Church & state and ‘beliefs’ that believers don’t care about

Republican state Sen. Dennis Kruse of has introduced a bill that would allow Indiana public schools to require students to recite the Lord’s prayer each morning.

Um … which Lord’s prayer?

Sen. Dennis Kruse wants to require Indiana schoolchildren to pray to Lord Cthulhu in His House at R’lyeh.

I don’t just mean the subtle differences of “debts” and “trespasses,” I mean that there are as many different Lord’s prayers as there are different Lords.

Could a school require students to recite this one?

In His House at R’lyeh Dead Cthulhu waits dreaming, yet He shall rise and His kingdom shall cover the Earth. …

To select an “official” Lord’s Prayer is to select to privilege one sect above all the others. It is, in other words, to establish an official religion.

Sen. Kruse wants to make a law respecting the establishment of religion and prohibiting the free exercise thereof. That’s not allowed.

Speaking of the First Amendment: Three nurses no longer work at an Indiana hospital because they refused to get flu shots.

The hospital has at least two good reasons for dismissing these nurses. First is simple public safety — having nurses who might be walking around and giving all of your patients the flu would be negligent bordering on reckless.

And second, hospitals really aren’t looking to hire medical professionals who don’t believe in professional medicine. Nor are they looking to hire nurses who defiantly refuse to protect the health of patients. Hiring a nurse who doesn’t “believe in” flu shots is a bit like hiring an auto mechanic who doesn’t believe in internal combustion. Or, you know, like hiring a nurse who doesn’t believe in hand-washing.

But the nurses’ attorney says their disbelief in modern medicine must be respected, because it’s their free exercise of religion:

lan Phillips, who represented several nurses at the hospital, says his clients had the right to refuse their flu shots under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination of employees. Religion is legally broad under the First Amendment, so it could include any strongly held belief, he said, adding that the belief flu shots are bad should suffice.

“If your personal beliefs are religious in nature, then they are a protected belief,” Phillips said.

But Phillips case has nothing to do with his clients’ “personal beliefs,” it has to do with their right to work as medical professionals despite their purported “religious” devotion to holy influenza. Phillips is pretending that this is a civil liberties case akin to the defense of conscientious objectors. It’s far stranger than that — it’s more like a pacifist Mennonite suing to become a U.S. Marine.

In any case, I have a very hard time accepting that these nurses really do believe “flu shots are bad” when, at the same time, they are completely uninterested in the question, “Are flu shots, actually, bad?” and when they seem unconcerned with the hospital’s flu-shot policies except as they pertain to themselves.

These nurses formerly worked at a hospital that requires its staff to get flu shots, and that administers flu shots to patients. Anyone who worked there and really believed “flu shots are bad” ought to be fighting those policies, arguing that the hospital must stop providing the shots for patients and stop requiring the shots for employees.

But Phillips isn’t arguing that the hospital should change its rules, only that the rules shouldn’t apply to his clients.

In other words, it doesn’t seem that these nurses lost their jobs out of devotion to their belief that “flu shots are bad.” It seems they lost their jobs out of devotion to their belief that “Nobody can ever make me get (or understand) a flu shot.”

When someone claims that a belief is a deeply held religious conviction, but simultaneously doesn’t seem at all interested in the substance of that purported belief, then it’s hard to see them as sincere. “Conviction” suggests interest and concern. Faith without interest is dead.

Related:

In South Dakota, a state senator, Jeff Monroe (R-Pierre), has introduced a bill making it easier for parents to refuse to get their children vaccinated thus guaranteeing an increase in deaths from preventable causes. Monroe says it’s all about religious freedom. South Dakota is already one of the states that allows parents to opt out of vaccinations if that is part of the doctrine of their sect. That’s not good enough for Monroe. He believes parents should be allowed to opt out if they have a “sincere, verifiable religious belief,” even if it’s at odds with the teaching of their sect.

 

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  • Fusina

    Just saw the letter from the owners of Hobby Lobby regarding the reason
    they won’t pay for contraceptives. Good to know that people who flunked
    biology can make it big in America.

    So if I say that my religious beliefs require me to not pay income taxes, because the money belongs to God and he gave it to me to use on his behalf…

    Nah, I don’t think that would work either.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sad bit is, if you set yourself up as pastor of a church, it probably would.

  • fraser

     No, it’s been tried. And failed (just started on the comments so someone may have said that already).

  • Helena

    Kent Hovind tried it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I think that’s why this contraception mandate struggle is so important. Not just for its own sake, but because of how much damage they’ll do if they win this fight. If merely asserting a religious belief allows you to negate all legal responsibilities — well, what happens if I come up with a religion that carrying car insurance is a sin, and then I go get into a car crash with someone else? From a wider public policy perspective, it’s basically impossible to regulate anything at all if every single individual gets to exercise a veto like that. 

  • Darkrose

    I would totally go to a school that required me to pray to Cthulhu. If I didn’t, I might get eaten first.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    I would totally go to a school that required me to pray to Cthulhu. If I didn’t, I might get eaten first.

    Even worse, you might not get eaten first.  Being among the first eaten is usually considered one of the greatest blessings Lord Cthulhu can grant one.

  • Rae

    I would only go to a school like that if we prayed to Cthulhu in R’leyhian. Praying to the Great Cthulhu in any other language is heresy!

  • ReverendRef

    So if someone decides to resurrect the Aztec religion, becomes a priest of said religion, and holds a deeply held belief that human sacrifice is good, can they start with Senators Kruse and Monroe?

    I know . . . but I’m tired and pissy.

  • Fusina

     I dunno, are women allowed to be priests in the Aztec religion?

    Also tired and pissy. And increasingly unwilling to allow people to spread misinfor… no, I’ma start calling it like it is… _lies_ around without calling them on it.

  • ReverendRef

     I dunno, are women allowed to be priests in the Aztec religion?

    I don’t see why not — they are in the Episcopal church.  And I’m relatively sure that the right-wing RTC’s are convinced that Episcopalians and Aztecians are equally bound for hell.

  • Tricksterson

    But do Episcopalians indulge in human sacrifice?

  • ReverendRef

     But do Episcopalians indulge in human sacrifice?

    Sorry . . . no.  But I have had to attend dinners at parishioner’s homes where I’ve thought . . . no . . . I’ll be nice.

    No, we don’t indulge in human sacrifice.

  • Needled

    This is why promoting ‘belief’ in things regardless of the evidence to support them is generally a bad idea. I wish the article had explained why the nurse’s religion prevents them having flu shots (or at least, why they interpret that it does). There must be some kind of justification for it, even if it’s totally ridiculous.

    If my employer wanted to give me a flu shot I’d jump at the chance. I’m not in any of  the at-risk groups but it’s always nice to have protection.

    The anti-vaccination movement scares me. It’s amazing the damage one corrupt doctor faking his results can cause. Combine that with the power of the internet to spread around false information and you have a disaster.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    If my employer wanted to give me a flu shot I’d jump at the chance. I’m not in any of  the at-risk groups but it’s always nice to have
    protection.

    This just makes me giggle, coming from someone with the handle “Needled”.

  • cjmr

    I do find myself wondering how many studies have been done with regards to nurse/patient flu transmission, though.

  • stardreamer42

    This is an inevitable result of the trend that started with allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for Plan B and the Pill (and yes, there are those who object to both) out of “religious conviction”. 

    If your religion interferes with your ability to DO YOUR JOB, then you either need another religion or another job.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    If your religion interferes with your ability to DO YOUR JOB, then you either need another religion or another job.

    Well, if that‘s the standard, then the trend did not start with pharmacists.

    For example, when the courts limit my employer’s ability to make me, as an Orthodox Jew, work on Saturdays, they’ve asserted that sometimes, when my religion interferes with my ability to do my job, my employer needs to make accommodations.

    Perhaps that was a mistake, but if so, it was a mistake we made a long time ago.

    It seems that where we are now is trying to decide what accommodations are reasonable to require, and what accommodations are not.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Those are different things, though.

    Pharmacists are required to dispense medication. They are not supposed to care what the pills are except insofar as it is necessary to ensure that the medication is prescribed by a medical professional, the medication the customer gets is exactly what the medical professional prescribed, and no fuckery will occur by mixing that medication with another medication the customer has been prescribed. Dispensing medication regardless of what it is is a key part of the pharmacist’s job description. Refusing to dispense a particular medication is quite capable of causing immense harm to the person who consequently can’t get the prescribed meds.

    Working on Friday isn’t a key part of your job description. There is nothing requiring your two days off a week to be Saturday and Sunday; in fact the biggest reason to have Sunday off is it’s the day Christians typically go to church. No harm is done by scheduling things so that you have off Friday and Christians have off Sunday, and it’s discriminatory on religious grounds to schedule Christians off Sunday and not schedule you off Friday.

    It might be simplest to categorize them as a pharmacist refusing on religious grounds to dispense contraception is an instance of religion interfering with job and an employer refusing to schedule you off on your religion’s day of rest is an instance of job interfering with religion.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Yes, I agree that they are different things.

    Yes, I agree that making these kinds of distinctions, between accommodations that it makes sense to require and accommodations that make no sense to require, is precisely what we need to do.

    And yes, the kind of analysis you’re talking about here… looking at the specifics of job requirements, and why those requirements exist, and what risk of harm accrues as a consequence of excepting individual employees from those requirements, and what risk of harm accrues as a consequence of not excepting individual employees from those requirements… that kind of analysis is precisely what needs to happen when we make these distinctions. 

  • Ursula L

    Working on Friday isn’t a key part of your job description. There is nothing requiring your two days off a week to be Saturday and Sunday; in fact the biggest reason to have Sunday off is it’s the day Christians typically go to church. No harm is done by scheduling things so that you have off Friday and Christians have off Sunday, and it’s discriminatory on religious grounds to schedule Christians off Sunday and not schedule you off Friday.

    The problem with this is that you wind up with employers being expected to accommodate religious people and people whose religions require a particular day off to worship, at the expense of non-religious people and people whose religions do not require a particular day off.

    Which really stinks, if everyone wants Saturdays off, but you only get Saturday if you are Jewish.  Or if you get Christmas off if you go to church, but not if you celebrate it as a secular midwinter holiday that is a long-standing tradition in your family.  

    So yes, there is harm done if you give religious people their choice of day off for religious reasons, because it means that non-religious people wind up having to cover those days, even if there are things they can only do on that day of the week that they would enjoy as much as a religious person enjoys worshiping. 

    If I want a Saturday off to take my neblings to the park when they are off school, it is no less important than a Jewish person wanting Saturday off for the Sabbath, and for an employer to insist otherwise or the state to insist that the employer accommodate them at my expense is to establish that religion and discriminate against my beliefs.  

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    So what oo you propose?

  • Ursula L

    Well, the person doing the scheduling can take requests for days off, and draw names from a hat or otherwise randomly choose who gets the day off when the schedule can’t accommodate everyone getting their preferred day. Everyone can request days off, but no preference is given based on religion.  

    Or rotate from week to week who gets first choice of days off.  Perhaps employees can privately choose to swap days off, provided they have the same skill set, if there is no pressure or coercion.  Or the employer might pay more to employees willing to work on popular preferred days off, adjusting the pay to the point where enough people are willing to work on the undesirable day for the sake of the extra money. (And if this means quadruple pay for Christmas day, than that’s what the market price is for getting people to work that day.)But you don’t establish one set or type of belief as more important than another, and you don’t discriminate among employees based on their beliefs.  

    Because no one’s god is more important than my nieces, and you spending time with your god is not more important than me spending time with my nieces. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Doesn’t paying overtime for “popular preferred days off” but not “unpopular” ones pretty much guarantee that one group or another will be given de facto “more important” status?

  • Lori

    I don’t think that acknowledging that there’s more competition for certain days off is the same as saying that those days are more important. Certainly not to the extent that we now favor the days that Christians typically want off by making them official national and company holidays.

    And does it really make sense to define “more important” strictly in terms of pay any way? After all, if your preferred day off is less “important” you won’t get paid as much if you have to work it, but you’re more likely to actually get it off.

  • Ursula L

    My thought is to base it on actual requests for a particular day off, not a pre-set calender.  The day may coincide with a religious holiday, or it may be the day when the local school is having a concert and several employees want to go see their kids perform.  The reason for wanting a day off is irrelevant, what matters is whether enough people want the day off so that you have to give some a greater incentive to work on a day they’d prefer not to.  

    So if Christmas falls on a Saturday, you will have Jews wanting the day off for the Sabbath, Christians wanting it off for worship, and others wanting it off for secular family celebrations.

    So you set up some sort of auction, where the pay for that day off goes up, until enough people have signed up to cover it.  (Everyone who works gets paid at the highest rate, because you don’t want to discourage people from saying they’ll work in order to hold out for more.)  

