Link Farm and Open Thread, T Rex Lips Edition

  1. Banning LGBT+ content will not make you happy…
    “… your actual problem is that you can’t stand the fact that people who are not you can be happy.” Thanks to Grace for the link!
  2. It Only Takes One Parent to Get All The Graphic Novels Removed From a School Library
    “All graphic novels in the school library’s collection were recalled after parent Tim Reiland took issue with the school letting his teenage daughter borrow Blankets, an autobiographical coming-of-age story by Craig Thompson about questioning blind faith in a fundamentalist Christian household.”
  3. Parent Calls Bible ‘PORN’ and Demands Utah School District Remove It From Libraries
    “I thank the Utah Legislature and Utah Parents United for making this bad faith process so much easier and way more efficient.”
  4. Parents raise concerns as Florida bans gender-affirming care for trans kids.
    “… you’re basically being told that your child shouldn’t be able to be who they are, and that it would be better if they didn’t exist in the way that you, medical professionals, and the child who is thriving, feel is best for the child.”
  5. Rebuilding the Closet – An und für sich
    “The political strategy of the “closet” was to require those people who exist in the more liminal spaces to hide, then relentlessly stigmatize and persecute the people for whom conformity was simply never going to be an option.”
  6. After train disaster, Tucker Carlson falsifies East Palestine’s plight – The Washington Post
    “Ever since the Feb. 3 disaster, Carlson and his comrades have sought to transform East Palestine’s plight into a tale about “woke” Democrats abandoning White communities in the virtuous, forgotten heartland.”
  7. He deported thousands of people at the border, then learned he was undocumented | CNN
    He seems to have no regrets about his own actions, though; he just thinks it’s unfair that HE gets deported because he’s a veteran.
  8. ‘Shuffle Along’ and the Lost History of Black Performance in America
    Excellent long essay about the groundbreaking 1921 musical with an all-Black creative team, the recent sort-of revival of it, and the history surrounding the 1921 musical. The best essay I’ve read this year by the author of one of the best essays I’ve ever read, “The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie.” (Alternate link.)
  9. An Overlooked Detail in the Scott Adams and Dilbert Story
    The okay sign, “it’s okay to be white,” and white supremacists.
  10. Fascinating thread from Amanda Knox about how she came to accept her life as a falsely convicted person in prison.
  11. The obsession cis people have with trans people’s genitals is out of control | Xtra Magazine
    “Mistaking “jeans” for “penis” is an easy thing for someone’s brain to do when it’s obsessively focusing on the latter word.”
  12. Stop Saying We Only Bailout the Rich
    “In wake of massive pandemic spending, it’s inaccurate economics – and it’s also dumb, terrible political messaging.”
  13. Why Is The Latinx Debate So Fierce?
    “Whether the terms Latinx and Latine become widely adopted or not, both resist the urge to fall in line with the collective “o” in Latino and both enforce the idea that trans people do, in fact, exist in our communities.”
  14. What is life? Scientists still can’t agree.
    My takeaway: The Amazon Molly is cool.
  15. T rex had lips. (Maybe.)
    “A new study says the T. rex family looked more like lizards, with scaly lips covering and sealing their mouths when closed.” But some scientists disagree! This is an area of passionate debate, which I find delightful.
  16. The photos are by David Clode and Ray Harrington, and were found on Unsplash.
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21 Responses to Link Farm and Open Thread, T Rex Lips Edition

  1. 1
    Dianne says:

    #7 reminds me of the “the only good abortion is my abortion” argument. Rodriguez says he thinks immigration law should be followed, but he’s not voluntarily leaving the US despite his presence being illegal. I have some sympathy because no one should go through what immigrants to the US are put through, but in this case it’s severely attenuated.

    Also, regarding #3, the Bible is porn. I’m not for banning it, though. Reading it helped me realize how self-contradictory and without basis it really is.

  2. 2
    Jacqueline Squid Onassis says:

    I’ve never been able to accept the idea that viruses aren’t alive. I can almost get myself to believe that they’re undead but that’s as far as I can go.

