Open Thread and Link Farm, Small Angry Dog Edition

  1. Woman Gives Up Teaching To Create Optical Illusions With Makeup, And It’s Messing With Our Minds | Bored Panda
  2. Here’s What Really Happened In Charlottesville
  3. Mama Cass didn’t die of choking on a ham sandwich; she died as a result of dieting.
  4. Trump’s Sensitivity to Being Laughed at Should Alarm Everyone – Rewire
    Grace sent this link to me, saying that it reminded her of our conversation about toxic masculinity.
  5. Medicare-for-All Isn’t the Solution for Universal Health Care | The Nation
    Progressives have to start sweating the details of universal health coverage.
  6. Everything About Disney and ABC’s ‘Pink Slime’ Settlement Should Scare the Hell Out of You
    “veggie libel” laws aren’t as sexy as discussing protesters on campus, but they’re much more dangerous to free speech.
  7. Maryland City May Let Noncitizens Vote, a Proposal With Precedent – The New York Times
  8. Voter Suppression in the Mirror and Looking Forward
    A review of some of the voter suppression measures conservatives are pushing.
  9. What Trump gets wrong about Confederate statues, in one chart – Vox
    “Washington was a slave owner, yes, but the meaning of a Washington statue is not necessarily pro-slavery or pro-white supremacy — whereas that’s exactly the point of the vast majority of Confederate memorials in the United States.”
  10. Debate over civil rights center at UNC focuses on advocacy and academic freedom
    Republicans in North Carolina’s congress are shutting down a civil rights center at a law school. Academic freedom, everybody!
  11. Officials say immigration agents showed up at labor dispute proceedings. California wants them out – LA Times
  12. Students say Christian college turned a blind eye to serial rapists – ThinkProgress
  13. The Lost Cause Rides Again
    Ta-Nahisi Coates on HBO’s announced “Confederate” TV series. I’m withholding judgement to small degree – maybe the show itself will be so brilliant as to answer all of Coates’ concerns and change everyone’s minds – but I’m extremely skeptical that it will be that good.
  14. An anti-immigrant group mistook empty bus seats for women wearing burqas – The Washington Post
  15. Doxing isn’t about privacy—it’s about abuse | The Daily Dot
    An interesting and, I think, useful way of redefining how we thing about doxing. “Doxing isn’t about exposure. Instead, it’s a form of weaponized attention. “
  16. Why Trump Invokes ‘Common Sense’ – The Atlantic
    “…for centuries, populist movements in particular have invoked common sense as a justification for policy goals and as an antidote to expert opinion.”
  17. What Jeff Sessions Will Never Understand About Affirmative Action
  18. Affirmative Action and the Myth of Reverse Racism – The Atlantic
  19. “I lied to my wife about liking john mayer; my life now revolves around his music and I’m looking for clarity.”
  20. In ‘Death Wish,’ Jews Gain From White Fascist Fantasies – The Forward
    I don’t agree with everything Noah writes here, but I did find it interesting.
  21. Octopus and squid evolution is officially weirder than we could have ever imagined – ScienceAlert
    “… scientists have discovered that octopuses, along with some squid and cuttlefish species, routinely edit their RNA (ribonucleic acid) sequences to adapt to their environment.”
  22. South Carolina town bans saggy pants: Can they do that? – CSMonitor.com
    I hope they get sued and lose badly. And really, are we supposed to think it’s just a big coincidence that it’s a Black fashion they go after?
  23. Could A Bus With Sleep Pods Replace Airplanes? | WBEZ
    Well, maybe for short flights.
  24. Is Jesse Singal a Bigot? | www.splicetoday.com
    An older controversy, about an academic who wrote an article that was widely criticized, and then widely defended.
  25. Sizeism Is Harming Too Many of Us: Fat Shaming Must Stop | Psychology Today
    Focuses on how anti-fat prejudice harms fat patients in the medical system.
  26. Dear Men of The Breakfast Club: Trans Women Aren’t a Joke, Ploy, or Sexual Predators | Allure
    Article by Janet Mock responding to a morning radio show.
  27. In the key 2018 battlegrounds, Trump’s support is as high as ever – Vox
    If this holds up, Trump could win re-election in 2020 while losing the popular vote by an even larger margin.
  28. …Or he could postpone the election, and if he does a lot of Republicans say they’d support him. Poll: Half of GOPers Open to Postponing of 2020 Elections
  29. “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” Is Bad Science | Thing of Things
    I found the end point especially interesting, because I hadn’t considered that before, but the whole thing is good.
  30. Psychologists surveyed hundreds of alt-right supporters. The results are unsettling. – Vox
  31. Cartoon below is by Irma Kniivila.

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63 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Small Angry Dog Edition

  1. 1
    RonF says:

    Re: #9:

    Pres. Trump, as the article quotes him:

    Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. This week, it is Robert E. Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

    The article itself:

    That’s why Trump’s equivalency between Confederate statues and one of George Washington misses the mark. Washington was a slave owner, yes, but the meaning of a Washington statue is not necessarily pro-slavery or pro-white supremacy — whereas that’s exactly the point of the vast majority of Confederate memorials in the United States.

    A local pastor in Chicago on Wednesday, widely reported in the media (local pastors in the black communities in Chicago get a lot of attention in Chicago):

    “It’s time. Please read my letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and The Chicago Park District. … I’m calling on them to change the names of Washington and Jackson Park. Slave owners do not deserve the honor of our children playing in parks named after them. There is no way a Native American Community would allow a General Custer Park or a Jewish Community allow a Gestapo Park in their community.

    I am feeling ambivalent that I would have to walk my child, attend a parade or enjoy a game of softball in a park that commemorates the memory of a slave owner. Therefore, I call on the immediate removal of President George Washington and President Andrew Jackson names from the parks located on the southeast side of Chicago. They should not have the distinct honor of being held as heroes when they actively participated in the slave trade.

    Now the mayor says “No.” So far. But I expect others to join in this effort, and I doubt it will be limited to Chicago. There’s a lot of things that Trump gets wrong, but he may be prescient on this one.

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    Ron: I don’t read the article as saying “no one will ever object to a Washington statue,” or park. That would be a ridiculous claim; there’s almost no position that no one ever argues for.

    Rather, I think the article was saying that a statue of Washington is much more defensible than a statue of General Lee or Jefferson Davis is.