    Or draw straws for who gets the day off, etc.  

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Would this apply to special holidays only, or regular non-work days (weekend equivalents) as well?

  • Ursula L

    It could work either way, for routine weekly days off, or for holidays and other times when, expectedly or unexpectedly, more people want a particular day off than can be managed with the schedule.

    For routine problems, such as Saturdays, it might be easier to work out a rotation – so that people could know which Saturdays they would have off, and plan accordingly.  

    My point is not to propose a specific solution, but to point out that giving preference to assigning days off to people who claim a religious reason for wanting the day off is unfair discrimination against those with other reasons for wanting the day of, and legal support for giving preference to religious reasons for days off is establishing religion, and also to suggest ways in which an employer can fairly assign days off to accommodate  people as much as possible without discriminating based on religion.  

  • Rachel Mcg

    My thought is to base it on actual requests for a particular day off, not a pre-set calender.

    I used to work at the Command Center for a 350+ person call center, meaning I was one of the main schedulers.  We needed coverage everyday, including all holidays, and addressed the problem of who got what days off first by seniority, as those who had been with the company the longest were given higher priority for getting their preferred days off, and then by lottery, if there were still too many wanting the weekends, for instance.  We also had extra pay for both Saturdays and Sundays, and time and a half on actual holidays, to encourage people to choose to work those days.  For requests for time off from a person’s regular schedule, it was first come first serve, with each day allowed to have a certain number of seats empty.

  • Rachel Mcg

    Also, we allowed people to swap shifts with another person, either temporarily or permanently, if they both agreed to the swap.  And every six months, we had a company-wide shift switch, where a new lottery would be held so people stuck working one of the weekend days now had a chance to get the whole thing off.

  • Dan Audy

    That is very interesting and well put.  I had never considered how accommodating religious requirements would produce negative externalities.  I know that while employers are not able to ask about religion in hiring that they can outline the hours and job requirements and not hire people who are unable to meet those requirements (e.g. not hiring a observant Jew who is unwilling to work the Sabbath as a nightclub bartender because on either Friday or Saturday night, depending on when sunset falls that season, they would be unavailable to work).  

    If a compelling argument could be made that weekend days off were preferential (an easy argument to make) it could be discrimination against non-religious or religions without a weekend Sabbath to consistently grant these days off only on religious ground.  I wonder how the current Title VII interpretations that lack of religion is a valid class of the ‘religion’ component to be considered for discrimination would play out if this ever got legally challenged.

  • stardreamer42

    It seems to me that one reasonable place to start would be to ask how old, how consistent, and how documentable is that belief. As I understand it, Orthodox Judaism has a very clear-cut requirement about Sabbath work in the Torah, which has been consistently interpreted for thousands of years and is shared by all Orthodox. The birth control and vaccine things, OTOH, appear to be mostly individuals deciding unilaterally that this is part of their religion, and are unsupported by the Bible or other major Christian dogma. That doesn’t strike me as being even remotely similar to Orthodox Judaism.

    Side note: that nurse is 61 years old. Her parents were almost certainly among the people praising God for the miracle of polio vaccine. I would be happy to let the anti-vaxxers have their way if we could somehow guarantee that they would be the only ones to die in the resultant resurgent epidemics.

  • LMM22

    As I understand it, Orthodox Judaism has a very clear-cut requirement about Sabbath work in the Torah, which has been consistently interpreted for thousands of years and is shared by all Orthodox. The birth control and vaccine things, OTOH, appear to be mostly individuals deciding unilaterally that this is part of their religion, and are unsupported by the Bible or other major Christian dogma.

    That opens a *lot* of legalistic loopholes and is quite likely to make things much worse.

    For example:

    — Is opposition to abortion a long-standing Christian belief? Many practitioners today would insist it is, and, in fact, early Christians *were* clearly opposed to abortion and birth control. However, as Fred has made clear, current evangelical opposition to abortion is a very recent development — and even the Catholic Church (like society in general) did not see early term (pre-quickening) abortions as abortions until maybe the turn-of-the-century. (Before quickening, women were in a kind of pre-pregnant state — maybe like having the sniffles but not yet having a cold.)

    — Is neo-pagan *anything* a long-standing belief? Pagan religions are clearly ancient — but most neo-pagan beliefs amalgamate practices from a range of cultures; I think it would be very hard to argue that a specific belief is long-standing.

    — Religious fundamentalism is often a reaction to the outside world — many European Muslim groups have only recently become much more religious. If your mother didn’t wear a headscarf, should we therefore claim that you shouldn’t have the right to wear one?

    — Hell, for that matter, Orthodox Jews *do* evangelicize — to other Jews. If your parents are Reformed and you decide to join an Orthodox congregation (maybe *after* being hired by your company), do you still get to refuse to work on the Sabbath?

  • P J Evans

     It’s quite possible she got the Sabin oral vaccine, too.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Very little about Orthodox Judaism is clear-cut, and the dividing line between “this is really part of Orthodox Judaism” and “this is something that some individuals made up” is not nearly as clear as you make it sound. Certainly very little about how the Sabbath is practiced among Orthodox Jews is something you would come up with if you simply read the Torah without knowing about thousands of years of interpretation and commentary and cultural practice.

    That said, yes, I agree that asking about how old, how consistent, and how well-documented a cultural belief is is a reasonable place to start in trying to determine whether accommodating it is reasonable (along with what the consequences of the accommodation are, and some other things).

    And while I sympathize with the sentiment of exempting people who oppose a cultural practice from the benefits of it, I mostly don’t think a community or a society can work that way. Part of being a group is accepting that group events affect me.

  • Rugosa

     A big difference is that while your employer may be able to accommodate your religious practice without compromising another person’s life, a nurse’s refusal to be vaccinated could be dangerous to a patient.  Many people die from influenza every year, and most strains are especially deadly for the elderly and people who are already weakened by illness.  In short, you are right; “we are now trying to decide what accommodations are reasonable to require.”  My vote is that we should take the consequences of an accommodation into account in deciding what is reasonable in a society.  Remember the Hippocratic Oath: first do no harm.  That seems like a good starting point to me.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > My vote is that we should take the consequences of an accommodation into account in deciding what is reasonable in a society.

    Absolutely.

  • Chrissl

    I am pondering what a “verifiable” religious belief could mean if that’s what the South Dakota bill actually says. Few religious beliefs are “verifiable” in the sense of supplying proof that the thing believed is actually true, in a way most rational people would accept (f. ex. “proving” that God exists).

    Perhaps it is supposed to mean “verifiably religious”, which is a different question. I guess what you would do to verify that the belief is actually religious would be to search for it in books regarded as scriptures of whatever faith, or ask people if they consider their belief “religious” and why.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I think what “verifiable” means in this context is just that we have reason to believe it really is part of their  religious practice and they aren’t just making shit up.

    What constitutes adequate reason to believe that, I’m not really sure. I doubt that Monroe knows. Asking people seems like a reasonable place to start.

  • Helena

    Isn’t using f. ex. instead of e.g. a sign of the apocalypse.

  • Tricksterson

    If we’re lucky.

  • Tricksterson

    “I am pondering what a ‘verifiable’ religious belief could mean”

    Christian of course.  maybe Jews if we’re feeling generous.

  • Carstonio

    I was hoping this entry would be about same-sex marriage, since some deputy court clerks in my area (where Catholics predominate) are refusing to officiate. While I wouldn’t force such clerks to officiate, I also believe they should find other work if this is so important to them. It’s the equivalent of a vegetarian server at a restaurant refusing to wait on meat-eating customers. 

    I’m not sure that Fred’s specific case against the flu shot refusal would apply here. The conscience argument that the clerks are using almost seems to equate officiating at a wedding with actually taking the vows. Or else it implies that they’re aiding and abetting a moral crime. If it’s the latter, they might be falsely assuming that they have power over other people’s orientation, like the couples would break up and find opposite-sex spouses. And if they feel that homosexuality itself is such a moral crime, then they should devote their time to trying to restore the old sodomy laws.

  • Lori

     

    The conscience argument that the clerks are using almost seems to equate
    officiating at a wedding with actually taking the vows. Or else it
    implies that they’re aiding and abetting a moral crime.   

    Someone needs to ask these clerks if, in the course of their duties, they have ever performed a marriage ceremony for a couple where at least one of them was divorced. If the answer is “yes” then the correct response to their “conscience argument” is, “STFU you hypocrite and either do your damn job or quit and let someone else have it.”

    I have no patience with this kind of situational attack of conscience and either should anyone else. 

  • Carstonio

    While I share your lack of patience, I also think the arguments deserve deconstruction.    Such opponents sound as if they’re reusing old arguments for South African divestment, without grasping that the universities were profiting financially from apartheid as well as perpetuating it. I suspect the clerks are getting paid the same no matter how many weddings they officiate, so their acceptance or refusal directly impacts only the couples involved. The same goes for pharmacists who would refuse to dispense contraception, although these are probably outnumbered by the grandstandars who claim to be protecting the consciences of such pharmacists.  

    At least the business owner below decided to take the financial hit rather than sacrifice his alleged convictions. Alleged because, again, 
    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-ar-annapolis-trolley-suspends-wedding-servic-20121225,0,5029853.story

  • Lori

    I also think the arguments deserve deconstruction.    

    I pretty much don’t. I think deconstructing their “argument” gives it more credence than it deserves. I’m not dead set on that because leaving an argument unchallenged, no matter how stupid it is, tends to lead to badness. Still, I’m generally not in favor of acting like their claims are worthy of the slightest bit of attention because they so obviously are not.

  • Carstonio

    I would agree if we were talking about obvious demagogues like James Dobson or Bill Donahue. Knowing my community, the clerks are most likely cradle Catholics who aren’t attention-seekers, and the only reason their views are in the news is because the reporters asked their bosses about the implementation of the new law. 

    Their objection doesn’t make sense, because there’s no reason they couldn’t regard same-sex marriage the same way the Amish regard phone and electric service. I could understand if they were working for an ad agency and they refused to take on Planned Parenthood as a client. But the clerks aren’t promoting homosexuality, to use the terminology of the demagogues. And since most of them are female, the chances of them having the same beliefs as male gay-bashers are probably low. I feel like I’m missing something obvious about their worldview, some easy way to show them that they’re worrying needlessly.  

  • Lori

     

    And since most of them are female, the chances of them having the same
    beliefs as male gay-bashers are probably low. 

    Citation needed. Or to put it another way, Maggie Gallagher would like a word.

    Women are not automatically more caring or open & affirming than men. Plenty of women are horribly homophobic. The fact that the subcultures most likely to push a homophobic agenda are also those least likely to have women in leadership positions visible to outsiders doesn’t mean that the rank & file women don’t agree with or support the homophobia they’ve been taught.

     

    I feel like I’m missing
    something obvious about their worldview, some easy way to show them that
    they’re worrying needlessly.  

    It seems to me that the obvious thing is that their objection is just homophobia and has no deeper connotations and that the relevant “worldview” is the institutional prejudice which has told them all their lives that they’re entitled to feel self-righteous about treating other people like crap as long as the Church tells them that Those People are worthy of eternal punishment.

  • Carstonio

    I didn’t say that women were more caring, or less likely to be homophobic, and I should have made that clear. I was suggesting that women are less likely to espouse the McCarthyist version of homophobia found among men, where anyone who doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes is instantly suspected of homosexuality. There are probably some women who believe in metaphorical “man cards” like on the gun billboard that was in the news recently, but I’ve never encountered any. 

    Institutional prejudice doesn’t stop most American Catholics from using contraception contrary to Church teaching. What you’re suggesting is that they care about doctrine only as it impacts their own behavior. But since an individual’s orientation has very little impact on others, ultimately it doesn’t make sense that anyone would care so much about someone else’s orientation. Assuming that the person isn’t sexually attracted to the other.

  • Lori

    I was suggesting that women are less likely to espouse the McCarthyist version of homophobia found among men, where anyone who doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes is instantly suspected of homosexuality. There are probably some women who believe in metaphorical “man cards” like on the gun billboard that was in the news recently, but I’ve never encountered any.     

    Respectfully, you need to meet a broader cross section of women because there are plenty who have fully bought into the “man card”. It’s natural that you’re more aware of the myth as it’s targeted directly at you, but I assure you it’s over here on the distaff side too. Have you ever heard a woman, or some type of messaging aimed at women, say something about wanting a “real man”? That’s the man card myth by another name.

