xenologer: (Lisbeth)
Okay, so. I'm reading a lot about how Dynasty Young's mom shouldn't have sent him to school with a taser, generally because two wrongs don't make a right yada yada self-defense perpetuates the cycle of violence blah blah I am a privileged piece of shit who can count on people to sympathize with my problems and either protect or avenge me should things really get messy etcetera etcetera some Just World Fallacy in there as well because if Dynasty got expelled then he and his family definitely did something wrong here or it wouldn't have happened.

Here's my deal.

Victim-blaming is siding with the assailant. Yes it is. Yes. It is.

Considering that the school board basically told Dynasty it was his fault for being bullied because he comes off as being too gay, I think they know why he was being bullied and what was happening to him just wasn't important to them.

Now, it could be said that it wasn't important to them because they don't do jack about victims of bullying in general, which has been my experience. However, considering the victim-blaming Dynasty received, it doesn't sound like the school board disagreed with the bullies' opinion of LGBT people. They just might have liked the bullies to "express" that opinion off school grounds.

From what I learned about how public schools handle bullying, the right thing to do is always to tell an adult, but it's not generally going to do any good. There are certain kinds of people whose lives are just plain worth less to everyone else, and members of those groups always learn where they stand sooner or later.

For the record, my parents didn't send me to school with a weapon that was against the rules for me to have or that could be confiscated. Note that I didn't say they sent me with nothing. My dad just understood that if I can't count on administrators, then they must be assumed to be extra hazards.

If Dynasty's mom made any mistake here, it's in not treating the administrators as being as much her son's enemies as they really turned out to be. Dynasty deserved that weapon, but it gave administrators the excuse they needed to help homophobic bullies make his life miserable, and of course they took that excuse and ran with it.

Still, giving them an excuse to help homophobes mess with a gay kid's life doesn't make it her fault that they did. The administrators are still accountable for the fact that they took that opportunity and used it to make the situation even worse by picking the victim of bullying to make an example of.

That is such a cynical way of looking at it.

I don't mean to sound overly cynical here, because I am an optimist that we can make things better. The world doesn't have to be like this. However. This is what the world is like now; this is what we've got. I don't think Dynasty mattered to the administrators, because certain kinds of people are often treated as disposable, particularly for the sake of "keeping order."

The difference between me and a cynic is that I know we can do better than this. I just am not so starry-eyed that I'm willing to candy-coat what Dynasty's really up against and how long the list is of people who'd lose ZERO sleep over harm to this kid because of his orientation.

But! But! How can you say that adults don't care? I'M AN ADULT! D:

I think so many adults want kids to trust them SO BADLY that they've forgotten how few adults kids can really count on. We're not supposed to tell kids, "We can't protect you so you'll have to learn to protect yourself." But um. For a lot of kids it's true, and I think a lot of people reading probably learned that firsthand.

For those who didn't? Take it from me. Failing to teach children the real limits of what they can count on adults for is not merely teaching a lie--it's teaching a potentially dangerous one. There's generally a point at which politely requesting help from the powerful but disinterested authorities fails. As activist type people (which many of my friends are) many of us are aware of it, but get squeamish about applying it to children, because then we're including ourselves in the group of people that they can't always depend on, and that hurts.

It's still true, though.

I cannot romanticize my own younger years nearly hard enough to forget that. Maybe some people can, and anybody can talk a good long line about all of the things Dynasty's mom could have done beyond getting the school board and an independent panel to review the situation, but it seems like everything on that list amounts to a polite request for justice.

We all know how effective those are.

The only reason to make those polite requests is to preserve moral high ground for later. Basically: Do it so that you can say you did. You will need to be able to say that later for when every adult who promised to have your back inevitably betrays your trust, because your only weapon against them is your ability to destroy their credibility. Talk to them first to set up the shot.

It's not going to help, though. Maybe a lot of adults don't remember that, but some kids don't have the luxury of forgetting.

Also posted this over at Dissent of a Woman. As usual, if you want to share this, that's awesome, but if you could keep my LJ and Dreamwidth between us, I would appreciate that.
xenologer: (Lisbeth)
Okay so a gay high school student named Darnell "Dynasty" Young was getting bullied in my city and got suspended (in fact, I think he faces expulsion) because he brought a taser to school with him that he got from his mother because he was apparently afraid he'd need it! So he gets suspended, natch.

People who are not monsters are upset about this, because maybe if IPS did jack shit about the problem, he and his family wouldn't feel like he had nobody to protect him but himself. This is correct, in my opinion.

The problem is that someone I know who likes to have his name on shit decided to organize an action at a school board meeting a week from now and only after I'm like "hey are there organizations like Indiana Youth Group that are doing stuff that we should be supporting?" and then I find out that the dude's apparently had a few phone conversations with the IYG ExecDirector and is doing this on their behalf BUT DIDN'T MENTION THEM ON THE ORGANIZING PAGE.

Because that's not relevant information at all, right? Their participation is so trivial that he doesn't even need to tell anybody he called them. BAD SIGN.

So I am like, "Hey guys. Maybe the organization for LGBT teens should be the heart of this because it's about an LGBT teen. Maybe we should find out what they want by way of support before we try to offer it so that we do right things." An action on behalf of an LGBT teen without LGBT teens or people who've been LGBT teens is doomed to eventual failure because it failed at the start to empower the people WITHIN the movement that the movement seeks to empower overall.

Organizer guy: "...Oh. Yeah, we should do that."
Immediate response from other people: "Oh, hey! I didn't see anything about IYG. If this is an IYG thing, I'm in."
Me: =D

I have time, money, and no small number of ideas and a reasonable pile of organizing experience to offer, but if IYG is going to be a focus or beneficiary of this work, I refuse to treat them like they need this done for them. This is their fight; I'm just a resource. I'm willing to offer time, money, and organizing experience, but there is no reason why an action focused on the lives of LGBT teens should be entirely comprised of adult-aged straight people. Even if the guy who wants his name on this shit is right that they're geared toward offering programs and not political action, that still doesn't mean it's our job to do this for them and then offer them involvement.

