Catholic concept of "social justice" indicates. But they've divorced their social justice from Christianity, so what's left is sanctimony without substance, a demand for conformity to a list rather than a principle.

Access to abortion is on the list. Logically, you should be able to oppose abortion for moral reasons and support legal access to it for moral reasons as well, but that calls for nuance and a willingness to have laws that are more tolerant than you are. But people who pride themselves on the purity of their beliefs never do nuance or tolerance.
ETA: "Let Them Talk" by Henry Louis Gates 

Presidential Lectures: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

LATER: Just to be clear, the people who use "social justice" today are not necessarily Christians. The concept spread from Catholicism to other religious groups, and now there are atheists who accept it, and even use its Christian metaphors such as calling slavery America's original sin.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Keeanga-Yamatta Taylor rejects privilege theory

From Picking up the Threads of Struggle:
The whole framework of privilege is really problematic because it reduces issues of power, of control, and authority to individual difference. It’s almost as if everything that is different about groups of people is then dubbed as a privilege. If you’re able-bodied and someone else is not, then your able-bodied-ness becomes a privilege. If you’re cisgendered and someone else is not, then that difference is transformed into a privilege.

...Oppression changes individual working-class people’s experience in the world. The experiences of working-class black women are not the same as they are for working-class white men. Because of the compounding impacts of multiple oppressions, it makes for a harsher outcome for black, working-class women. But the absence of those particular oppressions experienced by black women in the life of a white working-class man doesn’t necessarily equate into this thing that we call privilege.

Weaponizing poverty, or How "social justice warriors" are like McCarthyites and the Ku Klux Klan

A note before I begin: The people who get called "social justice warriors" can be astonishingly literal-minded, so I'll grant there's a reason my title doesn't say they are exactly like the Klan—though they've issued death threats and called in bomb scares, so far as I know, SJWs haven't killed anyone. But since they compare people who haven't killed anyone to Nazis, fascists, and the Klan, the objection's invalid. And they can't complain about being compared to McCarthyites, a group that destroyed lives, but did not murder anyone.

 "Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." —1 Samuel 15:3
They're called warriors because they believe all's fair in wartime so they dox, blacklist, censor, issue death threats, and weaponize poverty by getting people fired and destroying their businesses. Like people who support torture, the death penalty, or the use of chemical weapons, they are sure their cause is righteous and therefore their tactics are righteous too.

Which is why they don't notice or don't care that they use same tactics as McCarthyites and the Ku Klux Klan.

I have a personal hatred for the Ku Klux Klan. Skip this paragraph if you know my history: When my family was active in the civil rights movement, we could not get fire insurance because word was out that the Klan would burn us down. I was bullied for speaking up for integration and for opposing prayer in school. I remember my mother shaking after she got an anonymous phone call—to this day, I do not know if it was a death threat or just someone being vile, but I suspect the former—see the fact we could not get fire insurance.

The Klan believed in silencing people by destroying their livelihood. From Ku Klux Klan:
...activities included participation in parades, cross lightings, lectures, rallies, and boycotts of local businesses owned by Catholics and Jews.
I have a second-hand hatred for McCarthyites because they used the Klan's tactics against people I admire. As noted at McCarthyism:
It is difficult to estimate the number of victims of McCarthy. The number imprisoned is in the hundreds, and some ten or twelve thousand lost their jobs.[53] In many cases simply being subpoenaed by HUAC or one of the other committees was sufficient cause to be fired.[54] Many of those who were imprisoned, lost their jobs, or were questioned by committees did in fact have a past or present connection of some kind with the Communist Party. But for the vast majority, both the potential for them to do harm to the nation and the nature of their communist affiliation were tenuous.[55] After the extremely damaging "Cambridge Five" spy scandal (Guy BurgessDonald MacleanKim PhilbyAnthony Blunt, et al.), suspected homosexuality was also a common cause for being targeted by McCarthyism. The hunt for "sexual perverts", who were presumed to be subversive by nature, resulted in thousands being harassed and denied employment.[56] Many have termed this aspect of McCarthyism the "Lavender scare".[57]
From the ACLU's What Is Censorship?:
Private pressure groups, not the government, promulgated and enforced the infamous Hollywood blacklists during the McCarthy period. 
Yes, I could add that SJW tactics are like those of homophobes. I could make a very long list of bad people who have used bad tactics for their cause. This should be a wake-up call: when you are doing what bad people do, bystanders have trouble telling the difference between your cause and theirs.