    That’s just one example. If you want to see the man card in action among women pick a fandom, go to boards devoted to it and start looking for discussion of gay subtext. You’ll mainly find people speaking of it with great approval instead of opprobrium, but the foundation is the same—those two men are interacting in a way that’s outside the “manly” box, therefore they’re obvious gay. Everyone knows that men don’t have real friendships, not like women. So any two men who have a real conversation about personal things or who do anything together that’s not related to sports, video games or killing stuff is clearly gay. Ho yeah!

    Gender essentialism runs deep in our culture and women are far from immune.

     

    Institutional prejudice doesn’t stop most American Catholics from using contraception contrary to Church teaching. What you’re suggesting is that they care about doctrine only as it impacts their own behavior.

    No, I’m suggesting quite the opposite. They’re hypocrites who, supported by institutional prejudice, are perfectly willing to treat other people like crap precisely because their “sin” doesn’t effect the clerks personally. People tend to think the sin they commit is fine and not actually a sin at all (e.g. birth control, divorce), or at least can and should be readily understood and forgiven. The sin committed by Those People is just wrong though. 

    The women are homophobes. Their homophobia has the backing of their church so they get plenty of rewards for it in the form of warm, fuzzy feelings of self-righteousness and the approval of authority figures. That’s powerful stuff. We have no way of pinpointing exactly how they came to be homophobes, but I feel confident that it was not the result of reasoning. As Ben Franklin said, you can’t reason a man out of a position he has not reasoned himself into. So if you’re thinking that you can reason them out of their homophobia by pointing out that others’ orientation has no real impact on them good luck with that, but I don’t recommend that you hold your breath.

  • Carstonio

    Now I imagine the female fans you describe acting like macho shitheads, with truck nuts on their vehicles.

    They’re hypocrites who, supported by institutional prejudice, are perfectly willing to treat other people like crap precisely because their “sin” doesn’t effect the clerks personally. People tend to think the sin they commit is fine and not actually a sin at all (e.g. birth control, divorce), or at least can and should be readily understood and forgiven. 

    That’s what I meant about impacting or not impacting their own behavior. Hypocrisy driven partly by selfishness. Self-righteousness doesn’t feel like enough of a reward because it’s not tangible, at least when compared to privilege, and those homophobes have both.

  • Lori

     Somebody dates the guys with the truck nuts hanging from their bumper hitches. Just sayin’.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Apparently there is such a thing as eyelashes to go on headlights.

    I now wanna see somebody with a car that has both headlight eyelashes and truck nuts.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Vehicular anthropmorphization. O.o

  • EllieMurasaki

    I was going for either ‘trans man’ or ‘drag queen’ myself.

  • Lee B.

     I knew a drag queen who had headlight eyelashes on his car, but I can’t remember if it also had truck nuts — the most notable thing about the car was actually the paint.  He’d spray-painted it with wild colors, so (to me) it resembled a 1980s NYC subway car.

  • Carstonio

    I’ve seen those. I’m not sure that these constitute bragging about femininity the same way that truck nuts constitute bragging about masculinity. There doesn’t seem to be a female equivalent to men using large objects as metaphors for penises. 

     If anything, the culture teaches women that insecurity about their appearance is normative, such as breast size being about pleasing men. One reality show had a bridesmaid, who was helping the bride pick out a low-cut dress, describing the bride’s breasts as destined to be the groom’s. By contrast, when men talk about husbandly genitalia belonging to wives, it’s done disparagingly like the women are stealing the masculinity.

  • Lori

     

    I’ve seen those. I’m not sure that these constitute bragging about
    femininity the same way that truck nuts constitute bragging about
    masculinity. 

    I think that they are a form of bragging about femininity. I think that all sorts of aggressively “cute”  things for adult women are. The aim of bragging about femininity is not the same as the aim of bragging about masculinity, but it does happen and it’s just as f’ed up in its own way.

     

    One reality show had a bridesmaid, who was helping the bride pick out a
    low-cut dress, describing the bride’s breasts as destined to be the
    groom’s. By contrast, when men talk about husbandly genitalia belonging
    to wives, it’s done disparagingly like the women are stealing the
    masculinity.   

    And boy is there a whole world of ick in both of those sentences.

  • banancat

     That would ironically make some biological sense.  It’s kind of odd that long, full eyelashes are associated with women in our culture, since eyelashes are just hair and they grow for the same reasons as chest hair, primarily testosterone (although hormones in general are not that simple or straightforward).  Having long eyelashes is sort of “manly” and all other historical cultures that I am aware of that wore make-up, men would be just as likely as women to use eyelash enhancers for this very reason.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    Gender essentialism runs deep in our culture and women are far from immune.

    QFT.  I knew a woman who used the term “mental castration” when referring to guy friends she had who weren’t “like other guys.”

    She described it as a conscious decision on her part – “I mentally castrated him a while ago.*”

    While she’s the only person I’ve heard put it in those terms, without going down the rabbit hole of “Boo Hoo, it’s so tough being a man” and blah blah blah, and treading into “Nice Guy” territory, I will say that I’ve had plenty of experiences with other women in which I can almost feel the, er, mental snipping taking place.

    *The context of the conversation was one in which she was complaining about how “all guys are the same” and one of her friends asked her, “Well, what about [Guy Friend]?”  She responded, “Oh, he doesn’t count; he’s not a guy.  I mentally castrated him a long time ago.”  (I wasn’t the Guy Friend in question, but I was friends with said Guy Friend and he and I were very much alike.)

  • Lori

     

    She described it as a conscious decision on her part – “I mentally castrated him a while ago.*”  

    Geez, Louise

      The context of the conversation was one in which she was complaining
    about how “all guys are the same” and one of her friends asked her,
    “Well, what about [Guy Friend]?”  She responded, “Oh, he doesn’t count;
    he’s not a guy. 

    Who could have predicted that when you use the slightest deviance to exclude someone from the set you end up with a very homogenous set?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    And to give some examples, remember Charlotte Allen, the one who opined that if the educational system of the US hadn’t been so feminized, a real man (or a beefy 12-year old) would have  been on hand to take down the Sandy Hook shooter? 

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Coulda been worse: she could have opined that kids should have rushed the shooter.

    http://agonyin8fits.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-princess-and-pea-brain.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Honestly, for the purpose of combat, I consider 12-year olds to be kids, and advocating that 12-year olds be responsible for engaging in hand-to-hand combat to be a gunman to be pretty much just as reprehensible. 

    Allen: Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza.

    Anyway, I just brought that up as an example of women embracing the kind of whole “man card” mindset. To Allen and possibly McArdle too, the real problem isn’t guns (either too many guns or too few guns in the hands of ‘good guys’), lack of access to mental health, lax security in schools, etc. 

    The real problem is feminization of the public sphere. The real problem is that men aren’t really ‘men’ any more because of feminism, ‘mental castration’, revocation of man cards, or whatever it is they want to use. If real men had been on the scene, big tough ex- football players, they would have somehow been able to charge at the gunman and take him down without major loss of life. 

    Testosterone does have unique bullet-resistant capacities, after all. 

  • fraser

     With some anti-feminist women, I suspect it’s because they’re young enough to have no idea of what it was like before job-protection laws were in place, so they can’t imagine that any of their success is due to that stuff. So if we rolled things back to the 1950s, hey, they’d do fine because men would obviously see they’re as good as any men.
    Allen’s columns are so full of shit, I suspect she knows the pre-feminist years would be bad for her, but the odds are against feminism getting rolled back so why not collect the paycheck?

  • The Guest Who Posts

    In addition to the horrifying victim-blaming of Allen’s statement, you’ve got to love how it assumes that women or girls would never be able to improbably take out an armed killer. Nope, it’s all down to the men and boys.

  • fraser

     She did suggest that if some of the bigger boys had done it, everything would be fine.

  • hidden_urchin

    Coulda been worse: she could have opined that kids should have rushed the shooter.

    I’m guessing McArdle never studied history, specifically WWI.  As it turns out, people in a group who charge someone with an automatic or semi-automatic weapon tend to be slaughtered. 

    See, this right here is everything that’s wrong with American education.

  • P J Evans

     heck, you should learn that from war movies. Or US History, because standing in a line and marching into musket fire did so well for the British Army.

  • Mike Timonin

    because standing in a line and marching into musket fire did so well for the British Army.

    This is the second time I’ve seen this suggested in the past three days, and this is a forum in which I think I can address it. (The other place was at cracked.com) The British Army stood in a line and marched into musket fire because ALL armies at the time stood in lines and marched into musket fire. That was the standard mode of military interaction for everyone until WWI. 

    At the beginning of the US War of Independence, Americans engaged in the tactics of little wars (later, after Spanish patriots made use of them in the Peninsular Wars against Napoleon, guerrilla tactics, but it means the same thing). That wasn’t because those tactics were superior to the British tactics, but because the American forces were not trained or equipped to engage in proper military tactics, nor did they have sufficient numbers to meet the British on the field. When they tried it, they tended to get whipped. But you cannot win a war of independence unless you have a recognized military, and for your military to be recognized, it needs to conform to the model that the rest of the world recognizes as legitimate. If the Americans had continued to use guerrilla tactics without also producing a legitimate army, the war would have devolved into a multi-generational struggle between small bands of rebels and a greater or lesser number of occupying forces, possibly propping up some form of local government. the US might have gained its independence eventually, but the nation would not look like it does today.

    tl;dr – the British didn’t lose the war because of their tactics, they lost the war because the Americans were able to develop a real army (and borrow another one from France) that could match British tactics in the field.

  • Carstonio

     Even the folks at Colonial Williamsburg acknowledge this, quoting Bill Cosby’s old routine.

    http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/winter08/tactics.cfm

    most battles intentionally initiated by either side in the Revolution
    were planned and contested with traditional European linear tactics.
    Little would change until the invention of the rifled musket and the
    Minnie ball shortly before the American Civil War. But that is another,
    quite grim story.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    But you cannot win a war of independence unless you have a recognized military, and for your military to be recognized, it needs to conform to the model that the rest of the world recognizes as legitimate.

    Just to restate what I’m hearing you say: hypothetically, if I’m a population under military occupation and I decide to fight a war of independence, and I organize under some completely novel model that the rest of the world doesn’t recognize as legitimate, and I am able under this model to reliably project force against enemy troops, protect myself from retaliation, prevent them from controlling key territory, and otherwise win engagements with their military, I should not expect to win independence because my military won’t be recognized because its model is not widely recognized as legitimate.

    Yes?

    That’s kind of a big deal, if true.

    Is this a conventional/mainstream position in military theory, or is the insight of a narrower group? Is there a defense of it somewhere I can read up on?

  • Mike Timonin

    I’m not saying that a national military needs to have a certain number of infantry units with so many  soldiers in each unit, and so many pieces of artillery or what-have-you. I am saying that guerrilla tactics, unless supported by some sort of regular army, are not sufficient to gain independence. I offer as examples the Cuban and Filipino insurrections against Spain – Cuba is particularly interesting, since the attempts to gain independence stretched over decades – at least thirty years (I’m working off of memory here, not going back to my sources) – and was unsuccessful until the United States intervened with an organized military offensive. Also, consider the Boer War, where we have essentially the situation described by the traditional view of the American war – British troops in formation against Boer settlers with rifles behind rocks and trees and such. And the Boers lost. Slowly and painfully, and at great cost to the British, but ultimately, they lost. 

    If, as you say, I am able under this model to reliably project force against enemy troops, protect myself from retaliation, prevent them from controlling key territory, and otherwise win engagements with their military, that would be the definition of a legitimate military. Guerrillas can do none of those things except the last, and then only under specific, limited situations.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I certainly agree that you can’t win a war (of independence or any other) if you can’t reliably win battles. (You may still obtain independence by your efforts, but that’s a different question.)

    And I agree that a disciplined force moving in a tactically sensible formation has a huge advantage over an undisciplined force moving in no formation at all.

    When you started talking about being “recognized” as a military, it sounded like a more formal criterion than the ability to reliably win battles, but now it sounds like I misunderstood you, which is cool.

  • Mike Timonin

    And I agree that a disciplined force moving in a tactically sensible formation has a huge advantage over an undisciplined force moving in no formation at all. 
    Exactly. Which is the point of the article Carstonio linked – h/t to hir. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Also, the Yugoslav partisans needed regular army support in the form of airlifts from the US and the UK, but they also had the advantage of combatting troops who were not first-rate, since the majority were being sent off to fight the Soviets.

    Luck can often help a revolution or conflict as much as any amount of planning. :)

  • http://twitter.com/pooserville Dave Pooser

    I’m guessing McArdle never studied history, specifically WWI.

    We actually have a much more recent example of the sort of thing McMegan was suggesting– duting the Iran-Iraq war the Iranian side repeatedly used young teen boys in human wave attacks. Who knew American glibertarians and the Ayatollah Khomeini had so much in common? 

