Nov. 10th, 2016

Fear

Nov. 10th, 2016 02:40 am
tim: Solid black square (black)
I grew up under authoritarian parenting. I was not allowed to have a self, only to be a projection of what my (single, though that's only relevant grammatically) parent wanted me to be, wanted me to be to fill the holes in her own self-conception. What I thought and felt didn't matter; what I liked didn't matter. I left home at 16; more than half of my life has passed since then. I am just beginning to learn how to live as a survivor rather than as someone who denies they have anything to say they survived.

We elected a fascist president. Fascism is authoritarian parenting applied to an entire nation. Fascism says that if you have power, you get to do what you want, that the voices of the people you're doing things to don't matter. That was how I grew up. It's how all children grow up to some extent, but extremely so for me (that's been confirmed by an independent expert.)

And we have people saying it's not that bad. That the president-elect, whose to-do list before inauguration includes appearing in civil court to be sued for raping a 13-year-old girl, couldn't possibly be as bad as all the things he said he wanted to do. That the president isn't really all that powerful. That it's all going to be okay. That he couldn't possibly have meant any of the things he said while campaigning. That we're all going to be safe. Nobody has any factual basis to be saying any of this. If Donald can't become president for some reason (for example, if the civil suit against him concludes that he really did rape a 13-year-old girl), then Mike Pence will, the guy who wanted to legally require trans kids and teenagers to undergo electroshock therapy to try to make them cis, and who wants anyone who has a miscarriage to be legally coerced to hold a funeral for the embryo.

But anyway, most of the people who are saying this are either in denial or have little to lose as a result of a fascist regime taking over their country.

But not only am I in danger -- more so, my friends, my chosen family who are essential to me being alive as a queer person with no family of origin that is capable of loving me -- I'm being retraumatized, as a survivor of emotional abuse perpetrated by a narcissistic parent.

Like many narcissists, my mother was (or is) charming, and few people who meet her see her as a threat. So the questions people ask me when I talk about being a survivor tend to be along the lines of: "What did she do that was so bad? Was it really all that bad? Parents have it so hard, how can you blame them? They all do what's best for their children."

He can't really that bad, he won't really round up Muslims to put them in internment camps even though we have historical precedent for similar acts within the past 100 years, maybe some of the women who say he sexually assaulted them are lying about it.

This is traumatic for many of us, but for some of us, it's retraumatization as well.

As an adult, I thought that whatever happened in my life, it couldn't possibly be worse than what I experienced as a child, because children are completely powerless and I'll never be completely powerless again now that I'm grown. Now, I'm not so sure that's true, because fascist politicians' goal is to make us all their children, and they are not good parents. I still think that the worst times in my life are over forever, but now that I have people in my life who I care about and who care about me, I'm not sure that watching them get hurt will be easier to endure than what I endured alone from birth to age 16.

Experience teaches me that most people don't want to hear about trauma, even some people who have survived trauma themselves. So those of us who are the canaries in this coal mine will be ignored, and instead we'll keep hearing "everything is going to be okay" until we can't hear each other anymore.

Rita Mae Brown wrote "Never hope more than you work." Working requires learning from the canaries, not trying to tell them they're not really as dead as they think they are.

As survivors we get shamed for our learned helplessness, but having adapted to situations where we have no power might turn out to be a useful adaptation.
And I'm not kidding when I say that as survivors, we're adapted to situations like the ones we're in right now, where the one we're in right now is importantly different from abusive childhoods in that we have the freedom to work together with other like-minded adults to protect ourselves, our families (chosen and otherwise), and our children or future children. I'm no longer a powerless child, but an adult with a good credit score, employable in a skilled profession. I plan to make myself useful.

