1 year ago: There’s a pattern here

June 14, 2012, on this blog: There’s a pattern here

Let’s be clear: These guys are all whackjobs and they in no way represent the official views of the Republican Party or of the majority of Republicans. Whackjobs aren’t rational creatures, and they can choose to attach themselves to any larger institution whether or not that institution welcomes them.

Yet there’s a clear pattern apparent to anyone who looks at this particular form of racist whackjobbery: These guys all consider themselves Republicans.

Why would this be? Why are racists — outright, proud, explicit racists — attracted to the Republican Party? These guys sound like President Andrew Johnson, yet they’re not drawn to Johnson’s party, the Democrats. They are, instead, drawn to the part of Lincoln. The Republican Party condemns their views, explicitly and consistently, yet they remain convinced that, despite such official pronouncements, it reciprocates their affection.

Why?

 

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  • Carstonio

    An appropriate reprint. One year later, the GOP continues to say it needs to appeal to women and Hispanics and young people in order to survive, but does everything it can to repulse those groups. Its officeholders still claim that pregnancy from rape is almost nonexistent, and they threaten to block immigration reform unless protections for LGBT couples are dropped.

  • aunursa

    The Republicans need to do a better job of appealing to single women. Obama won single women by 67%-31%. Romney won married women by 53%-46%, which was actually an improvement over McCain (51%-47%).

    And married men chose Romney by a 22% margin, while single men chose Obama by a 16% margin. So the telling demographic characteristic is not gender, but marital status.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, when married women and married men go for the same candidate at similar margins (7 percent and 22 percent are not comparable margins) and when single women and single men go for the same candidate at similar margins (36 percent and 16 percent are not comparable margins), I’ll believe gender has nothing to do with it.

  • aunursa

    I did not say that gender has nothing to do with voting patterns.

  • EllieMurasaki

    “So the telling demographic characteristic is not gender, but marital status.” –aunursa, “an hour ago”

  • aunursa

    That’s correct. That doesn’t mean that one’s gender has nothing to do with one’s voting pattern. Both gender and marital status affect voting habits.

    But marital status has a greater effect than gender.

    EDIT: Perhaps I should say “correlation” rather than “effect.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    What you’re saying now doesn’t mean the same thing as what you were saying an hour ago. It isn’t a clarification, it’s a completely different thing.

  • dpolicar

    By your estimate, how much of the variance in voting patterns is accounted for by marital status, and how much by gender?

    Or, if this is easier, what do you estimate the ratio of those numbers to be?

  • Carstonio

    It would be useful to break down the numbers further. Perhaps married women are more likely to oppose legal abortion and access to contraception.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I think older women are more likely to vote along different lines. And I think that is all this is. Women in their 20s are less likely to be married than women in their 50s.

  • Carstonio

    (TW: rape)

    That disparity highlights a huge feature of the party’s social agenda. The aging white evangelicals who now dominate the base believe that women should be either married or celibate. These folks are about shaming women who want to have sex without being mothers.

    I don’t know if the Democrats support freedom for women to make their own marital, sexual and reproductive decisions, but that’s damn well my own stance.

    I would have thought that married women would be just as repulsed by the slut-shaming. But data on rape trials reveals that women on juries are more likely, not less, to believe that the victim provoked her attacker. It’s probably a form of denial, a refusal to accept their own vulnerability to rape. Some lower-level version of that mentality might be going on with many married women who vote Republican.

  • Ben English

    There’s generally a lot of internalized misogyny involved here too. Depending on circumstances, upbringing, religious views, etc, even younger women can have regressive views on women’s sexuality and reproductive health, especially slut shaming and victim blaming.

  • Lori

    I suspect that Romney’s relative success with married women is less a reflection of married women’s feelings about the GOP than it is a result of the GOTV characteristics of the Romney campaign. IOW, the fact that the Mormon guy did well with the married women who turned out to vote is not that much of a surprise.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I suspect it’s just age. Older women are more likely to be conservative, and older women are more likely to be married. I want to see an age breakdown there alongside the “marriage” breakdown.

  • Lori

    Age is a major factor, if not the factor, in GOP voting in general. That doesn’t explain why Romney did better with married women than McCain did. I suspect that’s down to differences in the composition of the electorate.

  • FearlessSon

    The Republicans need to do a better job of appealing to single women.

    I would concur with that assessment. I suspect that quite a lot of the “war on women” thing was responsible for pushing more than one (especially single) woman away from the Republican party. Just to be clear, I do not believe that the whole anti-contraception or even necessarily anti-abortion furor is part of the party platform on a national level, but it is part of the platform of the religious right that has come to occupy a significant portion of the Republican voting base. It is why you see most of the attempts to crack down on family planning for women happen in lots of simultaneous local attempts rather than being something nation-wide, and thanks to that base’s disproportionate influence on the rest of the party it ends up tarring any national candidates with the need to associate with them.

    It is, as Fred noted, a pattern though, but I suspect that this is a bit of a mutually disadvantageous one. The party cannot outreach to women on issues like birth control without alienating the religious base, and if the religious base is alienated the Republican party loses a significant chunk of its reliable votes. On the other hand, the religious base is shrinking, and is no longer enough to propel them to victory on a national level without some kind of big-tent appeal, yet that base itself shrinks the tent just by being in it. The party is in a bit of a demographic bind.

  • Carstonio

    I’m expecting that divide to reach critical mass by 2016, with the party unable to unite behind a single ticket, The GOP might break apart into two smaller parties, one backing Christie and the other backing Ryan.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    The GOP will not break up until they win. As long as the Democrats are in power, they’ll hold their noses and vote for whichever old white plutocrat they put up, no matter how far over the line of sanity they are, because the alternative is a democrat winning.

    That’s the way it works. The party doesn’t split because it’s in trouble, it splits because it wins. If the GOP ever succeeds in gerrymandering and vote-suppressing themselves into that permanent majority they’re angling for, that’s when we’ll see a schism, and the GOP will break into a center-right party and a far-right party.

    (Contrariwise, if the GOP finally collapses and ceases to be a viable option, you’ll promptly see the Democratic party split into a center-right party and a center-left party. And if this cycle repeats about a dozen times, we’ll eventually get ourselves a proper left-wing.)

  • Carstonio

    Party breakups and realignments have historically originated with divisive issues like slavery and civil rights. More Republicans are coming around on same-sex marriage, folks like Jon Huntsman and Tom Ridge, and that issue could conceivably split the party as public opinion changes.

  • P J Evans

    Actually, I think it is part of their official platform, as well as their actual platform. Otherwise they wouldn’t keep pushing it all over the country.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Quotes from http://www.gop.com/2012-republican-platform_home/, parentheticals my comments:

    The most offensive instance of this war on religion has been the current Administration’s attempt to compel faith-related institutions, as well as believing individuals, to contravene their deeply held religious, moral, or ethical beliefs regarding health services, traditional marriage, or abortion.

    We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.
    (Ctrl-F in the PDF for that second section, there’s a lot more after it.) We oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion and contraception.

    (Women are mentioned in the platform only in context of abortion, military service, “committed men and women of charity”, and these two bits:)

    Under our Constitution, treaties become the law of the land. So it is all the more important that the Congress—the Senate through its ratifying power and the House through its appropriating power—shall reject agreements whose long-range impact on the American family is ominous or unclear. These include the U.N. Convention on Women’s Rights […]

    We will use the full force of the law against those who engage in modern-day forms of slavery, including the commercial sexual exploitation of children and the forced labor of men, women, and children.

    (Yes, the War on Women is part of the Republican platform.)

  • FearlessSon

    In that case, whoever wrote that into the party platform needs to be dragged onto stage and furiously beaten during the next voter’s convention.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Your continued insistence on using violence to counter violence, when nonviolent protest is both more effective and more ethical, continues to disturb me.

  • FearlessSon

    In this context, I question if it is really more effective. Dealing with bullies has taught me that they equate an unwillingness to engage in direct action to be weakness that they can exploit. Conversely, moving swiftly and decisively against them causes them to back off and recoil.

    Allowing the bullying to continue causes more suffering. Moving directly to counter that bullying and shut it down as quickly as possible results in less. Of course the target of the direct action suffers, but what is their brief suffering measured against the extended suffering they inflict on several times their number?

  • EllieMurasaki

    ‘Direct’ and ‘violent’ are not the same thing.

  • Dan Hetrick

    Non-violence is not always the best option, though I agree with you, it is most of the time. Sometimes your opponent does not listen to reason, and will not fall to social pressures. Sometimes, you must strike, in order to defend yourself or to defend those weaker than you, or to defend those who are the same as you.

  • Ben English

    Saying the Republican party needs to do a better job at appealing to single women is like saying Dionaea muscipula needs to do a better job of appealing to bugs.

    The GOP needs to stop supporting misogynist groups, running misogynist candidates, and enacting policy that negatively affects women.

  • http://wayofcats.com/blog?dqs WereBear

    You are correct. But it is not going to happen.

    Bringing evangelicals into the Republican party, and tailoring party platforms to keep them there, was a Devil’s bargain. Because evangelicals are utterly opposed to Women’s Liberation and all it stands for; including how it also liberates minorities of religion, skin color, ethnic origin, and/or sexual orientation.

    Basically, they are all about the hippie-punching. And now that being environmentally conscious, caring about equality of everyone, and tolerating all kinds of religious beliefs has become mainstream… they have nowhere to go and no one to take with them.

  • Hexep

    Ahh, American politics are so much fun. Maybe one day I’ll get to vote in an election…

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    The Republicans haven’t always been dominated by religious loons. However, since the civil rights legislation in the 60’s (which ushered in a second wave of Reconstruction) racist loons have been drawn to that party.

  • Ben English

    On the bright side, that bullshit will be untenable in a few years because of shifting demographics.

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

    they in no way represent the official views of the Republican Party or of the majority of Republicans.

    Sure. Uh-huh. Oh yeah.

    The Republican hierarchy does so much winking and nudging in the speechifying by the likes of Romney, Hastert, Frist, you name it. They talk about “tough love”(!), “failed inner-city schools”(@), “thugs in rap music”(#), “welfare mooches”(%), “deadbeat dads”(*) and all those other phrases spoken by a bunch of white guys who are all but announcing that if you’re not a white guy, don’t even bother trying to fit in ’cause you ain’t gonna.

    —-
    (!) By which of course they intend to exemplify the strict-daddy portrayal of government, even though they probably personally called the chief of police when their kid got busted with a DUI.

    (@) By which they mean purposely underfunded schools which resort to Herculean efforts to keep their kids at the top of standardized test score groupings to secure what piddly extra funding comes from the metrics involved.

    (#) Because nothing says racism like calling out the differences between the way black and white people speak and sing in the USA, and using those differences to make black people look stupid.

    (%) Always such a wonderful crabs-in-a-bucket classic. Get the poor whiteys angry at the wrong people, because it’s easier to make someone mad at one person apparently grabbing an extra few hundred bucks a month than at some faceless CEO whose tax dodges got the company a refund and him, an extra few million when he exercised his stock options.

    (*) by which of course they mean those dark-skinned no-good folks, not a rich white guy who hides as many of his assets as he can to avoid making child support payments to his ex-wife.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    Get the poor whiteys angry at the wrong people, because it’s easier to
    make someone mad at one person apparently grabbing an extra few hundred
    bucks a month and is probably still having trouble making ends meet despite the extra cash than at some faceless CEO whose tax dodges got the company
    a refund and him, an extra few million when he exercised his stock
    options.

    I added a part in bold. Hope you don’t mind.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Yeah, Fred’s doing his being extra-nice thing. So extra-nice that he ends up just plain wrong. The Republican Party is racist, it uses racist dog-whistles, and it caters to racist people.

  • Ben English

    There are degrees of racist less than literal Nazi. The Republican Party is racist, but the average Republican still finds the views of skinheads and Nazis disgusting.

  • Alicia

    True, but in general if you’re a human being you should really set your aspirations better than, “Okay, I’m not a Nazi..

    That’s like saying your football team is better than the Cleveland Browns. That should just go without saying and pointing out makes me wonder.

  • Ben English

    True, but a lot of racism among Republican voters (or Democratic for that matter) is based less on racial animus and white supremacy and more on privilege blindness and cultural prejudice. That distinction doesn’t matter on the national policy level, but it matters when confronting racism in other contexts.Too many people think racism is just base hatred or delusions of racial superiority. Hence the “I’m not racist, I have black friends” or “there’s a difference between black people and n—–ers” nonsense. As a stupid teenager, I looked at affirmative action and said “That’s stupid, I don’t get special treatment for being white, how is that fair?”