Maybe this is just because I'm a canvasser, but just because someone doesn't know what to do doesn't mean they're useless and should just sit down and be grateful that someone else will handle it. It just means that they need some options to choose from and an opportunity to suggest new ones. We may know politics (though including this guy in that categorization is pretty generous considering how he conducted himself during Occupation stuff), but they know themselves. In what universe does this mean they're unable to contribute unless the middle-aged straight cisman makes calls and hands them a political action?

So I don't fuckin' know. Hopefully that thinking has been derailed early enough that something good will actually get organized with input from the organization in our city that exists to provide a support system for LGBT teens. I'm hoping that pointing out the GODDAMN OBVIOUS FACT that these are the people who best know the needs of the community we're trying to help has cut this shit down early enough, but I don't know. I'm going to keep an eye on it.

I knew that this happened, but I've never seen it in these early stages before. I know where it's headed because I've seen what this turns into, but wow. Never seen how it begins before. This is ridiculous. I just can't believe that he thought IYG's involvement was such a trivial matter that it wasn't even worth mentioning, but that he's doing this "on their behalf." Then, um. Why didn't you invite any of them to this discussion? O_o
xenologer: (bye bye)
Whenever discussion of the declining space program comes up (example story about the Mars program, and another about our suspended shuttle program), it makes me sad because I feel like it's one more piece of our nation's love for science that we're leaving behind. It's a sentiment I heard echoed at a sci-fi convention by the friendly science-loving folk who attended, and I definitely can feel it, too.

At the same time, I hear Gil Scott-Heron in my head whenever people are talking about the billions of dollars we ought to be spending on the space program.



So while I'm sad about the fact that we allegedly SUDDENLY can't afford the space program, realistically we haven't been able to afford it for a long time. Unfortunately, that money is going to get used to pay for war and not for the things I'd like us to be dreaming about instead. With the cost of putting a few physically-perfect highly-educated and well-trained professionals into space, what could we do about AIDS? What could we do about malaria? What could we do about cholera? What could we do about ill-funded schools or food deserts?

Makes me upset when the closing down of the space program is framed as a lack in our ability to dream. It probably is, because it'll probably mean more of our money goes to making war. It probably is about us failing to dream big enough or well enough, but it wouldn't have to be, because I think there are far more important things for us to spend our money on.

It's just sad that we probably won't.
xenologer: (I have arrived)
Someone on my FB page asked for my thoughts on this article, in which the reprehensible "No means yes, yes means anal" rape apologism at Yale is blamed on the sexual license argued for by feminists. Yes, that's right. It's all the uppity bitches' fault.

A group of mostly female students is suing Yale University for allowing a “sexually hostile environment” to exist on campus.

The women, of course, have a point. After all, when frat boys are allowed to parade around the old campus chanting “No Means Yes,” or to hold up signs that read “We Love Yale Sluts,” I guess you could say that’s a sexually hostile environment.

But may I ask a question? What did you expect?


The rage, it knows no bounds.

I think this man is an asshole who is bitter on behalf of all jilted men that women are fighting for the right to fuck, but not with him. I mean, look at this.

The disgusting, intimidating behavior at Yale -- and on many college campuses -- is a classic example of the post-modern impasse. For nearly 50 years, academia, the feminist movement, and post-modern society have embraced sexual freedom as the ultimate good.

And the feminists led the way. They wanted to control their bodies; to be free from any consequences of sexual license.


He completely misses the point that women want to control their bodies, even though it's right there in his own description of their goals. The goal of feminism was never that women's bodies ought to be treated like public property; that is in fact the PRECISE WORLDVIEW that feminism is still fighting.

This asshole seems to think it's perfectly natural and inevitable that uppity women who have the nerve to do what they like with their sexuality should be treated like disposable whores, there for the taking by any man.

As far as I can tell, Colson literally CANNOT envision a world in which female sexuality is not controlled by somebody other than the woman herself. He presents an utterly insane and backward choice for women--either you let Jesus own your sexuality, or it will lay there unclaimed and men will just rape you all the time because you don't belong to anybody.

"Does the Christian view of sex promote intimidation, harassment, and brutish behavior like we’re seeing at Yale, or does it promote moral and ethical virtue?"

By treating female sexuality as something which must always be in the possession and under the control of a man, it certainly does promote intimidation, harassment, and brutish behavior. By treating this as the natural outgrowth of women thinking they can just walk around like they're human beings with a right to do things other than powerspawn babies for their husband and Jesus, he reinforces the slut-shaming and depersonalization of women who fuck that is the very basis of the rape culture we live in.

This man is an asshole. He is an asshole, he is an asshole, he is an asshole, and if you want the most obvious indication that he is an asshole, he is blaming feminism for the culture of degradation and rape on college campuses INSTEAD OF BLAMING THE RAPISTS. Why? Well, because boys will be boys, and it's always the woman's fault if she gets raped. She had to have done something to ask for it, right? Like demand the right to vote, to have or deny sex, to hold a job, to decide not to have children. The natural outgrowth of the fight for women to have these things is not RAPE. That is the natural outgrowth of SOMEONE BEING A RAPIST.
xenologer: (racism over)
Yes, your resident linkfarmer has more things! I try to find fun things for you guys to read.

New York Times article here.

The senior proms held by Montgomery County High School students — referred to by many students as “the black-folks prom” and “the white-folks prom” — are organized outside school through student committees with the help of parents. All students are welcome at the black prom, though generally few if any white students show up. The white prom, students say, remains governed by a largely unspoken set of rules about who may come. Black members of the student council say they have asked school administrators about holding a single school-sponsored prom, but that, along with efforts to collaborate with white prom planners, has failed.(...)

Students of both races say that interracial friendships are common at Montgomery County High School. Black and white students also date one another, though often out of sight of judgmental parents. “Most of the students do want to have a prom together,” says Terra Fountain, a white 18-year-old who graduated from Montgomery County High School last year and is now living with her black boyfriend. “But it’s the white parents who say no. … They’re like, if you’re going with the black people, I’m not going to pay for it.”