  3. 3
    RonF says:

    I agree that the position that retaining statues of George Washington et. al. is more logically defensible. But I read Pres. Trump’s comment as meaning that people acting to get statues of Gen. Lee and other Confederate notables will use the same invocation for their support of slavery to go after people like George Washington next. I believe he’s right, and I believe that this pastor’s activism is the start – but not the end – of that. And if you think that the debate on such is going to be dominated by logic I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

    Regarding #2: In reading that it appears that the author equates being ready for violence with being responsible for violence; the concept that the permitted protesters were well aware that they would face violent threats and were unlikely to be defended by the police and therefore showed up armed so as to be able to defend themselves doesn’t seem to have received consideration from him. This link gives another perspective of what happened there and includes an assertion that counter-protesters assaulted the white supremacists from the very beginning and at other times during the day.

    The moral stances of white supremacists and neo-Nazis are not validly defensible from my viewpoint. They cannot be equated with the stance of people who despise racism. But that does not mean that the former can be validly denied their right to free speech, nor does it mean that it is valid for one side to use force but not the other. In that they can be equated.

  4. 4
    Harlequin says:

    Ooh, yay, weekend reading!

    In the meantime, please enjoy this terrible political pun I just saw on Twitter.

  5. 5
    Kate says:

    In reading that it appears that the author equates being ready for violence with being responsible for violence; the concept that the permitted protesters were well aware that they would face violent threats and were unlikely to be defended by the police and therefore showed up armed so as to be able to defend themselves doesn’t seem to have received consideration from him.

    Bullshit. Their goal in Charlottesville was to intimidate. On Friday night they surrounded a small group of unarmed students with torches chanting “blood and soil” and “you will not replace us”. That wasn’t for self defence. The guns and riot shields weren’t either – at least not defense from counterprotesters. According to the linked article:

    Virginia’s governor said that the right’s weaponry was better than that of the state police.

    The white supremacists had no reason to believe that they’d need that ridiculous level of weaponry, unless they were planning on clashing with police. Left wing activists don’t come to ralleys armed like that. White supremacists don’t need to either. All it did was make it too dangerous for the police to stand between the two groups and prevent the violence. They didn’t need those weapons to protect themselves – they needed them to prevent police from protecting counterprotesters. It worked. All of the worst injuries at Charlottesville were among counterprotesters.

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    By the way, I’m going to be away from Saturday through Monday – going camping to see the eclipse. And Mandolin and Charles are going with me. So moderation at “Alas” may be slow, or grind to a halt, for that time, depending on if Richard or Grace have time to check in.

    Anyone else going to see the eclipse?

  7. 7
    Harlequin says:

    I’m just gonna see the partial one where I live. Pinhole camera. (Everyone’s got eye protection or alternate viewing devices, right?)

    I’ll either see the next total eclipse in 2024 (assuming we haven’t blown ourselves up by then), or perhaps the one in South America in 2019–the path of totality is going over the site of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, so I’m sure *someone* is organizing a conference there, lol.

  8. 8
    Jake Squid says:

    Have fun watching the eclipse! And remember, kids, always look directly at the sun.

  9. 9
    Elusis says:

    I’m on the coast of Oregon, in a rental house with 13 other people (introvert me says OMG). We’ll be able to see the eclipse from the driveway, so long as the weather holds.

  10. 10
    Elusis says:

    And re: “what if people want to take down statues of WASHINGTON and JEFFERSON???”

    As a friend put it: if pulling down statues of Washington and Jefferson is what it takes to prevent Nazis from practicing what they preach, I will be first in line. It’s not like we don’t have museums and books. People are more important than memorials.

    Alternatively: https://twitter.com/absurdistwords/status/898759778192764928

  11. 11
    Elusis says:

    Anyway, it’s not like we lack for historical figures who could be put on pedestals.

    https://twitter.com/MattWalshBlog/status/898243087545323521

  12. 12
    Kate says:

    As a friend put it: if pulling down statues of Washington and Jefferson is what it takes to prevent Nazis from practicing what they preach, I will be first in line. It’s not like we don’t have museums and books. People are more important than memorials.

    I think this is a discussion worth having. Why did George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, in particular, became the central figures of the founding of the U.S.? Would it be so bad if we put more emphasis on founders who did not own slaves, like John Adams or who came to oppose slavery and freed their slaves, like Benjamin Franklin?

  13. 13
    Ampersand says:

    Man stabbed after haircut gets him mistaken for a neo-Nazi | New York Post

    I’m not 100% sure this is a true story (it is the Post, after all). But it seems plausible to me – and an illustration of the problem with normalizing street justice.

    Which isn’t to deny that, as the demonstrations in NYC (and other places) showed this weekend, the overwhelming majority of anti-Nazi protesters are nonviolent.

  14. 14
    Michael says:

    @Kate#12- George Washington was the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and the first President. It’s impossible not to consider him one of the central figures of the founding.

  15. 15
    Ortvin Sarapuu says:

    Trying to claim Washington wasn’t a central figure is effectively sanitising US history – yes, he was a central figure, and yes, he was a slaveholder.

    Approaching history with the idea that slaveholders should be decentralised is trying to obscure the central role slaveholders had in the foundation of the United States, which is effectively a whitewash. “Oh sure, Washington was a slaveholder, but he wasn’t that important”.

    A better idea is to acknowledge Washington’s importance but criticising the idea that he was a moral exemplar.

    Nobody would claim that historians of Russia should try to claim Ivan the Terrible wasn’t a central figure, or historians of France that Louis XIV wasn’t a central figure. Why should the history of the USA be any different?

  16. 16
    Kate says:

    Michael, it would require a very large change of values, but it’s not impossible. For example, if we placed diplomacy above militarisim in our value system, then Benjamin Franklin might be more central than Washington.

  17. 17
    Michael says:

    @Kate#16- Washington was the first President- his actions set the precedent for all the Presidents who followed him. He was also the president of the Constitutional Convention- arguably the Presidency was designed by the delegates with him in mind. His military contributions aside, there’s no way to say that Washington wasn’t one of the key figures who defined how our government works.

  18. 18
    Kate says:

    Michael – I know who Washington was. We disagree.

    edited to add:

    There’s no way to say that Washington wasn’t one of the key figures who defined how our government works.

    Also, this is a strawman. I’m just arguing that we can put less emphasis on him, not that he didn’t play a key role.

  19. 19
    Ortvin Sarapuu says:

    @Kate: No matter whether we focus on the military, or diplomacy, or culture, or economics (for all you Hamilton fans) or any other aspect of politics, Washington, as the first President, remains the key figure in early American politics.