  3. 3
    RonF says:

    #13 – Isn’t a bunch of non-Hispanic people inventing and using a term to describe Hispanic people that most Hispanic people don’t use cultural appropriation? Or white supremacy?

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    Ron – Actual scholars have studied the question, and found that no one knows who coined the term “Latinx.”

    Although most Hispanic people don’t use the term, there are plenty who do; a small percentage of U.S. Hispanics is still hundreds of thousands or millions of people.

    Finally, the polls show that the majority position among Hispanic Americans is live and let live; even if they don’t personally use the term, most don’t oppose other people using the term.

  5. 5
    Grace Annam says:


    Isn’t a bunch of non-Hispanic people inventing and using a term to describe Hispanic people that most Hispanic people don’t use cultural appropriation?

    That’s some funny stuff, Ron. Do another one.

    More seriously, though: for what little it’s worth, I have heard an American of recent Cuban descent use “Latinx” spontaneously in conversation, in self-reference about themselves and nonbinary people like them.


  6. 6
    Adrian says:

    It’s not “cultural appropriation” for me, as a white woman, to take sides in a dispute between young latinx academics and their latino and latina grandparents. Even when the young academics are outnumbered.

  7. 7
    RonF says:

    I confess I presumed that “latinx” was a neologism created by whites, as I have only ever hears white non-Hispanic people use it. And yes, I have multiple non-Hispanic people in my circle of acquaintances, I’m not talking about just what I see/hear in the media. Although given the Chicago mayoral election cycle that just ended yesterday there has been a lot of people speaking of, by and (claiming to speak) for the Hispanic community and I didn’t hear any Hispanics use the word, regardless of their age. Which is why I have seen it as a dispute between whites and Hispanics, not Hispanics of different ages and professions.

    Change of topic:

    Yesterday the MIT Free Speech Alliance hosted a debate on the topic of Should Academic DEI Programs Be Abolished?. I haven’t listened to it yet. But I did track far enough into it to tell that it starts at 36:22 into that link. It’s notable that although all MIT DEI Deans, etc. were invited to participate they all refused, on the basis that the worth of academic DEI programs is beyond debate. Which I consider wrong for two reasons. One is that in fact their worth is being debated in State legislatures across the country; one would have imagined that they’d want to help give their supporters some ammunition to use in those debates. The second is that MIT is one of the planet’s premier scientific establishments. And if there are any principles central to the concept of science, one of them is that nothing is and can never be held so true so as to be beyond debate. Anyone who thinks that’s not so just doesn’t understand what science is and in my opinion isn’t fit for a position of authority at MIT. Something that is considered beyond debate is religious dogma, not science, and the only school of theology in Cambridge is at Harvard, not MIT.

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    I confess I presumed that “latinx” was a neologism created by whites, as I have only ever hears white non-Hispanic people use it.

    The people you hear aren’t a representative sample of all Hispanic people. And it takes very little effort to find examples of Hispanic people using the term – such as the author of the article I linked, which is what brought the topic up in the first place.

  9. 9
    Kate says:

    And if there are any principles central to the concept of science, one of them is that nothing is and can never be held so true so as to be beyond debate.

    Two points.
    First, some things can be held as so far from the current state of knowledge as to be ridiculous to debate (eg. young earth creationism). While a debate for the benefit of undergraduates in these areas might be good fun, any serious scholar would be wasting their time actually studying and debating this issue as a research objective.
    The debate about whether to end Academic DEI programs is not an empirical question of whether such programs have worked and outlived their usefulness. In most academic settings, white men raised middle class still clearly dominate. If you believe that promoting diversity and inclusion in academic environments is a worthy goal, we still need Academic DEI programs. This is an ethical question, which brings us to point two.
    The scientific method cannot answer ethical questions.
    There are some ethical positions that are so egregious that they should not be entertained seriously. For example, should we go back to the days when women were considered the property of their fathers and husbands. Was slavery a good thing, really? Should homosexuality be outlawed again? I will not waste my time debating with someone who does not accept me and my allies as a full human being in our own right. It would be a waste of my precious time. I have better things to do.
    In accepting a debate with people in favour of totally abolishing Academic DEI programs (not revising or overhauling, abolishing), one must concede it is possible that we’ve tried our best, but women, minorities and others underrepresented in academia are simply inferior, and will never be able to achieve on par with white men, so we should just give it up. I can see why people think their time would be better spent on other questions.