“It’s awkward,” acknowledges JonPaul Edge, a senior who is white. “I have as many black friends as I do white friends. We do everything else together. We hang out. We play sports together. We go to class together. I don’t think anybody at our school is racist.” Trying to explain the continued existence of segregated proms, Edge falls back on the same reasoning offered by a number of white students and their parents. “It’s how it’s always been,” he says. “It’s just a tradition.”
Awww, look! He has lots of black friends! All accusations that defending racial segregation might make you an asshole are now invalidated. Clearly wanting people to be treated as your natural inferior doesn't mean you can't like them and hang out with them--as long as they don't take it too far and want to come to your white prom. Nobody at their school is racist. It's just them coloreds getting uppity and imagining racism where there is none.

For the millionth time in a week! Fuck you, Georgia.
xenologer: (it are fact)
Another run-down of random stuff.

Equal Rights for LGBT Citizens

Hoosiers discuss Prop. 8 and their experiences with gay marriage
Tiffany Dow, board member, Indiana Black Pride: “(Indiana is) not at the forefront, by any means. I believe there will be (legal same-sex marriage) at some point, but I think the only way it’s going to happen in the state is if it’s a federal thing.

“It’s kind of scary to me that with Prop. 8 passing, a right that was already given to people was taken away, at the hands of the voters. Any time you have minorities’ rights dictated by the majority, that’s certainly a civil rights issue.”(...)

There’s no amendment in the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage. A proposal to amend the constitution has been pushed in years past, as opponents of gay marriage fear Indiana’s judges could strike down the law. Such a ban failed to pass out of the General Assembly in 2007 and again this year, which means the lengthy process to amend the state constitution would have to start from scratch in 2009. That’s unlikely to happen.

Democratic House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer has not shown a willingness to allow a floor vote. A constitutional amendment requires passage by two separately elected legislatures, followed by the approval of voters in a general election.

Today in Traditional Marriage
A husband and wife have been charged with torture and other counts after a bruised, terrified 17-year-old showed up at a gym with a chain locked to his ankle, claiming he had just fled his captors, authorities said Tuesday.

Kelly Lau Schumacher, 30, and Michael Schumacher, 34, were arrested late Monday, said Matt Robinson, a spokesman for police in Tracy. (...)

Kelly and Michael Schumacher are legally married—and they can stay legally married, even if they're found to be guilty of this horrendous crime. They can stay legally married even if the decomposing remains of twenty other teenagers are found buried in their backyard. Their marriage license cannot be revoked. If Michael dies in prison, Kelly can remarry—even if she's serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. If Kelly decides to divorce Michael, he can remarry—even if he's sitting on death row. He can remarry and divorce and remarry and divorce and remarry and divorce until he runs out of prison pen pals. Because the courts have declared that marriage is so fundamental a right that it cannot be denied to convicted rapists or to serial killers.

But it's a right that's denied to me and my boyfriend. Because we're both men and that ain't right.

Why churches fear gay marriage
American families are under a great deal of stress. The divorce rate isn't declining, it's increasing. And the majority of American women are now living alone. We are raising children in America without fathers. I think of Michael Phelps at the Olympics with his mother in the stands. His father was completely absent. He was negligible; no one refers to him, no one noticed his absence.

The possibility that a whole new generation of American males is being raised by women without men is very challenging for the churches. I think they want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things. I think the pro-Proposition 8 movement was really galvanized by an insecurity that churches are feeling now with the rise of women.

Monotheistic religions feel threatened by the rise of feminism and the insistence, in many communities, that women take a bigger role in the church. At the same time that women are claiming more responsibility for their religious life, they are also moving out of traditional roles as wife and mother. This is why abortion is so threatening to many religious people -- it represents some rejection of the traditional role of mother.

In such a world, we need to identify the relationship between feminism and homosexuality. These movements began, in some sense, to achieve visibility alongside one another. I know a lot of black churches take offense when gay activists say that the gay movement is somehow analogous to the black civil rights movement. And while there is some relationship between the persecution of gays and the anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, I think the true analogy is to the women's movement. What we represent as gays in America is an alternative to the traditional male-structured society.

Judge Removes Child From Lesbian Parents
Fayette Circuit Judge Paul Blake originally agreed to allow Kathyrn Kutil and Cheryl Hess to be foster parents for the infant girl, following a positive assessment by the Department of Health and Human Resources.

Court records show that the little girl was born to a drug addicted mother and the baby had had cocaine, opiates and benzodiazepines in her system. Shortly after birth the baby went through drug withdrawal. The father was unknown.

The Department placed the child with Kutil and Hess, who had been approved as foster parents, when it could not find any blood relatives of the mother.

But nearly a year later when the couple applied to adopt the little girl both the Department and Judge Blake balked. In his ruling Blake ordered the child removed saying the baby should be permanently placed in a home where the parents would be a married opposite-sex couple.

The ruling said that he had agreed to allow the women to foster the child because it was the best option at the time. But he never intended it to be permanent.

New York City LGBT Healthcare Found Lacking
A study by New York’s Public Advocate into the ways the LGBT community receives healthcare has found major barriers and recommends urgent action.

The report, Improving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Access to Healthcare at New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation Facilities, was released by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum.

It specifically details the barriers LGBT New Yorkers confront in obtaining health care from New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC).

The report found that both were in sensitive to LGBT medical needs, that there often was homophobia and hostility from providers, and as a result many LGBT people in the city are not accessing basic healthcare services.

Religion

Pope Questions Interfaith Dialogue
In quotations from the letter that appeared on Sunday in Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading daily newspaper, the pope said the book “explained with great clarity” that “an interreligious dialogue in the strict sense of the word is not possible.” In theological terms, added the pope, “a true dialogue is not possible without putting one’s faith in parentheses.”

But Benedict added that “intercultural dialogue which deepens the cultural consequences of basic religious ideas” was important. He called for confronting “in a public forum the cultural consequences of basic religious decisions.”

Challenging the Order?
Salon.com interviews gay Catholic author Richard Rodriguez about gay marriage, the "Desert religions", and the power of women in religious life. What is striking about the piece, from my perspective, is how close he gets to endorsing a shift away from monotheism (or at least male-oriented monotheism) while discussing religion.