    It doesn’t matter how important you think diplomacy is, there is no way Benjamin Franklin could be seen as more important (or to use your term, “central”) than Washington. Even if we look only at the field of foreign relations, as you’re suggesting, Washington is a more important figure in early US diplomacy than Benjamin Franklin, or for that matter anybody else.

  20. 20
    desipis says:

    I don’t get the obsession with only wanting to acknowledge the morally pure people of history. There is no one that will have ever met such a standard. We should acknowledge people of history for their great achievements and significant influence on history, not because they fit some idealised moral model.

    As for Washington and the other founding fathers, slavery certainly played a significant economic role in the fledgling democracy. A weaker US would have been far less influential in global politics and history. Would you undo the history of slavery in the US if it meant the world today was still ruled by the imperial despots of the 19th century?

  21. 21
    Elusis says:

    I don’t get the obsession with only wanting to acknowledge the morally pure people of history.

    That’s because there is no such “obsession” and never has been. There’s a relatively recent discussion, largely taking place on the fringes among people who feel disenfranchised, about what stories are being held up and what stories are suppressed or de-emphasized, in our current version of our history as a nation.

    But calling it an “obsession with moral purity” certainly does make it sound unreasonable, I’ll give you that.

  22. 22
    Jake Squid says:

    Remember how just a few years ago we were discussing whether or not there was still anti-semitism in the US? Well…

  23. 23
    Kate says:

    I don’t get the obsession with only wanting to acknowledge the morally pure people of history.

    I like what Elusis said about this. I’d also make two other points. First, this is not about acknowledgement, or who should be studied in school. I acknowledge the influence of Hitler and Stalin and think that they should be studied.
    Second, this isn’t about individual virtue. This is about which values we choose to celebrate. For most of our history, we chose to focus heavily on military leaders and most of our monuments reflect that. We chose to focus on a few GREAT MEN.
    Memorials to more recent events sometimes reflect a shift in values, which I think is for the better. For example, the Vietnam War memorial in Washington DC, with its stark list of every single life lost, rejects the great men of history framing. In another vein, probably the most memorialised great man of that period is Martin Luther King Jr.. He was certainly not chosen because he was pure or without flaws, but because his values of working non-violently for racial justice are the values that we want to celebrate. Rereading our history, to understand it in terms of modern morality is a valuable exercise.

  24. 24
    Mookie says:

    For most of our history, we chose to focus heavily on military leaders and most of our monuments reflect that. We chose to focus on a few GREAT MEN.

    I think this and your comment in general is true and insightful. Great Men approaches to history often elide complexities and incremental changes and instead offer up easy-to-digest, artificial binaries, which in turn creates an opportunity for the losing side, either with or without the assent of the victor, to valorize itself by re-casting some of its participants as Important Historical Actors worthy of some amount of (sometimes scornful or rueful) respect, martyrs to forces greater than themselves and thus noble in their self-sacrifice to a fatalistically doomed project and blessed with the foresight to see what was coming but carry on nonetheless. Some nations love their losers and want them to be cuddly; others pin their future upon a sea change, chastising their past selves but projecting most of their impotence and rage upon a few named bogeys. That paves the way for a certain amount of self-serving revisionism, of course, the creation of anachronistic and highly romantic lost causes, a re-orientation of a national narrative informed by a “people’s history” staging false or exaggerations of events with great verisimilitude (and that’s where the mass-produed iconography comes from), the feeding of resentments and isolation through literal or figurative balkanization, and/or a renewed thirst for a different kind of autonomy often revolving around, surprise!, another would-be Great Man and the pop-up folktales he inspires or he himself tells. The 20th century certainly saw enough such examples, handled well or utterly botched, often depending on who was imposing upon whom, for what purpose, and with what result.

  25. 25
    Ortvin Sarapuu says:

    “For most of our history, we chose to focus heavily on military leaders and most of our monuments reflect that. We chose to focus on a few GREAT MEN.”

    Academic history abandoned ‘great man’ theory some time in the 1960s. Unfortunately popular history, even counter cultural popular history, is still sticking to it – offering alternative “Great” men, maybe even Great women, and differing definitions of “Great”-ness. But ultimately you cannot learn a great deal more about the 1860s by studying the life of Harriet Tubman than you can the life of Abraham Lincoln.

  26. 27
    RonF says:

    Kate:

    Bullshit. Their goal in Charlottesville was to intimidate.

    Intimidation a possible assailant is a great way to keep them from actually assailing you.

    The guns and riot shields weren’t either – at least not defense from counterprotesters.

    If you want to keep someone from attacking you, bringing superior weapons is a good way of doing it. As President Obama advised at a political rally, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,”

    “Virginia’s governor said that the right’s weaponry was better than that of the state police.”

    The white supremacists had no reason to believe that they’d need that ridiculous level of weaponry, unless they were planning on clashing with police.

    Two things – yes, the first part is a quote from me that I picked up from an article, but the police themselves have since said that was untrue and an absurd comment from the governor. Mea culpa for not waiting that one out. Also, with all the violence that went on I don’t recall hearing that they actually DID clash with the police. So I doubt they were planning on it.

    Secondly, while those students you reference may have been unarmed the “anti-fa” crowd isn’t always. If I want to make sure that I’m not going to be attacked and I can’t count on the police to intervene, I better be armed.

    Racial hatred is despicable. The “Unite the Right” crowd clearly sought to stir up controversy and emotions, and it’s no mystery that there were going to be angry people here. But it’s clear that if a group of people who support the GOP, conservative thought, Pres. Trump or other things that don’t align with left-wing thought, it’s entirely possible that a bunch of black-clad masked people will show up ready to do violence to silence you. It used to be that we had learned a lesson from the civil rights era. After that, when people who hold highly controversial views held a public event (e.g., the Nazis in Chicago in 1978), the police would protect them and keep people from attacking them. But these days, while 5 Dallas police gave their lives to protect Black Lives Matter marchers others are not given the same level of protection. So now, after multiple instances of such, people have figured out that the cops aren’t going to do anything about it and are preparing to defend themselves. Frankly, if the Mayor of Charlottesville had actually decided to ensure that violence would occur he could not have designed a better plan for deploying the police to do so. There’s no way to know for sure, but I suspect that if he and the police had done their job Ms. Heyer might still be alive.