  10. 10
    Dianne says:

    And if there are any principles central to the concept of science, one of them is that nothing is and can never be held so true so as to be beyond debate.

    Nothing may be beyond debate. (Actually, I saw a very lively Asimov debate about the nature of “nothing” a few years ago, but that’s a separate issue.) In any case, it may be reasonable to debate or test any given idea, but we do not have infinite time or resources so must, by our very natures, prioritize. Why is the value of DEI worth arguing about? It seems to me to be pretty well established that academia is dominated by white men. This postulate might be revised if adequate evidence was presented, but it would have to be some pretty extraordinary evidence given the massive amount of evidence in favor of the postulate that white men have an advantage in academia. Is the debate likely to present or uncover such extraordinary evidence? I find it unlikely. In short, it doesn’t seem worth the bother of debating. The deans appear to have agreed.

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks for that debate link, Ron.

    It’s notable that although all MIT DEI Deans, etc. were invited to participate they all refused, on the basis that the worth of academic DEI programs is beyond debate.

    Where’d you get this information from? It seems a little unlikely – there are at least eight Deans at MIT, but an Oxford style debate has only four participants (five with the moderator), so it wouldn’t have been possible for them all to participate. I guess maybe they asked them sequentially, but

    Plus it seems unlikely that all of them would have given the exact same response, plus it’s ethically shaky to release information about what the Deans said when they refused in what was presumably a private exchange.

    But I did track far enough into it to tell that it starts at 36:22 into that link.

    I saw someone else in the comments say that the discussion began at 36:20, so I’m bewildered what either of you mean by that. The debate begins (with the first affirmative statement) at 10:43; the first cross-examination is at 18:23. (36:22 is the middle of someone’s speech, not the start of anything.)


    Not a great debate, in my opinion. A few notes:

    1) This happened before 36:22, so Ron may not have heard it, but Pamela Denise Long – one of the pro DEI debaters – stuck in some completely gratuitous transphobia, in which she put trans women and pedophiles in the same basket (people she thinks corrupt the idea of DEI). No one else said a word about trans people before or after that; she just stuck it in for no reason, other than perhaps she was concerned that there might have been some trans women in the audience who hadn’t been blasted with hate that day and she wanted to remedy that.

    2) None of these four debaters gave the impression of having carefully listened to their opposition and then tailored their responses. I expect that of the opening statements, of course, but the subsequent statements would ideally have been rebuttals rather than prewritten speeches. A debate is much more exciting and interesting the more interactive it is.

    3) The things I’m most concerned with about DEI – the way that some DEI trainings and materials seem to be trying to enforce ideological beliefs (even ones I agree with) on the people taking the trainings – didn’t come up in this debate at all. Especially on the affirmative side, this was a debate about affirmative action, using the exact same arguments about AA that have been used since the 1980s at least, except now they call affirmative action “DEI.”

    4) McDonald claimed that her speech might get her “cancelled” – as if, given her history and employers, anyone who employs her would fire her for generic right-wing anti-AA opinions. She went on to say something like “But I refuse to be cancelled!!” (Or wait, did Kambhampati say that? Easy to mix them up.) But if people could just “refuse to be cancelled,” then cancellations wouldn’t be a problem at all.

    5) Prof Kambhampati is a generic culture warrior type, down to complaining about how white straight men (his phrase) are so very victimized. MacDonald is from the same camp, and was a more effective speaker, but gave the impression of giving a rehearsed anti-affirmative action speech she’s been doing for years. Pamela Long was forgettable other than the gratuitous transphobia, and Karith Foster was a little woo for my tastes but still the best of the four. If I were a debate judge, I’d be marking all four of them down for failing to track and rebut opposing arguments, but if forced to make a choice based solely on debate skills, I’d give the affirmative the victory, because MacDonald made so MANY arguments that weren’t answered.