    I didn’t think black people were coming to take my women or shoot up my neighborhood. I just didn’t see all the ways in which being white is life on easy mode.

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

    Oh yeah, that hairsplitting about how “YOU are totally not a n-word, because YOU are one of those nice black people” – ugh. The unstated assumption that you have to conform to a white way of thinking and acting to get anywhere is a very pernicious one.

    Honestly though, the way black people speak is far more expressive, IMV, because there are just some thing you canNOT express properly without using AAVE.

  • Dan Hetrick

    I absolutely agree with you. I was raised in Detroit, and didn’t really learn to speak “white people English” until I was in my late teens. Even now, I “screw up” now and again and express myself in AAVE. It just makes so much more sense to me, and is so much more expressive than “normal” English that it just makes sense.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Teenage boys also think rape is a terrible crime, but sexing a girl who’s passed out on the couch is perfectly acceptable.

  • drkrick

    There’s a difference between spoken and unspoken agendas. Google Harry Dent and Southern Strategy. The GOP made a conscious strategic decision starting in the late 1960’s to go after the segregationist voting bloc the Dems had alienated when they wholeheartedly embraced the cause of full civil rights for African Americans earlier in the decade. Ronald Reagan’s decision to start his post-nomination 1980 campaign with a “state’s rights” speech in Philadelphia, MS, the site of one of the pivotal atrocities of the resistance to the civil rights movement, was a less than cleverly disguised dog whistle to the same bloc, but hardly the last.

  • stardreamer42

    Why? The answer is stunningly clear: the whackjobs don’t look at what the Republicans SAY, they look at what the Republicans DO. Every item listed in one of Fred’s “Republicans continue their outreach to women, gays, and minorities” roundups tells the whackjobs that this party welcomes them. The goody-goody pronouncements don’t even register as anything but MWA MWA MWA.

  • http://www.ghiapet.net/ Randy Owens

    Is “MWA” an acronym, or onomatopoeia for that Peanuts adult-talking noise, or something other?

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

    Probably the Peanuts-style onomatopoeia. It always sounded like BLOBOBLOBLOBLOB to me.

  • http://www.ghiapet.net/ Randy Owens

    On the other hand, as an acronym, the first two letters could easily stand for “Male White”. Couldn’t figure anything for the “A”, though.

  • JustoneK

    Asshole?

  • stardreamer42

    The latter. I’d just read a comment somewhere else that used it, so it was at the top of my mind.

  • FearlessSon

    One of the things I have observed about whackjobs (of any kind and affiliation) is that they tend to believe that they are just speaking the truth to what “everyone knows” but are too polite to say. I suspect that this is because they tend to associate primarily with other whackjobs, and the echo chamber makes them think that their views are more mainstream and generally acceptable than they actually are.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Look, there are basically only two parties in the US: Republican and Democrat. The Democrats are widely seen as the “black” party (every member of the Congressional Black Caucus is Democrat and Blacks vote Democrat in margins upward of 90%). So if you are a racist, which party are you going to join?

    It doesn’t matter WHAT the Republicans believe or say. Racists who want a political affiliation have nowhere else to go. But Condolezza Rice, Clarance Thomas and others might disagree with them were they ever to meet. And the fact that these people are much more prominent than the racists should tell you something about where the Republicans actually stand.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Had it occurred to you at any point that black folk vote overwhelmingly Democratic because the other choice is to vote anti-black racist?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    No, I think Blacks overwhelmingly vote Democrat because they’ve been socialized to do so–against their own interests. Looking at the Black unemployment rate, Obama has done more to hurt blacks than George Wallace ever did.

    If Blacks are voting themselves out of work in the belief that Republicans are racist, than they are sadly misinformed. And they are suffering the consequences of their misapprehension.

  • EllieMurasaki

    …what in hell world do you live in? ‘Cause it looks nothing like reality.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Is that the most intelligent response you can come up with? I mean, honestly, “He’s a conservative so derp derp.”

    I live in the same World you do. Do you dispute the unemployment numbers? Do you dispute that Republicans have chosen blacks for Secretary of State and the Supreme Court?

    What World do you live in? One where liberal policies work, I suppose…

  • EllieMurasaki

    I live in a world where the economic downturn and housing collapse–a grand-scale theft of wealth from the black community, among other things–happened under the Bush administration, was the fault of the Bush administration and their Wall Street buddies, and shouldn’t be blamed on Obama just because he hasn’t fixed it yet. (Obama does get blame for not fixing it yet, since he’s had years, but it’s not his fault it happened to begin with.) I live in a world where Republicans use racist dogwhistles (and sometimes not even dogwhistles–I direct your attention to “blah people”) and Democrats don’t. I live in a world where maintaining the conservative approach to many things–climate change, capitalism’s need for infinite growth in a world with finite resources, etc–is going to send us into a downturn we can’t get out of, if it hasn’t already. I live in a world where being progressive (note, not ‘liberal’, ‘liberal’ is the moderate position) on many things–civil rights for women,
    the monetarily underprivileged, and minorities of all shapes and colors, etc–is the only ethical position.

    What world do you live in?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    The housing collapse and economic disruption was a direct result of policies initiated under the Clinton Administration and the mismanagement of Fannie and Freddie Mac which Barney Frank and Chris Dodd can mostly take credit for. The Bush Administration tried to make some corrections and were soundly rebuffed by the Democrats in Congress. And criticizing Bush for having “Wall Street buddies” is rich, when Obama’s entire first term economic staff came straight from Goldman Sachs. Obama has had an entire first term to show that he knows what he is doing and can fix this. He hasn’t fixed it, he doesn’t know what he is doing, and it is clearly his fault by now. Obama and his supporters will be happliy blaming Bush in 2016. That doesn’t show much sense of responsibility.

    Democrats must be dogs, since they seem much better at hearing alleged “dog whistles” than actual Republicans can. I’ve heard people criticized for using “racist” terms like “clean” or “skinny”.

    We clearly disagree on what is ethical and decent. But claiming that your opponent’s position is UNethical and INdecent is how we got into the IRS mess and other situations where people felt that doing evil things was fine, since the Conservative victims were all just a bunch of evildoers anyway. I soundly reject that canard and the reasoning behind it. And I reject the notion that Republican policies are inherently bad for women, minorities and anyone else. I am highly suspicious of people who want to run my life with my best interests at heart.

    That’s my World. I call it “reality”.

  • EllieMurasaki

    That comment deserves a longer rebuttal than I am capable of giving at the moment, so I’ll focus on I reject the notion that Republican policies are inherently bad for women in conjunction with I am highly suspicious of people who want to run my life with my best interests at heart.

    Republicans are trying to overturn Roe and reinstate laws against abortion at any point in pregnancy. In the meantime, they’re trying to make abortion and contraception as hard as possible to obtain. This has had the effect of making a great many women mothers (or mothers again), against their will, and generally when their financial circumstances do not permit an additional child without strain if not outright catastrophe. Is this not an example of Republicans trying to run women’s lives? If not, how not?

    And pre-Roe, women in the US died of illegal abortion all the time. Post-Roe, not so much.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Abortion is a complicated and sensitive topic. You can legitimately oppose it on religious grounds, on the grounds that it is a form of legalized infanticide or just on general principle. Of course, there are reasons to support it as well, which is why it is controversial. The proper thing to do in a democracy would be to let people decide by a vote. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court short-circuited that option, which is why it has been a political bomb ever since.

    Personally, I think Republicans would be happy not so much banning abortion, but simply letting people decide democratically whether they want to permit it or not. The opposing, un-democratic position, which is to insist that it be legal no matter what, is popular with feminists, but not so much with the general public or even all women.

    I think Democrats realize that their position on this is neither as popular nor as secure as they might wish, so they cling to Roe, and try to cut off any debate on the topic.

    But going further, women have many other concerns besides abortion. Getting a good job, making ends meet, having a secure marriage, getting a good education for their children–all of these are legitimate concerns that far outweigh abortion to many women. And the Republicans have better answers to all of them than the Democrats do.

    You apparently think that your single issue “Democrats are pro-Choice!” is enough to close the debate and win the argument. The fact that you seem to believe this ,simply shows how out of touch with reality you really are.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You can legitimately oppose it on religious grounds. You can not legitimately oppose it on the grounds that “it is a form of infanticide” because it is not. That is a matter of objective medical, legal and scientific fact, and not a matter of opinion. Therefore, by its very definition, opposing it on those grounds if illegitimate, just as it is defintionally illegitimate to oppose hormonal birth control on the basis that it is abortifacient, or to oppose the drinking of milk because milk weakens teeth.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    You apparently know something about human biology that I do not. Because it is my impression that an unaborted pregnancy results in a baby. So killing that baby prior to birth means that a baby died which is infanticide to many people–yourself apparently not included.

    If you choose to regard this position as illegitimate, than that is your right. But you can’t simply dismiss it with a handwave and pretend that there is no rational basis for it.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    And yet, you conceded my point without even realizing it. You said “an unaborted pregnancy results in a baby.” Results. If the pregancy is aborted, the baby does not result. There is no baby until the pregnancy completes, because the baby is the result of the pregnacy. You can not commit infanticide on an infant that does not yet exist. The termination of a fetus as a result of abortion can no more be “infanticide” than the death of an 80 year old man could be: The fetus isn’t an infant. The 80 year old man isn’t an infant. No infant, therefore no infanticide. If you belive that abortion is a form of infanticide, you are rejecting very straightforward logic in favor of what is patently a logical impossibility.
    The thing you’re doing is literally the exact polar opposite of a “rational basis”.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Alas, your argument proves too much. By your reasoning, if I perform an abortion on the 279th day of a pregnancy, it is no problem. The baby hasn’t been born, so nothing was lost. Even the Roe court didn’t go that far, and I think very few people would.

    The fact is that a fetus is a baby, just one that hasn’t been born yet. But being inside the womb doesn’t change its fundamental nature, any more than me going from inside to outside does.

    To be sure, there is a development process, and at some point, you might say “this baby isn’t yet developed enough to be considered fully human”. But some people choose to reject any artificial decisions regarding that point, and there is no real basis for regarding their opinion as invalid.

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

    Even the Roe court didn’t go that far, and I think very few people would.

    Canadian law does. Surprise!

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    I think you’ll have a hard time finding a clinic in Canada (or anywhere else) that will do a 279th day abortion. In fact, third-trimester abortions are done more often in the US than in Canada.

    The fact that something hasn’t been explicitly outlawed doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s permitted.

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

    At least you actually recognize that no sensible doctor would do an elective abortion at the onset of labor unless it was a clear and present medical emergency.

    And nobody with a pregnancy that far along, contrary to the alarmist crap that comes from the likes of anti-Roe anti-abortionists, would just decide to have an abortion for shits and giggles.

  • Anon_Ymous

    Your argument is as silly as claiming that refusing to have sex is murder – after all, you are stopping an activity that results in babies.

    And yes, it would appear that Ross knows more about human biology than you do.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Well, no. If I pull a half-baked cake out of the oven and throw it away, I have destroyed a cake. If I never start baking, than I haven’t done so. Both end up with zero cakes, but that doesn’t make them identical to the baker.

    I find your argument just as silly: “it was never really a cake, because I pulled it out of the oven before it was done.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    Cake batter isn’t cake.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Ok, but at what point is is baked enough to be considered cake and not just batter.;..

  • EllieMurasaki

    About the time it’s ready to come out of the oven.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Getting a good job, making ends meet, having a secure marriage, getting a good education for their children–all of these are legitimate concerns that far outweigh abortion to many women.

    Actually, abortion and contraception are critical to all these things. Without control over my own body, my ability to hold down a job and take care of family and pretty much live any sort of self-determined life are in constant jeopardy of the possibility of unwanted, accidental, or coerced pregrancy.

    Also, you pretty much lose any argument in which you try to instruct actual women as to what their priorities as women ought to be.

    I don’t need your help to vote in my own interests.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Believe it or not, not every woman supports the right to unrestricted abortion. So when I say “many women have other concerns”, I think that’s pretty much indisputable.

    For whatever it’s worth, I don’t think most people (strict Catholics excepted) have a big problem with contraception these days.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    The proper thing to do in a democracy would be to let people decide by a vote.

    No, the proper thing to do is to let people, by which I mean WOMEN, decide for THEMSELVES.

    I don’t particularly care what beady-eyed religious nuts have to say on the issue – for example, if I live in a community of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I’d still like the local hospital to be able to do blood transfusions.