"The desert religions -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- are male religions. Their perception is that God is a male god and Allah is a male god. If the male is allowed to hold onto the power of God, then I think we are in terrible shape. I think what's coming out of Colorado Springs right now, with people like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, is either the last or continuing gasp of a male hierarchy in religion. That's what's at stake. And women have a determining role to play. Are they going to go along with this, or are they going to challenge the order?"

While Rodriquez talks about how the traditional monotheisms feel "threatened by the rise of feminism", he seems unable to look outside the "desert religions" and see that millions of women are indeed challenging the order by leaving it entirely for a variety of faiths that are more egalitarian in outlook.

Why the Debate Over Creationism Matters
Recently I have been involved in a couple conversations with folks who aren’t really “informed” (I use the term loosely) creationists but have been hounded enough by creationists/biblical literalists who have drawn the battle line twixt themselves and evolutionists/biblical contextualists that they sit down firmly just on the creationists’ side of the fence — just in case evolutionists really are godless heretics. They’re not interested in getting into discussions about the origins question; while not wholly dismissive of those who accept the scientific consensus (biblical contextualists), they’re entirely content to live and let live. They can’t be bothered to investigate the issue on either the scientific or the biblical side, but, when pressed to mark where they stand, figure that they can’t go wrong if they just stick with the (perceived) default: interpreting Genesis as historical.

There are things I believe are true and right that I don’t become an activist for because of their essentially trivial nature; but there are a few reasons that I think this particular issue is no trivial, purely academic dispute.

Projecting Hostility
Conservative Evangelicals often project a hostility onto others that simply isn't there, and may in fact reflect an assumption that others are as hostile to them as they are, deep down, to others. My initial point was the irony of a more exclusive group calling a more inclusive group "less friendly". I can appreciate a good bit of irony, but things seem to have gotten seriously out of hand at this stage.

Thinking back to my more conservative days, I wonder whether a key reason for maintaining that one is facing hostility even when one isn't has to do with the Bible. The New Testament reflects contexts in which real persecution (arrest, imprisonment, even execution) were part of the church's experience. Might one reason conservative Christians treat the world as hostile in this way, even when they live in a country that safeguards their religious freedom, be that if the world they inhabit doesn't allow for direct application of the New Testament, then they simply don't know how to make sense of their lives? Could it be the desire for a simple hermeneutic (or conversely, fear of a more complex process of interpretation) that is at the heart of this phenomenon?


Education

Technology is driving down the cost of teaching undergraduates. So why are tuition bills going up?
On August 6, 2008, the Washington Post reported that tuition and fees at public colleges in Virginia will increase by an average of 7.3 percent this year. The article was four sentences long and ran in the Metro section, below the fold, in space reserved for unremarkable news. The drumbeat of higher education price increases has become so steady in recent years that it barely merits attention. But the cumulative effect is enormous: the average price of attending a public university more than doubled over the last two decades, even after adjusting for inflation. The steepest increases came in the last five years.

And there’s nothing routine about the way college costs are weighing down lower- and middle-income families. Students are still going to college—in this day and age, what choice do they have? But some are getting priced out of the four-year sector into two-year colleges, while others are trying unsuccessfully to simultaneously hold down a full-time job and earn a degree. More students are going deeply into debt, narrowing their career options and risking catastrophic default. The lightly regulated private student loan market, which barely existed ten years ago, now controls about 20 percent of loan volume, burdening financially vulnerable undergraduates with high interest rates and few legal protections. State and federal governments have poured tens of billions of new taxpayer dollars into student aid programs, only to see them swallowed up by institutions with a seemingly unlimited appetite for funds.

For years colleges have insisted that rapidly rising prices are unavoidable because higher education is a labor-intensive business that cannot become more efficient. A forty-minute lecture takes just as long to deliver today as it did a hundred years ago, they say; a ten-page paper takes just as long to grade. Because efficiencies in other industries are driving up the overall cost of skilled labor, colleges have to offer salaries to match, which pushes productivity down. (Economists call this "Baumol’s cost disease," after the New York University economist who first made the diagnosis.) Regrettable for students, of course, but what can be done?

In fact, this premise is false. Colleges are perfectly capable of becoming more efficient and productive, in the same way that countless other industries have: through technology. And increasingly, they are. One of the untold stories in higher education is that the cost of teaching is starting to decline, but virtually none of those savings are being passed along to students and parents in the form of lower prices. Instead, colleges are pocketing the difference, even as they continue to jack up tuition bills. (...)

Since it’s effectively impossible to judge institutions by their outputs—that is, by how much students learn—the pecking order in higher education tends to be based on measures of inputs, like the SAT scores of incoming freshmen or the cost of a year’s tuition. As a result, price has become a symbol of quality instead of a component of quality. Colleges have many incentives to raise prices and none to lower them—indeed, lower prices send a negative signal to the market. Instead of increasing the number of customers, lower prices often drive them away. The U.S. News rankings reinforce this. Ten percent of a college’s score in those rankings is based on spending per student, while another 20 percent is based on factors like faculty salaries and small class sizes, which cost money to buy. Colleges that used the savings from technology to cut prices—and thus expenditures—would see their ranking go down. Their status diminished, schools would see their applications for admission and alumni donations fall as well.

Military

Obama and the Brass
The conventional wisdom seems to be that tension is unavoidable. Military leaders are, the theory goes, bound to be skeptical about a young president who didn't serve in the military, and who has articulated a withdrawal policy many in the Pentagon are skeptical of.

But there are at least two key angles to consider here. First, during the ongoing transition, Obama seems to be reassuring military leaders about his plans, and signaling to the brass, through his personnel decisions, that "he will do nothing rash and will seek their advice, even while making clear that he may not always take it."

Second, and just as importantly, Obama has an opportunity, which he plans to fully take advantage of, to make some changes that military leaders and Pentagon officials have wanted for years, but which Bush failed to even consider. Indeed, for all of the perceived conservatism of the military, Obama's vision and agenda for the Pentagon is far more in line with officers' beliefs than the current president's.