Note: This post was inspired by the comments at Freedom Fighters | …and Then There's Physics.

Possibly of interest:

Wilfrid Laurier University Grad Student Association blasted for terminating café operator over help wanted ad - Kitchener-Waterloo - CBC News

The doubts of a ‘Social Justice Warrior’ | New York Post

Social Justice Warriors Against Free Speech | RealClearPolitics

On Leaving the SJW Cult and Finding Myself – Keri Smith

The Personality of Political Correctness - Scientific American Blog Network



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Harvard's black acceptance ratio is proportionate--but it's drawn from rich black folks

Harvard University Admits Highest Number Of Black Students In School's History | The Huffington Post: " Almost 12 percent of the total applicants who were offered admission next fall are black"

Most Black Students at Harvard Are From High-Income Families: "In a 2004 interview Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard, told the London Observer, “The black kids who come to Harvard or Yale are middle class. Nobody else gets through.” "

Kwame Anthony Appiah defending "cultural appropriation"

The Case for Contamination - The New York Times:
Besides, trying to find some primordially authentic culture can be like peeling an onion. The textiles most people think of as traditional West African cloths are known as Java prints; they arrived in the 19th century with the Javanese batiks sold, and often milled, by the Dutch. The traditional garb of Herero women in Namibia derives from the attire of 19th-century German missionaries, though it is still unmistakably Herero, not least because the fabrics used have a distinctly un-Lutheran range of colors. And so with our kente cloth: the silk was always imported, traded by Europeans, produced in Asia. This tradition was once an innovation. Should we reject it for that reason as untraditional? How far back must one go? Should we condemn the young men and women of the University of Science and Technology, a few miles outside Kumasi, who wear European-style gowns for graduation, lined with kente strips (as they do now at Howard and Morehouse, too)? Cultures are made of continuities and changes, and the identity of a society can survive through these changes. Societies without change aren't authentic; they're just dead.

Monday, April 10, 2017

FREE SPEECH AND UNSAFE SPACES | Pandaemonium

From Kenan Malik's FREE SPEECH AND UNSAFE SPACES:
The notion of a safe space as protection from challenge raises other issues, too. In 2104 a student group at Brown University organized a debate about campus sexual assault between the feminist Jessica Valenti and the libertarian Wendy McElroy, a critic of the notion of ‘rape culture’. Fearing that the debate would be too upsetting for some, a ‘safe space’ was set up, equipped with cookies, colouring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as counsellors. One of the students who helped set up, and make use of, the safe space, went to listen to the debate at one point, but quickly returned to the safe space. ‘I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs’, she said.

A cartoon and a comment about leftists who are friendly and leftists who mock

On Facebook, Jonas Kyratzes shared Things Are Not OK. In the comments, Jay Tholen mentioned his childhood growing up in poor neighborhoods and said,
I was a Limbaugh-listening conservative at 18 and know how completely validating it is to see the liberal mainstream characterize you as a hateful idiot. It entrenched me in my belief that I was fighting against some elite star chamber. The only time I started questioning my political ideologies was when folks from the left befriended me and we had conversations.
A little later, Douglas Lain shared this:

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Today's leftist critique of identitarianism: Identity Crisis by Salar Mohandesi

from Identity Crisis:
Although inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty the­o­ry added some much-need­ed nuance to iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics, it, too, ran into its own lim­its. As Sue Fer­gu­son and David McNal­ly have explained, while “inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty accounts have right­ly insist­ed that it is impos­si­ble to iso­late any par­tic­u­lar set of oppres­sive rela­tions from the oth­er,” they have not devel­oped any coher­ent expla­na­tion of “how and why” dif­fer­ent forms of oppres­sion inter­sect with each in oth­er in some ways and not oth­ers. The result is often an enu­mer­a­tion of oppres­sions with­out an ade­quate expla­na­tion of their artic­u­la­tion into a struc­tured, though always uneven, whole. This is pre­cise­ly why, for exam­ple, par­ti­sans of this kind of inter­sec­tion­al iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics almost always revert to com­pos­ing breath­less cat­a­logues of injus­tice when try­ing to explain what they oppose – the colo­nial white suprema­cist het­ero­nor­ma­tive patri­archy, or some­thing to that effect. More­over, since the list is the only way to present the object of social strug­gle, fail­ure to include a par­tic­u­lar oppres­sion in the mas­ter list will often be mis­tak­en­ly inter­pret­ed as the will­ful rejec­tion or era­sure of a par­tic­u­lar strug­gle again­st a par­tic­u­lar oppres­sion.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

An apology for Julia Sparkymonster, Micole Coffeeandink, and Mary Dell

April 2015/February 2017

Dear Julia, Micole, and Mary,

Like most artists, I try to keep track of online mentions of my name. Often the results are nice. Perhaps the nicest was when I saw someone praising my brother. I learned about two interesting people who are undoubtedly distant relatives that way, Margot Lee Shetterly and Robert Shetterly. But in 2015, I saw this tweet from Julia:


I wrote a first draft of this letter then, but decided sharing it wouldn't help anyone, so I left it sitting in Blogger's draft folder.

Friday I learned about these tweets:



Julia, my first reaction to your 2015 tweet was to be amused by your use of "harass"—if writing publicly about things someone has said is harassing, you have been harassing me since you showed up on my LiveJournal ten years ago to insist class does not matter when discussing racism.

But then I thought a little more about our history, which reminded me of this part of a post I made in 2014, How I Became A Misogynist White Supremacist Doxxing Troll, or Things about me that SJWs cannot understand, or Fisking a Mixoning, A response to SciFi Fandom's most self-righteous warriors:
Sparky says, "Once I sat down once & compiled documents details his harassment of a particular person for a potential restraining order. The stack of paper was several inches thick (double sided) and fucking appalling. WS also specializes in deleting posts, comments, entire journals, etc. He deleted posts and complains that people aren't reading his words in context. We can't because he deleted them."

I'm assuming she didn't try for a restraining order because she couldn't find a lawyer who thought public posts on the internet were harassment. As for deleting posts, guilty, but this community has been obsessive about screen caps for ages, at least since they doxxed and terrorized Zathlazip. If I'd said or done something extreme, they would have dozens of copies to show it, and the first copy would probably be Sparky's.

Sparky says, "About 2 years ago I ended up sitting down with HR because of concerns that either WS or one of his comment buddies was going to start calling my workplace. In order for me to do my job, my work number must be public. My office location also public. The building I work in is open to the public. I am the only black staff member in the building. I'm the only WOC staff member in the building. It was, and is, fucking terrifying."

Two points: 1. Obviously, I never did what she feared. 2. What she feared is exactly what her friends did to Zathlazip. Sparky was afraid of getting what she had condoned and may have participated in.
Writing that in 2014, I experienced something I've despised since I learned the word: schadenfreude. Rereading my post after seeing your April 2015 tweet, I was sorry I had been amused rather than sympathetic when you were afraid I would treat you the same way your community treats others.

But after I wrote the first draft of this letter, I decided it would help no one and left it unfinished.

Your recent tweet convinced me something must be done. Now you say I threatened you as well as harassed you. When and where did this happen? I'm not aware of anything I've done that I considered a threat, but you have a long history of misunderstanding me. Most of those misunderstandings can never be cleared up because our understandings of the world are so different, but I will gladly do anything I can to clear up this one. No one should live in fear.