    (Needless to say, who I think won on debate points has nothing to do with what I think of DEI, and DEFINITELY doesn’t mean I agree with MacDonald, whose arguments veered close to being racist at times.)

  12. 12
    Ampersand says:

    I found what I suspect was Ron’s (perhaps indirect) source – an article in The College Fix, a publication which functions to direct harassment at professors.

    However, the person who said something similar to Ron’s claim isn’t a Dean; he’s someone speculating about what he imagines the Deans’ reasons were.

    Peter Bonilla, executive director of the MIT Free Speech Alliance, told The College Fix in a telephone interview that of the dozens of MIT scholars invited to participate in the debate, one professor did agree, however necessary travel plans ultimately made him unable to take part.

    Asked to speculate on theoretical reasons why DEI deans would not want to defend DEI on their own campus, Bonilla said “there is a sense that this is an issue that is kind of above being debated, and that is a big part of the reason why we wanted to have this debate.”

    The one person quoted in the article who gave a reason for not participating, didn’t say what Ron suggested.

    Although the DEI deans did not respond to a request for comment, their reasoning for refusing to debate the topic on their own campus may have been spelled out by John Dozier, MIT’s chief diversity officer.

    “We also learned of a debate that will be happening on campus in a few weeks over what I think is an utterly false binary of ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ versus ‘merit, fairness, and equality.’ A number of people, including me, were invited to participate in this event last year. We declined based on the framing, but it fueled our thinking about how to set the right conditions for a discussion — avoiding simplified versions of issues and concentrating on a format that will broaden attendees’ perspectives rather than on having one side ‘win,’” Dozier said in a March 15 news release announcing his own set of conversations to be held on campus.

  13. 13
    Saurs says:

    I confess I presumed that “latinx” was a neologism created by whites, as I have only ever hears white non-Hispanic people use it.

    Your disinterest in challenging your priors is, of course, a you problem, but US Latinx artists and entertainers, as well as white Hispanics, have been using and exploring the term for at least a decade and well before its canonical “first appearance” in academic literature. Take, for example, John Leguizamo’s large body of work—on stage, on film, and online—playing with it, introducing it to new audiences, and locating it within US and US Latinx history (favorite subjects for both his straight comedy and his comedic educational documentaries.) He’s also appeared extensively on US and Puerto Rican English and Spanish language television* as a familiar face eager to demystify the term and explain its origins and many purposes, practical and otherwise. Professionally, he’s worked to successfully popularize it to some extent within his own industry (he co-founded the New Generation Latinx Collective, a digital media company, in 2012).

    In fact, it is in part because of celebrity activists like Leguizamo that far more Hispanics of all walks of life have heard of the term than white non-Hispanics, even though few use it to describe themselves or others. And, of course, they disapprove of it far less than the reactionary classes, not as a rule ever interested in what Latinx and non-white Hispanics think about anything that can’t be weaponized against their enemies, repeatedly claim without evidence. Very touching to hear their concern, though.

    *I believe he has also appeared at least once on Colombian television to discuss the term as an interesting US American cultural phenomenon that serves a genuine need, but I failed to find the clip I’m thinking of after a very brief internet search. It may have been on the radio, but I just can’t recall enough details.

  14. 14
    RonF says:

    Amp, I just took another look and apparently that link was edited to remove 20+ minutes of deadtime in the beginning.

    I didn’t mean that all 8 were invited to participate in the debate simultaneously. Note that I said “all MIT Deans, etc.” meaning all the staff in the DEI infrastructure there were approached. Certainly not all of them would participate. I imagine they approached the Deans first, though.

    I will, however, take the hit on translating the MIT Free Speech Alliance’s Executive Director’s speculation into a statement of fact. Mea culpa! My error.

    I’ve been accused of using “weasel words” lately. John Dozier’s statement sounds like those to me. He could have entered the debate and addressed the framing issue in front of the audience and the other participants – that would have been a very valuable perspective to introduce. I wonder how much of his reluctance was a reluctance to be in a debate that he did not control vs. a set of discussions that he will very likely be in control of.