    I’m not going to act like my not getting an abortion is some sign of moral purity, because I’M A MAN.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    “No, the proper thing to do is to let people, by which I mean WOMEN, decide for THEMSELVES”

    That’s fine if there are no legitimate arguments in opposition. But even many women are disturbed by abortion and would like to see it restricted. Do we let people decide for themselves if murder bothers them or not? Or even less clear issues like euthanasia? For better or worse, we live in a society where laws get created democratically, even if everyone doesn’t agree with them.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Sometime you really ought to Google “the only moral abortion is my abortion”.

  • dpolicar

    On your view, are there any circumstances in a democracy where a majority opposes a policy and the proper thing to do is not to put it to a vote?

    If so, what are those circumstances?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    I suppose that if the majority supported a policy which was clearly evil or opposed to natural law, than a vote might not be desirable. For example, a vote on the issue of rights for blacks in 1950 probably would not have produced an optimal result. This is an ongoing problem in the Middle East, where people regularly vote in Islamic terrorist groups. In general, however, in a mature democracy like the US, a vote is almost always the right way to decide.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Define ‘natural law’.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_law

    Generally natural law consists of universally accepted principles (e.g. “murder is bad”). It is contrasted with “Positive law”, which are man-made rules (e.g. “Don’t remove this mattress tag.”)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Natural law is chock-laden full of the same fallacies as evolutionary psychology. A good number of species are not monogamous; does that mean humans should not practice monogamy? A good number of species will kill their neighbors over food; does that mean humans should slaughter each other at the grocery store? A good number of species eat the young, the dead and rivals; should humans practice cannibalism?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    “Natural law” does not mean that people should follow the same principles that animals do. Rather it means that universally accepted moral principles should be enshrined into law. Obviously, my dog isn’t concerned about “stealing” my steak dinner. But actual human beings universally accept that stealing is wrong.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Looks like one big begging the question fallacy to me. “We consider this universally binding because the majority of people agree that it is universally binding — except for those people who don’t agree.”

    Besides, you just said that natural law is subject to changes in society, which means it’s no different from positive law. All laws are man-made and subject to change, even the ones which “we all agree upon.”

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    I suppose, but do you really think that murder, rape, stealing, etc.–the “big” crimes–are just arbitrary decisions by a particular society? Or do you think that there is some fundamental moral basis for them? The fact that pretty much every human society agrees that they are wrong seems to ague that it isn’t just arbitrary.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The world is certainly treating rape as though its being criminal is an arbitrary decision by a particular society. “She was asking for it, dressed like that.” “Boys will be boys.” The person who distributed the evidence leading to the Steubenville rapists’ conviction is being charged with hacking for having obtained that evidence; if convicted, he will face more prison time than the rapists will, because he, in the world’s eyes, did something wrong, and they did not.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    C’mon. Even in Islamic countries rape is a crime on the books. I certainly agree that it isn’t always enforced fairly, but my point was that it’s universally recognized as wrong.

  • EllieMurasaki

    It’s universally illegal, yes; it’s universally recognized as wrong, no. That’s why the law isn’t enforced. Why punish someone, the theory goes, for breaking an unjust law?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Generally illegal=wrong. If people thought rape was just fine it would never have been universally banned in the first place. Ask 100 fathers if raping their daughter is Ok and see how many “No problem” responses you get…

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

    The function of law is to punish or prevent harms done by one person against another.

    There are cases where morality and legality overlap (rape) and where they shouldn’t (enforcement of laws against same-sex marriage). Don’t get morality and legality mixed up.

    Oh nice gender essentialism and patriarchy endorsement over the whole fathers thing instead of oh gee

    asking the daughters themselves about it????

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    I’m sure that the fathers and daughters probably agree here. But asking fathers *removes* the patriarchy/male dominance/it’s ok if you ask the guys aspect of it.

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

    But asking fathers *removes* the patriarchy/male dominance/it’s ok if you ask the guys aspect of it.

    What in fuck does that even mean.

    I saw something recently. Girl’s twelve or so. Girl got raped. Her father is one of the people insisting she marry her rapist. It’d be “best for her”, is what he said about it.

    I think that man is just fine with the idea of his daughter being repeatedly raped.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Ok, maybe I should have said “except in Islamic countries…”

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t recall where this happened. What makes you jump immediately to the assumption that it was an Islamic country? I remind you that the Tanakh contains a command that someone who was a virgin before she survived a rape must marry her rapist.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Probably because Islamic countries are the only ones where the 2000 year-old attitudes that you described are still prevalent today.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I suspect he was actually so not fine with it that he was trying to use a kind of legal magic spell to make it retroactively not-have-happened.

  • EllieMurasaki

    …? I mean, I can see what you’re saying, it’s just, *boggle*.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    One of the things I have discovered in my life is that sometimes when something is very bad and you can’t go back in time to stop it from having happened, there is a very strong impulse to try to recast it into a thing that is less bad. I think this is one of the motives you see a lot when rape apologism comes from people like the victim’s family (or the victim themselves. Which happens.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, generally ‘illegal’ = ‘against the interests of the people in power’. That’s why abortion was illegal in so many places for so long, ditto contraception: female reproductive self-control is against the interests of men who wish to retain power over women. That’s why it’s deemed not possible to rape a sex worker, or a “provocatively” dressed woman, or a woman with whom one had already had sex, or a woman who had already had sex with someone else, or or or or OR: restricting male expression of sexuality is against the interests of men who wish to retain power over women.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    So, um, as recently as 1993, the United States had states where it was considered impossible for a husband to rape his wife. Exemptions to rape laws were specifically written in allowing a husband to forcibly, even violently have sex whenever he wanted, and he could only be charged with a crime if she complained about being injured (where it would count as domestic violence, not rape).

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    The problem is that people are quick to say rape is wrong and even quicker to create a list of exceptions where it’s not really rape. Someone did a study recently where they compared teenage males’ responses to whether or not they would commit acts of rape against hypothetical scenarios wherein certain actions would constitute rape — and they were both vehement that rape was wrong and evil and they would never do it while simultaneously being quite willing to rape people.

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

    You have to wonder at the way they don’t spot how the hypothesized actions presented represent violation of consent.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    They don’t understand consent at all.

    Drunk girl, can hardly stand, heavily slurring words, says “yesh, shure, whatever” when the guy asks if she wants to go back to his apartment? Consent given and bullshit if she wakes up and starts screaming.

    Passed out girl on the couch? She wouldn’t be wearing a short skirt if she really cared about what people do to her.

    Married couple? She wouldn’t have gotten married if she really had a problem with what he wanted to do with her.

    She said yes and then started saying no when they were getting into it? She’s just having cold feet and she’ll get over it if he keeps going.

    It’s rape in every case, but the teenagers honestly didn’t seem to think so.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    We don’t even have the language to properly discus the problem. I’ve hardly ever heard a discussion of consent that didn’t sound like (regardless of how it was intended) it assumed that rape was, in the general case, a matter of being mistaken about whether or not valid consent was granted.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I think it’s more a problem of laziness and privilege. Society bends over backwards to forgive rapists by trying to make fuzzy the question of whether consent was given. The idea that consent must be meaningful and enthusiastic challenges both. It means they have to think about it, be certain they’ve obtained consent, and to do nothing which threatens that consent. That’s a lot of responsibility with which they’d rather not have to deal.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Depends on how you define “fundamental moral basis.” I’m a sociopath; I determine my morals based on the furthest extent of the consequences that I can determine. To me, murder is bad because it causes widespread distrust and fear within the community, creating an atmosphere where mutual cooperation becomes impossible. For that matter, depending on who is murdered, the society could collapse if people with vital skills are killed or become unable or unwilling to practice their trade. If we’re an isolated farming village and someone starts killing farmers, what will that do to our food supplies come winter?

    Rape is similar, fostering distrust and fear and creating the risk of bringing unwanted children into the community, who may face stigma from parents and community alike.

    Thievery, on the other hand, loses much of its meaning if the society in question has different perspectives on what constitutes personal property. If everything in the community is shared, then stealing has a different meaning — it may still be possible, but not as we think of it. Take a wagon from your neighbor’s yard? No problem. Take his money? He has none, and why should he when he has no need of it? Take his daughter against her will, though, and…

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Ok, if you are a complete sociopath, than there are no natural laws. Which is why ordinary, moral people need laws to protect them from people like that.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Frankly, the idea that people have an inborn sense of right and wrong is somewhat disturbing to me, given how often people do wrong while claiming they’re doing right. I’d rather have no inborn sense of morality and have determined proper behavior intellectually than possibly be born with a moral compass which points off course.

  • EllieMurasaki

    +1

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

    I think where the sense of right and wrong is thought to be innate comes from the fact that “wrongs” usually involve hurting someone else, and since you know you get hurt if someone does Thing X to you, you wouldn’t do it to someone else because it makes them hurt.

    Because this is the basis of empathy, that’s how it becomes an almost-universal construct.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Aye, but you know me and empathy. On a day like today, I can’t even begin to understand how it works.

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

    The best way to describe it is you wouldn’t poke someone with a thumbtack because you know that if someone poked you with a thumbtack you would bleed and it would hurt.

  • dpolicar

    Fair enough. A few related questions, if you don’t mind.

    On your view, is a policy of allowing pregnant women to decide whether to remain pregnant evil or opposed to natural law? Is a policy of requiring pregnant women to remain pregnant evil or opposed to natural law?

    On your view, is a policy of allowing legal adults to mutually choose to legally marry one another evil or opposed to natural law? Is a policy of prohibiting legal adults from mutually choosing to legally marry one another evil or opposed to natural law?

    On your view, is a policy of allowing employers to make hiring decisions based primarily on the skin color of applicants evil or opposed to natural law? Is a policy of prohibiting employers from making hiring decisions based primarily on the skin color of applicants evil or opposed to natural law?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    All of these are hot button issues right now. And what constitutes “natural law” is subject to changes in society, like everything else. At some point, slavery was not necessarily considered a natural evil; now it unquestionably is (except in Islamic countries, but I digress…)

    I have already written about abortion at length, so I will simply say that it is not a black and white issue, and that the rights of the unborn child and the father might reasonably be considered.

    The definition of “marriage” has traditionally been at the foundation of law and society. In a time when traditional marriage is facing numerous challenges, changing and weakening that institution further should be done with the greatest of caution. I don’t deny the right of gay people to form some type of legal association. Whether it needs to be characterized as “marriage” or not is a more difficult question, and there are reasonable arguments against doing so.

    I think that racism in any form can be reasonably considered to be an unmitigated evil at this point. So any employment or other decisions based solely on race should be considered to be against natural law. Of course, that would include “positive” racism, such as affirmative action.

    Feel free to disagree.

  • dpolicar

    So if I’ve understood you, on your account, opposing rights for blacks is now clearly evil, and therefore if the majority opposed rights for blacks today a vote might not be desirable.

    But in 1950, rights for blacks was, as you put it, a hot button issue.

    So… would your guiding principle, if I applied it in 1950, tell me I ought to put rights for blacks up for a vote if the majority opposed it, since it was at that time widely understood to not be a black and white issue (no pun intended) and one that should be done with the greatest of caution, and in a mature democracy like the US, a vote is almost always the right way to decide?

    Or would it tell me that I ought not put rights for blacks up for a vote if the majority opposed it, because it will be reasonably considered an unmitigated evil at some future point?

    Or something else?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Tough question. In 1950, a democratic vote would have resulted in what, in hindsight, is the “wrong” decision. On the other hand, forcing the issue through law might not have been the best way to fix the problem. Society needed to mature, and as it matured, people would have come around. Part of the reason abortion remains unsettled today is because the Supreme Court–with good intentions–forced the issue undemocratically.

    I think that this is a fundamental difference between the “progressive” and “conservative” view. Progressives feel that law should direct society and conservatives feel that it should reflect it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What, in your view, is the purpose of the judiciary?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    To adjudge the meaning of unclear laws and to adjudicate judicial controversies. Not to legislate from the bench.

  • dpolicar

    I’m not sure why you say it’s a tough question. What you seem to be saying is that yes, in 1950, we should have put rights for blacks up for a vote, even if the majority opposed it, rather than force the issue undemocratically.

    No?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Yes, that’s right. Even if the result was bad, a democratic decision would have preferable to a judicial fiat that opposed the will of the majority at that time. Of course, every effort should have been made to convince people to change their attitudes. But not by imposing an undemocratic law on them that they mostly opposed, even in hindsight if it was the “right” thing to do.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What, in your view, is the purpose of the judiciary?

  • dpolicar

    So why do you say it’s a tough question?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Because nobody likes to see a “Bad” law enacted, which probably would have happened back then.

  • dpolicar

    I’m not sure why you put “Bad” in quotes like that this time around, when you describe it as a bad result without quotes in the comment above.