Soldiers Who Have Taken a Life More Likely to Defend Iraq War (Thanks to copperstewart)
Wayne Klug, a psychologist at Berkshire Community College, asked 68 Iraq War veterans about their experiences, their thoughts on the war and their opinions about Iraqis and Americans. Compared with soldiers who never saw combat and those who witnessed a death but were not involved, veterans who “were directly involved in an Iraqi fatality” were much more likely to consider the war to be beneficial to both countries.
xenologer: (mutants)
This entry is not just about women or children. So if you, like McCain, don't care how many women's deaths the government causes, just scroll past all this stuff about women's "health" that makes no nevermind to you.

John McCain understands that before Roe v. Wade, unsafe abortions killed women. He said that. "I understand."

He still thinks Roe v. Wade was a mistake. Even understanding and admitting that without Roe v. Wade women die, McCain asserts that it was a mistake that should be repealed for the good of us all. Well. The good of people who matter; shouldn't take too much deliberation to figure out whether you're one of them (hint: you've already been born).



I think that any real "women for McCain" out there should see this video. As well as this one, in which John McCain scoffs at the value Obama places on the "health of the mother."



Ladies, do you get it yet? He thinks that if you're facing the "terrible decision" of whether to get an abortion, that you need someone who'll show compassion and courage. Compassion for your fetus (but disdain for you), and the courage to fight for policy that kills women. He doesn't just disregard women's autonomy. He's disregarding their lives.

I can't vote to put that in office. Neither should the women who, according to NPR and Planned Parenthood had no idea as late as February that McCain was as virulently anti-choice as he is.

They assumed that the "maverick" would break with his party to look out for them.

They assumed wrong. (Check his record yourself if you think this site is lying.)

John McCain. Wrong on education.

Wrong on Iraq.

Wrong on racial equality.

Wrong on health care.

Wrong on the economy.

Wrong on torture. (Despite his earlier principled stance on the issue.)

Wrong on Veterans' issues.

Can he do anything right? I mean, I realize he's a verifiable hardass. Much respect for that from this daughter of an active-duty military family. But the President's job is about more than being a hardass. Has McCain shown any readiness for the rest of those tasks? Or is he just playing the POW card and hoping voters will stop asking too many questions?

The real question is not why he's doing it. He's losing and he's dishonorable enough that he'll do anything to get himself into the White House. The real question is how his supporters can manage to wave these things away.

All I can think of is that it must be philosophy over fact all over again. It doesn't matter whom we hurt, as long as we're doing "the right thing." The "right thing," incidentally, has little or nothing to do with the outcome. As long as we're not Godless socialist elitist European-wannabes from fake America, we're in the right. You read that correctly. We're in the right, no matter who suffers.
xenologer: (end of the world)
In 1980 the American Psychiatric Association added an interesting diagnosis to the DSM IV. Let's set aside their tendency to create diagnostic criteria for every imaginable human condition with fetishistic thoroughness. I'll assume you're aware that they do this, even if they're no longer classifying all homosexuals as victims of disease. I want to talk about a specific instance that has become a bit more high-profile recently.

The APA found a way to medicalize juvenile rebellion. No really. Never mind that Margaret Mead concluded that teen rebellion is largely a phenomenon of American culture. We won't worry about that. Here's what we'll worry about: the medicalization of deviance.

Now, this is nothing new. When a woman was unhappy in a life without any real agency, she was called a hysteric, her discontent being the result of her own sickness rather than oppressive conditions. They used to say that slaves who ran away from their masters must surely be mentally ill, for what slave in his or her right mind would do such an inconvenient and noncompliant thing?

It turns out that if your child has frequent temper tantrums, argues "excessively" with adults, and exhibits "active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules," he or she might be mentally ill. In the second grade classroom where I volunteered in high school, they called these kids "emotionally handicapped," and at least a couple were kept so tranquilized by medication that they slept through the day's lessons on a beanbag in the corner. The worst I observed in any of them (when sober) was one boy telling the other children what he'd read about extraterrestrials. Clearly this child is a threat to himself and everyone else around him. Someone call the APA.

Keep in mind that ODD isn't the same thing as conduct disorder. That's a separate disorder in which a child is actually acting out instead of simply making a nuisance of themselves verbally.
The official symptoms of ODD include "often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules" and "often argues with adults." While ODD-diagnosed young people are obnoxious with adults they don't respect, these kids can be a delight with adults they do respect; yet many of them are medicated with psychotropic drugs. (Levine at AlterNet)

Read more... )
xenologer: (pistol)
Gloria Steinem. You and I, we've had our differences. We have, really. There've been times when the phrase "calm the fuck down this isn't about vaginas" crossed my mind, and times when it came right out my mouth before I could stop it.

But you definitely nailed it this time. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] kaiserbrown for linking this. I went ahead and linked to sources so that no one can claim Steinem's talking out her ass.
Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood for -- and that Barack Obama's still does."

Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

So far, the major new McCain supporter that Palin has attracted is James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Of course, for Dobson, "women are merely waiting for their husbands to assume leadership," so he may be voting for Palin's husband.
Damn, Gloria. 
xenologer: (ouch)
A good quote was linked on another journal I read, and I thought I would relay it here. It's good.

[M]y problem is with the all too common accusation of intellectual arrogance being hurled at myself and most of my colleagues who defend science from pseudoscience, be that creationism, intelligent design, UFO claims, psychic powers, astrology or "alternative" medicine. The reasoning, such as it is, goes like this: how dare you, Dr. X (put here any name of any scientist who dares to write for the public), claim that so many people are wrong and you and a small number of other egg-headed intellectuals are right? Who are you to declare the truth of evolution and the falsity of intelligent design? What makes you the arbiter in deciding what is science and what is bunk? ...

Intellectual arrogance, in the utmost degree, is being displayed by those who dismiss out of hand the considerate opinion of someone who has studied a field for 25 years only because they cherish a particular religious worldview that has no independent foundation in reality. Arrogance, according to my dictionary, is "having an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities," and it seems to me to fit perfectly someone who has no technical background in a given field and yet pontificates endlessly about what is True and what is not.

