Smart people saying smart things (7.9)

Smart people saying smart things (7.9) July 9, 2013

Lord Harries of Pentregarth, Speech before the House of Lords, June 2013

For most of history, among the upper classes, marriage was primarily a way of controlling titles and wealth. Among all classes, it involved the radical subservience of women. Often it went along with a very lax attitude—by males, not females—to relationships outside marriage. Contraception was forbidden and this resulted in many children, and as often as not the wife dying young. Only in the 18th century did we get a growth in emphasis on the quality of the relationship of the couple. Now, this mutual society, help and comfort that the one ought to have with the other, in prosperity and adversity, is rightly stressed. This is equally valued by all people, whatever their sexuality.

Brittney Cooper: “The N-word on the Fourth of July”

I pressed forward, in a low voice: “I just want to let you know that your words were hurtful. And I hope you don’t pass that kind of ignorance down to your beautiful boys.” She replied curtly, “I don’t.”

And then we rode the rest of the way south together, her being a mother hen to her boys, me praying that the seeds of hate she’s planting would not fall on fertile soil.

Bryan Curtis: “He Is Not a Prospect”

Cervenak’s condition is more interesting. Like a lot of us in our mid-30s, he has found his career has landed somewhere between optimal happiness and utter futility. These days, Cervenak is more valuable for his reliability than his potential. He would be a tough guy to lose but not a particularly hard guy to replace. He is organizational depth. He is not a prospect.

Ida B. Wells, from Crusade for Justice

Again the question was asked where were all the legal and civil authorities of the country, to say nothing of the Christian churches, that they permitted such things to be? I could only say that despite the axiom that there is a remedy for every wrong, everybody in authority from the President of the United States down, had declared their inability to do anything; and that the Christian bodies and moral associations do not touch the question. It is the easiest way to get along in the South (and those portions in the North where lynchings take place) to ignore the question altogether; our American Christians are too busy saving the souls of white Christians from burning in hell-fire to save the lives of black ones from present burning in fires kindled by white Christians. The feelings of the people who commit these acts must not be hurt by protesting against this sort of thing, and so the bodies of the victims of mob hate must be sacrificed, and the country disgraced because of that fear to speak out.

Rep. Doug Cox: “The GOP and abortion legislation”

I cannot convince my Republican colleagues that one of the best ways to eliminate abortions is to ensure access to contraception. A recent attempt by my fellow lawmakers to prevent Medicaid dollars from covering the “morning after” pill is a case in point. Denying access to this important contraceptive is a sure way to increase legal and back-alley abortions. Moreover, such a law would discriminate against low-income women who depend on Medicaid for their health care.

But wait, some lawmakers want to go even further and limit everyone’s access to birth control by allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for contraception.

What happened to the Republican Party that I joined? The party where conservative presidential candidate Barry Goldwater felt women should have the right to control their own destiny? The party where President Ronald Reagan said a poor person showing up in the emergency room deserved needed treatment regardless of ability to pay? What happened to the Republican Party that felt government should not overregulate people until (as we say in Oklahoma) “you have walked a mile in their moccasins”?

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  • Ah, but if you contribute to the destigmatizing of pickle-eating, then all that hateful pickle-eating is your fault, whereas if you rail against pickle eating AND against head-beating, then the head-beating is 100% the fault of those pickle-eating perverts, and your hands are clean

  • dpolicar


    And to the extent that we’re positing that any of this actually describes me, which is one of the odder uses of the second person I’ve run into today, it follows that my primary goal is to signal moral purity… which, as I said a few hours back, I suspect the majority of individuals who identify as pro-life are primarily doing.

  • FearlessSon

    They all fall under the umbrella term “religious right”.

  • FearlessSon

    My girlfriend pointed out that Card recently wrote something to the point of “I guess the gay marriage matter is settled then, I only hope that its supporters are gracious enough not to punish people on its opposition,” or to similar effect.

    We both immediately thought that this kind of tepid “change of heart” probably had more to do with a movie he stood to make a lot of money from being potentially boycotted and his brand being damaged (even moreso than it already was.)

  • themunck

    And yet, when asked “do you want to stop abortions, by making women able to keep their jobs despite being pregnant?”, the response is a resounding “no”. You cannot claim to oppose abortion, then vote for measures that causes abortions.
    I understand the no-tolerance argument, but their actions have proven that they do not actually care about stopping abortions. They only care about seeming to.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I regret getting into that debate. It was a nice distraction at the time (boyfriend was in New Jersey interviewing for a job–potentially huge thing for him and us) but Frank isn’t being intellectually honest, and I’m afraid my rant on why I’m Atheist may have offended some people.

    So, ugh all around.

  • Baby_Raptor

    You want to hear one of these types REALLY head-asplode?