    In any case, I agree that denying equal rights for black people in 1950 would have been a bad result.

    So you invited me a while back to feel free to disagree, and this is the place where I disagree with you.

    I care a lot about results. Not exclusively, maybe, but a lot. If a process reliably leads to bad results, I don’t support that process.

    If in a given situation I expect a democratic decision to have worse results than a judicial fiat that opposes the will of the majority, then I endorse a judicial fiat in that situation. And if in a different situation I expect a judicial fiat to have worse results than a democratic decision, I endorse a democratic decision in that situation.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Ah, but what are the long-term results of a judicial fiat that lacks popular support? Rather than fixing a problem, you may enshrine it as a permanent sore spot and ongoing source of controversy and friction.

    Case in point: Roe vs. Wade.

  • dpolicar

    Sure, we are always making decisions under uncertainty.

    I make observations, I reason and I reflect and I read and I talk to people, and all of that leads me to expect certain processes to lead to certain results in certain situations, and I take actions based on those expectations.

    And, yes, I could be wrong. But that doesn’t change the above.

    It’s also worth noting that fixing a problem isn’t mutually exclusive with creating a source of controversy and friction. Indeed, it’s often true that fixing a problem will reliably create controversy and friction, especially if the majority supports the problem.

    Sometimes fixing the problem and living with the friction is the right thing to do.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    I suppose. But I think that if the 1964 Civil Rights law had somehow been enacted in 1950, than the race conflicts and disorder that would have arisen might still be ongoing today. Instead, it was enacted when a majority of people supported it (outside the South anyway) and after a short period of conflict it quickly became accepted.

    If laws don’t reflect society, than it breeds disorder, conflict and disrespect for both the law and authority. The desire to impose “good judgement” on people from above is a hallmark of liberal thinking, and it rarely works as well as expected.

  • dpolicar

    Do you believe a majority of Americans would have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, had it been put up to a popular referendum?

    Incidentally, you’re very fond of introducing political labels into this discussion; I’m not sure why. I mostly find them distracting.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    I’m honestly not sure. In the North probably yes, in the South probably no. On balance, I don’t think it would have passed if the Congress didn’t think that their constituents would have supported it, so probably yes.

  • dpolicar

    OK. Thanks for the answer.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Brown v Board was highly unpopular at the time of its decision in 1954.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Yep. And it lead to over a decade of conflict and death in the South until public opinion finally came around to acceptance. It was a good decision in hindsight, but judicial fiat was probably not the best way to have accomplished it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So it would have been better to deny liberty, justice, and educational equality to students of color for years, probably to this day, rather than force the issue?

    See this blinky thing? That is the bullshit light.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Possibly yes. Imagine if the Brown decision had been enacted individually by States. Blacks could choose to move to a State that respected their rights. And there would have been no lynchings and riots in the States the refused to comply. Over time, popular opinion would have peacefully brought everyone in line. By, say, 1964, when a national law was democratically passed.

    Would this have been better? I don’t endorse the slowness of the South to embrace equality, but I think it would have been much less disruptive to blacks and to racial relations as a whole than what actually happened.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Blacks could choose to move to a State that respected their rights.
    (1) You’re being racist again (you said “blacks”, not “black people” or “African-Americans”). This is not convincing me that Republicans such as yourself are as a whole not racist.

    (2) Yeah, get up and leave the job and the extended family and the home in hopes of a better life. That’s gonna go so well. Some would, I’m not saying otherwise, but there are reasons the States-wide gay community didn’t up and move to Massachusetts when marriage equality became the law of the state.

    (3) Racial inequality enshrined in law is “disruptive to racial relations”. Did I mention you’re being racist again? Because nobody but a racist would value peace at the price of racial injustice over justice at the price of disrupting racist lives.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    1. I also say “whites” for Caucasian people. I don’t regard “blacks” as a racist term.

    2. State by State differences in law are not ideal (which is why gays are currently hoping for a national marriage ruling, even though many States already permit marriage). However, that’s the default way our government is set up. Many blacks did move North prior to 1964 for just that reason.

    3. Black people DIED as a result of the conflict and unrest that resulted. Is it racist to have hoped that the conflict that arose could have been avoided? I hope not.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Who the fuck cares what you don’t regard as racist. I am assured by actual black people (among whom it is clear you are not numbered) that referring to them as “blacks”, as though they are adjectives and not people, is racist.

    Speaking as a “gay”? You’re being heterosexist. Same principle as above.
    I am dead certain that Brown v Board being passed when it did instead of fifteen years later prevented a great many lynchings. We’ll never know who’s alive because white children having to share classrooms with black children convinced those white children that black people are human too, but that some black people who would have been lynched without Brown v Board are alive today is a near certainty.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    What I “regard as racist” is important because it speaks to my intent. If I have no intention of being racist, than imputing it to fairly innocent terms is simply unfair. Is “Asians” racist? How about “Italians” or “Iranians”? Speaking of people in the plural is simply a common usage.

    You are certain that Brown prevented lynchings. I am certain that, unfortunately, it caused them. I can’t prove which of us is right, but it seems to me that the decade following Brown saw a great deal more conflict in the South than had existed previously. In any case, I have no less desire for racial harmony than you do. I simply have a different sense of how this might best have been achieved.

    Nowadays, racism is a fairly serious charge to level against someone. You might consider a bit more carefully before casually leveling it against people who have the temerity to disagree with you.

  • EllieMurasaki

    INTENT! IT’S FUCKING MAGIC!

    It’s worse to say someone’s racist than to be the someone who’s racist?
    Yeah, fuck you.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Look up “mens rea” in the dictionary. Intent can get you off of a murder charge. So yes, it matters.

    And falsely accusing people of racism is bad. You clearly seem to THINK I’m a racist, so perhaps it doesn’t SEEM like a false charge to you. But that makes it no less offensive to me.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yes, intent matters–but if we’re talking murder charges, somebody’s dead. The fact that whoever killed them didn’t mean to do it doesn’t make the victim any less dead. Just like you not meaning to be racist, sexist, heterosexist, and cissexist–though the more you talk about you misgendering me, the less I am convinced that you don’t mean to be cissexist–doesn’t make the people hurt by the racist, sexist, heterosexist, and cissexist things you say any less hurt.

    And that is the last 101 thing I am going to waste my time trying to explain to you.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    At the risk of offending you even further, it seems to me that you are a person who is fairly easily offended, even by some things which are, in the abstract, not terribly offensive.

    At the same time, you seem to have fairly few qualms about insulting people in a rude way and charging them with racism and other imagined offenses.

    It’s not a particularly attractive combination.

  • dpolicar

    I’m curious: are you unaware of the point EllieMurasaki is making, or do you just consider it less important to talk about than their personality?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    If she had a point in her last post besides displaying the thinness of her skin and insulting me than, yes, I’m sorry but I must have missed it.

  • dpolicar

    OK. Thanks for answering my question.

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

    “No rendering law from the bench”
    “States’ rights”
    “Taxes too high”

    Yeah, my bingo card is filling up real quick here.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    It would have been less disruptive to black people to continue allowing legalized discrimination than to give them equal rights and deal with the people who threw a fit over that? Oof.

    “Really, these shackles are for your own good. You just continue being a slave for a few more generations and I’m sure your children will thank you for it in the end.”

    The funny thing is, I see this as exactly the same thing as you’re accusing us of doing, only erring on the side of peoples lives being broken and miserable than upsetting the dainty fee-fees of the powerful and religious.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    “deal with the people who threw a fit over that”

    What if “the people” were 60% of the population of a State? What if it was 80%? How exactly would you “deal with them”? Throw them all in jail?

    I’d like to see equal rights for women in Saudi Arabia. I’m sure that if there were a court decision granting this, women would have no more problems at all over there. That’s how it works, doesn’t it?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Would you also like to assert that we should have kept slavery for a few more generations because the South wasn’t ready to stop treating human beings like unusually intelligent animals?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    No, obviously, slavary was offensive and had to go. But it’s important to note that Blacks were STILL treated that way long after slavery ended. It took generations to gradually bring the South to a point where blacks were respected and treated fairly. Which was basically my point. You can’t legislate attitudes. You have to work to bring society to the state that you want it to come to, at which point, the laws will follow naturally.

  • dpolicar

    I’m confused. Why, on your account, was eliminating slavery a few generations earlier worth violating the preferences of Confederate voters in a nondemocratic fashion?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    That’s a fair question. It’s because, in my opinion anyway, slavery is one of those Natural Law items that need to be eliminated, even if undemocratic means are necessary. Even in the 1860’s, it was widely regarded as morally offensive in all of Europe and most of the Americas.

    Just to elaborate on this, racism is also morally offensive. So why do I think slavery should have been forced, but possibly not civil rights laws? Because you can definitely free slaves by decree. It’s simply a legal status. But eliminating bigotry and discrimination isn’t something that is easily accomplished simply by legislation. It requires a social attitude change. Hence, a legal decree alone is likely to be ineffective and possibly even counterproductive.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Clarify, morally offensive, but not part of natural law? Ensuring that everyone has equal rights is part of what I consider to be absolutely central to a functional society. I’m inclined to pursue that by influencing social climate, but I also thing those rights need to be legally protected, or diehard bigots will just continue ruining lives well after everyone else has accepted the status of the group, whatever it is.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    No I agree that in *Modern society* equality is certainly a Natural Law. But it took decades for society to realize this and to progress to where it could realistically be implemented. If you asked Lincoln, he would have been horrified at the suggestion that blacks and whites were equals–and he was considered a fairly forward thinker in his day.

  • dpolicar

    I still don’t follow, sorry.

    On your account as I understand it, even if foreigners regard my country’s policies as morally offensive, even if people a century later will consider my country’s policies as violations of natural law, it is still a mistake to override the preferences of the majority of voters to repeal those policies.

    Yes? Did I get that right?

    If so then, again, what made it acceptable to violate democracy to eliminate slavery? Your opinion about Natural Law in 2013 is not sufficient, since (on your account) Natural Law in 2013 is not binding on people in 1861. Nor are the beliefs of people in Europe and other Americas, if I understand you.

    So what was?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Sorry if I was unclear. Even in 1861, Slavery was seen as a violation of Natural Law by most people outside of the South. If Lincoln had put the matter to a vote, he probably would have won. But, given the attitudes of the day, he was justified in taking immediate action. To use an analogy, if the State of Maine permitted murder for any reason, he would have been justified in ending it right away, not calling for a vote.

    Of course, our attitudes in 2013 are not relevant here, as you observed.

  • dpolicar

    Ah, OK. Thanks for the clarification.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    There’s the problem, then, isn’t it? How do we know when something is offensive enough that it needs to end now regardless of consequences (civil war is a great deal more dangerous than Jim Crow laws and civil discrimination, all things considered), rather than waiting for people to reach that conclusion on their own time? Ideally social education and indirect means of relieving the pressure should handle a great many of our problems, but it would seem like there’s got to be a point where you have to say “okay, that’s enough.”

    With slavery it was apparently obvious to you that putting a swift legal end to it was acceptable, but you oppose legislating against segregation. Well, what if we had left it the way it was? Would we really have been better off raising several generations of citizens with inadequate education, purposefully unequal access to resources and the constant message that those citizens were inferior and barely tolerable creatures whose rights were secondary to the superior race? My concern would be that if we let that go on long enough, eventually it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. There’s only so long you can spit on someone before they stop flinching when it happens and come to expect it as a matter of course.

    On the other hand, when people talk about banning abortion, the same thought comes to mind. If we addressed the reasons why abortion is presently considered necessary — inadequate access to contraception and sex education, poor access to proper fetal care, job and financial insecurity, no access to day care and other child raising aid — then the number of abortions would substantially drop as people no longer wound up with pregnancies they couldn’t deal with.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    I tried to address this a little in the post below. Basically,, if an offensive thing is just a legal issue, then sure, change it right away. But if it requires a social change to be effective, than work on the social change rather than trying to impose the change on an unwilling populace through unpopular (and probably ineffective) legislation. Prohibition is the classic example. In theory it was a great idea, but since people still wanted to drink, all it accomplished was to build an empire for Al Capone and foster disrespect for the law. Nowadays, drinking is growing less popular (for health reasons mostly) and with a concerted effort you might be able to stamp it out in a few decades. Smoking appears to be moving this way also. It would not surprise m to see smoking banned in the next ten years. But imagine trying to ban smoking in the 1950’s–it couldn’t have been done.

    When society changes, laws follow. When society doesn’t change, than laws which need a social change to be effective are unlikely to be successful.
    .