-Massimo Pigliucci, "Intellectual arrogance" at Rationally Speaking

Here is where I assert what I know. I know some things about history, and the way cultures grow and develop. I know some things about religion, and what place it has for many people in their lives. I also know a couple of things about politics, particularly where it intersects with religion or culture (and in the latter case, this happens a lot). This isn't to say I'm actually an expert in any of these things. Sure, compared to someone without a degree in anthropology I've got decent credentials, but I have only a Bachelor of Arts, which in an academic subject means little. It means that most people I talk to with an education have a vastly higher amount of experience and expertise in the area they studied. It means that most people I talk to about anything important have at least studied something, and even if its only tangentially related they are coming to the discussion with a healthy respect for expertise, education, and fact.

Then there's the internet. The internet is where I find people who aren't college professors, or other folk who've proven themselves capable of studying various things. The internet is where I find people who glorify ignorance over education, and use anti-intellectualism as a shield and a mask for their own bitterness that they don't know jack, and for once they aren't getting away with pretending they do. The internet is where I find people who think that America will progress socially, economically, scientifically, and politically by being resentful of experts instead of being interested in what they have to say or how they came to their conclusions. The internet is where I find poor Republicans voting against their own interests, gay Republicans voting against their own interests, transsexual Republicans voting against their own interests, Pagan Republicans voting against their own interests, female Republicans voting against their own interests, and independents voting for whomever they can to avoid supporting "that popular guy."

The internet is where I'm reminded that even if the test scores are wrong and I am of average intelligence... that still means half the country is less intelligent than I am. And they'll never forgive me for it. These people are the same hateful brats I knew in grade school, the ones who encouraged smart kids to shut up, who still haven't forgiven kids like me who dared to get above ourselves and actually do our best.

And this, my friends, is why I have not checked my friends page in days.
xenologer: (ouch)
A good quote was linked on another journal I read, and I thought I would relay it here. It's good.

[M]y problem is with the all too common accusation of intellectual arrogance being hurled at myself and most of my colleagues who defend science from pseudoscience, be that creationism, intelligent design, UFO claims, psychic powers, astrology or "alternative" medicine. The reasoning, such as it is, goes like this: how dare you, Dr. X (put here any name of any scientist who dares to write for the public), claim that so many people are wrong and you and a small number of other egg-headed intellectuals are right? Who are you to declare the truth of evolution and the falsity of intelligent design? What makes you the arbiter in deciding what is science and what is bunk? ...

Intellectual arrogance, in the utmost degree, is being displayed by those who dismiss out of hand the considerate opinion of someone who has studied a field for 25 years only because they cherish a particular religious worldview that has no independent foundation in reality. Arrogance, according to my dictionary, is "having an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities," and it seems to me to fit perfectly someone who has no technical background in a given field and yet pontificates endlessly about what is True and what is not.

-Massimo Pigliucci, "Intellectual arrogance" at Rationally Speaking

Here is where I assert what I know. I know some things about history, and the way cultures grow and develop. I know some things about religion, and what place it has for many people in their lives. I also know a couple of things about politics, particularly where it intersects with religion or culture (and in the latter case, this happens a lot). This isn't to say I'm actually an expert in any of these things. Sure, compared to someone without a degree in anthropology I've got decent credentials, but I have only a Bachelor of Arts, which in an academic subject means little. It means that most people I talk to with an education have a vastly higher amount of experience and expertise in the area they studied. It means that most people I talk to about anything important have at least studied something, and even if its only tangentially related they are coming to the discussion with a healthy respect for expertise, education, and fact.

Then there's the internet. The internet is where I find people who aren't college professors, or other folk who've proven themselves capable of studying various things. The internet is where I find people who glorify ignorance over education, and use anti-intellectualism as a shield and a mask for their own bitterness that they don't know jack, and for once they aren't getting away with pretending they do. The internet is where I find people who think that America will progress socially, economically, scientifically, and politically by being resentful of experts instead of being interested in what they have to say or how they came to their conclusions. The internet is where I find poor Republicans voting against their own interests, gay Republicans voting against their own interests, transsexual Republicans voting against their own interests, Pagan Republicans voting against their own interests, female Republicans voting against their own interests, and independents voting for whomever they can to avoid supporting "that popular guy."

The internet is where I'm reminded that even if the test scores are wrong and I am of average intelligence... that still means half the country is less intelligent than I am. And they'll never forgive me for it. These people are the same hateful brats I knew in grade school, the ones who encouraged smart kids to shut up, who still haven't forgiven kids like me who dared to get above ourselves and actually do our best.

And this, my friends, is why I have not checked my friends page in days.
xenologer: (ouch)
A good quote was linked on another journal I read, and I thought I would relay it here. It's good.

[M]y problem is with the all too common accusation of intellectual arrogance being hurled at myself and most of my colleagues who defend science from pseudoscience, be that creationism, intelligent design, UFO claims, psychic powers, astrology or "alternative" medicine. The reasoning, such as it is, goes like this: how dare you, Dr. X (put here any name of any scientist who dares to write for the public), claim that so many people are wrong and you and a small number of other egg-headed intellectuals are right? Who are you to declare the truth of evolution and the falsity of intelligent design? What makes you the arbiter in deciding what is science and what is bunk? ...

Intellectual arrogance, in the utmost degree, is being displayed by those who dismiss out of hand the considerate opinion of someone who has studied a field for 25 years only because they cherish a particular religious worldview that has no independent foundation in reality. Arrogance, according to my dictionary, is "having an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities," and it seems to me to fit perfectly someone who has no technical background in a given field and yet pontificates endlessly about what is True and what is not.

-Massimo Pigliucci, "Intellectual arrogance" at Rationally Speaking

Here is where I assert what I know. I know some things about history, and the way cultures grow and develop. I know some things about religion, and what place it has for many people in their lives. I also know a couple of things about politics, particularly where it intersects with religion or culture (and in the latter case, this happens a lot). This isn't to say I'm actually an expert in any of these things. Sure, compared to someone without a degree in anthropology I've got decent credentials, but I have only a Bachelor of Arts, which in an academic subject means little. It means that most people I talk to with an education have a vastly higher amount of experience and expertise in the area they studied. It means that most people I talk to about anything important have at least studied something, and even if its only tangentially related they are coming to the discussion with a healthy respect for expertise, education, and fact.