    The best conversation I ever had with one was when I made the mistake of mentioning that I have a very bad fear of breastfeeding. Just thinking about it or reading more than a passing mention causes the freak outs to begin,

    By the time I was done with my explanation to the other person in the conversation, they were swearing up and down that I’m not really biologically female, because “No woman could fear feeding her precious babies” and similar claims.

  • Baby_Raptor

    1/100th of a penny. I wasn’t even aware things could be valued for that little o.0

  • The_L1985

    My parents have urged me never to buy property in a black neighborhood because “you’ll never be able to sell it.” I know that’s not the reason, because I’m not stupid. My father actually slipped while we were looking at a rather nice townhouse. Everything looked and felt like a typical upper-middle-class suburban neighborhood, except that everyone was black instead of white. Dad made some kind of remark about how “those people are different” and therefore I didn’t want to live there.

    Um, Dad? I can see “those people.” They’re literally standing right in front of us, acting perfectly NORMAL. Fuck off.

  • The_L1985

    A semicolon or period would be technically correct, but most people use a comma for that particular combination. :)

  • The_L1985

    They’re not very common in any language. I like them, myself; I just forget to use them in favor of the long dash–which is mainly because my sentences are as ADHD as I am.

  • Fanraeth

    He did just get forced off that Superman comic. Maybe he finally realized how much his positions are alienating his target audience and could end up hurting his wallet.

  • Charby

    Ha ha, did you know that the Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Harry Reid, is pro-life? Did you know that he advocates for the overturning of Roe v. Wade and has voted for legislation restricting abortion on many separate occasions? This isn’t a secret, yet he somehow hasn’t been chased out of the Democratic Party and — as I mentioned earlier — remains the Majority Leader and has been regularly a part of the Democratic Party leadership for over a decade?

    If that’s the equivalent of Democrats chasing away and being intolerant of pro-lifers, I can’t imagine what they would do to someone whose beliefs that they actually like.

  • Charby

    Could you explain it? If Democrats are intolerant of pro-lifers, why would they let someone like that in such a high position of authority and prestige for so long? When was the last time the Republicans had a pro-choice Majority Leader, Speaker, or party whip?

    Heck, we’re at the point where “abortion is OK in cases of rape, incest, or endangering the life of the mother” compromise which most people were OK with back in the day is being eroded by conservative pols who argue that rape cannot lead to pregnancy and that pregnancy does not endanger the life of mothers except in odd fringe cases.

  • Charby

    That’s the stock market telling you personally that your business model is… outmoded. (Though most stock exchanges require a minimum stock price, usually $1-$5 each.)

    The fact that he has over a billion outstanding shares makes me think that he’s been conducting stock splits or stock dividends, which all things held constant tend to lower a stock’s price. I don’t know if he was intentionally trying to appeal to penny stock buyers (penny stocks are basically the Wild West of the stock market — dirt-cheap shares of publicly-held companies that are loosely regulated, highly volatile, and fairly easy to manipulate).

    I did go over to their purported website, which had some adorably defensive responses to criticism:

    A: Our records show that as of January 15, 2010, we have had a total of 7,092 investors buy shares in Left Behind Games. Of that total over the past four years, approximately 40% have remained as shareholders. Management believes this is indicative of significant shareholder support by those who believe that there is an untapped market for Christian video games and that our company is well positioned to maximize the expansion this new emerging market.

    To me, that just means that 40% of their investors haven’t been able to find someone to dump their shares on yet, or maybe they just forgot they had them. But I admire their optimistic phrasing! It’s kind of like the captain of the Titanic commending the people who were still stranded on the ship for their firm commitment to the voyage as it sinks beneath the waves.

    A: Investors generally do not invest based upon the price to earnings ratio that is common to companies in the NASDAQ or NYSE. They invest in what they believe is the company’s potential role in a growth market. Left Behind Games Inc. is pioneering a new market segment in the multi-billion dollar video game business. To date, no company has successfully generated significant profits by making Christian video games.

    That’s… not a good thing. They know that’s not a good thing, right? If no one has EVER succeeded in doing what you’re trying to do, you have to give pretty damn good evidence that there’s something about you that’s different. They then try to compare themselves to the rise of Christian pop music (actually not a bad comparison here) and then pivot to references to eBay and Amazon, which I have to respect for being so audacious.

    PriceWaterhouseCoopers predicts that the video game software marketplace will grow to $21 billion a year in five years. If the Christian segment captures just 2% of the sales, that will equal $420 Million per year. With less than $3 million being generated by Christian video games today, and with Left Behind Games being the dominant presence in this market, management believes many investors have good reason to be excited about the prospects for future growth.

    It’s interesting to note how much of their, “why you should invest in us” section talks about other companies and even other industries.

    Pro investment tip — if a company rep says that they’ll be successful because an unrelated company run by someone else in another industry is successful, just smile, nod, and back away slowly.