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Hm. I’m not seeing where discrimination is purely a social issue and not a legal one, if it’s built into the system that certain people are legally required to have it worse than others (such as public buses and African Americans being required to abandon their seats for white citizens). Agreed that you couldn’t change people’s minds that African Americans should give up their seats since the comfort of a white citizen was more deserved, but you’d only be changing the law to remove the legal requirement that they do so.

    (Incidentally, it has been suggested that prohibition grew out of gasoline companies wanting to protect their assets from the threat of ethanol-based fuels, which had been gaining ground in the early 1900’s, similar to how hemp products were being praised as a textile just before marijuana and cannabis banning laws were enacted.)

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    But, as recently as the 1940’s nearly everyone–North, South, Rich and Poor–regarded Blacks as *not* equal to whites. They were not just legally disadvantaged–they were actually inferior people. Nowadays only a few extreme racists hold this view, but back then nearly every white person did. So laws which discriminated against lacks weren’t seen as offensive because they just “reflected reality”. It wasn’t until blacks gained respect as real people that most whites realized these laws were unfair and demeaning. So the laws changed as a result of the underlying societal change. There was no call to change them before people’s attitudes changed, because until then, they weren’t seen as objectionable. And even if they had been changed somehow, people’s prejudices would not have gone away.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Would it have been possible for them to gain respect as real people while continuing to be relegated to inferior trash on every legal level?

    That hasn’t entirely gone away, either. There’s a “racial expert” in Texas who makes a living arguing that African Americans are more likely to commit violent crimes and therefore they should be executed for crimes for which other people get lesser sentences.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    It was certainly very difficult, which is why the struggle for black equality took over a hundred years, and isn’t finished by some measures. But trying to accelerate the process by laws ahead of what society was ready for would not have helped much. Even in the 1960’s and 1970’s, legal measures produced enormous outrage and pushback. A few years earlier, they wouldn’t have been possible at all.

    Unfortunately, statistically blacks DO commit more violent crimes than their numbers would suggest. But the guy in Texas is clearly a throwback to the old days.

  • dpolicar

    There was no call to change them before people’s attitudes changed, because until then, they weren’t seen as objectionable.

    Seen by whom?

    If 40% of the population sees X and Y as deserving of equal treatment, and 60% sees them as deserving of unequal treatment, a purely democratic process enforces unequal treatment, and a nondemocratic process might enforce equal treatment. But it certainly isn’t the case that unequal treatment isn’t seen as objectionable. It certainly is, by 40% of the population.

    If 90% of X and 40% of Y see X and Y as deserving of equal treatment, and X and Y each comprise 50% of the population, but only Ys vote, then a purely democratic process enforces unequal treatment… even though 85% of the population sees it as objectionable.

    Also, sometimes the law changes the conditions that constrain how people see their environment.

    Suppose, for example, that actually getting to know out gay couples has the effect of encouraging people to see gay couples as deserving equality. Suppose, further, that being an out gay couple is punishable by law, and that gay couples would be out if they weren’t punished for it.

    In that (no doubt hypothetical) scenario, repealing that law will predictably have the effect of encouraging people to see gay couples as deserving equality.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    It’s difficult for people in 2013 to realize how ingrained the view of black inferiority was among the general public up until the 1950’s. In the 1940’s, scholarly college textbooks attributed black speech to their thick lips and “lazy habits”. So the idea for calls to repeal laws about bus seating or other minor issues just never arose. It wasn’t even a case of clashing ideas–there just wasn’t a perceived need for it.

    If by some miracle these laws had been repealed, the result would have been resistance or outright hostility by Whites. Society just wasn’t ready for equality yet. Seeing a black sitting while a white person stood would have produced outrage, not acceptance.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    And you seem to think that preventing the outrage of those white people is a loftier goal than letting those black people sit down

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

    Why it “took generations” was because the South fought an effective rearguard action against Reconstruction. What they could not win on the battlefield in open combat, they achieved by stealth, lies, guerilla warfare, and trickery.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    That’s true, but bigotry and prejudice against blacks wasn’t limited to the South. It was endemic to society everywhere. Moves towards true equality were much slower in coming.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Possibly yes. Imagine if the
    Brown decision had been enacted individually by States. Blacks could
    choose to move to a State that respected their rights. And there would
    have been no lynchings and riots in the States the refused to comply.
    Over time, popular opinion would have peacefully brought everyone in
    line. By, say, 1964, when a national law was democratically passed.

    Citation needed.

    Because I am absolutely 100% certain that if the state had not forced the issue, we’d have states with formalized, de jure segregation today.

    And even if you were right, what about the rights of black people in the interveing time? Because those people are human beings and american citizens too.

    Every discussion of “Things would have been easier/more peaceful/better if we hadn’t forced the issue and used persuasion and social pressure to get equal rights” takes for granted that the racists are right, because every discussion like that is using “easier” and “better” and “more peaceful” to mean for the white folks who were already counted as full human beings — for the people who were given rights in this way, it would mean more years wherein they did not legally count as full human beings. And that isn’t “better” or “easier” or “more peaceful”

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Even if the only possible way they were ever going to change their minds was to see that changing the law wasn’t going to ruin society?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    And if the support for the law really wasn’t there, how do you know it wouldn’t “ruin society”? Passing undemocratic laws is almost never a good idea;.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Because if there’s something I’ve noticed over and over again throughout US history, especially beginning in the 1900’s onward and even more so today, it’s that no matter how much people object to the demands of those in power, they’ll bend over backwards to retain a functional way of life regardless. In the end, no matter how much people rail against the government, they know no other way of life.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Well ok, you and I fundamentally disagree. Your attitude is “the Government will tell you what’s right and you will learn to accept it.” My attitude is “The government does what the majority tells it to do and has no rights except those derived from the people.” Guess which one is enshrined in the Constitution?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    While your definitions of progressive and conservative perspective of the law do seem to ring a bell, I don’t think they’re wholly binding. I think there’s push and pull on both sides.

    Unfortunately, the idea that people should have rights and should be treated as vital components to society until they commit some action which directly undermines society’s ability to function is considered radical by a lot of people, whereas I consider it the logical prerequisite to a healthy functioning community. That makes it very hard to find common ground when there seem to be a lot of people who think murder is wrong, but are quite willing to let people die by depriving them of basic necessities.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    So you believe that minorities have no rights except what the majority deigns to give them.

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

    The fact that you have a uniquely American-style right-wing view of the judiciary based on a very peculiarly nitpicky thought-framework about the role of the democratic process in the area of law suggests to me that for all your claims of living overseas you have been an American for years.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Guilty as charged. I have never claimed otherwise.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Generally natural law consists of universally accepted principles (e.g. “murder is bad”).

    And what constitutes “natural law” is subject to changes in society, like everything else.

    One of these sentences is false.

    the rights of the unborn child and the father might reasonably be considered.

    There is no such thing as an unborn child, and fetuses do not have rights. The father of a pregnancy has rights if and only if he is the pregnant person.

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

    Oh look

    “Traditional marriage is UNDER THREAT”

    Hey give me one more, I get bingo.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    I’m also in favor of a strong defense policy and privatization of government businesses.

    Bingo?

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

    Thanks. I can cash it in for my free toaster from the Gay Recruiting Society.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Ah, yes. Every time I see “traditional marriage,” I feel the need to link this:

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam
  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Of course the father has rights. Just not rights to control the pregnant person. I’m pretty sure “One person is not allowed to assume legal control over another person’s body” is right there in the constitution.

    Pro-life arguments at a fundamental level always seem to forget that a pregnant person, a pregnancy, a fetus, and a baby are all different things.

    But anyway, Let’s say you grant the father some kind of rights. IS there still anyone more qualified than the pregnant person and her doctor to make the final decision?

    This is the thing I can’t get past with “compromise” positions. Maybe there is some magic date after which abortions are always wrong. Why should this be a law? We don’t have laws saying that a doctor can’t make certain incisions, or that it’s illegal to perform an apendectomy on certain patients. So why should it be a law? Why do we need congress to get involved in a medical decision?

    If it is never the medically right decision in certain cases, then any doctor who did one would already be committing medical malpractice. Making it illegal says “It is the medically correct course of action, but you’re not allowed to do it anyway.”

    And that’s why I’m a hard-liner on abortion laws. I believe there are lots of cases where an abortion is the morally and medically wrong thing to do, but I do not believe there is ever a case ever where someone is better qualified than the pregnant woman and the doctor to make that decision, and I am dead certain that the voting public is never better-positioned to make that decision for a particular pregnant person than the person and her doctor.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    This is a textbook example of why so many people find the “hard-liner” position on abortion so horrifying and disgusting:

    “This is the thing I can’t get past with “compromise” positions. Maybe there is some magic date after which abortions are always wrong. Why should this be a law?”

    Maybe because after some “magic date” you’re killing a viable and visibly human baby?

    “We don’t have laws saying that a doctor can’t make certain incisions, or that it’s illegal to perform an appendectomy on certain patients. So why should it be a law? Why do we need congress to get involved in a medical decision?”

    So that’s how you see a fetus? As a totally useless bit of tissue, morally and legally interchangable with an appendix? Some people might beg to differ with that.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You keep talking but all I hear is “When it’s a woman we’re talking about, the state can take a medical decision out of the hands of the patient and the doctor.”

    So that’s how you see a fetus? As a totally useless bit of tissue,
    morally and legally interchangable with an appendix? Some people might
    beg to differ with that.

    Stop putting words in my mouth. I don’t. But I still don’t see how that makes the state a better arbiter of whether or not a given abortion is moral than a doctor and patient.

    That’s what this comes down to. You’re saying “We will override the medical judgment of a trained medical doctor, because who cares about medical science.”

    Name for me one other medical procedure where the government and the voters get a veto? If the fetus is a baby (it’s not) and needs an advocate (it doesn’t), how can you possibly justify saying that anyone other than the mother should be our first choice of advocate? It doesn’t matter if it’s a baby, if it “looks pretty human” by the standards of Joe Bob Jesus-Botherer Who Isn’t A Medical Doctor, if you have an affidavit from the lord God almighty that it’s got a soul. There is no one better qualified than the person that fetus is growing inside and her doctor to make medical judgments that affect that fetus.

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

    Oh, how patronizingly nice of you to decide only white people know how to vote properly.

    I guess voters get the government they deserve considering how many times Republicans get elected and re-elected who happily trash the social safety net and then have the vapors at cutting military spending.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    ?? In 1950 blacks would have voted, but I suspect that the white majority would have outvoted them (the “wrong” way). I don’t recall suggesting that blacks shouldn’t be permitted to vote or that they don’t know how to do so.

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

    You’re the one implying that brown people in countries Not The USA don’t know how to vote the “right” way.

  • Lectorel

    Sounds like a dull RPG to me, really. But different strokes for different folks, I suppose. What are the monthly fees like? And how expensive are the expansions? I’ve heard ‘The Government Never Did Anything For Me’ can get pricy.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I also live in a world where the US’s most prosperous time (providing one wasn’t a woman or minority) coincided with the US’s highest tax rates on the upper crust. I do not think this is actually coincidence, or the result of having just come out of WWII.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Downvoted hard for use of ablist language.

    I’m pretty sure if Ellie wanted to accuse you of stupidity, ze wouldn’t throw people with developmental disabilities under the bus to do it.

    (Edited to reflect Ellie’s pronoun preference – I had not been acutely aware. My apologies.)

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

    Tumblr is blocked at work. WOE.

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

    You should be able to see it now.

  • EllieMurasaki

    ? I’ll just look at it when I get home. The comment was mostly so I’d be able to look at the conversation in Gmail and instantly tell which one had the Tumblr link, anyway, since emails from me I can see the text in Gmail’s dinky mid-convo preview thing and emails from Disqus all have the exact same header.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Are you seriously positing that President Obama has done worse by anyone than President Bush? Anyone who isn’t a multimillionaire at least (And even then…) Are you seriously positing that a republican would have done better by African-Americans over the period 2009-2013?

  • EllieMurasaki

    He’s seriously positing that it is hilarious, not fucking racist, to call people of color animals. He’s seriously positing that it is hilarious, not fucking cissexist, to mock my preferred pronouns. He’s seriously positing that the above is an ad hominem against him and that he does not ad hominem anybody ever (nb: I wouldn’t say he does, but given his definition of the term, if we are then he is). He’s seriously positing, in other words, that he’s a fucking fuckwit who is not worth paying any further attention to. Please don’t.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    If your “preferred pronouns” don’t exist in the English language than yes, expect to be mocked. If you can’t take a very modest humorous reference, which was clever and in in no way racist, than yes, expect to be mocked. If you can dish it out but can’t take it in the teenyist bit, than yes, expect to be mocked.