Micole and Mary, I'm including you in this letter because Julia helped you compile things I'd said for your "Will Shetterly: Do Not Engage" post. For years, I was frustrated that you'd cherrypicked items to make it look like I believe something I do not, but I eventually made peace with the fact you hear as you do because your belief in intersectionality disconnects class and race, so you see two unique things that only occasionally intersect while I agree with Eric Williams that “Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery,” and therefore see that race and class in North America have been intimately entangled since the first laws were passed after Bacon's Rebellion to treat African slaves and European indentured servants differently.

Adolph Reed helped me understand how hard it is for identitarians to hear nuance. In The limits of anti-racism, he wrote something I completely agree with:
Yes, racism exists, as a conceptual condensation of practices and ideas that reproduce, or seek to reproduce, hierarchy along lines defined by race. Apostles of antiracism frequently can’t hear this sort of statement, because in their exceedingly simplistic version of the nexus of race and injustice there can be only the Manichean dichotomy of those who admit racism’s existence and those who deny it. There can be only Todd Gitlin (the sociologist and former SDS leader who has become, both fairly and as caricature, the symbol of a “class-first” line) and their own heroic, truth-telling selves, and whoever is not the latter must be the former. Thus the logic of straining to assign guilt by association substitutes for argument.

My position is—and I can’t count the number of times I’ve said this bluntly, yet to no avail, in response to those in blissful thrall of the comforting Manicheanism—that of course racism persists, in all the disparate, often unrelated kinds of social relations and “attitudes” that are characteristically lumped together under that rubric, but from the standpoint of trying to figure out how to combat even what most of us would agree is racial inequality and injustice, that acknowledgement and $2.25 will get me a ride on the subway. It doesn’t lend itself to any particular action except more taxonomic argument about what counts as racism.
When I say your neoliberal understanding of race, gender, and class and my socialist understanding are fundamentally different, I do not mean to imply you are bad people. I only mean to stress that what you believe shapes your ability to understand others, so when I say, "Class matters most under capitalism," you hear me say, "Race doesn't matter; only class does."

Since I'm quoting things, here's what Malcolm X said after he rejected the Nation of Islam's identitarian ways:
My dearest friends have come to include all kinds—some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists—some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!
My range of friends has always been that broad. I was raised to believe in live and let live, and in agreeing to disagree. I realize your community rejects those principles and that in your eyes my criticism of Derrick Bell and Kimberlé Crenshaw makes me a heretic, but being treated as a heretic never made me hate any of you or want to see any harm come to any of you. When my family was a small part of the civil rights struggle, I was bullied in school for being a "nigger lover", but my parents taught me to pity my haters for the limits of their vision. My spirituality has taken several forms, but two bits I learned in Sunday School will always stay with me: the story of the Good Samaritan and Jesus's teaching to love your enemy.

Which is the long way of saying I have no bad feelings for you now and never wanted you to suffer, and I am appalled by the idea that any of you think I would ever use the tactics you endorse.

Julia, I don't know how to assure you that even when I was most frustrated with your attacks, I never would've tolerated anything like what you feared—all I can do is stress that you now know I never did what you feared, so I hope you can believe I never will. I'm very sorry that when I first learned you were frightened, I didn't try harder to find a way reassure you.

Mary, I know less about your situation than I know about Julia's, but if you've been afraid of me, I'm as sorry as anyone can be. I remember you saying something once about Emma that I answered by joking that you should be careful because she's a better shot than I am. I thought that was hilarious because it's both true she's a better shot and it's ludicrous to think anyone in fandom would shoot anyone over a feud about ideology, but I've accepted that Poe's Law is the only law online, so if that joke gave you a moment's discomfort, I regret it deeply.

Micole, you are not last because you are least. If I ever met Julia offline, it was only briefly, and I have only the vaguest memories of meeting Mary, but I remember meeting you at Tor and being pleased you were starting your career as I had started mine. When I learned you wanted to write, I hoped you would do well. But in 2007 it became clear your belief in the principles of Critical Race Theory did not allow for tolerating disagreement. I knew then we would never be friends, but I am used to being friendly with people who do not share my beliefs, so I didn't realize we had become enemies.