  27. 28
    Kate says:

    No one needs the level of weaponry that the alt-right protestors brought to Charolttesville to stay safe at a protest in the U.S.. A gun in those circumstances can only make matters worse. Most of the antifa protestors use rocks and fists. That’s not o.k., but it isn’t a level of violence that requires guns in response. Are they going to spray gunfire into a crowd from which a rock is thrown? Of course not. Most protestors who got into face to face altercations at Charlottesville used pepper spray. That sort of defensive weapon makes sense, and is adequate for the circumstances.

    But these days, while 5 Dallas police gave their lives to protect Black Lives Matter marchers others are not given the same level of protection.

    In general, my perception is precisely the opposite. For example, police seemed much more patient with Bundy’s group out west than they’d ever be with left wing protestors behaving in a similar manner. Can you link to a left wing group that held off federal officals like that with no consequences?
    I have also repeatedly linked to stats which show that over the past thirty years or so, right wing groups have killed many, many more people than left wing groups in the U.S. generally. Unless you can show me numbers that back up your contention that right wing protesters end up dead or injured more often than other protestors, I will assume that you are just pulling this assertion out of your ass.
    In fact, when BLM protests, the police are often agressors against them, in ways that they are not with alt-right groups. But, the Dallas case has nothing to do with that. There, police community relations were good, and the police were doing an excellent job. My understanding is that the shooter in Dallas was out to kill police, not someone attacking BLM. If BLM encouraged their followers to bring weapons to protests, like alt-right groups do, I would hold them partially responsible for that shooting. But, they do not. I also believe that they are doing everything in their power to keep their protests peaceful.

    No now, after multiple instances of such, people have figured out that the cops aren’t going to do anything about it and are preparing to defend themselves.

    Instances of what? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  28. 29
    Elusis says:

    It used to be that we had learned a lesson from the civil rights era. After that, when people who hold highly controversial views held a public event (e.g., the Nazis in Chicago in 1978), the police would protect them and keep people from attacking them. But these days, while 5 Dallas police gave their lives to protect Black Lives Matter marchers others are not given the same level of protection.

    Quite the opposite in fact. News reports have already pointed out that in Boston, police escorted white supremacists into their rally past counter-protesters.

    So did BLM members.

    From a Facebook post:

    One of the functions that I saw BLM play repeatedly here was to provide a buffer. Several times I saw one or more BLM/Antifa marshals leading a cordon to escort one of the Nazis into or out of their rally. This is consistent with what BLM has said before about violence at protests: if violence breaks out, BLM will be blamed first and people of color will be targeted first, so they train people assiduously on non-engagement and anti-escalation.

    I got to see this first-hand today. At one point a Nazi was being escorted out of the rally very close to where I was standing. He was wearing a flag as a cape. Someone stepped on it and it slipped to the ground. I lost my head and grabbed for it. He snatched it back up. I yanked on it.

    At that point, the BLM marshal who was attending the cordon whapped me on the back of the head. “DON’T!” he told me firmly, and then returned to leading the group away.

  29. 30
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Yes, Boston was approaching the gold medal for a counter-protest. The folks got a speech permit, which was granted (FA rights, good). The police protected them pretty well (good.) The crowd protested non-violently, by and large (good.) There were no major incidents (good.)

    Antifa threw piss at the cops for no apparent reason, and perhaps some rocks, and some folks got generally friskier than justified, so it doesn’t quite get a gold medal, but basically it went great. Of course, it probably helped that there were only a few dozen folks who wanted to attend the original protest.**

    One of the functions that I saw BLM play repeatedly here was to provide a buffer….At that point, the BLM marshal who was attending the cordon whapped me on the back of the head.

    “Whapping people on the back of the head to get them to stop doing things you dislike” is, and should be, the job of the police. When we start outsourcing security to groups with a political agenda, things can go sour very quickly.

    It isn’t that I distrust BLM in particular; it’s just a bad idea. Not to mention that it opens the door to other less-palatable folks doing the same thing: militia, for example.

    **People sometimes ask me why I’m not super concerned about Nazis, and why I’m concerned about other violence. This is why. There were about 50 Nazis and about 20,000 anti-Nazis, and the role of the police was clearly to protect the Nazis from everyone else.

  30. 31
    RonF says:

    Boston was certainly different than Charlotte, and given my history there I was pleased to see that. But even then the threat of violence from the counter-protesters required the demonstration to be shut down. Yes, the police escorted them in; but they had to escort them out too, well before the majority of the slate of speakers got to actually speak. It’s well worth notice that there were no Nazis or white supremacists among the group and that the organizers condemned them. But that didn’t matter to the counter-protesters. It was enough that the organizers were in favor of free speech for people other than the left; that made it necessary for the left to show up and shut it down.

    And while the Boston Police Department did their job in Boston, that does not change the fact that the police did not in Charlottesville and elsewhere.

    Most of the antifa protestors use rocks and fists. That’s not o.k., but it isn’t a level of violence that requires guns in response. Are they going to spray gunfire into a crowd from which a rock is thrown? Of course not.

    Glad to see that you recognize that the people who brought the guns were responsible users and would not fire into a crowd. As far as what level of violence requires a gun in response, I’d say that the idea is to make sure the violence doesn’t start in the first place – and that’s the effect the presence of guns very likely had.

  31. 32
    Kate says:

    I’d say that the idea is to make sure the violence doesn’t start in the first place – and that’s the effect the presence of guns very likely had.

    The reverse is true. Things got violent in the open carry state of Virginia. They stayed peaceful in Massachusettes, which has strict gun laws. I’ll ask again, do you have any actual evidence for these assertions that you keep throwing out here, or are you just pulling them out of your ass?

    Glad to see that you recognize that the people who brought the guns were responsible users and would not fire into a crowd.

    So “not firing into a crowd” is your bar for what constitutes a responsible gun owner? Thats like saying “not driving into a crowd” constituts a responsible motorist. And, one person did use a car to murder counterprotestors. If he had used a gun, he probably would have killed more people. Thankfully, the unhinged one didn’t have a gun this time. Next time we might not be so lucky.

  32. 33
    Harlequin says:

    RonF, I’m finding it interesting comparing your (I think accurate) discussion of perceived threats from unarmed crowds in the other thread, with your discounting here of the threat effect of a crowd containing both paramilitary gear/weapons and swastikas. That is far more than what is needed to be a deterrent to violence.

    Boston was certainly different than Charlotte, and given my history there I was pleased to see that. But even then the threat of violence from the counter-protesters required the demonstration to be shut down. Yes, the police escorted them in; but they had to escort them out too, well before the majority of the slate of speakers got to actually speak. It’s well worth notice that there were no Nazis or white supremacists among the group and that the organizers condemned them. But that didn’t matter to the counter-protesters. It was enough that the organizers were in favor of free speech for people other than the left; that made it necessary for the left to show up and shut it down.