    If the above makes ME a F–wit in your eyes, than so be it. I have my own opinion of who needs an attitude adjustment here.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Given that gender-neutral pronouns do exist in other languages, check your ethnocentrism, Klondike Bar.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Perhaps he/she/ze should post in one of those languages then. It would scarcely make his/her/zer posts less interesting or relevant.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    The lack of a commonly accepted pronoun in a malleable language does not invalidate the concept.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Languages work because there is common vocabulary and grammar that everyone agrees is correct. You can make up your own words, but you shouldn’t expect people to recognize them or accept them as correct if they fall outside this commonly agreed pool. “Ms.” has gradually moved from a novelty to a fairly well accepted term. “ze” hasn’t. In fact, I wasn’t even sure what the possessive form was (zer or zis). So if you insist on using words that a majority of people don’t know and don’t recognize as correct, than you can expect some resistance and even ridicule. Taking offense at people’s reluctance to adopt your bizarre new vocabulary strikes me as narcissistic at best.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Outside of Asshole Land, the concept is actually rather widespread (partially because, surprisingly, those other languages are attached to cultures outside of the United States where something like this isn’t instantly met with ridicule because different is stupid and thus hilarious). There’s only multiple schools of thought and grammar discussions and university language courses dedicated to the subject.

    But I’m sure dismissal and ridicule are far easier on simple minds than stepping outside the boundaries of heteronormativity and I’m not expecting much otherwise, Klondike Bar.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Point of order: gender, not sexuality, therefore cisnormativity, not heteronormativity. Though I bet he doesn’t know what either of those words mean.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I learned heteronormativity as a more blanket term (Wikipedia defines such as “one that involves alignment of biological sex, sexuality, gender identity, and gender roles”), but cisnormativity would be more accurate, yeah.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Well, I apologize. I had this bizarre notion that words had to be in the dictionary and in common usage before people insisted on using them. But now I know that, as long as university courses are devoted to promoting and discussing them, their understanding among ordinary people can be presumed. Anyone who fails to immediately grasp and adopt these new terms is a cisnormative/heteronormative a–hole (whatever THAT means).

    Thank you for the correction.

  • David S.

    a–hole is not in my dictionary. Neither is derp, which you use a couple posts down. That notion that words have to be in the dictionary defies the history of language, where words have constantly been growing and evolving. And whining about it in a casual discussion, particularly a slow-moving Internet one where you have time to translate and understand is pointless and annoying.

    People who want to communicate can skip past stuff like that. Note that Ellie will accept “they” and go on if ze offends you so much. People who failed kindergarten will find it an excuse to get obnoxious and abusive and blame it on the other person, when in reality if they get abusive, it’s because that’s what they really wanted to do in the first place.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Since I like to broaden people’s horizons, let me quote from Judith Butler, in her 1999 preface to the seminal feminist/queer theory work “Gender Trouble”: (pg. 23):

    “Certainly, one can practice styles, but the styles that become available to you are not entirely a matter of choice. Moreover, neither grammar nor style are politically neutral. Learning the rules that govern intelligible speech is an inculcation into normalized language, where the price of not conforming is the loss of intelligibility itself. As Drucilla Cornell, in the tradition of Adorno, reminds me: there is nothing radical about common sense. It would be a mistake to think that received grammar is the best vehicle for expressing radical views, given the constraints that grammar imposes upon thought, indeed, upon the thinkable itself. But formulations that twist grammar or that implicitly call into question the subject-verb requirements of propositional sense are clearly irritating for some. They produce more work for their readers, and sometimes their readers are offended by such demands. Are those who are offended making a legitimate request for “plain speaking” or does their complaint emerge from a consumer expectation of intellectual life?”

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

    Congratulations, you’ve figured out why people who speak “black english/ebonics/AAVE” are considered less smart than people who speak newscaster english.

    It is precisely because grammar and style are political and social in nature and do not exist in isolation.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Yes, but more to my point, if you choose to disregard “normalized language” you risk being unintelligible and/or annoying your readers. Which happened in this case.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    That depends on the reader. Some readers think even very basic concepts are unintelligible and annoying because they refuse to think about them. That’s not to say the writer is wrong.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    True, but deviating from “normalized language” certainly increases the odds of that happening, which is what Butler was saying.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    The thing is that to those of us with the backgrounds we have, this isn’t deviation from the norms at all. It’s convention within a particular subculture. My Psychology of Sex and Gender college course taught the concept and even made references to gender-neutral pronouns. I’ve known linguists and bilingual people who’ve complained about not having a proper word in English to refer to someone. These things exist. The fact that you haven’t been exposed to them doesn’t negate their legitimacy.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Ok. But if I say “I’m seeing a lot of latency from the RAID array in our SAN.” You probably would have no idea what I’m talking about (unless you’re very familiar with technical computer terms). The fact that all of these are legitimate terms doesn’t make it intelligible without looking them up. And it may seem strange or bizarre to you.

    Now, in this case, I’m talking about something very specialized. But personal pronouns are a basic part of English. So when someone suggests that their preferred pronoun is something that I’ve never heard of, it seems even more odd than the technical sentence above. I’m sure that if you study in your particular specialization, you’ll have cause to hear and discuss them. But I can assure you that most people have never heard them before.

    I’m sure that this term does exist and there are clearly people who use it. But that doesn’t make it a mainstream term nor does it negate the bizarre quality for an ordinary reader.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    You’re making an argument ad populum, conflating yourself and those of your background with “the average person” (which on a locale as international as the Internet* is complete and utter folly and the height of ethnocentrism). No matter how wide in which the social circle you dwell, you’re inevitably going to encounter something which you’ve never seen or heard of before, and the odds of that drastically increase if it happens to be a location where conversation tends toward specialized details.

    In such a situation, it would be considered proper etiquette to apologize and accept the local convention while perhaps making an inquiry about the terms with which you aren’t familiar. Then you would have been provided with the following data:

    Sex and gender, from a psychological perspective, are separate concepts. Sex refers to someone’s biological or physical characteristics, while gender refers to mental characteristics. Ellie, to the best of my knowledge, regardless of physical sex, mentally falls somewhere between male and female — sometimes a little more of one than the other, but never fully either. Not being fully comfortable with being referred to as he or she, Ellie offered a gender-neutral pronoun of choice as an alternative.

    * It really cannot be understated that just because we’re all speaking English does not mean that we all speak English because we come from the Americas. My blog, entirely in English, has hits from the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Denmark, Australia, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, France, Vietnam, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    It would definitely be best for me to resist the urge to suggest where Ellie falls mentally. In any case, I am quite familiar with the Gender/Sex distinction (I quoted Butler a few posts above, as you’ll recall).

    I think this whole Ze thing has been adequately beaten into the ground by now, but I will concede that many novel and unusual things can be found on the Internet, and keeping an open mind towards them can be a useful attitude.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I’m not familiar with Butler beyond the excerpt you posted. I think there’s some value in transitional information being used as a bridge to bring people over to the logic behind a convention before assuming they can use it in its proper context, but I don’t think language is so rigid that new concepts can’t be introduced and used with relative ease. There’s a balance somewhere in there. Admittedly, it’s a lot easier to find if everyone is arguing in good faith…

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Really, it’s a fairly well-known early work in the field (1990). Here is the Amazon link:

    http://www.amazon.com/Gender-Trouble-Feminism-Subversion-Routledge/dp/0415389550

    As you can tell from the quote, Butler is a fairly academic writer, so her prose style is best taken in small doses. It’s a very influential book, though.

  • David S.

    Which is irrelevant, since we’re talking vocabulary, not grammar, and intelligibility wasn’t a problem; the message was completely clear, and if you seriously want to know what the possessive form of ze is, you can spend a few seconds looking it up.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    I would argue that vocabulary, as well as grammar, is a key component of “normalized language”. And if your readers need to stop what they are doing and look up or research strange words, than you aren’t communicating with them.

    Understanding this sentence is totally 簡単. A few seconds with Google translate will give you the meaning of the last word “kantan”, but that doesn’t make it intelligible to an average English reader.

  • David S.

    Derp is not part of normalized language. You show absolutely no remorse for making me look it up. You show absolutely no remorse for forcing non-native speakers of English to stop and try and figure out a–hole (which is not in any dictionaries.) (And since you seem to have a working s key on your keyboard, that’s pushing your radical views through vocabulary.)

    And you didn’t have to stop and look up “ze”. You knew exactly what it meant; the context was perfectly clear in that.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    My “radical” view is that I prefer not to propagate obscenity, even when it’s directed to me. I strongly suspect that you figured it out–from the parent post if nothing else. It’s true “derp” is a non-standard term, so feel free to mock me for using it (as, indeed, you are doing).

    I can honestly say that I have never heard the term “Ze” or any of its conjugates (which I still don’t know) before seeing it here. It’s obviously meant as a personal pronoun, but it struck me as completely bizarre and still does.

  • David S.

    So you’re propagating obscenity and claiming not to because you obfuscate it in a way that you claim is completely ineffective.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    It’s a conundrum. I confess that there isn’t really a perfect solution. Of course, it would be nice if people simply stopped calling me names..

  • AnonaMiss

    Well, I apologize. I had this bizarre notion that words had to be in the dictionary and in common usage before people insisted on using them.

    Hi, person with a degree in linguistics here. Words go in the dictionary because they are being used, not the other way around. Note for example that extremely good dictionaries give citations of the first known (written) use of any given word. At the time that word was used, it was not already in the dictionary. In language, the word always comes before the dictionary.

  • AnonaMiss

    *before the dictionary entry.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    cisnormative/heteronormative … (whatever THAT means)

    I feel like I should be ponying up a dollar now.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If you really want to, GLAAD could use the money. As we’re seeing now, representation of gender and sexual minorities in the media is really fucking important.

    …in fact I’m giving serious thought to tallying up Geoffrey’s posts and donating ten cents per to GLAAD. I shouldn’t, I’m too nearly broke, but I really want to.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I literally don’t have a penny to my name at the moment, but I’ll try and remember for the next occasion that I do.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, no need to worry about it.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You do know that all Ellie Murasaki did was ask someone to use the preferred pronoun instead of one that assigns a wrong gender, don’t you? There was no offence, no petulance, nothing even vaguely resembling narcisism. It only became an issue because you felt compelled to mock someone who’d done nothing more than ask not to be misgendered. If you don’t want to use the particular pronoun Ellie Murasaki has chosen, that’s okay, there’s other stuff you can do. But you don’t get to mock someone for not wanting ot be called by the wrong pronoun. I am going to take a wild guess here: I suspect you wouldn’t think kindly of me if I decided that I was going to make a point of refering to you as “her”.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    If you called me “she”, I’d be mildly annoyed because it’s wrong. If I insisted you call me “Kare” because I prefer the Japanese pronoun or “Florb” because I like the sound of it, you think I was crazy. And Mock me.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    No. We take pronoun usage rather seriously, if you didn’t notice.

    I want you to consider something very carefully.

    What does it say when you expect people to act just as shitty as you have acted toward others?

    Have you ever heard of the Golden Rule? You’re seeing it in application here.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    You are serious, right? In this very thread, I’ve been called a f–wit, an a–hole, crazy and numerous other appellations. In short, I’ve taken far more abuse than I’ve handed out. Yes, I believe in the Golden Rule. That’s why I haven’t used any of those insults, or, in fact, insulted anybody in any way.

    Get a life.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Self-demonstrating, isn’t it.

    Hamna tabu.

  • EllieMurasaki

    ‘Hamna tabu’?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    In a nutshell, “I see nothing to concern myself about.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh okay. Thanks.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Actually a variant in the same language (Swahili) I know you’ve heard about a bajillion times would be “hakuna matata.” I should have just said that. ^^;; Lion King made it famous, although it isn’t used as often in Tanzania as hamna tabu or hamna shida.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Remember you’re talking to someone who doesn’t think saying people of color are animals is racist.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    What I said, for the record is “Democrats must be dogs since they seem to be good at hearing dog whistles.” There is nothing racist in that statement and a non-literal (i.e. modestly intelligent reading) would permit you to conclude that I was not literally calling people animals either.

    Apparently your reading skills and your grasp of English vocabulary and grammar are on a par.

  • guest

    Actually I don’t think we would. Personally, I’m not wild about ‘ze’–and using a screen name ‘Ellie’ certainly makes it appear that the appropriate pronoun would be ‘she’. But if Ellie prefers ‘ze’, then that’s what I’ll refer to zir as (and I found the correct declension by taking all of two seconds to look it up here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-neutral_pronoun#Invented_pronouns )

    As a few above have already pointed out, lots of groups use non-mainstream words–I, for example, use ‘wevs’ and ‘meh’ when speaking with some people, words I’d be unlikely to use in most of my written or spoken language. Why is that so awful? And why does doing something you find objectionable automatically require mockery? I personally object to people wearing blue and brown together, but I don’t mock them for it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I didn’t know genderqueerness was a thing when I came up with this handle.

