You won’t believe what I have to say in this post

You won’t believe what I have to say in this post May 5, 2017

V0050236 A fist-fight between Lord Brougham and Lord Melbourne as Pea Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A fist-fight between Lord Brougham and Lord Melbourne as Peachum and Lockit. Coloured lithograph by H.B. (John Doyle), 1837. 1837 By: John DoylePublished: 22 October 1836 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

I am outraged, outraged, I tell you, at the fact that Donald Trump seemed to think that Andrew Jackson was alive at the time of the Civil War.  Also, Sean Spicer denied the Holocaust, and you can tell, just by looking Steve Bannon in the eyes, that he wants to kill all the babies in the world.

Also, the Pope is a bad, bad man because he’s a Marxist who wants to change church teaching on marriage and contraception, and probably, late at night, watches Benny Hinn.

But that’s OK because Christians are all fools since they think that if they say a prayer to their magical sky god, he will send dollar bills raining down on you, and they’re also evil because they want to imprison everyone who doesn’t agree with them.  If you’re not careful, they’ll destroy the Capitol and create a theocracy where minorities are sent to toxic wastelands.

But it’s a good thing that Trump won the election, since otherwise Clinton would have turned the United States into Venezuela and we’d be standing in breadlines all day long.

You’re all sharing this post with all your friends, right?

No?  OK, maybe I have to find an anecdote or two that I twist into something much more nefarious than it is.

How ’bout the fact that the upcoming Murder on the Orient Express film doesn’t contain any Asian (“Oriental”) actors?

That’s what film critic Rebecca Theodore tweeted about on Wednesday — see the report at Ace of Spades HQ.  Upon being reminded that it does not take place anywhere near the Far East, she then demanded that the filmmakers should have rewritten Agatha Christie’s story to replace Germans and Brits with Asians of some sort or another.  Which sort of misses the fact that filmmaking in English-speaking countries, when making period pieces anyway, tends to draw from the literature of those countries, which tends to have white characters — but that there are vibrant film industries in such places as Korea, China, the Philippines, Japan, etc., whose period pieces draw from their histories and whose actors are, yes, of “Asian” ancestry.  (See my old post observing that a CNN slideshow purporting to be a list of “Asian-American” actors included actual Asian-Asians who happened to be in American films.)

Or how ’bout the fact that menstrual period-tracker apps — gasp! — tend to be flavored with pink!

Yes, that’s from a recent Atlantic article whose author must have been up against a deadline, and came up with “The Awful Pinkness of Period Apps.”

Now, there are plenty of reasons to complain about the proliferation of “period tracking” apps, and the author reasonably notes that “the apps’ predictions of upcoming menstrual cycles might not account for variations due to menopause or stress” — which is true enough but also fairly trivial, and means that unless you’re cycle is regular (or artificially regularized by contraceptive pills), such an app, without observing ovulation signs as well, is pretty useless for the purpose of predicting your period,  But that’s a side comment.  What really matters to the author, citing a study, is that “Aside from being aesthetically offensive, the design reflects a certain thoughtlessness—as if slapping some pink flowers on an app is what you do to appeal to women.”

As it happens, one of the commenters, bdavi52, looked at the original study in more detail, and wrote,

Oh, please.
10-20-30 apps (most of them free) to provide ‘period tracking assistance’…. millions of users, spread across hundreds of countries (Clue, one of the more popular, reports 2M users in 180 countries) … and this ‘study’ examines 2000 on-line reviews, surveys 690 self-selected respondents, and interviews 12.

And then tells us that 59 people “considered femininity (in design) a negative trait”.

Are we supposed to take this seriously?

Those are silly examples, but how ’bout one with more serious consequences?

Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, published an article on similarities between transgenderism and “transracialism” in the Spring 2017 edition of Hypatia, a feminist philosophy journal.  The article examined persons who believe themselves to be transgender, that is, to identify as being of the opposite sex, and people (or a person, that is, Rachel Dolezal) who identify as being of a different racial origin and wish to live their lives living in that other culture and wish to be recognized as being of that other racial origin — and looked at both how they perceive themselves and how others perceive them, and, ultimately, how the philosophical arguments for accepting one or the other claim line up against each other.

In an article at NYmag.com, Jesse Singal details the “witch-hunt” against Tuvel for this article.

The journal has already apologized for the article, despite the fact that it was approved through its normal editorial process, and Tuvel’s peers are busily wrecking her reputation by sharing all sorts of false claims about the article that don’t bear the scrutiny of even a single close read.

The biggest vehicle of misinformation about Tuvel’s articles comes from the “open letter to Hypatia” that has done a great deal to help spark the controversy. That letter has racked up hundreds of signatories within the academic community — the top names listed are Elise Springer of Wesleyan University, Alexis Shotwell of Carleton University (who is listed as the point of contact), Dilek Huseyinzadegan of Emory University, Lori Gruen of Wesleyan, and Shannon Winnubst of Ohio State University. (Update: As of the morning of May 3, all the names had been removed from the letter. A note at the top of it reads “We have now closed signatories for this letter in order to send it to the Editor and Associate Editors of Hypatia.”)

The complaints of the letter?  Such horrors as having used the label “transgenderism” (apparently now on the banned list; who knew?), “deadnaming” a person — that is, she referred to the fact that Caitlyn Jenner once had, and gained fame under, the name Bruce Jenner, and further complaints that stretch credulity even further; according to Singal, these complaints are not supported by any reasonable reading of the article in question.  Presumably the real complaint was that Tuvel dared, even for purposes of scholarly analysis, consider ideas that are uncomfortable/taboo to the political orthodoxy on campus.

Note that Tuvel is an assistant professor, that is, she does not have tenure.  For all the proclamation of universities as places of free inquiry, one suspects that her shot at tenure is over as well.

So the bottom line is that I, too, need to find just the right scandalous item to share with all of you, find the right witch to try, and I’ll be on my way to fame and fortune.

 

Image:  V0050236 A fist-fight between Lord Brougham and Lord Melbourne as Pea
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
A fist-fight between Lord Brougham and Lord Melbourne as Peachum and Lockit. Coloured lithograph by H.B. (John Doyle), 1837.
1837 By: John DoylePublished: 22 October 1836
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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