    PriceWaterhouseCoopers predicts that the video game software marketplace will grow to $21 billion a year in five years. If the Christian segment captures just 2% of the sales, that will equal $420 Million per year. With less than $3 million being generated by Christian video games today, and with Left Behind Games being the dominant presence in this market, management believes many investors have good reason to be excited about the prospects for future growth.

    Notice how none of those numbers have anything to do with their company. $21m is a prediction for the entire industry. 2% is just something that they made up — there’s no reason to think that Christian segment will get 2% of sales; no one is entitled to market share.

    That’s like me saying, “Microsoft makes $75 billion a year. If I can get 2% of that, that’s… that’s a lot of money! Trust me!”

    And this next bit I just love:

    Q: Can you comment on today’s current market stock price?
    A: The company cannot provide investors any comments specifically regarding price.

    I guess there really is no way to spin a stock price trading at less than penny a share that doesn’t sound tragic.

    Q: When will the company see profitability in the retail marketplace?
    A: Management honestly doesn’t know.

    At least there’s some honesty left! Hallelujah!

    I pray that Jerry Jenkins’s literary career enjoys the same level of success.

  • dpolicar

    (nods) Agreed.

    I was mildly tempted to send him a reply to the effect that I would forego ensuring that my moral censure of his prejudice had the force of law behind it, if he would agree in public that it isn’t actually necessary that we enforce our moral beliefs by law.

    But playing with my dog took priority. There are only so many hours in a day.

  • Lori

    There was no “change of heart”. He tacitly admitted defeat, but that was it and his comments are 100% about heading off a boycott of the Ender’s Game movie.

    He’s exactly the same person he’s been for the last 2 decades. He’s still on the board of NOM, at least until they kick him off for publicly admitting that the fight against marriage equality is lost. He just doesn’t want to face any negative consequences for his years of incredibly hateful homophobia. Because he’s an asshole.

  • Lori

    David Gerrold apparently doesn’t have a dog :)

  • Wednesday

    Also, he claims his hateful actions aren’t relevant because “Ender’s Game….has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.”

    (a) This is technically false, same-sex couples were trying to legally marry in even just the US before 1984, and the gay rights movement in general also long predates Ender’s game.

    (b) Maybe Ender’s Game isn’t about themes relevant to QUILTBAG rights, but its sequel Speaker for the Dead certainly is. It broke my heart when I realized Card had more empathy for fictional aliens than for real QUILTBAG folks.

  • dpolicar

    He does, actually… a terrier, IIRC.

    (He made a passing reference in an earlier post about preferring playing “show me the belly” with his terrier than arguing with people, which is why I happen to know this. I may be an Internet stalker, but I’m not a creepy Internet stalker.)

    I heart Gerrold. He has been one of my favorite authors ever since The Man Who Folded Himself, which is not only my favorite time-travel story by such a comfortable margin that nothing is actually in second place, but which completely redefined my understanding of what time-travel stories are supposed to be about in the first place.

  • AnonaMiss

    I too have a passionate love for semicolons.

    I used to have a ring made out of an old typewriter key. It was overpriced for the quality and soon broke, but I needed it because it was the : ; key. I wore it on my right pinky.

    And that was before I became a programmer.

    I would share a picture of pony me with a semicolon cutie mark, but the place it’s already uploaded has my real name, and I’m too lazy to search for another image hosting site that isn’t blocked by workternets. Maybe after work.

  • Mark Z.

    Let’s back away from the pickles for a moment.

    In your analogy, the distinction is:
    – “I think beating people over the head is wrong”
    – “I think inflicting head injuries on people is wrong”

    If you think the problem is head injuries, then there’s a whole mess of policies you could support to reduce the incidence or severity of head injuries. Motorcycle helmet laws, changes to high school football rules, more drunk-driving checkpoints, more funding for research on head trauma.

    But if you narrowly define the problem as the act of one person clubbing another person in the head with a stick, then all of that is a distraction. The only policy that you care about is zero tolerance for head-beating. You’ll vote for county judges based on how willing they are to punish head-beaters. You’ll support stick control legislation. You’ll oppose the availability of helmets, as they might be used for “safe head-beating”, as if there could be such a thing. And, of course, if there’s an organized political movement to defend the right to beat people over the head, you’ll vilify them.

  • AnonaMiss

    Inequality is not itself unjust, but inequality is a common symptom of injustice. It is the proverbial smoke to injustice’s fire. There are plenty of things that make smoke, or what looks like smoke, that aren’t fire; but when you’re a fire lookout, if you see smoke, you can’t think “Oh, well smoke isn’t inherently a problem.”

  • Alix

    Yes. That smoke might be a well-contained, properly monitored campfire. Or it might be a forest fire. You don’t know until you check – and if it’s the latter, shrugging and going “but campfires are good!” isn’t really the appropriate response.