  • guest

    I guess all I’d say is I wouldn’t be surprised if people initially refer to you as ‘she’–but once you ask politely to be referred to differently it’s just being a jerk not to.

    I have a name that’s easily confused with a slightly more common name. I almost never have a problem with people calling me the ‘other name’, and there’s at least one guy in my office (old and absentminded) who always calls me by the ‘other name’ and that’s fine (his colleagues occasionally remind him). But if for professional or other reasons I politely correct someone, and they STILL do it, they’re being a jerk.

  • EllieMurasaki

    *nodnod*

  • guest

    I just realised something–now I’m glad I engaged in this conversation (I don’t usually like interacting with strangers on the internet)–people like this guy may default to mocking not necessarily because they have a problem with what they’re hearing but because they reflexively freak out at being wrong/making a mistake. Of course, referring to you as ‘she’ in the first instance isn’t wrong or bad–how could they know? But then you provide them with a piece of information they didn’t previously have–‘I prefer to be referred to as ‘ze’.’ But instead of hearing ‘I didn’t know something two seconds ago that I know now’ or ‘I’ve just been offered a way to show politeness and respect to someone, which is a pleasant small gift’, they hear ‘you were wrong! that makes you bad!’ and lash out.

    A few times over the past week or so I’ve said to people that someone who points out a mistake I’ve made, or tells me something that changes my behaviour, is giving me something valuable. Of course there are plenty of people who use the occasion to try to make me feel stupid or incompetent, or to put themselves higher, but the fact is every time someone corrects a mistake or gives me new information I become that much smarter.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I reflexively freak out at being wrong and making mistakes and yet somehow it doesn’t push me to misgender people once I know the correct pronouns for them. So while your hypothesis rings true, I’m not convinced that’s all there is to it.

    And I wasn’t correcting him in the first place. I was correcting a much friendlier him. Who accepted the correction with grace, I note.

  • guest

    Oh I’m sure it isn’t–I’m sure there are all sorts of other his factors, including privilege in genera–he has the right for the world to be the way he expects it to be at all times–and already-existing disrespect for someone he’s communicating with–but it helps me understand where an otherwise inexplicable and to me wildly inappropriate impulse came from, so the idea was helpful to me and I thought I’d share it with the place I got it from.

    Another thing I just realised is that I only correct people about my name in three circumstances–first, if I think it’s going to cause an issue with respect to citations, professional introductions, etc., second, if I’m dealing with someone I suspect would be utterly mortified if they discovered they’d been referring to me by the wrong name all this time and I hadn’t bothered to correct them…and third, someone who I have the feeling is doing it to assert dominance.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I know that feeling. It took awhile before I dropped out of pure anonymity. As the community greeting goes, “Welcome! Please don’t kill us with sheep.”

  • guest

    I still feel like being a woman on the internet is too dangerous.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Here is one please in which it is marginally friendlier. Most of the commentariat are pretty good people, in part due to the host’s influence. It takes a certain kind of atmosphere to bring together people of many different religious, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds together and have them interact rather cohesively all in all. There are a couple of exceptions, but those trolls tend to make themselves obvious up front (unless you can somehow mistake a guy who says “I’m okay with poor people dying en masse, why?” as someone in which to argue with good faith).

    Which in so many words is to say that this is a pretty good place, and that’s coming from an introvert who doesn’t tend to go out of their way to interact with many people at all. If you want to keep a measure of anonymity and just lurk, you’re welcome to do so whenever and for as long as you feel comfortable.

  • guest

    This is one of the few blogs I read regularly (though I can’t get it at work, where I do most of my blog reading :( ), and one of the even fewer blogs where I actually get some insights from a few of the comments as well as the posts themselves. But I have two ears and one mouth, so generally don’t see the point in commenting except on a very rare weekend morning while debating with myself whether to go out for a few hours of gardening before I need to leave for class (though I have ten fingers, does the analogy still work?).

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Makes sense to me. I’m more inclined to watch instead of participate myself, but the community has done an excellent job of lulling me into a false sense of security.

    (*Eyeshift* But I’m on to you people. If you kill me, you’ll never learn the location of the treasure…!)

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

    But we have tea! and biscuits! and lemonade, and….

    *holds up teapot hopefully* :)

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

    A lot of people assume aunursa is a woman because of the “-a” ending of their handle.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Kind of makes me glad Sam is a gender neutral name.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Actually, a lot of us here take seriously that basic courtesy obliges us to refer to people according to their preferences. It costs so little to convey respect.

  • AnonaMiss

    Languages work because there is common vocabulary and grammar that everyone agrees is correct

    This is not true.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I dunno, it sounds cromulent to me.

  • AnonaMiss

    Nuh.

    Quick and dirty counterexample: mutually intelligible dialects. Each participant believes the other is speaking “incorrectly”, but they can still understand each other.

    Longer explanation:

    The idea of linguistic correctness is a very recent one, crystallized by the invention of writing. In pre-literate languages (with the exception of ritual languages and lingua francas, which like written languages have been artificially frozen by common agreement), language changes very quickly. Think ‘kids these days and their slang’ only more so, because without formal language education, instead of slang having one basic starting point from which to diverge, slang can cascade off of slang cascading off of slang. Money becomes bread becomes sleep becomes bighorns. Silly word games pick up meaning and become grammatical features.

    Speakers of actively evolving languages can understand each other not because they agree on which language features are correct, but because they have the context to infer each other’s intent. And of course, they can ask for clarification if they’re confused.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I was being sarcastic. That’s why I used an illegitimate word that means “legitimate”.

  • ApostateltsopA

    You do realize that the language changes over time right? Changes through common use, that usage in a durable format informs what words make it into dictionaries?

    Your insistence that a gender neutral pronoun is funny is just as bigoted as the last ass I talked to who was upset that it was Cis male and not “normal” male.

    So when you dehumanize someone that is a joke? No, it is you being a bigot.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Yes! Prepare to be mocked as Shakespeare was mocked! Creating new, useful English-language words is just not on.

    *eyeroll to the point of eyesprain*

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Yes, I am seriously positing that the village idiot couldn’t have handled the economy worse than Obama has done for the last five years. And ANY Republican would have produced a decent recovery–for blacks and whites alike, which Obama’s ideological blinders prevent him from doing.

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

    If you believe the official measure of unemployment the usual trend after a recession is it takes 4 to 5 years minimum, after the trough, for unemployment to get anywhere close to pre-recession levels.

    And if you believe the alternate measure, I’d say the US’s goose is pretty well cooked.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    And ANY Republican would have produced a decent recovery–for blacks
    and whites alike, which Obama’s ideological blinders prevent him from
    doing.

    How?

    That whole “austerity” thing doesn’t seem to be working too well in Europe, and contrary to popular Republican belief, poor people don’t ACTUALLY shit gold nuggets when starved.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    “Austerity”, like everything else, only works wen it’s done properly. In most of Europe, it’s difficult to do, within the context of the welfare state that’s already been constructed.

    Done right, free market policies have a very good track record.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Could you provide an example of that?

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Right. Voting for the Democrats is against the interests of people of color. Because voting for the party that you yourself describe as the party that all the racists choose to join is somehow more in their interests?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Kudos for missing my original point–that racists trend Republican only because they have nowhere else to go–but Republicans don’t welcome them.

    Yes, I think that Blacks would be better off rejecting the label of the Democratic part as the “black” party and voting for the party which will net them jobs and a better life, not just more government dependency and poverty.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, you agree that people who want a better life should vote Green? Sweet.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Republicans don’t welcome them — they just make them presidential candidates and throw millions of dollars into their campaign efforts. Such reluctance.

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

    but Republicans don’t welcome them.

    Hohohohio OH PLEASE.

    They all but wink and nudge at the camera when they condemn white racists making a nuisance of themselves, because in the very next breath they’re back to blabbering about how inner-city youth are a waste of space.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Looking at the Black unemployment rate, Obama has done more to hurt blacks than George Wallace ever did.

    Kindly explain this bizarre, otherworldly comment. I’d like to remind you that currently, the US has about 4 job-seekers per new job-opening. That’s not due to ‘laziness’ or ‘welfare dependence’ or any of that bullshit, it’s due to corporations shipping all their jobs overseas where they can pay pennies on the dollar for labor.

    And just to head off any stupid reply about ‘job-killing regulation’, I’d like to also remind you that a: Cheap labor is more important to our Beloved Corporate Masters so we could burn the EPA to the ground and those jobs STILL won’t be coming back, and b: it’s not good for people to get them jobs that will give them cancer.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    A true economic recovery would lift all boats. In fact, the unemployment rate will NEVER improve until the economy gathers some steam. You can argue about how much of the blame Obama deserves (a lot, in my opinion), but you can’t really argue that his policies have worked convincingly. And before you say anything, Reagan had a recession that was just as severe as the one Obama inherited.

    Sure, offshoring and the demise of unskilled labor have had a disproportionate impact on Blacks. But costs associated with Obamacare and the general economic malaise have a lot to do with it too.

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

    You do know MItt Romney, of all people, admitted equality of opportunity is not a reality contrary to literally decades of Republican dogma?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAhJh0ADd9k

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    In fairness, that wouldn’t be the first time Mitt has been wrong about something.

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

    So do you deny the veracity of this part of his speech?

    If equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, then a chronically bad economy would be equally bad for everyone. Instead, it’s worse for African Americans in almost every way. The unemployment rate, the duration of unemployment, average income, and median family wealth are all worse for the black community. In June, while the overall unemployment rate remained stuck at 8.2 percent, the unemployment rate for African Americans actually went up, from 13.6 percent to 14.4 percent.

    These are all statistical data you can get from the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    No, they’re probably all true. The issue is that they aren’t really adjusted properly for education, married vs single households, age and other factors. If you carefully matched all of the social variables and found that equivalent blacks and whites were doing differently, than it would be a more interesting statistic.

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

    I still see your hand waving so hard you’re generating gravitational waves.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Oh hey look, it’s that crazy guy from the postal service thread. The one who spends over 50% of his income in taxes.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, should I not be engaging?

  • Rhubarbarian82

    I’ve never seen anyone use the “Barney Frank caused the housing crisis” line while arguing in good faith, personally. He said some really stupid stuff in the postal service thread, then bounced when people dismantled his arguments.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh okay. I’ll disengage, then. I ought in any event to know better than to engage with anyone who says X group must be animals, particularly when the someone knows full well that X group contains many people of color. Republicans not racist, my ass.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    I see that you have the legendary feminist sense of humor (“How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? That’s not funny!!”). Try not to take rhetorical quips literally. They’re not Bible verses.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I’m sure that the true believers find all this very convincing

    They’re not Bible verses

    The look on Geoffrey’s face when he discovers he’s talking to an atheist…

  • EllieMurasaki

    I wasn’t gonna say anything. Funnier that way.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Yeah, well, us true believers have a more refined sense of humor.

    Wait, I’m not Christian either…

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ever wonder why people saying the same tired old bullshit that needs 101 arguments to counter insist on making their voices heard through the attempts to carry on a 200-level or 400-level conversation?

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    No, why is that?

    Seriously, if you guys have 101 serious rational arguments in opposition to what I’m saying, I’d love to hear them. Those I can argue against. It’s hard to argue against “You’re crazy” or “Are you f–ing kidding?”

  • dpolicar

    Translation assistance: when Ellie says “101 arguments”, ze doesn’t mean one hundred and one arguments, ze means introductory arguments.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ze, not she, please and thank you.

  • dpolicar

    (nods) Edited. For reference, do you object to “they”? (Which is my usual pronoun to use when gender is unknown, though I incorrectly assumed I knew your gender.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    I do not object to ‘they’, no.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    ze? I zee now that I am zadly ignorant of zour zpecial line of argument.

    And thank you for the clarification. Actually, I thought that there were 101 Dalmatians whose cuteness absolutely argued for the rightness of your positions. But, as usual, I was zadly misinformed.

  • Omnicrom

    I wasn’t quite sold on you being an asshole, but then you mocked a person for wishing to avoid being misgendered on the internet. The fact that someone your response to two people talking calmly and rationally about how to communicate with scorn and mockery makes your assholery quite clear.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    If the correction was “he” than I would have no problem with it (although his/her/zer username certainly invites the error). But suggesting a correction with a bizarre pronoun that doesn’t exist in English invites mockery. I guess you are more tolerant of weird personal foibles than I am.