Then there's the internet. The internet is where I find people who aren't college professors, or other folk who've proven themselves capable of studying various things. The internet is where I find people who glorify ignorance over education, and use anti-intellectualism as a shield and a mask for their own bitterness that they don't know jack, and for once they aren't getting away with pretending they do. The internet is where I find people who think that America will progress socially, economically, scientifically, and politically by being resentful of experts instead of being interested in what they have to say or how they came to their conclusions. The internet is where I find poor Republicans voting against their own interests, gay Republicans voting against their own interests, transsexual Republicans voting against their own interests, Pagan Republicans voting against their own interests, female Republicans voting against their own interests, and independents voting for whomever they can to avoid supporting "that popular guy."

The internet is where I'm reminded that even if the test scores are wrong and I am of average intelligence... that still means half the country is less intelligent than I am. And they'll never forgive me for it. These people are the same hateful brats I knew in grade school, the ones who encouraged smart kids to shut up, who still haven't forgiven kids like me who dared to get above ourselves and actually do our best.

And this, my friends, is why I have not checked my friends page in days.
xenologer: (wickerman)
...so there's no reason I should have to go down with it if McCain and Palin get elected. I'm evidently not the only person who feels this way.

From a link on admnaismith's journal.

Here is a link, and here's some of the text:
The bar was set so low for Sarah Palin's speech that she could have taken two giant dumps on the podium and been praised for not taking a third. She read the words on the teleprompter – written by George W. Bush's speechwriter – with gusto, but offered nothing but tacky denigrations of Barack Obama's character, along with a litany of complete and utter falsehoods.

(snip)

How fucking DARE she make fun of community organizers? They're the only people left in America who help those who've been abandoned by everyone else, and to hear this horrible woman demean them for laughs... frankly, I couldn't bear it. Besides her bizarre, psychosexual repetition of McCain's time spent as a prisoner of war, Palin said nothing to inspire people upwards, only taunts, lies, and jokes fed to the convention hall like gazelle meat to rabid lions.

In a way, tonight was calming. Because truly, if McCain/Palin wins an election over Obama/Biden, this country is so fucked as to warrant abandonment. If this guttersniping, lying marionette and her twisted, ghoulishly-grinning mentor are the people America wants, then the debate is over, les jeux sont faits, we know not to care anymore.

(snip)

I tell you, that's fine. Us elitists, you know, the ones with education, the ones that took an active interest in the world around us, the ones that flourished in the many-hued world of nuance and occasionally tried to make the world a better place - rather than hoarding as much as we could for ourselves and putting barbed wire and guns around it - We will opt out.

We might go to our own version of Coastopia, we might take our talents to another country. There will be a brain drain, the best and brightest fleeing to another place that doesn't make them sick to their stomach.

To be fair, it's begun already. America used to be the land where science advanced, and fifty years ago (or even about twenty years ago) the Hadron Collider would have been built here. Now it's in Switzerland, and whatever technology advances scientists make as a result of greater knowledge will create jobs on another continent.

And Americans don't even see it happening. They're too busy causing recurrances of preventable diseases, because they don't want to vaccinate their kids, killing not only themselves, but immunocompromised individuals depending on herd immunity. They're too busy keeping scientific knowledge about the advancement of life out of our schools because they don't want their kids learning theologically inappropriate truths. They're too busy preventing young people from learning to make responsible choices because they're far more afraid of free will than the Lord God who allowed Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Knowledge and become more like him than less.

They're too busy turning our reputation for producing scientists into a reputation for producing xenophobic fanatical anti-intellectuals to realize that it is to our detriment to be xenophobic fanatical anti-intellectuals. They won't know until it's too late, and it's possible they won't even see it then.

And there's nothing I can do. There can be no dialogue here. There are a lot of people out there with nothing better to say than, "I hate intellectuals and I can't trust them and neither should you. Trust me instead, because I have no evident credentials and that makes me more credible."

I have a degree in a social science, which means neither of us can listen to the other without sanity loss. I don't know what to do but wave it away and walk off shaking my head.
xenologer: (hope)
Just when you think you've left behind all those kids in high school and junior high who hated popular kids and everything they liked just because they were popular, you start talking to people who mock Obama supporters for having a popular candidate, and who refuse to even look at his voting record or read his speeches simply because nothing popular can possibly be good.

So instead, like the goth kids smoking during lunch, they find a group willing to be noncomformists in the same comfortable ways they are. They've moved beyond dressing alike, standing alike, and smoking alike. We're adults now. Now all we have to do to be different for its own sake is say the same things because we all hate the same guy for the same reason.

Because they like him. Lots of people like Obama, and rather than disappear into a crowd of people who surely must be drinking the poisoned Kool-Aid of celebrity worship, we'll band together and drink a different flavor of Kool-Aid secure in the knowledge that at least there are fewer of us. And that makes us better.

I don't think that all the automatic and thoughtless dismissal of Obama is because of race. I don't. I don't think everyone who decided to vote against him and thought of excuses why only after the fact is doing it because they can't stand supporting a black guy. I think a great many of them still can't stand supporting something popular.
xenologer: (prophet)
To all those people who lament the impression that colleges and universities are biased against them?

To all those people who lament the impression that human rights groups are biased against them?

To all those people who lament the impression that foreign countries are biased against them?

To all those people who lament the impression that the media is biased against them?

Have you ever considered the possibility that all or some of these people might actually be right and you're the one who's wrong?

1. If educated people are often liberal, is it simpler to assume a broad-sweeping brainwashing conspiracy, or to assume that upon exposure to other views and the facts behind them people don't seem to remain conservative? If liberals claimed that universities had a conservative bias, you know that conservatives would be claiming that it's not their fault educated people lean right. Why do you let them get away with the anti-intellectual bullshit when you would never allow it from liberals?

2. If human rights groups tend to be liberal, is this a sign that they're all secretly members of the anti-conservative conspiracy bent on eradicating an entire school of thought from the face of the earth? Or is it simpler to assume that the liberal philosophy places a higher emphasis on the well-being of individuals, from which it follows naturally they'd care more about human rights?

3. Maybe the fact that everyone thinks you're acting like an imperialist dick means that imperialism makes you a dick. Calling you a dick and treating you like you're a dick when you're being a dick isn't biased. It's called "self-preservation."