  • fraser

     And when informed there were men on site, her response was that she wasn’t wrong, it just proved her point.
    When men died shielding their girlfriends in Aurora, the right-wing held them up as heroes. But obviously they can’t do that with women who risk their lives (and in some cases died) to protect schookids because that will just castrate men and make society more feminized.

  • The Guest Who Posts

     Wonder how they feel about the lesbian couple who helped getting kids into safety at the Utøya shooting.

  • Tricksterson

    Never happened and stop confusing us with facts dammit!

  • fraser

    It’s the same logic by which any pharmacist who acted on the “wrong” religious belief (“I’m sorry you need antidepressants but as a Scientologist I can’t possibly give you those.”)  would be obviously wrong and shouldn’t possibly be covered by conscience clauses.

  • vsm

    If you want to see the man card in action among women pick a fandom, go
    to boards devoted to it and start looking for discussion of gay subtext.

    This is an interesting dynamic. In classic Hollywood films, including and spotting gay subtext was a semi-progressive thing. The film-makers got to show up the censors and the more sophisticated and LGBT members of the public got at least some kinds of queer representations, even if they weren’t often all that positive. I imagine it was also fun to be in the part of the audience that realized Ben Hur and Messala used to be boyfriends.

    The problem with hidden meanings is that along with missing them, sometimes we see them where they weren’t intended. In his older days, Howard Hawks sometimes expressed disapproval at how some critics seemed to think all his explorations of male friendships were really coded love stories. I don’t think Hawks was annoyed out of homophobia (we’re talking about the man who directed this scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofpX0U6MAT4 ), but because male friendships were an important theme for him both artistically and personally. It probably wasn’t very fun to try and broaden cultural ideas of acceptable straight male closeness, only to have your biggest admirers undermining your whole project. Well, Hawks would have probably phrased it a bit more colourfully.

    So, what do? Stopping the practice is not the solution, because where would television be without unresolved sexual tension and shipping? Asking the writers and performers is not really something us urbane people do these days. Maybe focusing a bit more on the tension instead of the closeness, or trying not to take shipping so seriously? Any better ideas?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     I’m reminded of the complaint that platonic male friendship has become more difficult in reality, because as same-sex romantic/sexual relations become more normalized it’s more likely that people will mistake it for such a relation.

    When I hear that complaint, I like to point out that half of the sentence is left unsaid.

    That one thing is easily confused with another is not in and of itself a problem. After all, eating a chicken sandwich is easily mistaken for eating a turkey sandwich, but this doesn’t make eating chicken sandwiches difficult. The problem is that it’s more likely that people will mistake platonic male friendships (which are OK) for same-sex romantic/sexual relations (which are not).

    Leaving out the parentheticals makes it easier to avoid being condemned for expressing the sentiment, but including them makes it easier to identify a solution. For example, one solution is to modify the society so that same-sex romantic/sexual relations are just as OK as platonic male friendships.

    The same solution might apply to writing fiction, as well.

  • Lori

     

    After all, eating a chicken sandwich is easily mistaken for eating a
    turkey sandwich, but this doesn’t make eating chicken sandwiches
    difficult.  

    It’s a problem if at least part of the point of the scene is that the person is eating chicken.

    In general I agree with you that homophobia is the root problem in a lot of this and I don’t want to be unclear about that. The thing I wonder is which is the chicken and which is the egg? Do people hate and fear homosexuality because it violates gender norms or do gender norms exist to police homosexuality?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Sure, I agree that there may be specialized cases where the possibility that someone might confuse a platonic relationship in my narrative for a nonplatonic one really will screw up what I was trying to say in my narrative even if we’re all perfectly OK with either.

    I suspect (and think you agree) this is extremely rare, and that approximately none of the people who complain about it are actually concerned with this case, but it certainly can happen.

    As for orientation vs gender… I don’t know, but the model that makes the most sense to me says that we want to police sexuality, because it’s powerful and therefore dangerous to the existing power structure if left unpoliced, and the desire to police gender expression and the desire to police sexual orientation are both parallel expressions of that desire.

    That’s mostly because trying to draw finer distinctions runs me up hard against the fact that these distinctions get drawn in different places by different communities. For example, a lot of people think the fact that I enjoy sex with men makes me feminine. Conversely, other people think this is true if I am penetrated but not if I do the penetrating. Still other people think that what makes me feminine has to do with social interactions that are distinct from intercourse. Still other people think it has to do with genetics, still others with physiology.

    Within any one of those communities it’s possible to have a coherent conversation, but the minute those communities start to intermingle the conversation tends to collapse.

    So I guess I would say that it’s less a “chicken-and-egg” problem, and more a “five-blind-folks-and-the-elephant” problem.

  • Lori

     

    I suspect (and think you agree) this is extremely rare, and that
    approximately none of the people who complain about it are actually
    concerned with this case, but it certainly can happen.   

    I’m not sure it’s actually extremely rare. Or at least I’m not sure it would be extremely rare if man card policing wasn’t such a thing. I definitely agree that most of the people who loudly complain about it are driven by homophobia, not an artistic investment in exploring the bonds between male friendss.

  • vsm

     I don’t think this is quite the same thing. For one, fandom’s tendency to interpret close m/m friendships as romantic doesn’t make depicting such relationships more difficult. On the contrary, they often attract female fans to works that would have traditionally had a mostly male audience.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I thought it was the other way around, actually. Intersection of ‘cultural conditioning to value relationships’ (other factors in that too I’m sure, but cultural conditioning is a hella big one) and ‘all the interesting characters are male’. The Sailormoon fandom is femslash every which way, which is in large part because all the interesting characters are female.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > For one, fandom’s tendency to interpret close m/m friendships as
    romantic doesn’t make depicting such relationships more difficult.

    Well, as Lori pointed out, it can make depicting non-romantic close m/m friendships more work.  That is, if it’s important to the narrative I want to tell that my two male leads are not romantically involved, then without heteronormativity I have to go out of my way to actually establish that, whereas with heteronormativity I don’t have to. And the stronger the tendency to read romantic subtext into the text, the more work I have to do to establish that.

    But the question remains: why am I telling a narrative for which establishing a completely platonic relationship is so important in the first place?

    There are lots of possible answers to that, some of which I respect more than others.

  • vsm

    Dave:

    I don’t think interpreting what were probably meant as platonic relationships as romantic is usually a problem. I most likely do it every now and then. However, if some people do it to every single close male friendship they see and get serious over it, there’s a chance they’ve bought into some unpleasant ideas about proper straight male behaviour, which I think was Lori’s original point.

    EllieMurasaki:

    I suspect it’s not an either/or case. Xena would have never become so popular among femslash fans if it wasn’t for the shipping potential, but the people who first shipped Xena and Gabrielle together probably started watching it for other reasons.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Agreed that if I treat close male friendships as implicitly non-straight, I’m implicitly treating straight male friendship as non-close, which is problematic.

  • AnonymousSam

    The same thing happens with m/f platonic relationships in both fiction and reality. In a way, I consider it a good thing that same-sex relationships are no longer automatically assumed to be platonic — it shows that people are at least assuming it to be a possibility, rather than pretending it doesn’t exist at all. On the other hand, I wish they didn’t focus on it at all sometimes.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    On balance, I agree that it’s a good thing. Inappropriately sexualizing same-sex relationships is no better than inappropriately sexualizing opposite-sex relationships, but it’s at least more equitable, and it creates a space for normalizing same-sex sexual relations. I assume we’ll collectively calm down in a generation or two. 

  • Lori

     

    I assume we’ll collectively calm down in a generation or two.  

    From your lips to FSM’s hearing appendages.

  • Lori

     

    In a way, I consider it a good thing that same-sex relationships are no
    longer automatically assumed to be platonic — it shows that people are
    at least assuming it to be a possibility, rather than pretending it
    doesn’t exist at all.  

    ITA. Which is one of the things that makes this a major extra hand problem* for me.

    *On the other hand…. but on the other, other hand….. = extra hand problem

  • Lori

     

    But the question remains: why am I telling a narrative for which
    establishing a completely platonic relationship is so important in the
    first place?

    There are lots of possible answers to that, some of which I respect more than others. 

    I think male friendship is a legitimate subject for story telling and it sort of sucks that so often it’s treated as if it’s not. Stories about female friendships are practically their own subgenre because it’s a given that f/f friendships are important. M/M friendships really don’t tend to be treated with the same respect and I think that’s bad for both men and women. 

    Think about the term “bromance”. WTH is that about any way? My response to seeing a movie described as a “bromance” is usually something along the lines of, “Back in the day we called that a ‘comedy” or maybe “gross out comedy”. Why are they suddenly called bromances and why are they always about some stone stupid man child and his posse? (I realize that last part is in no small part thanks to Judd Apatow, but still.) We don’t call movies about females friends “femance” or something, and they’re usually not comedies.

    Female friendships = nurturing bedrock of a woman’s life; male friendship = thing that makes you act like a moron and get in trouble with your shrew of a girlfriend/wife is not a dichotomy that does any thinking person of any gender or orientation any favors.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, that’s one of the respectable answers.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Though I do note that movies with female friendships are either heterosexual romantic comedies or quite uncommon. A movie with a female friendship that isn’t a heterosexual romantic comedy has a hard time avoiding passing the Bechdel test, and screenwriters all know that Bechdel-passing films don’t sell.

    How they know this when they so rarely test the hypothesis, I don’t know.

  • Lori

    How they know this when they so rarely test the hypothesis, I don’t know.  

    IDK either, and I’ve asked people who are actually in the business. No one seems to have an answer that rises above the level of “you can’t get financing because everybody knows….” It’s just a given that say, Steal Magnolias, is a total fluke.

    And of course stories about gay characters who are the focus of the film instead of the sassy gay friend or the scary killer are also still a ridiculously tough sell. See this interview with Steven Soderbergh for a mind-boggling example:

    http://www.grantland.com/blog/hollywood-prospectus/post/_/id/64839/steven-soderberghs-too-gay-for-hollywood-behind-the-candelabra-finds-a-different-box-office

    No studio would give him $5 million for a movie starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas because a Liberace biopic was “too gay” to make any money. On a $5 million budget. That’s not even the wardrobe budget for Dark Knight Rises and probably in the neighborhood of the craft services bill for The Avengers. I mean really, WTF?

  • EllieMurasaki

    And f/m friendships can’t possibly be platonic because they’re f/m and therefore sex must be involved, and let’s just gloss over all the possible permutations of sexuality and takenness and just-not-attracted-to-you that would keep sex out of such a friendship…

    How about we just declare that platonic relationships of all flavors are sadly underrepresented in the media?

  • Lori

     

    How about we just declare that platonic relationships of all flavors are sadly underrepresented in the media?   

    I will absolutely sign onto this.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Why are they suddenly called bromances and why are they always about
    some stone stupid man child and his posse? (I realize that last part is
    in no small part thanks to Judd Apatow, but still.)

    Like I keep saying, comedy was a lot funnier when the male characters were predominantly men, and not sexually precocious toddlers who had been enlarged to adult dimensions.

  • Lori

     

      I don’t think this is quite the same thing. For one, fandom’s tendency
    to interpret close m/m friendships as romantic doesn’t make depicting
    such relationships more difficult. On the contrary, they often attract
    female fans to works that would have traditionally had a mostly male
    audience.   

    I think these are two different issues. I think when people talk about having difficulty depicting close m/m friendships they’re not talking about attracting an audience, or if they are they mean that as a secondary issue. I think they mean what you were talking about WRT to Hawks. He was telling stories about m/m friendships and the impact that they had and people were seeing romance or sexual relationships.

  • vsm

    He was telling stories about m/m friendships and the impact that they
    had and people were seeing romance or sexual relationships.

    The question is, which people? The vast majority of the people who went to see Only Angels Have Wings or Rio Bravo most likely took them as stories of male friendship. The problem was telling those stories to too clever intellectuals. I suspect the dynamic is similar today. Most people who watch TV series don’t post about them on the Internet and probably don’t think that hard about which characters are secretly having sex.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    and probably don’t think that hard about which characters are secretly having sex.

    I’m less convinced of that, than I am that they don’t consider it acceptable to publicly admit to doing so. Though admittedly, I suspect that most private speculation about the sex lives of fictional characters is of a more explicitly self-inserting variety. (In the literary sense!).

  • vsm

    Now that you mention it, I don’t really know how non-fandom people watch TV shows. A certain amount of speculation and, ah, self-insertion is surely to be expected, but probably not the kind of study of clues and subtexts that characterize fandom activities. Say, the normal viewer may have wished for Mulder and Scully to get together, but I’d imagine fewer were speculating on the romantic possibilities of Scully and Skinner, or Skinner and Mulder, and certainly not with the same intensity as those in the fandom.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Well, yes. Leaving troublesome words like “normal” aside, I would say more generally that if a mainstream viewer becomes as intense/obsessive about a particular TV show as fen typically do, they are de-facto fen. The FIAWOL/FIJAGH border can be crossed in both directions.