  • dpolicar

    Or we’re part of a community with different linguistic norms.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Let me repeat “doesn’t exist in [standard] English”. I suppose that progressives may speak in a secret code that I am not clued into. But your “linguistic norms” haven’t made it as far as my dictionary (or vocabulary) yet.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Even if any of this crap were true, could you explain the leg of the argument between “Person X would prefer you use a word which is isn’t in the dictionary isn’t widely used” and “Therefore I am absolved of the social contract to be a decent fucking human being, and may freely mock them and misgender them”

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Person X ,who has very few compunctions about insulting ME, wants to be referred to by a nonsense word. I find that amusing and posted a rather disrespectful bit regarding it. Does that make me a bad person, or at least a worse person than Person X? Perhaps, but I’ll still be able to sleep tonight. I think he/she/ze/it will recover from the merciless riposte that I had the indecency to post.

  • David S.

    And nothing strikes you as fundamentally morally questionable about “Does that make me a bad person, or at least a worse person than Person X?”

  • dpolicar

    There exist many communities who speak in ways that I’m not clued into and which haven’t made it into my dictionary. The same is almost undoubtedly true of you.

    You choose to mock people for it. That’s not uncommon.

    I don’t approve of it, but my approval doesn’t matter much.

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

    I’ll grant (weakly) the point being made about the tendency among some progressive circles to use certain words shaded with meaning that are not in generally wide use. As an example, the statement “black people cannot be racist” is prima facie absurd to the general population at large in Canada and the USA, but it is true *IF* you accept a very particular meaning of “racism” used in social justice circles, which is “prejudice plus access to institutional power to enforce that prejudice.”

    I tried to initiate a discussion about a good way to more clearly encapsulate the latter meaning in an easy to use word, for which as yet there was no good meaningful answer.

    Anyway, bottom lining it for you, I’m not waving any flags for you so don’t think i’m like on your team or something. But there are legitimate issues about using words with meanings different from that commonly used.

  • guest

    I generally refer to the former as ‘bigotry’.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    And if someone uses the phrase ‘racism’ to refer to prejudice held by someone not backed by related institutional power, the proper response is not “Black people can’t be racist!”, but “The difference between bigotry and racism is that racism is backed by institutional power.”

    The best part about that response is that you learn something from the person you say it to: if they react by saying “Oh, huh. I never thought of that. Interesting,” then they are an okay person. If they react by mocking you and talking about “Political correctness run amok”, then they are just an asshole.

  • guest

    Yep.

  • AnonaMiss

    …it is true *IF* you accept a very particular meaning of “racism” used in
    social justice circles, which is “prejudice plus access to
    institutional power to enforce that prejudice.

    A (black) friend of mine has raised the concern to me that the idea that black people can’t be (institutionally) racist is outdated at lower rungs of institution. He cites the situation of a friend of his who works at a branch of Wal-Mart which is ~80% black, with all black managers – most of whom look the other way when said friend’s immediate supervisor abuses him.

    This situation is of course far from the norm, but might warrant downgrading “black people cannot be racist” to “black people are rarely in a position to be racist.”

  • dpolicar

    When I first encountered this principle, my response to it was mostly “I am far less concerned with prejudices of powerless people than the prejudices of powerful people.”

    It’s been 20 years and I don’t think my response has changed much. It still seems both simpler and more just than deciding who can and can’t be considered prejudiced/bigoted/racist/sexist/etc. based on their demographics, especially when the demographics are themselves just proxies for power.

    This is also my feeling about most talk of “intersectionality.” The problem intersectionality solves only arises, as far as I can tell, if I make the mistake of defining prejudice/bigotry/racism/sexism/etc. in terms of the agent’s demographics (e.g., “blacks can’t be racist”) rather than in terms of the agent’s power, because then I have to implement special-case reasoning when demographics and power don’t line up typically (e.g., when the power structure is black and is abusing relatively-low-power Native Americans).

    It just seems simpler to say that the same behaviors can be more or less of a problem depending on the relative power level of the person performing them, and the person being affected.

    And, sure, in practice we round up to demographic categories because case-by-case judgments are expensive, but to then express our principles in terms of those categories just leads to confusion.

  • AnonaMiss

    “I am far less concerned with prejudices of powerless people than the prejudices of powerful people.”

    The problem with this is that it inevitably focuses the eye on problems which primarily affect the higher classes.

    I’m conflicted on this, because part of me wants to say “Well of course, higher-class people have a longer reach than lower-class people and will do more harm overall.” But if the president of, say, Dartmouth is a bigot, that only really hurts the rich. If the president of the local community college is a bigot, that hurts the powerless a lot more, even though he’s small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.

    Should we be be more concerned with the prejudices of powerful people, or with the prejudices which harm powerless people? The two categories aren’t identical.

    I don’t mean to imply we should give the powerful a break – just that we shouldn’t dismiss as unworthy of acknowledgement the real harms petty dictators can do.

  • dpolicar

    Yeah, that’s true.

    I initially considered spelling out the full version of the thought — “when two people in a power differential are equally prejudiced against one another, I am far less concerned with the prejudices of the powerless than those of the powerful” — but decided it was too wordy.

    You’re right, though, that in seeking conciseness I distorted meaning.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Not to open a completely different can of worms, but a poor white trash cracker in Georgia can’t get me audited, investigated or fired. Maxine Waters or Charles Rangel (or Obama or Eric Holden) certainly can. So claiming Blacks have no “institutional power to enforce”–when the POTUS is black–is simply silly.

    Racism is racism, and the sooner liberals stop making excuses for it, the better.

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

    The point
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    You.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Somebody has never encountered Wiktionary.

    Just sayin’.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Around here, you will find that most folks try to err on the side of trying to be a decent fucking human being, rather than being an asshole who mocks people for no good reason.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Considering the names I’ve been called here–for nothing more than expressing politely worded conservative opinions–I have limited sympathy for anyone else’s excessive sensitivity. He/She/Ze wants to be called by a word that doesn’t exist. That kind of PC silliness really invites mockery.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Being ‘polite’ about it doesn’t make your views any less terrible.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Maybe. But if you aren’t prepared to defend your own views from polite discussion and disagreement, than they probably aren’t deserving of much respect.

  • Fanraeth

    So by your logic, any word you were not previously familiar with “does not exist” and the use thereof should be mocked. Logical.

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

    Oh ffs. Now you’re just being an ass about gender neutral pronouns. I tend to use the singular “they” myself when I don’t know a person’s gender, but you don’t see me mulishly jutting my jaw out trying to make a fucking federal case over pronouns not in generally wide use in English.

  • David S.

    So many groups find that their opponents lack a sense of humor; that’s the only reason they don’t find our abusive insulting brand of “I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Humor!” funny.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Don’t you just love when people confuse ‘it is legal to do this’ with ‘it is required to do this’? And don’t answer the actual question?

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Personally, I think we should resolve this the democratic way: take a vote on whether or not Geoffrey Kransdorf should be relocated to a remote mountaintop, far from any internet connection.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Three wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner?

    (True democracy has minority rights. Can’t do that.)

  • Rhubarbarian82

    The opposing, un-democratic position, which is to insist that it be legal no matter what, is popular with feminists, but not so much with the general public or even all women.

    Not according to Geoffrey Kransdorf!

  • EllieMurasaki

    We can’t treat him the way he wouldn’t want to be treated. That just wouldn’t be fair.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    I really don’t think that your line of argument is doing you credit here:

    “I disagree with his ideas. In fact, I think they’re crazy. So I won’t refute them rationally. He’s just a crazy guy who we should ignore and shun. That will show him. Maybe he will go away.”

    I’m sure that the true believers find all this very convincing, but ordinary rational thinkers may be less impressed.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    The last time I checked, women were actually a majority in the US. Of course, not all women agree with you for some inexplicable reason, Hence the reluctance to allow the democratic process to work.

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

    By like 0.5%, jesus fucking christ don’t act like it’s an overwhelming tidal wave or something

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    My point, of course, is that “three wolves and a lamb” is a grossly slanted view of how democracy might work in this case. If abortion is really God’s gift to women, than Ellie should be eager to put it to a vote.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If abortion is really God’s gift to women, than Ellie should be eager to put it to a vote.

    Let’s everybody with a right to vote on whether Abby gets an abortion vote right now.

    Abby votes for abortion.

    Therefore Abby gets an abortion.

    Let’s everybody with a right to vote on whether Barbara gets an abortion vote right now.

    Barbara votes against abortion.

    Therefore Barbara continues her pregnancy.

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

    You don’t put free speech to a vote. You don’t put freedom fo religious worship to a vote.

    You don’t put bodily freakin’ autonomy to a vote, either.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Three wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner?

    Our current ‘democracy’ is two sheep and a wolf voting on dinner, but one sheep has been watching too many ads about how delicious mutton is.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Do you have any rational, real reason for disbelieving that Frank rebuffed the Bush Administration’s requests to reform Fannie? Or any reason for disbelieving that the new mortgage standards that Clinton put into place contributed substantially to the subsequent crises? Or is it just your policy to ascribe bad faith to any commentator whose opinions gore your personal oxen?

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Blaming Barney Frank betrays such a total disregard for the actual facts of the financial meltdown that it’s really not worth the effort on my part to get involved (particularly not with someone who’s claimed to pay over 50% of his income in taxes).

    I know you think that you’re the center of the universe and that the rest of us should drop what we’re doing to cater to you and your lack of understanding, but the truth is you’re just a write-off.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Translation: I can’t refute this factually, so I’ll just blow it off with yet another ad hominim attack.

    Count me convinced!

  • Lectorel

    Please go away until you understand why demanding people educate you is a derailing tactic. And if you could stay away after that, too, that’d be great.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Sorry, but demanding an explanation of why a fact that I have stated is wrong is not an unreasonable request. I understand that I am disrupting the harmony of everyone patting themselves on the back here, but that isn’t necessarily a reason to go away.

    People here seem to think that insults and condescending remarks constitute argument and proof. It’s very disappointing and doesn’t speak well for the quality of “progressive” reasoning.

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

    The fact that you apparently think you remit 50% of your income in taxes when the nominal combined federal and state marginal tax rates for median income people don’t even get near 50% ….

    Well, that just shows how much attention you give your paycheck, and if that’s true, then the rest of your argumentation is similarly compelling in its rivetingly careful research and thought.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Actually, I live overseas, so the taxes that I pay are different from what you might expect. But your entire point is irrelevant. Whether or not one thing that I posted is or isn’t accurate doesn’t invalidate anything and everything that I might say at another point.

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

    So in short, you don’t even pay taxes in the USA yet feel qualified to insist that your experience trumps facts and figures you can get from the IRS or other statistical agencies.

    *golf clap*

    EDIT: I really hope you understand reciprocal tax treaties or your accountant does.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    You’re not actually very good at translation.

    Also you’re not very good at latin, or logic. “Your argument betrays a complete disregard for facts” is patently ad argumentum, not ad hominem.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    If my argument disregards the facts, than the onus is on him to provide alternate ones, not simply to dismiss mine with a handwave.

    And I chose to regard “I know you think that you’re the center of the universe and that the
    rest of us should drop what we’re doing to cater to you and your lack of
    understanding” as an insult. In other words, “you are clueless, so your argument is worthless.” That’s an ad hominum attack.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Washington Post: Barney Frank Didn’t Cause The Housing Crisis

    I would say ‘you’re welcome’, but I fully expect this article will be scanned for any flaws that you think support your opinion and then memory-holed.

  • Geoffrey Kransdorf

    Thank you. But the article actually states that Frank took lots of questionable campaign contributions from Fannie/Freddie, got a sweetheart job there for his sweetheart “boyfriend” and was generally negligent in his supervision of them.

    The article tries to exculpate Frank from this in two ways:

    – The housing bubble wasn’t just in the US, other countries (e.g. Belgium) had bubbles.

    But this doesn’t prove anything. US standards might have been copied. Or completely other and unrelated causes might have been at work. It’s an interesting fact, but doesn’t let Frank and Clinton off the hook.

    – Most of the bad loans were issued by Private lenders, not by Fannie/Freddie.

    Again, interesting but not relevant. First, even private lenders are going to be influenced by government lending standards, and may adopt them to avoid liability. And even without considering Private loans, Fannie/Freddie were a disaster all by themselves.

    So no, I’m not convinced. And I still think Clinton, Dodd and Frank are responsible. More so than Bush anyway. But thanks for the link and the honest effort.

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

    Your hand is waving so much I can detect the gravitational waves coming from it.