  • dpolicar

    Ah, I see what you’re saying.

    (shrug) I suppose.

    That said, if I object to beating people over the head but have no problem with head injuries, ISTM the proper thing to do in that scenario is find me something harmless to play with in the corner while the grownups talk about reducing head injuries. I’m pretty much irrelevant to that discussion.

    I feel similarly about someone who opposes abortions but doesn’t actually care about whether pregnancies result in births or not.

    If their answer to “Hypothetically, if legalizing abortion in a community reliably caused the number of abortions performed in that community to drop to zero (all else being equal and never mind why, perhaps it’s due to divine intervention), while passing laws against it caused the number of abortions to double, would passing laws against abortion be the right thing to do?” is “Of course! Abortion is bad and should be illegal!”, they aren’t old enough to play with legal systems without hurting themselves, and I endorse finding them something harmless to play with in the corner while the grownups talk.

  • themunck

    Random nitpick: The smoke from fires kill a lot more people than the fire itself :/

  • SisterCoyote

    I still miss the town I went to high school in, which was minority white. It was also a factory-town, which meant that it was basically a working poor town, the very mention of which would make people start edging away from you in that affluent and white state.

    But the mostly-white, suburban, elderly town where my relatives are from, some hour or so south, just woke up to a bunch of leaflets from the KKK being distributed across their driveways, advertising themselves as a sort of neighborhood watch. Yeah, I know where I’d rather be living, thanks all the same.

  • AnonaMiss

    And the inequality hurts people a lot more than the injustice itself! If you can’t get medical treatment, it hurts you just the same whether it’s because you couldn’t get a job because transphobia, or because you donated your life savings to Exodus International.

  • banancat

    They want women to die or suffer in other ways for having sex.

  • MarkTemporis

    I do somewhat question the wisdom of boycotting the movie, because as the writer, OSC is probably getting a vanishingly small portion of the movie take compared to the cast, most of whom are not particularly noted homophobes.

    I don’t plan on seeing the film myself because the series seemed a bit juvenile when it came out and young adult me was obsessed with reading ‘grown-up’ SF. Young adult me was a bit of a pretentious idiot.

    (I can’t imagine Ben Kingsley or Harrison Ford being on the wrong side of any issue, even though that totally sets me up to be disappointed in the future.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Who cares what percentage of the take Card’s getting? Read this:

  • MarkTemporis

    Fair enough. I was curious as to whether the animus would be mitigated by the participation of one or more GLBT-friendly cast members, all of whom are bound to earn more than OSC. But then, it’s not like Harrison Ford is hurting for the cash.

  • Yeah. I kind of assume African Americans reserve N-word privileges for themselves and that anyone else of another color using it is either very brave, very stupid, or possibly has been accorded the privilege.

    I refuse to use it myself, for any reason, except when recounting historical phraseology or what someone else has said.

  • So? I probably have like 5000.

  • Ima Pseudonym


  • christopher_y

    Interesting to note that Lord Harries is a retired Bishop in the Church of England and a Professor of Divinity.

  • Over 6000, actually.

  • Wednesday

    I see your point, but for me, the purpose of boycotting the movie is to draw attention to the fact that Card is a bigoted asshole who has taken actions which have harmed people and their families.

    Yes, a lot of people know already, but others do not, or don’t care, to the point that he received an award in 2008 for his contributions to YA literature. He has *mocked* his queer/ally fans who discover his views and feel betrayed that the writer of Speaker for the Dead could view them/their friends and family members as sub-human.

    I’m also inclined to think that if Card were saying the same sorts of things about Black people or Jewish people as he is about QUILTBAG people, if he were a pro-racism activist, then he would be seeing greater professional repercussions for his words and actions. So IMO, people need to keep drawing attention to what he has said and _done_.

    Not to mention, news articles and J. Random. Internet Poster keep saying the boycott is about his “stance” on gay marriage, as if he wasn’t on the board of NOM and therefore taking *actions* against QUILTBAG people and their families.

    As for thinking of others in the movie industry… well, first of all, the industry doesn’t automatically _deserve_ my patronage. And frankly the trailer looks rather “White Males Trying To Look Determined and Serious But Just Looking Bland”, which does not entice me. (I know that Battle School is supposed to be fairly racially diverse, but the trailer I saw didn’t show that.)

    My local theatre is a cooperative and non-profit, and also raising funds for a much-needed renovation. If they screen Ender’s Game, I’ll be donating the cost of the ticket directly to them and skipping out on the movie.

  • AnonaMiss

    Did you offer to unzip your pants and prove it?

  • Baby_Raptor

    Probably wouldn’t have gotten me far. Anyone can find a picture of a woman on the internet.

  • I consider Mark Z.’s explanation above and Ross’s explanation below more plausible than yours.