  • EllieMurasaki

    FIAWOL/FIJAGH?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Fandom Is A Way of Life
    Fandom Is Just a Goddamned Hobby

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ah. Thanks.

  • vsm

    Looks like that “normal” slipped past my proofread. And I started out so strong by using “non-fandom” in the first sentence too. Ah well.

    I don’t think that’s quite the right binary opposition there, though. Even the FIJAGH people are likely much more involved in fandom than most viewers.

  • vsm

    Looks like that “normal” slipped past my proofread. And I started out so strong by using “non-fandom” in the first sentence too. Ah well.

    I don’t think that’s quite the right binary opposition there, though. Even the FIJAGH people are likely much more involved in fandom than most viewers.

  • P J Evans

    Looks like that “normal” slipped past my proofread.

    In fandom, they’re usually called ‘mundanes’.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You know, Chris Carter used to say that the only three things so outlandish that they would never happen on The X-Files were: Mulder and Scully doing it; Scully and Skinner doing it; and Mulder and Skinner doing it.

    I suspect that this is the reason that Mulder flippantly smooches Skinner in the series finale.

  • Lori

     

    Maybe focusing a bit more on the tension instead of the closeness, or trying not to take shipping so seriously?   

    I think focusing on the tension instead of the closeness and really thinking hard about the man card issue are both important. The fact that men engage in behaviors that do not involve sports, video games, cars (forgot that one before), or killing shit =/= gay. Some straight men don’t do those things. Some gay men do. Orientation is about how you’re sexually attracted to, not what hobbies you engage in or what career you pursue. I think that often gets lost in all the happy titillation over the Ho Yeah!

    (I also have issues with what seems to sometimes be a fetizishing of m/m relationships.  It feels icky & disrespectful to me. I’ve seen conversations (and read books) where it felt like the participants (or author) were treating gay relationships as if they exist to give women a tingle, and that’s just wrong on so many levels I can’t even. That may just be my issue.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’ve seen conversations (and read books) where it felt like the participants (or author) were treating gay relationships as if they exist to give women a tingle, and that’s just wrong on so many levels I can’t even. That may just be my issue.)

    It’s one of those neverending fandom arguments. Are straight women who write m/m turning gay men into a fetish for straight women the way lesbians often find themselves fetishes for straight men, or are gay men trying to control straight women’s sexuality by telling them how or whether to write m/m? (Lesbian women and any-orientation men who write m/m, and anybody who writes f/f and/or who is attracted to more than one gender, are pretty well erased here.)

    My personal opinion is everybody’s right, but everybody else is right too.

  • Lori

     

    It’s one of those neverending fandom arguments. Are straight women who
    write m/m turning gay men into a fetish for straight women the way
    lesbians often find themselves fetishes for straight men, or are gay men
    trying to control straight women’s sexuality by telling them how or
    whether to write m/m?   

    I certainly don’t want to be the sexuality police and I don’t think I’m qualified for the job even if I did want it. That doesn’t mean that I don’t wish that some women would cut it the hell out, just like I think a lot of guys need to stop with the fixation of faux lesbian porn. I have grown vary wary of m/m written by women and read very little of it these days. I’ve just gotten the icks way too many times. (I obviously don’t expect writers to particularly care that I’m very unlikely to read their work.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Like I said, in this argument everybody’s right, but so is everybody else, and it would behoove everybody to pay attention to the people who disagree with them because they’ve got some good points that should be taken into consideration.

  • The Guest Who Posts

    Thank you for saying this so much better than I could have. I’m a straight woman, and I have to admit that I find male homoeroticism very appealing. (I simply can’t enjoy a sexual scenario that involves a woman, because media has primed me to see all sexualised depictions of women as objectifying, even the few cases that aren’t.) But I despise the idea that male/male romance and erotica should be packaged for people like me, and I feel the same about lesbian romance and erotica intended for straight male consumption.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    That’s just one example. If you want to see the man card in action among women pick a fandom, go to boards devoted to it and start looking for discussion of gay subtext. You’ll mainly find people speaking of it with great approval instead of opprobrium, but the foundation is the same—those two men are interacting in a way that’s outside the “manly” box, therefore they’re obviously gay. Everyone knows that men don’t have real friendships, not like women. So any two men who have a real conversation about personal things or who do anything together that’s not related to sports, video games or killing stuff are clearly gay. Ho yeah!

    I would say that maybe they are missing the option that the two guys might be brothers, but we both know even if they are established as brothers that does nothing to dim the Shipping Goggles (linked page has a relevant picture illustrating this effect.)  

  • Carstonio

    Update – the head of the court here has said that any objecting clerks will be disallowed from performing any marriage ceremonies. Overall I’m pleased with this, since there are still enough clerks to meet the demand for both types of marriages. Apparently the state hasn’t heard of any clerks in other counties objecting.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    The conscience argument that the clerks are using almost seems to equate officiating at a wedding with actually taking the vows. Or else it implies that they’re aiding and abetting a moral crime.

    I’m fond of this formulation from Waking Up Now: “You’ve got state employees demanding you pass their personal religious test before they’ll help you. That’s not religious freedom. In fact, it’s the opposite.”

    Also, where does it stop? Can the clerks refuse marriage licenses to divorced couples or racially or religiously mixed-marriages? Can government employees claim a religious imperative to refuse to issue licenses or permits for liquor stores, strip clubs, a Ckif-Fil-A, Planned Parenthood, coed schools, banks, houses of worship of a different religion or denomination, blood banks, pharmacies, bars, etc, etc, etc? As Charity said above in reference to the contraception mandate, this is a dangerous precedent to set.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Also, where does it stop? Can the clerks refuse marriage licenses to
    divorced couples or racially or religiously mixed-marriages? Can
    government employees claim a religious imperative to refuse to issue
    licenses or permits for liquor stores, strip clubs, a Ckif-Fil-A,
    Planned Parenthood, coed schools, banks, houses of worship of a
    different religion or denomination, blood banks, pharmacies, bars, etc,
    etc, etc? As Charity said above in reference to the contraception
    mandate, this is a dangerous precedent to set.

    Of course not, that’s silly. Refusing to marry a pair of divorced people or to issue a permit for a liquor store are unreasonable intrusions of the government employee’s religious beliefs. Denying rights to QUILTBAG folks, refusing vaccinations, and denying medical coverage to women are reasonable.  Because they are. Because they said so.

    It is just an amazingly unlikely coincidence that it is precisely the things which are popular beliefs among american evangelical christians also happen to be the “reasonable” things. Not the de facto establishment of religion, nosireebob.

  • Carstonio

    Yes. Any such definition of conscience would almost make it impossible for the person to live in a society of many different religions. Some Catholic doctrines seem to imply that societies and all their institutions should be Catholic, or at least these don’t allow for the concept of a multi-religion society.

  • fraser

     Or what if you believe like Pat Robertson that Episcopalians and Methodists are the “spirit of antichrist” (or like Santorum that mainstream churches aren’t really Christian any more, except his) and decide those marriages are invalid and sinful.

  • Lizzy L

    So if I convert to a religion which says that charging interest on a loan is against God’s will, do I get to stop paying interest on my mortgage?  Because I am SO down with that.

  • EllieMurasaki

    a religion which says that charging interest on a loan is against God’s will

    Isn’t that all the Abrahamic religions?

  • Abby Normal

    What I don’t get is this– these guys are all into having a “personal relationship with Jesus”, yes?

    Well, how does one develop a “personal relationship” with a being that the state forces you to worship?

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Huh.  What a FRAKKING SHOCK that the anti-vaxxers, one of the most selfish little groupings out there, are claiming a “verifiable” religious exemption from protecting themselves and others.

    (If only a piece of my comment showed up, it was because my finger accidentally hit the edit button too quickly.)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Once again. I believe, really, truly, passionately, sincerely that 4=5. I demand legal protection for my right to only pay $80 on a $100 bill.

  • ReverendRef

     Once again. I believe, really, truly, passionately, sincerely that 4=5

    There . . . Are . . . FOUR . . . LIGHTS!!!!!!

    I  know that’s not what you were going for, but it’s the first thing I thought of.

  • Amaryllis

    Once again. I believe, really, truly, passionately, sincerely that 4=5

    There . . . Are . . . FOUR . . . LIGHTS!!!!!!

    Sounds like the Quadrene Heresy to me!

    (Which is not what you were going for, but it’s the first thing I thought of.)

  • SisterCoyote

     I must admit, I’d be all for an American Church if it was the temple of the Bastard.

  • Ursula L

    What is the heresy of worshiping the Bastard but not the other four gods called?  

    One of the nice things about Quintarianism is that it rejects duality, a good/evil dichotomy.  A god for each season, and a god for things out-of-season.  

  • SisterCoyote

     I don’t remember a heresy for worshiping only the Bastard – but that was one of my favorite things about that religious system. There was no good/evil dichotomy. Evil is still addressed, but as the acts of individuals, with no real “The Devil Made Me Do It!” excuse. It’s nice.

    I also really appreciate the parallels – in Paladin of Souls especially, it seems like she’s highlighting the difference between the zealots in our world – the Quadrenes – and religious-Christians-who-don’t-suck, or the Quintarians. And it comes off really well.

  • Tricksterson

    There was no “Bastard only” heresy.  Nor is there any indication the he would want one.  Although the gods don’t seem to have an opinion on the heresy that proclaims the Bastard to be evil either.  The closest I’ve seen to a negative deity is the father.  It was after all an avatar of him that went on a rampage of conquest prior to the events of the first book right?  On the other hand when he actually makes an appearance he doesn’t seem evil, mor Lawful Neutral.  Maybe the Chalion deities adhere to the D&D rule that lets their followers be one step away on the alignment wheel.

  • ReverendRef

     There . . . Are . . . FOUR . . . LIGHTS!!!!!!

    Sounds like the Quadrene Heresy to me!

    (Which is not what you were going for, but it’s the first thing I thought of.)

    Very nice . . .

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Calling the view of anti-vaccers a “religious belief” is just bullshit. It’s simultaneously offensive to both science and actual religious belief.

  • mountainguy

    “it’s more like a pacifist Mennonite suing to become a U.S. Marine.”

    funny thing, I ‘m pretty sure no single one of them has sued USA govt to become a US marine, but quite the contrary.

  • Jessica_R

    I think “verifiable” religious belief is none to subtle code for “(white) Christian belief” as witness to Louisiana RTCers who loved public school vouchers for private religious schools until, gasp choke, Muslims wished to use them to build a private religious school based on their faith. 

  • hidden_urchin

    I would dearly love it for someone to ask those nurses if they think that their supposed right to work with ill people while unvaccinated is more important than those people’s right to life. 

    That’s what were really talking about here.  For an immunocompromised person, influenza can very well mean death.  It’s not the harmless illness that some people seem to think it is. 

  • stardreamer42

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JV938U4Y96w

    How quickly we forget.

  • AnonymousSam

    This. It falls under the category of demanding unlimited arm swinging privileges.

  • tatortotcassie

    So Kruse wants to force all Indiana public school children to recite “The Lord’s Prayer.”  This would be the same Kruse who wanted to allow creationism to be taught in school with the same credence given to evolution. 

    Meanwile,  there are websites popping up on giving parents tips on how to manipulate the religious exemption for not vaccinating; Louisiana has school vouchers for places that teach that the Loch Ness monster is proof that dinosaurs lived alongside humans; we have government officials — serving on the Science Board, no less! — claiming that the earth is no more than 9000 years old, that “legitimately raped” women can’t get pregnant, that birth control causes abortions, and that “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.” 

    And then people complain when the U.S. comes in at #25 out of 34 countries in math and science competency. 

    In other words, this is why we can’t have nice things.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    In His House at R’lyeh Dead Cthulhu waits dreaming, yet He shall rise and His kingdom shall cover the Earth. …

    No, no, no, you cannot properly say the prayer in English.  There are just so many concepts being expressed in the prayer that do not translate into your clumsy human language.  No, to recite the prayer properly you need to say it in the original language (or as near as the wretched human tongue can manage):

    Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtan!
    Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!
    Cthulhu R’lyeh fhtagn!

    Here is an example of the ritual being properly invoked.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

     … I just get these headaches.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    That is normal.  It is merely your tiny human mind struggling to accept the grand truths imparted by our Eldritch Lord of The Deep and The Void.  

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

     And I thought it was to do with the Klatchian Coffee.