    I disagree with almost everything in this paragraph, for the record, but I really wanted to highlight one thing. What do you think should have been different about the counterprotests in Boston? After all, you’ve expressed a strong dedication to the principles of free speech, and this was extremely literally speech in the public square, from both sides.

  33. 34
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Kate says:
    August 22, 2017 at 3:24 pm
    The reverse is true. Things got violent in the open carry state of Virginia. They stayed peaceful in Massachusetts, which has strict gun laws.

    But… this makes absolutely no sense.

    Things got violent because the virginia police did a horrible job and allowed two large and extremely hostile crowds, who were aiming for a fight, to brawl it out. So the analysis needs to start from there. I have no evidence that the armed militia was either suppressing or enabling more violence (beyond noting that they didn’t shoot anyone) but the main issue was the actions of the police.

    Boston wasn’t violent because there were a ton of police who did their job properly and who prevented the groups from getting into it. It was also made much easier by the fact that there were hardly any folks who were not protestors. The presence or absence of weapons wouldn’t have made much difference.

    Blaming the difference on open v. concealed carry is a bit like blaming it on prevalence of cornbread: yes there’s a correlation, but it isn’t the meaningful one.

  34. 35
    nobody.really says:

    ThinkProgress has a story on the the BSA, the LDS, and the LGBT.

  35. 36
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Kate says:
    I have also repeatedly linked to stats which show that over the past thirty years or so, right wing groups have killed many, many more people than left wing groups in the U.S. generally.

    Meh. Those stats are true, but often misleading.

    Lots depends on classification. Right/left? Right/left/nuts? Right/left/Islamic/nuts? Do you count foreigners? Is all hatred of government right-wing, left-wing, something else? Who gets assigned the Unabomber; who gets the Boston bombers (they were U.S. citizens at the time); who gets assigned the Umpqua Community College shooting? Who gets assigned the George Tiller assassination? Who gets the Scalise shooting in DC? Do you count injuries, severe injuries, or only victim deaths (in which case the Scalise shooting, for example, doesn’t get counted at all?)

    And of course there’s motive. What do you require for proof? Writings? Attending a rally? When white and black people kill folks of different races, or when folks kill people of a different belief system, who assigns what motive?
    Is “Anti-government” right wing or left wing? I think it used to be left-wing, now it’s right, but I’m not sure.

    And perhaps most obviously, these numbers are all relatively low. The GAO office is discussing 106 total deaths from violent extremism in the 15-year period of 2001-2016. But there were probably 200,000 murders in that time period: 106 deaths is a tiny fraction of those, and so the difference may well relate to what we know about motives as much as how many folks were killed.

    In any case, it’s probably safe to say this: All other things being equal, people with guns are usually a bigger risk than people without them. But the person who is most dangerous to you is the person who is close to you. If you’re near a riot you’re most at risk from the people participating in it, whichever side they’re on.

  36. 37
    RonF says:

    Apparently Boston wasn’t quite as non-violent as previous reports would have us believe.

    The reports filed for the arraignment yesterday of 18 of the 33 people who were arrested Saturday indicate a large-scale outbreak of violence in what was otherwise widely hailed as a peaceful protest by 40,000 counterdemonstrators.

    As many as 2,000 “hostile” protesters surrounded police, some throwing bottles filled with urine and punching and spitting at cops as they tried to escort participants from Saturday’s “Free Speech Rally” out of Boston Common, according to police reports filed in court yesterday.

    The crowd answered an order to disperse with “a barrage of insults directed toward the officers,” the police narrative states. As cops in riot gear began pushing back the crowd with their batons and shields, “they were met with violent resistance,” the reports state. One riot cop’s face shield was cracked, while protesters tried to rip off the officers’ protective gear and grabbed one officer’s radio.

    I guess in the absence of Nazis they figured the cops would serve as targets.

  37. 38
    Kate says:

    But… this makes absolutely no sense.

    Things got violent because the virginia police did a horrible job and allowed two large and extremely hostile crowds, who were aiming for a fight, to brawl it out.

    I think that the police chose to hold back in Charlottesville largely because they felt threatened by the heavily armed right wing militias.
    I also think that guns do not cause people to behave better. Guns scare people. People often act unwisely when afraid.

  38. 39
    Kate says:

    Who gets assigned the Unabomber; who gets the Boston bombers (they were U.S. citizens at the time); who gets assigned the Umpqua Community College shooting? Who gets assigned the George Tiller assassination? Who gets the Scalise shooting in DC?

    Except for the Umpqua Community College shooting, these all seem pretty clear to me:

    Unabomber – a rare, true lone wolf
    Boston bombers – homegown Islamic
    Umpqua Community College – the Wiki page says that he was said to have white supremacist leanings, but I’d need to look into it more. It might be non-political.
    George Tiller – right wing
    Scalise – left wing (yes, I acknowledge that they do happen)

    I usually link to the Southern Poverty Law Center. They do a lot of different studies with different parameters, as narrow as deaths and as broad as “hate crimes”. I realize that they might have a liberal bias, but I haven’t been able to find any systemic studies from a more conservative perspective.

  39. 40
    Tamme says:

    Correction: Only one of the Boston bombers was a US citizen.

  40. 41
    RonF says:

    Kate: – guns scare some people. They make other people feel more secure.

    “”I think that the police chose to hold back in Charlottesville largely because they felt threatened by the heavily armed right wing militias.”

    I think I’d like to see the Department of Justice or a House or Senate Judiciary Committee call in the Mayor and Police Chief and a few other public officials of Charlottesville, put them under oath, and find out exactly why the cops did what they did (and didn’t do) in Charlottesville. Speculation needs to end.

    As far as the SPLC goes, back in the ’60’s and ’70’s they did significant and in some cases heroic work to advance the cause of bringing civil rights to all. But they no longer uphold the legacy of those times. These days they’re pretty much off the charts for left-wing advocacy. Hell, they claim the Family Research Council is a hate group.

    Money quote from the section on their web page “Hatewatch”:

    “Hatewatch is a blog that monitors and exposes the activities of the American radical right.”

    Apparently the SPLC thinks that hateful activities are only engaged in by the right, not the left. “Bias” is a mild term for that.

  41. 42
    Kate says:

    …guns scare some people. They make other people feel more secure.

    Of course, they make the people holding them feel more secure, and those facing them scared. Baseline, when protesters bring guns to rallys it makes it harder for police to do their jobs.