4. Media coverage of the election doesn't have a liberal bias... it has a bias in favor of McCain. Conservatives loved the guy doing this study when it said the opposite, but now that they're the bad guys, suddenly the methodology must be wrong. See, you gotta be skeptical about the media if you're a conservative. A good unbiased source will agree with you. Never trust a source that doesn't agree with you. It's just that damned liberal conspiracy acting up again, but thankfully they're easy to detect. They say crazy things like "pissing off other countries makes them hate us," and "voodoo economics doesn't work" or "abstinence-only sex ed doesn't work." They're always pushing this ideological bias, so it makes them easy to detect and ignore.

All in all, I'm getting tired of the "I hate your evidence! You elitist liberals are always pickin' on us simple salt o'the earth conservatives. Just because I don't have any credentials in the field we're talking about doesn't mean that my opinion isn't just as valid as yours!"

Well, I'm an elitist bastard and let me tell you something. If I hear one more time about how educated people can't be trusted (because too much exposure to the diversity and complexity of reality brainwashes you liberal, see), or about how educated people are out of touch with reality (at least compared to people who've only ever exposed themselves to their own way of life), or some other bullshit excuse to cover the bitterness and resentment of uneducated people that educated people always abandon their cause... I'm going to have some kind of episode.

I don't know how to say it more simply than this. If education is a danger to your worldview, your worldview needs examining. If studying other cultures is some kind of threat to your own, your own culture isn't worth your slavish loyalty. If entertaining other worldviews is a danger to your own, your worldview is a hell of a lot more fragile than you want to admit. If exposure to people who believe they can make the world better somehow erodes your reinforced sense of self-serving exploitative entitlement and privilege, perhaps that's a clue that you need to abandon that sense of entitlement.

There are too many people who resent educated people for learning a few new things and suddenly changing their minds. I didn't think I was a liberal. Sure, I thought that gays were human beings and so were women. Sure I thought that it'd sure be nice if college weren't a way to transform wealth into privilege so that the super-rich could claim they'd earned what they've got. Sure I'd love to have the first, last, and final say over when I carry a child. But I didn't think that made me liberal. I thought liberals were these frothing man-hating Communists out to create a man-free, gun-free Marxist paradise off the cost of California on a human-made island of singed bras.

I didn't realize what would happen to me. I didn't realize that once I left my town of 8,000 people I might really have a chance to learn how other cultures lived and what made them that way. I didn't realize that this would cause me to take a good hard look at my own culture. I didn't realize this was all part of the grand liberal mafia brainwashing conspiracy.

In short, reality turned out to have a liberal bias. Once exposed, I fell.

For all you conservatives out there... it could happen to you. I suggest you do what the Amish do. Drop out after eighth grade. Wouldn't want to start getting ideas and putting on airs. Wouldn't want to change your mind. Wouldn't want to become liberal or anything.

Drop out. Delete every news channel from your cable but Fox News. In fact, delete every channel but the televangelists. Burn every nonfiction book you own. Save yourselves before it's too late! Above all remember!

The liberals are sly. The liberals are stealthy. The liberals will find you.

YOU MAY ALREADY BE ONE.
xenologer: (wickerman)
Judge says UC can deny religious course credit

A federal judge says the University of California can deny course credit to applicants from Christian high schools whose textbooks declare the Bible infallible and reject evolution.

Rejecting claims of religious discrimination and stifling of free expression, U.S. District Judge James Otero of Los Angeles said UC's review committees cited legitimate reasons for rejecting the texts - not because they contained religious viewpoints, but because they omitted important topics in science and history and failed to teach critical thinking.

(snip)

"It appears the UC is attempting to secularize private religious schools," attorney Jennifer Monk of Advocates for Faith and Freedom said Tuesday. Her clients include the Association of Christian Schools International, two Southern California high schools and several students.

Charles Robinson, the university's vice president for legal affairs, said the ruling "confirms that UC may apply the same admissions standards to all students and to all high schools without regard to their religious affiliations." What the plaintiffs seek, he said, is a "religious exemption from regular admissions standards."
xenologer: (wickerman)
Judge says UC can deny religious course credit

A federal judge says the University of California can deny course credit to applicants from Christian high schools whose textbooks declare the Bible infallible and reject evolution.

Rejecting claims of religious discrimination and stifling of free expression, U.S. District Judge James Otero of Los Angeles said UC's review committees cited legitimate reasons for rejecting the texts - not because they contained religious viewpoints, but because they omitted important topics in science and history and failed to teach critical thinking.

(snip)

"It appears the UC is attempting to secularize private religious schools," attorney Jennifer Monk of Advocates for Faith and Freedom said Tuesday. Her clients include the Association of Christian Schools International, two Southern California high schools and several students.

Charles Robinson, the university's vice president for legal affairs, said the ruling "confirms that UC may apply the same admissions standards to all students and to all high schools without regard to their religious affiliations." What the plaintiffs seek, he said, is a "religious exemption from regular admissions standards."
xenologer: (wickerman)
Judge says UC can deny religious course credit

A federal judge says the University of California can deny course credit to applicants from Christian high schools whose textbooks declare the Bible infallible and reject evolution.

Rejecting claims of religious discrimination and stifling of free expression, U.S. District Judge James Otero of Los Angeles said UC's review committees cited legitimate reasons for rejecting the texts - not because they contained religious viewpoints, but because they omitted important topics in science and history and failed to teach critical thinking.

(snip)

"It appears the UC is attempting to secularize private religious schools," attorney Jennifer Monk of Advocates for Faith and Freedom said Tuesday. Her clients include the Association of Christian Schools International, two Southern California high schools and several students.

Charles Robinson, the university's vice president for legal affairs, said the ruling "confirms that UC may apply the same admissions standards to all students and to all high schools without regard to their religious affiliations." What the plaintiffs seek, he said, is a "religious exemption from regular admissions standards."
xenologer: (Default)
Since I clearly do not identify as a conservative myself, I'm interested in the perspective of people on my friends list. Any of y'all conservative folk have anything to add to this discussion? Keep in mind that I haven't reproduced every comment from the blog entry here.

Conservatism: A Few Basics (Not as Boring as You Fear!) )

April 2016

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