  • Otrame

    I liked Gareth David-Lloyd’s reading of the ritual. He did the audiobook of the Call of Chthulhu.

  • Otrame

    I have a teeshirt that says :
    What part of
    Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn
    don’t you understand?

    I fully expect the members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to insist on being allowed full pirate regalia while saying the daily school prayer. It is long-standing religious practice for us.

    I always liked the FSM best because you can be a member of His Church and still be an atheist. He says he doesn’t care if you believe in him, because he’s not that vain.

  • reynard61

    Normally this is about where someone comes in and apologizes for the rank and utter stupidity shown by some idiot from his or her state with a government title in front of their name and a letter (usually — but not exclusively — an “R”) after. Well, not this time. As a Hoosier (and one who *votes*, by the way) you all have my permission to rag on my resident State, State Sen. Kruse, and me and my fellow Hoosiers as unmercifully as you wish because we damn well *DESERVE* it. (And, in fact, I’ll *join* you!) Yeah! Screw you, Indiana! You’re getting to be as bad as Texas, Louisiana and Florida…*COMBINED!!!*

    Also; if I actually had kids to send to school (Thank Luna and Celestia I don’t!!!), I would demand that they be allowed to pray to The Goddesses. Because I can.

  • EdinburghEye

    Ursula: “So you set up some sort of auction, where the pay for that day off goes
    up, until enough people have signed up to cover it.  (Everyone who works
    gets paid at the highest rate, because you don’t want to discourage
    people from saying they’ll work in order to hold out for more.)  “

    That’s excellent. Sorry Disqus won’t let me give it more likes than one.

  • EdinburghEye

    There’s an actual case that the actual former-former-Archbishop of Canterbury is actually supporting to the European Court of Human Rights: a hospital has a health-and-safety rule against nurses on duty wearing brooches on their uniform or dangly jewellery – necklace or earrings, and one nurse claims that this health-and-safety rule is against her religious beliefs and she’s going to sue because when she insisted that she had to wear the necklace or the brooch at work, Because Religion, the hospital obligingly moved her to a deskwork job so that she could do so.

    (The necklace had a crucifix hanging from it.  Denied her religious obligation to wear dangly necklace, the nurse claimed a religious obligation to wear crucifix as a brooch. The really bizarre thing is not the nurse herself – fools are found everywhere – but that George Carey, in theory at least as well versed in Christianity as being a priest, bishop, and archbishop for fifty years could make you, has supported her in her belief that wearing a dangly necklace or a brooch is an essential part of Christianity, and that for a nurse to be prevented from doing so because that would compromise her care for the sick, is a violation of her right to be a practicing Christian.)

  • Mrs Grimble

     She lost that case over two years ago  and the AoC didn’t apparently offer any  support beyond a single  mention about “bureaucratic silliness” and religious symbols in general.
    She wasn’t even required to remove the crucifix, just tuck it away somewhere it couldn’t dangle; according to her, this was making her hide her religious faith and was ‘disrespectful’.  If she wanted to flaunt her faith that much,  why didn’t she have a cross tattooed on her forehead?

  • EdinburghEye

    Yes, Shirley Chaplin lost her case in the UK Supreme Court two years ago, but it is now being heard by the European Court of Human Rights. Carey signed a letter in support of Chaplin in March 2010, but Carey appears on the ECHR docket supporting the other two homophobia cases – it’s the Bishop of Chester and the Bishop of Blackburn who are specifically named supporting the right of the nurse to contravene health, safety, and hygiene regulations at work.

  • P J Evans

    They missed one obvious solution: get the crucifix as a tattoo. But maybe that’s against her religious views, too.

  • Ursula L

    Tatoo?  It could be even simpler – she can use a fabric pen to draw a small crucifix on the lapel of her shirt, or thread to embroider a small cross, or otherwise carry the symbol in a way that does not create a physical risk of it catching or falling and affecting the treatment of a patient.  

    If the employer provides uniforms, she can use a pen that has the ink come out in the wash, or if she provides her own, she can make the mark in permanent ink or sewn in thread.  

  • alfgifu

    Tatoo?  It could be even simpler – she can use a fabric pen to draw a small crucifix on the lapel of her shirt, or thread to embroider a small cross, or otherwise carry the symbol in a way that does not create a physical risk of it catching or falling and affecting the treatment of a patient.

    Yes, but then she wouldn’t be able to heroically defend her faith by Taking A Stand in court.

    If the issue was purely about religious expression, there wouldn’t be a problem – some sensible alternative could be found. My guess is that the nurse is genuinely committed to believing in the righteousness of her cause (after putting all this time and effort into it, in such a public way, it would be painful in the extreme to admit that perhaps she was wrong), but that commitment was never just about her crucifix.

    Step one: general sense of discomfort because the Truth taught in church and observable reality don’t seem to match – particularly because those pesky unbelievers don’t seem to be acting the way they should.
    Step two: scaremongering within the church about secularism, combined with the need to quash lingering doubts by demonstrating true commitment (perhaps some nice comfortable longing for martyrdom, without any real appreciation of what severe pain or death means).
    Step three: this pent up and part imaginary conflict latches on to a tiny incident – such as the dress code/crucifix thing – which takes on symbolic weight and allows for some dramatic acting out of the heroic battle.

    To admit that there is no heroic battle is to acknowledge that a big part of the intense experience of faith (here in this context) is completely fabricated.

    I’m basing this on knowing someone who made a similar complaint about dress codes and a crucifix a few years ago. If I’m right, then healthcare and hygiene are equally irrelevant from the nurse’s perspective.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    This Indiana guy–obviously he’s talking about the Christian prayer, but which version? It can’t be both the Catholic one and the Protestant one.

  • SisterCoyote

    Exactly! This is the whole problem with a “Christian” nation – there’s no way to come up with a homogenized, sanitized, church that everyone agrees with. I mean, there must be damn near an infinity of jokes about how Protestant churches will fracture over just about anything (which annotated version of the KJV to use, paved parking lots vs. unpaved, instruments used in music vs. a capella,  sitting in two columns vs. sitting in one, using the 1904 hymnal vs. using an updated version…), so what solution could a government possibly come up with that wouldn’t be rank HERESY to half of not only all the Christians in America, but even half the Protestants, at least half the Evangelicals, and perhaps even half or more of the Baptists?

    And it just seems like anyone who actually cares about their personal faith would be pretty squicked out by a sanitized version of something that might possibly resemble it, being the “official” religion of their entire community.

  • http://sandhilldiary.wordpress.com/ C. (sandhilldiary)

    an infinity of jokes about how Protestant churches will fracture over just about anything (which annotated version of the KJV to use, paved parking lots vs. unpaved, instruments used in music vs. a capella,  sitting in two columns vs. sitting in one, using the 1904 hymnal vs. using an updated version…)

    See, there’s your problem: assuming that parking lots are canon.  All the Real True Believers know it’s all about on-street parking.  Heretic.

    (Excuse me while I go find a crowbar to get my tongue out of my cheek.) 

  • P J Evans

     singing vs no music at all, the laying-on of hands, the proper interpretation of a Bible verse….

  • fraser

     But most people who advocate a Christian nation assume it won’t be sanitized, it’ll be their personal faith, so no problem.

  • SisterCoyote

    That doesn’t seem any less squicky to me. I can understand wanting to just -convince- the world that your faith is valid; wanting to force the world to believe in your version of your God just seems evil and horrific.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     wanting to force the world to believe in your version of your God just seems evil and horrific.

    If your starting assumption is that everyone who doesn’t believe in your religion is going to hell, then ANY actions taken to force the unbelievers to convert is moral. 

    Yes, up to and including the use of the thumbscrews and rack.  After all, what’s a little pain now, compared to ETERNAL TORMENT?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    What if, on the other hand, you believed that your God was the embodiment of love? Is it evil and horrific even then?

  • Anton_Mates

    Ah, Dennis Kruse.  I’m not sure there’s another state lawmaker currently in office whose assaults on the Establishment clause are so wonderfully obvious.  The Discovery Institute spends over a decade and millions of dollars figuring out how to write creationist legislation that sortakinda doesn’t look like creationist legislation, with “intelligent design” and “alternate viewpoints” and “strengths and weaknesses” and “academic freedom” and “critical analysis,’ and Kruse just breezes past all of it and goes “Creation Science!  We Should Have That!  Jesus Bibles Yay!”

    His constituents love it, AFAIK.  He ran unopposed in 2010.

  • Lori

    It’s times like this that I’m reminded that the high water mark of the 2nd Klan was right here in Indiana.

    Between the (Bosses’) Right To Work (You To Death) law, Richard “God meant for you to have your rapist’s baby” Murdock, and Dennis “What Establishment Clause?” Kruse it seems the state is determined to recapture its former glory. 

  • LMM22

    Republican supermajority FTW!

    California may be able to dig itself (partially) out of its self-imposed decades-long decline, but Indiana’s going to be in a lot of agony for the next few years.

  • fraser

     Try Florida’s Dennis Baxley. He wants a bill that makes it illegal for college professors to tell a student they’re wrong–specifically, to prevent biology teachers correcting a creationist student, though Baxley admits it would allow a neo-Nazi to argue against the Holocaust’s existence without being corrected (“We shouldn’t be afraid of debate” is his position).

  • hidden_urchin

    He wants a bill that makes it illegal for college professors to tell a student they’re wrong…

    If that passes then I’m transferring to a universiy in Florida.  If a prof can’t tell a student zie is wrong then students can’t get a bad grade in the class.  (Seriously, how does Baxley expect students to be graded?  On showing up?)

  • Elizabeth Chandler

     And coloring inside the lines.

  • Lori

    Trigger warning: suicide

      Try Florida’s Dennis Baxley. He wants a bill that makes it illegal for
    college professors to tell a student they’re wrong–specifically, to
    prevent biology teachers correcting a creationist student  

    Ah yes, the old “everything will be OK as long as our kids never have to deal with any ideas that make them uncomfortable or of which we do not approve. That always works.

    This reminded me of a blog item I happened across a while back (the story is from 2009) about a father who blamed the suicide of his college-age son on the fact that one of his professors challenged him to read “The God Delusion.”

    http://rcmetcalf.wordpress.com/2009/03/28/dad-links-sons-suicide-to-the-god-delusion/

    There is so much wrong with that story and the way the father (and the blogger) are interpreting and reporting it and yet it’s exactly the kind of thing that can easily get people all worked up in favor of something like Baxley’s proposed rule.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Um … which Lord’s prayer?

    This one:

    Our Father, who may be female or generdless or polygendered or just plain multiple and who may or may not have a relationship with us and might not even exist at all, who art in heaven, by which we mean whereever her/she/it/they happens to be, or indeed not be since we’ve established that he/she/it/they might not exist in the first place.

    And in Latin:

    Pater noster, qui fortasse femineus es aut sine genere es aut multi genus aut etiam simpliciter multus et qui fortasse propinquitatem nobiscum habes nonve habes et forte in minimis etiam es, qui es in caelis per quod in aninmo habere ubicumque eum/eam/id/eos/eas/ea forte adesse, aut etiam non adesse cum probaverimus eum/eam/id/eos/eas/ea in primo forsitan non esse:

    Note that the links take you to the full versions.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    Re: Senator Kruse’s bill:

    This bill sounds like the kind of bill that Congressional staffers refer to as a “showboat.”  It’s a bill that has no chance whatsoever of passing and is only introduced to impress the voters back home.  Sure the bill will get blown out of the water in the first ten minutes of debate, but the politician who introduced it can go back to his/her home state or district and use it as an example of how hard he/she is working to promote a specific cause or agenda.

    The most blatant showboat I’ve ever seen was a bill introduced by a politician from one of the Southern states (Alabama, IIRC) that would forbid all public libraries in that state from carrying books written by gay authors.  Obviously, the bill was quickly defeated, but that politician could cite the failed bill as proof of his valiant struggle against the Great Gay Menace.

    Other examples include every bill that Michelle Bachman has every introduced.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Those are an interesting phenomenon. Many politicians (especially in the US House of Representatives, which has a remarkably low level of accountability for a variety of reasons) make their entire careers “showboating” — Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann are the readiest examples. They rarely/never spend any effort actually passing legislation. Their goal, rather, is to rack up votes for the reason you describe. They’ve realized that as long as they claim to have the right “stance” on a certain issue, that’s functionally the same as actually doing something about said issue. 

    The entire House GOP relies heavily on this, apparently — they’ve voted to repeal ‘Obamacare’ over 30 times since they took their seats after the last midterm. 

  • fraser

     There was Bobby Franklin in Georgia who wanted an investigation every time a woman reported a miscarriage.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    There was Bobby Franklin in Georgia who wanted an investigation every time a woman reported a miscarriage.