  42. 43
    Kate says:

    Ron, You do not even attempt to link to systemic studies in support of your postions. You just make bald assertions, cherry pick anecdotes and and then throw spitballs at the more systemic analysis that I link to. I am getting really sick of this double standard. So, way to miss the point.

    Apparently the SPLC thinks that hateful activities are only engaged in by the right, not the left. “Bias” is a mild term for that.

    This is a gross mischaracterization of the SPLC’s position. Choosing to monitor right wing hate activities does not implicitly deny that hate activities cannot be committed by other groups as well. Moreover, 20% of the groups the SPLC track are Black Separatist groups (193 or 917). These groups don’t fit neatly on the political spectrum. The Anti-Defamation league and a recent CATO institute study count such groups as left-wing. Followers of these groups are largely responsible for the uptick in “left-wing” extremist violence that we have seen since the beginning of 2016. According to the CATO institute study, of the 23 murders carried out by left-wing extremists over the past 25 years,* 13 have been committed since the beginning of 2016. At least eight of these were associated with black nationalists.
    According to the anti-Defamation league’s 2016 report,

    Though not the most lethal, in some ways the most troubling extremist-related murders that occurred in 2016 were the murders of large numbers of police officers at the hands of black nationalists. Eight police officers were killed in two incidents this past year in which extremists deliberately targeted police officers for murder. In July 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson, who had ties to black nationalist groups such as the New Black Panther Party, killed five police officers (and injured nine others) in Dallas, Texas, in an ambush attack aimed at police maintaining public order at a Black Lives Matter protest. That same month, Gavin Eugene Long ambushed and shot six police officers, three of them fatally, in Baton Rouge. Long was an adherent of black nationalism as well as the anti-government sovereign citizen movement (see below).

    So, whether you define them as left-wing or right-wing, the SPLC is covering them.

    What left-wing hate groups is the SPLC missing? What incidents have been ignored? Can you link to someone compiling data on left-wing hate in a systemic manner?

    * That compares to 3,085 by Islamist extremists (102 if you subtract 9/11 as an outlier) and 219 by Right wing extremists (51 if you subtract Oklahoma City as an outlier).

  43. 44
    Sebastian H says:

    From Richard’s thread, the first comment was “Please tell us more about how Charlottesville affected you as a straight white man”

    This person obviously didn’t get the post at all, but perfectly highlights the social justice run too far approach that I was talking about a few open threads back. I literally have never been labelled as ‘cis’ in any way other than the approach taken by that commentor and a huge portion of the times I’ve been called “white, gay” it has been in that vein.

    I know that in theory intersectionality is supposed to bring more viewpoints into a discussion. But it certainly feels like on a frequency basis it is used much more often to try to shut people up.

  44. 45
    Chris says:

    Hell, they claim the Family Research Council is a hate group.

    That’s because it is.

    On what basis do you object?

  45. 46
    lauren says:

    Man stabbed after haircut gets him mistaken for a neo-Nazi | New York Post

    I’m not 100% sure this is a true story (it is the Post, after all). But it seems plausible to me – and an illustration of the problem with normalizing street justice.

    Which isn’t to deny that, as the demonstrations in NYC (and other places) showed this weekend, the overwhelming majority of anti-Nazi protesters are nonviolent.

    So apparently,
    the guy made the whole thig up:

    I hope they press charges agaist him. Not clear on the American laws and what you would call it, but surely inventing a criminal attack and giving the police false statements, wich caused an innocent man to be investigated as a suspect should be a criminal offence.

    That’s before you get into the anti-left propaganda aspect. Because left wing protesters are the real bad guys, and white christians are the innocent ones being persecuted and attacked without any reason. Clearly, right wing protesters need to be armed at all times to protect themselves.

  46. 47
    Ampersand says:

    Thank you for the update, Lauren. They are pressing charges against him.

    The Post, to their credit, did run another story once it came out that Witt had faked the attack. Not all sites are doing that, however – sites that reported the initial attack but haven’t done a follow-up story (yet) include Foxnews, Infowards, Insideedition, Dailywire, and TheBlaze.

    I wonder what his motive was? If he actually DOES have neo-nazi sympathies to go with the haircut, that would be ironic.

  47. 48
    Kate says:

    I think I’d like to see the Department of Justice or a House or Senate Judiciary Committee call in the Mayor and Police Chief and a few other public officials of Charlottesville, put them under oath, and find out exactly why the cops did what they did (and didn’t do) in Charlottesville. Speculation needs to end.

    I agree, especially in light of recently released footage showing the police just standing by as one protester took out a gun and shot it after calling a counter protester n****r.* Why wasn’t that guy arrested IMMEDIATELY? Did they stand back out of fear? sympathy? ignorance? I can’t think of any good answer to that question.

    *I saw the footage on Chris Hayes, but couldn’t link to that directly. Here’s the NY Times.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/25/us/charlottesville-protest-police.html

  48. 49
    nobody.really says:

    Male Privilege vs. Rawls’s Theory of Justice:

    Men are the high-variance gender. We see more men at the highest peaks of achievement but also at the lowest points of failure. If the men and women in the same country were actually two different countries, Manistan would have a higher average income than Womania but it would also have more absolute poverty, much more crime and incarceration, a higher suicide rate, etc. By saying that men have male privilege, we’re essentially saying that being born in Manistan is inherently advantageous over being born in Womania.

    The difference between Manistan and Womania is similar to the difference between the United States and Sweden. The US is richer but more unequal than Sweden. So it’s somewhat contradictory to say that, behind a veil of ignorance, you would choose being born male over being female (male privilege) while also saying that, behind that veil, you would choose to live in a less unequal country even if it meant a lower average income (social democracy).

    * * *

    My theory is that people who talk about male privilege are high achievers surrounded by other high achievers, in which case their experience would be with men dominating most areas they have experience in. If a social worker came up with a theory of privilege, they would probably invent a theory of female privilege based on all the poor and homeless men they deal with. But privilege theory was developed by academics, so the privilege they saw around them was male privilege.

  49. 50
    Ben Lehman says:

    Although Sweden’s GDP per capita is currently (slightly) lower than the US’s, this is unusual. Most of the time, it’s slightly higher.

    (My lack of response to the bulk of the article should not be taken as agreement.)

  50. 51
    Mookie says:

    If he actually DOES have neo-nazi sympathies to go with the haircut, that would be ironic.