That finally became clear to me in 2009 when you and Julia and Mary made your post about me, and when you insisted you had been pseudonymous and I had outed you. I understand how you think your post did not misrepresent me. I will never understand how you can believe you were pseudonymous while using your very rare first name as your LJ handle and using your full name on public LJ posts about what you had written and where to find you at conventions. For at least two years, Google tracked your LJ so anyone who could type your name into a search engine would find your LJ among the very first hits. It still seems the height of hypocrisy to me that in the weeks after you declared you had been outed, you changed your LJ handle, you changed your LJ settings to "no robots" to erase your online history, and you made private the posts in which you had been publicly sharing your full name, yet you left public the posts accusing me of outing you.

But I don't blame you. Humans are rationalizing animals—the only people who think they're never inconsistent are people who do not know themselves at all. I don't pretend to know myself well, but I know myself well enough to only blame myself for what happened during Racefail 09.

To be clear, I am not sorry I entered that flamewar when I saw you and your friends attacking good people. I am sorry I couldn't find a kinder and more convincing way to respond, and I'm sorry I didn't drop out much sooner. When you insisted your legal identity should be kept out of the histories of Racefail because you were pseudonymous, I should have accepted that as another of your quirks. I certainly never should've made a post ironically declaring that I was outing you. I didn't know about Poe's Law then.

As a result, I learned the hardest way about the psychological consequences of mobbing. I would never wish them on anyone, but I only blame myself for being mobbed. That seems to be what people who have been mobbed do—in my reading about the effects, I've found people who killed themselves, but I haven't found anyone who hurt anyone else. Julia seems to think I have not been punished enough for what I did. Perhaps you will all take some satisfaction in knowing I avoid conventions now because I'm constantly aware someone from your community might attack me in one of the ways that were promised and called for during that time. Well, except for the death threat—perhaps the only advantage of having the KKK threaten to burn down my home when I was a boy was learning very early that most death threats are only meant to terrify.

Your editing of your online past frustrated me enormously for several years, but I finally accepted that what I did was my responsibility and what you did was yours. We all have our burdens, and yours may be far heavier than mine. I am sorry I added to them. If there's anything I can do to lighten them, I'll do it gladly.

Julia, Mary, and Micole, I do not expect any of you to reply. I simply want you to know that you have nothing to fear from me. The world has enough suffering. Why add to it? If there's anything you would like to ask of me, ask it, directly or through an intermediary if you wish, and I will try to provide it. If not, go in peace.

sincerely,

Will

TO EVERYONE READING THIS

I would like to turn the comments off on this post, but I want to know what made Julia think I threatened her. Leaving the comments on makes it possible for her or a friend of hers to answer—pseudonymously if they're afraid of me or of having their community turn on them. So if you're tempted to comment here, I ask the following:

1. No one can lay a hand on you online, so follow Malcolm X's advice to respect everyone.

2. Don't use this post to criticize identitarianism or neoliberalism. My rejection of what Micole, Mary, and Julia believe is unchanged.

3. Don't use this post to criticize other identitarians. If I don't owe them an apology, they're irrelevant.

4. Don't tell me I don't need to apologize. Whether I should've entered the Racefail flamewar is, to my mind, debatable; that I should've been kinder and dropped out sooner is not. As a result, at least one person says she has been afraid for years. That alone is sufficient reason to apologize.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Yiannopoulos did not out anyone—Kramer had already outed herself on public TV

I wish the people who oppose free speech would stop making me defend the right to speak of people I would prefer to protest. Today's example: Someone insisted Milo Yiannopoulos had outed a trans woman and shared this link as proof: Hate’s Insidious Face: UW-Milwaukee and the “Alt-Right” | Overpass Light Brigade

I read it, including the transwoman's letter, then went googling, then said this:

Kramer outed herself on regional TV when she “liberated” the women’s room and then talked to news reporters about it. You can see that here: Transgender UWM student says she's been discriminated against on campus

Translating her letter into simple English boils down to this:

She is upset that the chancellor didn’t abandon the principle of free speech and cancel a speaker who had been invited by a student group.