    Ah, that kind of icky man.  I always like to ask such men if they’re willing to take their idea to the logical conclusion, which is the monitoring and reporting of all menstrual cycles by all women.  After all, it is estimated that as many as 50% of all miscarriages occur before the woman even realizes she is pregnant.

  • JoshuaS

     Honestly, I suspect that if legislation like that were actually passed it would be carefully designed to ensure that only lower-income or non-white women really had to deal with. I find that most infringements on reproductive rights end up that way.

    If possible, the law is explicitly written to immunize the women in the ruling class. And if not possible, it’s implemented in such a way that it has the same effect; it’s kind of like countries that ban abortion, but don’t do anything to stop rich women from having their private doctors perform abortions on them or leaving the country to get abortions.

    You all already know this: the goal isn’t really to eliminate reproductive rights in their entirety, only to transform them into a special privilege to the wealthy, a boon to religious lobbyists, and a cudgel to keep the rest of the group in line. (After all, if a privileged person does ever step out of line you can easily hammer them with this and turn them into a scapegoat).

  • fraser

     I almost forgot, he also wanted all references in court cases and police records to “rape victim” changed to “rape accuser” until someone was convicted. You will be astonished to know he doesn’t think we need “theft accusers” “assault accusers” or “fraud accusers.”

  • http://twitter.com/Jenk3 Jen K

    There was Bobby Franklin in Georgia who wanted an investigation every time a woman reported a miscarriage.

    Ah, that kind of icky man. I always like to ask such men if they’re willing to take their idea to the logical conclusion, which is the monitoring and reporting of all menstrual cycles by all women.

    …and how does that work for women who aren’t regular?  Or women in their 40s who are irregular because they’re nearing menopause?  Icky indeed.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    As the point of such a law is really just to Put Women In Their Place, it works just fine. It’s confusing and contradictory and really just boils down to a license to harrass a woman at a whim (You can bet they’d just Conveniently Ignore the implication that they need ot inspect every uterus every month, except in cases where they had some other reason to want to invade a particular woman’s private life.), so, mission accomplished.

  • stardreamer42

    And, in the category “serendipity”, I just encountered this quotation from Tolkein’s essay “On Fairy Stories”:

    Fantasy is a natural human activity. It certainly does not destroy or
    even insult Reason; and it does not either blunt the appetite for, nor
    obscure the perception of, scientific verity. On the contrary. The
    keener and the clearer is the reason, the better fantasy will it make.
    If men were ever in a state in which they did not want to know or could
    not perceive truth (facts or evidence), then Fantasy would languish
    until they were cured. If they ever get into that state (it would not
    seem at all impossible), Fantasy will perish, and become Morbid
    Delusion.

    I think we’re there.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Days off.

    It would probably be ideal where possible for employees to decide for themselves which two days off per week they want, and then have that factored into the scheduling.

  • AnonymousSam

    I just wonder how long it’ll take until a pharmacist refuses to fill a prescription because they only believe in homeopathic remedies (or worse, switches medication on those grounds).

    Caveat, I’m a little irritated with this subject in general today, after seeing a particularly obnoxious repetitive commercial for an anti-nausea drug that I had to stop and have a look at its manufacturers to be sure they weren’t the same people who created Head-On. They weren’t, but their products are mostly homeopathic or generic homeopathic-like versions of existing products anyway (example, Arthriten, for arthritis, is actually acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine).

  • AnonymousSam

    The next Pixar hit? “Drag Racer, the story of anthropomorphized cars defying gender essentialism AND the speed limit.”

  • vsm

    Well, if they’re going to keep milking the Cars franchise ’til it’s dry, might as well do something interesting with it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Seeing as Pixar only just gave us its first female lead a few months ago, and given that in my experience people find it easier to accept a feminine-performing cis woman than a trans woman or a feminine-performing man…not holding my breath.

    It would be win, though.

  • EllieMurasaki
  • Carstonio

    The pilot for BBC’s Sherlock had an awkward conversation between the lead duo, where each insists that he’s not gay. It looked like a callback to how the original Doyle stories were interpreted. Loren Estleman insists that such readers “either are ignorant of the largely masculine character of late nineteenth-century English society or stubbornly refuse to accept Holmes’ much-discussed misogyny at face value.” I suspect the old phenomenon wasn’t about women fetishing gay men, or about gay men wanting these two respectable English heroes on their team, but about the homophobic version of Reds under the bed.

    I’ve read only Smallville fanfiction, and a common phenomenon in the opposite-sex stories is the couple being the writer’s ideal partner and an idealized version of hirself. But straight writers writing same-sex pairings seems more problematic to me, because of the temptation to turn both characters into fetishes. It might be different in a story with an ensemble cast that wasn’t about a specific couple.

  • vsm

    Did you watch the other episodes of Sherlock? They make such a big deal of the potential romance between Sherlock and John that if nothing comes out of it, lots of people are going to have a good reason to be unhappy. Even my homophobic mom sort of ships them.

    As for who gets to write slash, I’ve never really liked the idea that artists should only be allowed to write stories about people like themselves. It rather defeats the point of fiction and would result in even more scripts about sensitive guys listening to indie rock and having trouble with love. There are certainly issues to consider, however.

  • Carstonio

    So far I’ve only seen the first season of Sherlock. And my point wasn’t about artists writing only about people like themselves, but about their treatment of characters that the artist would find sexually attractive, and whether the artist is using these to realize hir own fantasties.

  • vsm

    I think artists being attracted to their own characters can come up in lots of different forms, though, not just when writing opposite-sex slash. It’s something one should be aware of, if only because it’s often awkward to read, but not really something that should stop one from writing. Besides, fanfiction is a gloriously low-stakes form. Even if you mess up horribly, it’s probably not going to be read by that many people, so it’s ideal for experimentation.

  • Carstonio

    While I don’t disagree, my point is really about writing to fulfill one’s fantasies or to gratify one’s ego like a Reginald Barclay holodeck program.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which…is one of the purposes of writing.

    Not usually a wise thing to do in writing one means other people to see, especially if it fucks up the depiction of a key subset of the people who would see it, but that’s one of the things writing is for.

  • Carstonio

    Suppose I started a story like this: “Carstonio was a god among men. His Herculean body was the object of desire for women everywhere, even the lesbians, and men burned in jealousy of his Benchleyesque wit.” Wouldn’t it be reasonable to conclude that I was writing with one hand on the keyboard and another hand under it? That I was living in my own little world where other people were merely characters to redefine according to my own agenda? That’s what both types of slash seem like to me.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Bzzt, overgeneralization.

  • Carstonio

     Not sure what you mean by overgeneralization. I wasn’t accusing every straight person who writes same-sex slash of fetishizing the other sex to stroke their own egos. I’m more concerned about the claim that creating ego-gratification fantasies like Barclay is a legitimate part of writing. It strikes me more as an avoidance of reality.

  • EllieMurasaki

    ‘Same-sex slash’? Paging the Department of Redundancy Department.

    And what the fuck is wrong with avoidance of reality? Like all things, it’s better in moderation, and like many things, it’s better restricted to oneself or a small group of consenting people, but what is actually wrong with it?

    (I don’t know who Barclay is either. Except for the bank issued one of my credit cards, but I don’t think that’s what you mean.)

  • Carstonio

    Is there an equivalent term for “slash” for opposite-sex pairings in fanfiction? I was inaccurately using the term to apply to both types of pairings.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Het.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Is there an equivalent term for “slash” for opposite-sex pairings in
    fanfiction? I was inaccurately using the term to apply to both types of
    pairings.

    “het”, usually.

  • AnonymousSam

    Hey, if you’d like to experience raw, unfiltered reality, I’d be happy to assist you in removing your natural dissociative defense mechanisms so you can experience unfettered awareness of the physical world. Just sign on this dotted line — what, the contract? Oh, it’s the standard medical/spiritual waiver.

    In all seriousness, fiction getting a person away from reality is a feature, not a bug, and I can’t recall the last time I saw someone claim it was an evil with which we should do away, but I remember very clearly that it either came from an android or a fundamentalist. Same thing, really.

  • EllieMurasaki

    (Who’s Benchley?)

  • Launcifer

    Firstly, obviously, I’m not Carstonio – so take this with the necessary bucketload of salt. Secondly, I’m assuming Robert Benchley, although there are a few trademarks of Peter Benchley (why, yes, I have read far too many of his novels for comfort, thank you) present, enough for me to hope that this was not the inteded reference.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Thanks, Launcifer.

    Oh for fuck’s sake, Fred, just ban Winston Blake already.

  • Amaryllis

    I realize it’s three days later, and the discussion has moved on.

    Writer’s Almanac poem for today made me laugh.

  • ReverendRef

     Wow.

  • Carstonio

    Here’s the Barclay reference:

    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Hollow_Pursuits_%28episode%29

    I should emphasize that my point is not about fantasy fiction in general. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the Harry Potter books or The Hobbit or Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero. Or the many science fiction books I’ve read. Rewriting reality to tell a good story or to make an allegorical point is a longstanding tradition in fiction. My beef is with using fantasy for ego gratification, where real people and groups are retconned solely to please or heroize the writer.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And we’re back to the overgeneralizing.

    Yes, some people who write, uh, anything involving people do so in a way that portrays some of those people differently from reality, or in a fetishized manner, or just plain wrong. Not everyone does. Stop conflating ‘particular genre of writing’ and ‘writing people wrong’.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    My beef is with using fantasy for ego gratification, where real people
    and groups are retconned solely to please or heroize the writer.

    So, OK.

    If I’ve understood you correctly, if I write a story in which Dave mysteriously appears  in the Oval Office in 2007 and takes over from Bush, Cheney, etc. and saves the day because Dave is just that awesome, you have a beef with that… and specifically, your beef is that this sort of fiction is intended for ego gratification and is an avoidance of reality, which is not a legitimate part of writing.

    Yes?

    If I’ve understood you correctly, I disagree with you.

  • Carstonio

    Maybe if your story also had me and Sgt. Pepper and Anonymous Sam singing ballads about your achievements, and Ellie and Amaryllis offering to bear your children…

    “Illegitimate” is not the word I would use. Perhaps “unhealthy”? The Barclay character created his hero fantasies to avoid dealing with his emotional problems in the real world, and this exacerbated his inability to relate to others. This sounds like a more advanced version of the type of personality who blames others for hir problems. Perhaps the person really believes that others exist for hir benefit.

  • AnonymousSam

    You’re not specifying any difference between dabbling, using in moderation and obsession. Where is the line drawn?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, how about you stop explaining to me the motivations of every single person in a subculture of which I am part.

    RIGHT THE FUCK NOW.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    “Illegitimate” is not the word I would use.

    Wait, what? You said initially “I’m more concerned about the claim that creating ego-gratification
    fantasies like Barclay is a legitimate part of writing. It strikes me
    more as an avoidance of reality.”

    It seems reasonable to me to infer from this that you believe such ego-gratification
    fantasies are not a legitimate part of writing.

    If you don’t believe that, as you imply here, I’m deeply confused.

    So let me try and rephrase my question to avoid this confusion, then.

    If I write a story in which Dave mysteriously appears  in the Oval
    Office in 2007 and takes over from Bush, Cheney, etc. and saves the day
    because Dave is just that awesome, do you have a beef with that? Do you think I ought not write that story? Do you think that my desire to write that story is symptomatic of something unhealthy? Do you think my actually writing the story is unhealthy (as opposed to symptomatic)?

    Or, if it’s different: if I write a story in which Dave is chatting on the slactivist web site and he awes Carstonio and Sgt. Pepper and Anonymous Sam into adulation of his rhetorical brilliance, do you have a beef with that? Do you think I ought not write that story?
    Do you think that my desire to write that story is symptomatic of something unhealthy? Do you think my actually writing the story is unhealthy (as opposed to symptomatic)?

    (Just to be clear: I’m fine with it if the answer to any or all of those questions is ‘yes’; you are not attacking me in any way by answering my questions, and I’m asking about me and nobody else.)

  • Carstonio

     It’s easier for me to answer your question if I put myself in your spot…if I found myself writing a story where the other characters were singing my praises, I would wonder if I was too dependent on external validation and lacked internal sources of validation and comfort. But then, I question my impulses and fleeting thoughts on a fairly regular basis, wondering what these say about my personality and character.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Hey, I’m all in favor of wondering. Wondering is great. I wonder all kinds of things.