    It’s been observed by some interweb commenters, as well as the police chief for Sheridan, that his cut and styling in the recent mugshot is actually quite different than the one Witt used when first drawing attention to his “attack.” It appears that fade’s either already grown out between then and now or he used an older photo.

    I’m interested to hear if Witt’s going to offer up a complete explanation for why he did this. If it wasn’t premeditated, if he’d bought the knife for another purpose, I can’t figure out a motive. Normally we see people lying about being the victims of mysterious ‘Black Males’ because they’re trying to get out of some kind of trouble and need a convenient scapegoat to deflect criticism or justify an unforced error, but he doesn’t appear to have done anything wrong. If the cut was accidental it’s not a crime, so why go to such elaborate lengths?

    Does anyone know because I can’t recall, did Witt post the images and lie before speaking with police or after? Did he contact them directly or did they seek him out once the lies went viral?

  51. 52
    Mookie says:

    If a social worker came up with a theory of privilege, they would probably invent a theory of female privilege based on all the poor and homeless men they deal with

    More American and British women than men, irrespective of ethnicity and age, live in poverty. Taken in toto, unaccompanied children, single childless women, and mothers with children make up a larger portion of homeless Americans than men, and the true number of homeless women and children is underreported by official counts, and this is also true for female veterans.

  52. 53
    Mookie says:

    My theory is that people who talk about male privilege are high achievers surrounded by other high achievers, in which case their experience would be with men dominating most areas they have experience in. If a social worker came up with a theory of privilege, they would probably invent a theory of female privilege based on all the poor and homeless men they deal with. But privilege theory was developed by academics, so the privilege they saw around them was male privilege.

    This is such a weird paragraph that I have to come back to it. Is privilege real (academics see privileged people “around them”) or just a “theory?” Why would proximity to men or the state of being a man (“high achievers” all by virtue of the bell curve being alluded to) make men more conscious and critical of male ‘success’ and ‘domination?’ Also, the analogy of separate countries is just fathomless to me, given that it is impossible for a small minority to disproportionately accumulate all assets, as they have done in the real world, except at the expense of others.

    The US is richer but more unequal than Sweden

    No, “the US” is not “richer.” The US is more populated, its government has a larger budget and more debt, and the country a larger GDP, but only a handful of Americans themselves are “rich” in any sense of the word, including its most obscene. “Unequal” is a disingenuous understatement. If men are naturally better at everything, including being terrible, and their acquisition of wealth and power the natural and inevitable result of their biology, this pattern should hold true everywhere, including Sweden. The supposedly inductive reasoning being critiqued here is instead being used, and hamhandedly. Glass houses and all.

    So it’s somewhat contradictory to say that, behind a veil of ignorance, you would choose being born male over being female (male privilege) while also saying that, behind that veil, you would choose to live in a less unequal country even if it meant a lower average income (social democracy).

    Not everyone is a sociopathic I’ve Got Mine, Fuck You sort of person, so, yes, it’s more than possible to acknowledge the advantages men possess but also wish to live somewhere where such advantages are enjoyed by all. You have to actually prove a zero-sum world before you can use it to explain why equality is unmasculine and bad for men and, therefore, undesirable.

  53. 54
    Grace Annam says:

    …you would choose being born male over being female (male privilege)…

    This is the most succinctly inaccurate understanding of the concept of male privilege I have ever seen.

    Grace

  54. 55
    nobody.really says:

    “…you would choose being born male over being female (male privilege)…”

    This is the most succinctly inaccurate understanding of the concept of male privilege I have ever seen.

    Ok, fine, let’s try this definition:

    [T]he challenge: how to get across the ideas bound up in the word “privilege,” in a way that your average straight white man will get, without freaking out about it?

    [H]ere’s how I would do it:

    “Dudes. Imagine … a massive role playing game, like World of Warcraft except appallingly mundane, where most quests involve the acquisition of money, cell phones and donuts, although not always at the same time. Let’s call it The Real World. You have installed The Real World on your computer and are about to start playing, but first you go to the settings tab to bind your keys, fiddle with your defaults, and choose the difficulty setting for the game. Got it?

    Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is….

  55. 56
    Grace Annam says:

    nobody.really, John Scalzi understands the concept of male privilege and came up with a brilliant analogy specifically to try to sidestep the reflex reaction of many people to the word “privilege”, which, because he is a good writer, he then put forth very clearly. And, because these are turbulent waters, it took him about 1000 words to achieve the level of nuance he wanted, not to mention two followup posts (and three discussion threads).

    I haven’t seen Garrett Malcolm Petersen’s Facebook page, so it’s possible that he’s gone into more detail and can demonstrate a better understanding than the one quoted parenthetical would suggest. It’s possible that he spent 1000 words discussing the concept and summarized that in his parenthetical. If so, then removing his parenthetical from its context does his argument no service.

    Working only from what was quoted, I see one immediate problem with his definition, which is whether something is strategically advantageous would be the only consideration if one were in a position to choose one’s gender. I didn’t choose being a woman, but I like being a woman, and even though it does not put me in a priveleged position in this society, if I were given a binary choice between “woman” and “man”, I’d choose “woman”.

    This is also a problem with Scalzi’s article, but in his case he explicitly acknowledged that he was trying to explain a set of ideas by analogy.

    I’ve been thinking of a way to explain to straight white men how life works for them, without invoking the dreaded word “privilege,” to which they react like vampires being fed a garlic tart at high noon. It’s not that the word “privilege” is incorrect, it’s that it’s not their word. When confronted with “privilege,” they fiddle with the word itself, and haul out the dictionaries and find every possible way to talk about the word but not any of the things the word signifies.

    So, the challenge: how to get across the ideas bound up in the word “privilege,” in a way that your average straight white man will get, without freaking out about it?

    Being a white guy who likes women, here’s how I would do it:

    Scalzi was not proposing a definition, and he knew it and said so. Maybe Petersen was doing the same.

    And that’s as far into these weeds as I can probably go with the time I have available for the foreseeable future.

    Grace

  56. 57
    Mandolin says:

    I’ve heard people make this mistake about blackness too. Just because it would be easier to be white doesn’t mean one loses all love and appreciation for blackness. Passing is difficult on more than a practical level for many people who do it.

    For people who do make decisions about how to present partially based on social privilege, cis privilege of course is also a thing, and someone might opt to retain that rather than deal with the prejudice and awfulness of transphobia and gender-queer-phobia or whatever variant.