She is upset that when protesters who wanted him to cancel the speech would not leave his office, he called the cops to have them removed rather than cancel the speech.

She is upset that at the speech, Yiannopoulos referred to a very public local incident that she had created.

The rest of the letter is a hissy-fit because she doesn’t want anyone to disagree with her or say anything mean. And I sympathize with that. Sometimes I wish I could silence anyone who disagreed with me or said mean things about me. But then I sigh and move on with my life.

To be clear here, I think people should use the bathroom they want to use.

And I think people should talk to news reporters if they want to.

But I do not think people should pretend they have been outed when they have outed themselves so very thoroughly.

ETA: Just to be sure this horse is dead: If Kramer had not already outed herself, Yiannopoulos would never have known her name.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Identitarianism played a greater part in Clinton's loss than we knew

Trump Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself | aNtiDoTe Zine: "Cambridge Analytica had begun engaging with US elections towards the end of 2014, initially to advise the Republican Ted Cruz, and paid by the secretive American tech billionaire Robert Mercer. Up to that point, according to Nix, election campaign strategy had been guided by demographic concepts. “But this is a really ridiculous idea, the idea that all women should receive the same message because of their gender; or all African-Americans because of their race.” The Hillary Clinton campaign team was still operating on precisely such amateurish assumptions—Nix need not even mention—which divide the electorate up into ostensibly homogeneous groups…exactly the same way as all the public opinion researchers who predicted a Clinton victory did."

Monday, January 23, 2017

SF writers and the authoritarian left

“You have to remember, the SF writing community is mostly a lot of very nice people who have led very sheltered lives. They’re very easily shocked. It’s always amazed me that so many of these people who write all this stuff about strange worlds and fantastic adventures are such conventional, boring types in person. As Ajay Budrys once said to me, ‘They are a cautious and conservative lot, these probers on Man’s ultimate frontier. A trail of sheep shit marks their passing.’” —William Sanders, in an interview in Chronicle

I have been tempted to write more about Sanders' observation for years. This tweet finally inspired me:
It's fascinating for at least two reasons.

The first is that it was tweeted by someone who blocked me. Malicious people love to misrepresent people behind their back. That's especially true of bookish gossips.

The second is that Grumer either can't see that he's defending the tactics of Nazis, Klansmen, and blackshirts, or he is embracing them.

SF writers cover the political spectrum, but most are politically naive, regardless of their orientation. You can see that in the conservatives who don't know Orwell was a democratic socialist and in the neoliberals who talk of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X as antiracists rather than universalist critics of capitalism.

SF writers tend to have privileged backgrounds, regardless of their race or gender.  Many grew up in expensive neighborhoods and went to expensive schools. Privileged conservatives think capitalism's economic pyramid is natural, but privileged leftists are troubled by their suspicion that their privilege is unearned. So they have two choices: work to end the economic pyramid and thereby end their privilege, or work to make the pyramid look fair by focusing on social identity and thereby preserve their privilege. Most choose the latter.

The price is adopting a belief system that is filled with contradictions. It can only be enforced by keeping out dissent. They have no room for free speech. They have to play by mean girl rules, happily claiming their opponents said things they never said and believe things they don't believe, then blocking their opponents so their narrative won't be sullied. Hitler would be proud of them. It doesn't matter whether they believe in the Big Lie or merely play the old game of telephone in their echo chambers until they believe what they claim—someone who is more interested in them than I can try to decide who are the useful idiots and who believes that any lie told for their cause is good.

Ah, well. For the record, I do not defend Nazis. But I don't expect that statement to matter. One of the many things the authoritarian left and right have in common is a belief in alternative facts.

Related:

On responding to speech with violence, or why a coward in a mask is nothing like Captain America

Many of my heroes were killed by people who answered speech with violence

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Martin Luther King believed in "tone policing"

"No matter how emotional your opponents are, you must be calm." —Martin Luther King