    For example, if I somehow knew that you were writing a story in which Dave was singing Carstonio’s praises, I would wonder (among many other things) whether perhaps I was being overly critical of you in real life. I would wonder (among many other things) whether I’m actually in the habit of singing people’s praises here and just didn’t notice. I would wonder (among many other things) whether perhaps you have a crush on me. I would wonder lots of things. And, sure, I might wonder (among many other things) if you are too dependent on external validation and lack internal sources of validation and comfort.

    That said, if my wondering progressed to the point where I began to seriously consider any or all of those as likely hypotheses, I would ask myself whether I actually had evidence of them being true.

    When you started out, I got the impression that you believed that writing such a story was evidence of of some sort of unhealthy state, but I wasn’t sure, so I tried to clarify.

    I’m still less sure now.

    This is perhaps unsurprising, since you’re at the same time being yelled at by others for expressing related beliefs.  In your place that would certainly make me unwilling to answer any questions if the answer might upset those people. Then again, perhaps you possess sufficient internal sources of validation and comfort that you don’t have that difficulty.

    Anyway, I’m happy to drop the subject here, or you can reply to me privately if you prefer.

  • Carstonio

     

    I would wonder (among many other things) whether perhaps I was being
    overly critical of you in real life. I would wonder (among many other
    things) whether I’m actually in the habit of singing people’s praises
    here and just didn’t notice.

    I had to read that twice because it didn’t seem real. In both types of stories (me singing your praises and you singing my praises), I would wonder first and foremost if the problem was with me. It didn’t occur to me that anyone else might see hirself as overly critical of me.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Let me echo that back to you to see if I got it, because the pronouns confused me.

    If you fantasized about me singing your praises, you would wonder first and foremost if you were too dependent on external validation and lacked internal sources of validation and comfort.

    And if you fantasized about singing my praises, you would wonder first and foremost if you were too dependent on
    external validation and lacked internal sources of validation and
    comfort.

    And if, upon discovering you fantasized about me singing your praises, I wondered whether I was being too critical of you, you would find that puzzling.

    Did I parse that correctly?

  • Carstonio

    If you fantasized about me singing your praises, you would wonder
    first and foremost if you were too dependent on external validation and
    lacked internal sources of validation and comfort.

    Yes.

    And if you fantasized about singing my praises, you would wonder first and foremost if you were too dependent on external validation and lacked internal sources of validation and comfort.

    No. I would wonder first and foremost if I was being too critical of you or if I was denying you validation. The key is I focus first on what I might be doing wrong, not on what someone else might be doing wrong. That’s why I would be puzzled if you questioned your level of criticism, because that would imply that undeserved criticism of me was a real thing and not something I would hope exists.

  • Greenygal

    Er, I’ve seen “Hollow Pursuits,” and that’s a very extreme comparison you’re making there.  You’re comparing all slash fanfiction (or possibly all fanfic that involves romantic relationships; I’m not sure which one you meant) to fantasies in which specific real people that the fantasizer knows are portrayed as either brainless romantic objects for the fantasizer or incompetent fools that the fantasizer can triumph over.   Which, yeah, is all kinds of overgeneralization.

  • Carstonio

     

    You’re comparing all slash fanfiction (or possibly all fanfic that
    involves romantic relationships; I’m not sure which one you meant)

    I was referring specifically to same-sex pairings in fanfiction where the writer is of the other sex, and where the stories focus primarily on the sex and not on the relationship. That is what seems most like Hollow Pursuits to me, again because of the great potential for viewing an entire category of people as sex toys. (A “bumper” that aired on a local FM rock outlet: “The station that supports gay marriage…as long as both chicks are hot!”)

    Somewhat less hincky is a specific type of opposite-sex fanfiction where the writer places hirself as one member of the couple and the other as hir ideal mate.  To clarify, I’m not slamming both broad categories of fanfiction – although the relationship stories aren’t my taste, I can appreciate the ones where a character isn’t an author avatar.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Objecting to things which actually do view people as sex toys: good.

    Objecting to categories of things where some members of the category do that and some don’t, on the grounds of the category’s potential to do that: fuck off. And also assure us that you’re trying to shut down the whole porn industry. (You’d still be wrong if you are, but at least you wouldn’t be targeting erotic fiction, primarily produced and consumed by women, and not erotic video, primarily produced and consumed by men.) But mostly fuck off.

  • Carstonio

    My apologies.

    I suppose it comes down to this – if a straight man walked up to a lesbian couple and asked if he could watch them have sex because it turns him on, they would rightly condemn him as an asshole. I don’t understand why the man would be less of an asshole if he took his cartoonish ideas about lesbians and turned them into stories to wank to. While the former is worse in its treatment of people, both seem repulsive to me. What am I missing?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Do you also object to fiction depicting rape, even though no actual people have been raped in the process of writing or reading the story?

  • Carstonio

     Excellent question. I would object only if the story appeared to condone or endorse rape, or if the writer was fantasizing about raping people. That’s a subject where even more care should be taken with the context. Some years ago, there was a trend in TV crime dramas where female officers were victimized that way by gangs. While I can understand the desire to increase awareness of vulnerability to rape, it eventually became a storytelling crutch, just another version of the old cliché of women in jeopardy being rescued by male heroes.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m with you on the fiction depicting rape in a manner that condones or endorses it, but now I’m wondering if it’s possible to write fiction exploring a sexual fantasy that you don’t object to on the grounds that it’s sexual fantasy.

  • Carstonio

    It would be more accurate to say that certain aspects of sexual fantasy seem creepy to me even when they don’t involve rape.

    If I were a female celebrity and I read about millions of men on the Internet searching for nude photos of me, I might feel incredibly self-conscious, even experiencing trepidation about leaving my house. Especially if I were a newly matured actress like Emma Watson – after seeing the Potter movies, the attention she’s getting is like listening to someone make rude comments about my sister or cousin.

    Or I were a woman in a workplace and I found out somehow that a couple of male co-workers regularly pleasured themselves while thinking of me, I wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting next to them in meetings.

    But since I’m a man, it’s fair to ask how I would feel if I found out that a couple of female co-workers were doing that. I don’t have an answer.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The problem there isn’t the fantasies themselves. The problem is that the fantasies are not being restricted to the fantasizer or to a small group of people who are consenting to hear the fantasies. Yeah, I’d find it creepy if I knew that the guy in the next cubicle masturbates to thoughts of me. But I’m not supposed to know that he does, whether he does or not.

    There’s a reason why fandom considers it over the line to send fanfic about a character to that character’s actor, and way over the line if the fanfic is sexually explicit, but perfectly acceptable to write and post the fanfic.

  • Carstonio

    While I agree in principle, my scenario didn’t have the co-workers deliberately telling their fantasy to me. It would probably involve some means of finding out by accident and they wouldn’t know that I knew. 

    And yes, that’s an excellent principle for fandom to follow. If I were in the actor’s place, I might feel I was expected to trust the fandom community to police itself, a level of trust I might not possess. That has nothing to do with fandom, since I’ve written a couple of pieces of Smallville fanfiction myself. In many situations I tend to focus on possible negative outcomes, and I don’t pretend that’s healthy, but I can imagine being worried about stalkers if I were an actor.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    While the former is worse in its treatment of people, both seem repulsive to me. What am I missing?

    For my part, you’re free to be repulsed by whatever repulses you, so in that sense you may not be missing anything. I’m repulsed by all kinds of things, including certain certain cuisines, hobbies, and sexual practices that mutually consenting and fully informed adults choose to engage in. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    OTOH, it doesn’t follow from the fact that I’m repulsed by it that there’s anything wrong with the people doing it, either.

    The question of to what extent writing a story in which a character-like-me does something is subject to the same kinds of principles of informed consent that, say, having sex with me is, or that asking if you can watch me having sex is an interesting one, I’ll admit.

    But it’s a very different question from whether doing those things is unhealthy.

    My answer to the consent question, BTW, is roughly that it depends on the cultural context around my writing that story. A little more precisely, it depends on how broadly instantiated the cultural tropes that the story reinforces are, and on what the consequences of those tropes are, and on how much the story is going to reinforce those tropes.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh. We’re not having the discussion I thought we were having.

    Carstonio, let me share a bit of wisdom that I learned from participation in fandom.

    Your kink is not my kink. Your squick is not my squick. No more are my kinks and squicks yours.

    And that’s okay.

    You seem to be squicked by the whole concept of sexual fantasy. That’s entirely your right and prerogative and no one’s business but yours. I should not be trying to talk you out of it, which I’ve been doing, and for which I apologize.

    But you don’t get to try to talk me out of my kinks, either.

    What consenting people do with and to each other is nobody’s business but their own, and fictional characters don’t get a say. And all participants in sexual fantasy, excepting the fantasizer if applicable, are fictional characters, even when looking and acting like real people the fantasizer knows. Unless it’s a physical sex scene acting out a fantasy, but that’s not quite the same thing.

    (Also, the time to discover that whips and chains don’t excite you is not when you’re being chained and whipped.)

    I’m out of this discussion.

  • Carstonio

     

    And all participants in sexual fantasy, excepting the fantasizer if
    applicable, are fictional characters, even when looking and acting like
    real people the fantasizer knows.

    I disagree somewhat. Hypothetically, if I were fantasizing about you, and you found out through means beyond my control, you would have a right to feel squicked out. The argument you’re using could easily be interpreted to mean that you wouldn’t have a right to feel that way, although that’s obviously not what you’re arguing. The odds are probably very low that someone who fantasizes about me won’t take the next step and put the actual me in the fantasy, but that doesn’t change the squick for me.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I lied, I’m not done, I have to clarify this point first.

    If you were fantasizing about me, it wouldn’t be the actual me. It would be a fictional person you created with various characteristics in common with me. A character who behaves as the fantasy demands, rather than how I would actually behave. If I had a share in building the fantasy, it might be the actual me in the fantasy as much as the fantasy contains the actual you, but depending on the parameters of the fantasy it might not be the actual either of us. If I don’t have that share in building the fantasy, then the fantasy’s none of my business unless you choose to share it and I consent to it being shared with me, or unless you forcibly share it with me in which case you’re way over the line.

    And yeah, I’d have the right to be squicked by the existence of a fictional me participating in somebody else’s sexual fantasy. But I don’t get to say your kink being my squick makes your kink not okay.

  • Carstonio

    I edited my earlier post to clarify that being in someone’s sexual fantasy might make me feel afraid and vulnerable, not merely squicked out. Obviously I wouldn’t expect the person to know this without being told. But I’ve been on the opposite end – I’m tall and I walk fast, and I felt horrible recently when I was told that some pe0ple find this intimidating. Does the possibility occur to some fantasizers that some subjects might find it intimidating?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sorry, missed that. Damn Disqus anyway.

    I haven’t seen anybody say that it has. Which does not of course mean that it hasn’t.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    If I don’t have that share in building the fantasy, then the fantasy’s none of my business unless you choose to share it and I consent to it being shared with me, or unless you forcibly share it with me

    I would add to this that someone’s fantasy can also be my business if it has knock-on effects that affect me.

    For example, if someone writes a fantasy about me, and shares it with other people in my community, and as a consequence of that the way other people see me and interact with me changes, that might create problems for me even if they never share the fantasy with me directly. I might never find out what the cause of those problems was, but they would make my life worse just the same.

    And no, that behavior is not OK in that situation, although admittedly it’s not always obvious what the situation is (or will become) and it’s possible to make well-intentioned mistakes.

  • AnonymousSam

    I can’t think of any reasonable guidelines for how to prevent incidents of a more serious nature from occurring. If a person decides to write a violent rape fantasy about a popular actress and host it himself and said actress stumbles upon it and is psychologically harmed by what she reads, is there anything that can be done?

  • EllieMurasaki

    That situation shouldn’t ever arise, because all such stories should be clearly labeled either ‘here be a list of dragons’ or ‘caveat lector’ (the dragons in your example being rape and violence, but there’s lots and lots of dragons). If it is not so labeled, the author’s to blame for any harm that results, though the reader really hasn’t any way of seeking recompense.

  • AnonymousSam

    At the very least, it’d be nice to be able to pursue the writer for willful negligence leading to the harm of another, but I don’t think it’d fly. I can somewhat sympathize with being uncomfortable with something being written about one’s self, though — part of the reason for my anonymity is because I have been involved in the production of something which, if not recognized by anyone here, does have a following. I admit, for a few months when it was finished, I was afraid to check fanfiction websites to see if my likeness had been turned into badly written porny fantasies for public consumption. I’m still not 100% sure it hasn’t somewhere, but I kinda sort of don’t want to dig that deeply, you know.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake
  • vsm

    I think a good guideline would be to not look up fanfiction of yourself, and in case that fails, not reading fanfiction of yourself. Compared to all the real life harassment from paparazzi and what have you popular actors face, having a relatively peaceful time on the Internet shouldn’t be very difficult for them.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake

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