  57. 58
    nobody.really says:

    John Scalzi understands the concept of male privilege and came up with a brilliant analogy specifically to try to sidestep the reflex reaction of many people to the word “privilege”, which, because he is a good writer, he then put forth very clearly. And, because these are turbulent waters, it took him about 1000 words to achieve the level of nuance he wanted, not to mention two followup posts (and three discussion threads).

    Oh? Wow.

    I just thought it was amusing, translating the concept of “privilege” into Bro-speak. Maybe I’ll give it more attention.

  58. 59
    Mandolin says:

    The word cis is useful and I’ve used and heard it used it useful ways.

    It can also be used in stupid poisonous ones. Because there is nothing good that cannot be poisoned.

    I’m somewhat irked with it at the moment because I feel like its common usage favors binary experiences of gender and gender identity. But it’s the word we have right now, or at least the popularly used one I’m aware of, and when articulating thoughts and theories abeout gender I do need a “not trans” word.

    It’s hard to describe complicated phenomena with precise words; I’m hopeful that the vocabulary or the framework will eventually catch up.

    But that won’t stop poisonous assholes being poisonous.

  59. 60
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    An interesting and depressing and incredibly frustrating article on the treatment of poor parents and the definition of “neglect.”
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/opinion/poor-neighborhoods-black-parents-child-services.html

    The mother who is the basis of this anecdote is in a very bad spot. She is unable to care for her kids; she has no job and no savings and no ability to work. She is…

    a single mother with no family members who could help her. She struggled with depression and a chronic health condition that often required her to go to the hospital.

    That is bad to start with. Making matters worse, she lived in horrific circumstances in the Bronx:

    Her kids feared going to sleep in the closet of their studio apartment, but it was the only place they would be safe from the rats. Covered in blankets from neck to toe, the mother would keep an eye on the kitchen entrance and follow the sounds of the rodents rummaging in the cupboards.

    Eventually she lost custody of her kids. Then things got even worse.

    The city tore her children away from her and provided more than $1,000 each month to a foster family. After this, the mother turned to alcohol.

    Obviously this is a horrible and heart rending situation. The twin questions are “what do you do to help the kids/mom now?” and “what do you do to help prevent these problem in the future?”

    Those answers are far from obvious, which is part of what makes the conversation so difficult.

    The author wants to solve the problem through increased spending and oversight:

    She needed a home that wasn’t infested with rats. The city should have helped her find one. She needed support to care for her son’s medical needs, as well as her own. The city should have provided her with a visiting nurse service. And it should have given her the financial assistance that went to the foster parents. Policy makers must help families get jobs and permanent homes. Substantially increasing the monthly $300 housing subsidy for families involved with the child welfare system would go a long way. The city also must work more closely with local health and child-care providers to make services easily accessible. It ought to hire highly trained social workers to support families instead of relying on police officers to investigate them.

    These things are good, but this is a very serious list! The city is supposed to:
    -provide her a home, and help her find it;
    -make sure it is a good home;
    -give her money to live, eat, etc.;
    -help her with health services, presumably which includes help finding them and transporting to them and paying for them;
    -help/provide her with child care services–by which I expect the author means “good” ones, but no matter what these require money to pay and places to provide the services, and service providers to be trained and found and hired; and
    -revamp social services to hire more highly trained people (at a higher cost) and then have those (more expensive and trained) people spend more of their time supporting her, so you need more of them.

    All of those things are individually pretty good, but they are also incredibly difficult to do, and are incredibly expensive to provide. And there is no good solution as a result. Or, more accurately, all of the good solutions are incredibly expensive:

    In that framework, the answer is not affordable housing or transportation, meaningful employment, health care or access to healthy foods, as it should be. Why is the focus always on removing children to foster care and imposing parenting classes?

    Removal is fast, comparatively simple, and carries a predictable cost ($1000/month); it got the kids out of the apartment fairly fast.

    In comparison, providing affordable housing is expensive, hideously complex, and has yet to be done anywhere in NYC with long term success. Proving transportation is expensive and even more complex; NYC can’t do it even when they try. Providing employment–sorry, the demand is for meaningful employment–is difficult if not impossible.

    Sigh. I don’t know what the answer is.

  60. 61
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Mookie says:

    The US is richer but more unequal than Sweden

    No, “the US” is not “richer.” The US is more populated, its government has a larger budget and more debt, and the country a larger GDP, but only a handful of Americans themselves are “rich” in any sense of the word, including its most obscene.

    Yes, the U.S. is richer across a variety of indices, though of course it depends on how you define “rich”. Here’s an article which explains some of that analysis; it also has some links and references to folks who disagree. It seems like the median U.S. citizen has more money and purchasing power than the median Swedish citizen; that’s probably akin to “richer.”

    Grace Annam says:
    August 29, 2017 at 5:57 am

    …you would choose being born male over being female (male privilege)…

    This is the most succinctly inaccurate understanding of the concept of male privilege I have ever seen.
    Grace

    It’s a common mode of analysis. When you analyze a society for inequality, one way of discussing it is to ask whether, without your baseline, you could be satisfied with a randomly-selected life in that society; another way is to ask whether you’d be satisfied with one of the putatively-worse ones. If it gets too mixed up with “you,” replace it with some hypothetical person who you are ultimately responsible for.

    To use Scalzi’s horrible analogy: if some character choice or difficult setting made it easier to accrue lots of “life betterment and happiness points” then, since those points are what matter, that character/setting would be better and you should prefer it.

    If you keep insisting that the low-point red-haired dire wolf is “better” even though it delivers less happiness, that simply means you have a shitty measure of happiness (unless you’re a misery-loving masochist). Maybe you need to add a bonus for red hair or big teeth.

    Similarly, if you don’t distinguish between two characters, then one of them is not better than the other.

    I would not want to be reborn to the mother I linked in the NYT article. Her kids’ life is far worse than mine, for reasons largely beyond their control.
    I can say my life is, overall, way better: with respect to her I am surely quite privileged. If I was unwilling to show a preference for my life over their life, it would be strange for me to also claim that my life was “better,” or that I was somehow privileged.

    Grace Annam says:
    even though it does not put me in a privileged position in this society, if I were given a binary choice between “woman” and “man”, I’d choose “woman”.

    Assuming this is a rational decision (and assuming you value happiness) that is simply evidence that your “privilege” measurement is inaccurate. If you’re born a blank slate there is no reason to choose to be in a lower-class, less-pleasant, harder, life.

  61. 63
    Elusis says:

    What the Nashville Statement is really saying, in plain language: https://johnpavlovitz.com/2017/08/30/nashville-statement-plain-language-translation/

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