    I am gratified to see that a topic that so many people find controversial could be debated on the Institute’s campus without some mob attempting to interrupt or prevent it as has happened on so many other campuses.

  15. 15
    Dianne says:

    It’s been quiet here lately…too quiet. Clearly, someone needs to say something controversial.

    So immigration and in particular asylum seeking: The US offered to evacuate Selenskyj at the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That establishes the precedent that the US is ready to evacuate anyone in a war zone who wants out, right? Presumably, this also comes with an implicit or explicit invitation to live in the US indefinitely, since where else does the US have a right to evacuate people to? So that’s our military’s next assignment: find and evacuate anyone wishing to leave a war zone.

    If this seems like an excuse to get more immigrants, well, it is. Worldwide fertility is dropping and the US is becoming less and less attractive as a place to immigrate to. We need to get everyone we can while we can. If this thinking inspires other governments to improve conditions in their countries before their people vote with their feet to depopulation, that’s no bad outcome either.

  16. 16
    Jacqueline Squid Onassis says:

    Worldwide fertility is dropping and the US is becoming less and less attractive as a place to immigrate to. We need to get everyone we can while we can.

    Why? If fertility is dropping then so is population increase. Clinging to population increase as the basis of our economy doesn’t seem like a long term solution to me. Maybe we should figure out how to grow (or maintain) our economy by means other than population increase. Combine that with making immigration almost infinitely easier than it is right now and that could be a solution.

  17. 17
    Dianne says:

    @Jacqueline Squid Onassis: I agree that an economy based on the requirement of growth is unsustainable. Much as economists think otherwise, economics does not overcome thermodynamics. That being said, we still need more people, if only to take care of the aging baby boom and the also aging though not wanting to admit it millennial boomlets. And to figure out how to make the economy run with a shrinking population, which we don’t seem to know yet.

    Also, ffs, if people actually want to move to the US, why not let them? When has immigration ever been bad for the US? (Note that the early European colonists were conquerors and colonists, not immigrants.)

  18. 18
    Eytan Zweig says:

    @Dianne – I agree with you as far as your atittude towards immigration, but I think the line between “colonists” and “immigrants” is not a clear one; the native people in North America are still being colonized, and any non-native immigrants, therefore, are still colonists. We shouldn’t gloss over this just because we may think that immigration is a net positive.

  19. 19
    Dianne says:

    @Eytan: I agree that there are still native people in the Americas who are being colonized, including in the territory now known as the US. However, the country whose immigration I was referring to is the US, which is a post-colonial structure. I was objecting to the argument made by white nationalists that “immigration” to pre-colonial America worked out badly for the local peoples and therefore we should restrict immigration now. It’s an argument of pure projection as far as I can see. Even more so if it’s non-Hispanic white Texans making the argument. Texas history is particularly fraught in this way.

  20. 20
    Dianne says:

    And here we have the anti-choice laws working exactly how they’re supposed to. This is the outcome desired by the self-proclaimed “pro-life” movement. Torture of people who become pregnant and babies is the point.

    Florida tortures babies.

  21. 21
    Grace Annam says:

    Regarding #11, “The obsession cis people have with trans people’s genitals is out of control”:

    It puts me in mind of an experience I had shortly after I transitioned. I was on duty, in uniform. I needed to get something from a particular city department. It was my first time visiting that department since I transitioned. I walked into the outer office and found the department secretary at her desk. We had known each other for over fifteen years at that point and had a cordial working relationship. She looked up as I walked through the door. She saw my face and recognized me, and then her eyes dropped to my crotch and stayed there for almost two seconds. Her whole head moved down along with her eyes. It was almost a theatrical movement, it was so clear, and her gaze was momentarily so fixed. Then she looked back up at my face and met my gaze, looking perhaps a bit embarrassed under a suddenly forced blank expression. I greeted her and told her what I needed, and life went on.

    Given the reaction time, the directness of the gesture, her clear fixed attention, and her embarrassment, it was clear that it was not a thoughtful, deliberate action. It was just apparently the association she made with my face, having heard the news of my transition. My genitals.

    It was weird enough that I actually glanced in a mirror on the way out to check my fly and my gig line, but, no, everything was correct.