Some things I've been called for speaking truth:

"professional scolder"
"naïve relativist"
"toxic individual"
"a central pole of attrition within the FOSS community"
"anti-individualist, illiberal"
"misandrist"
"collects 'people he has slandered' the way some people collect stamps."
"the loud bitch responsible for the Debian takeover right now" [I've never had anything to do with the Debian community]
"professional histrionic victim"
"fat neck beard transgender scum"
"the meanest bitch on campus" (blast from the past)

To all of the people who said these things: you ain't seen nothing yet.
tim: Solid black square (black)
America I've given you all and now I'm nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can't stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don't feel good don't bother me.
I won't write my poem till I'm in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I'm sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don't think he'll come back it's sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I'm trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I'm doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven't read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for
murder.
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I'm not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there's going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I'm perfectly right.
I won't say the Lord's Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven't told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over
from Russia.

I'm addressing you.
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I'm obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It's always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie
producers are serious. Everybody's serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.

[...]

America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I'd better get right down to the job.
It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts
factories, I'm nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

-- Allen Ginsberg
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
[CW: homophobic slurs]

A friend forwarded this statement From Julie Norem, a professor at Wellesley College (my undergraduate alma mater):

There is now a lot of discussion of those in a "liberal bubble" having ignored the alienation and desperation of many Trump voters, and some claim that the widespread fear and analogies to Kristallnacht are overblown. I would have more sympathy for the first point and would be more reassured by the second if some white guys in a truck hadn't driven around campus yesterday, yelling about Trump's win and Hillary's defeat, screaming about "Wellesley dykes," and spitting at African-American students.

She adds that the two men were students at Babson College, a business school near Wellesley. These men, who will soon graduate with prestigious business degrees, are not being left out of the new economic order.
Edited to add: The names of the two men are Parker Rand-Ricciardi and Edward Tomasso.

Where I work, we have a tradition of posting memes on our intranet. I posted this today:
Cut for an image that includes a quoted slur )

in response to something an executive was telling us about the right way to respond to those who supported a fascist president-elect.

I learned as a child not to empathize with people who had no empathy for me. I learned that it was dangerous to do that. Reserving my empathy for those who were able to reciprocate was one way in which I survived; in which I kept myself as an individual rather than being absorbed into the organism of my mother's narcissism. (I wrote about that yesterday.)

Now as an adult, I'm being told to "reach across the aisle", to listen, to understand.

I'm being told to get out of my "filter bubble" and my "echo chamber", which is to say, to spend less time in the few spaces where I'm relatively confident I won't be called a faggot by people who think I'm cis or a dyke by people who think I'm trans.

I am being told to empathize with people who have no empathy with me. That thing I learned I had to not do in order to stay alive? I'm being told I'm a bad person if I don't do that.

On top of what blood I've already spilled, y'all want my emotional labor, too. Because empathy is emotional labor -- when entered into voluntarily, that's no bad thing. But the kind of empathy being demanded here is coerced emotional labor.

And I'm wondering if people who voted for Donald really want empathy from me, even if they say they do.

To empathize with somebody, you have to be in relationship with them, even for a moment. You have to recognize their humanity and they have to recognize yours. A relationship where that recognition only goes one way is a relationship between a child and their abusive parent, or the moral equivalent thereof.

(I do think it's possible to genuinely empathize with people who have no empathy for you. Some people do that. There seems to be a historical precedent of nailing them to a cross.)

So if you, Trump voter, want my empathy, you're going to need to see what my grief looks like, because you're going to have to see me if I'm going to have to see you.

What is it like to watch people grieve en masse because of something you did? I don't know. If I'm to try to empathize with you, I would have to know how you would answer that question.

I don't think you would answer. I think you would talk about how uncomfortable my grief makes you, and how it's cruel for me to make you suffer in that way. Maybe that is the answer.

We've been told "You need to have conversations with people different from you." If I'm going to have those conversation, I need an answer to this question. What is it like to watch people grieve en masse because of something you did?

Do you really want to see what my grief looks like? If you tell me that I'm not really grieving, it means you don't. If you tell me that it's not fair for me to hold you accountable for voting for a xenophobic rapist when you aren't personally a xenophobic rapist, then that means you don't. If you say that you personally did not drive through the Wellesley College campus and spit on Black students, refusing to acknowledge the part you played in making those Babson College students think it was okay to do that, then that means you prioritize not seeing my grief. If you deny that my feelings exist and derail the discussion to be about your feelings instead, then it means you don't want to see what my grief looks like.

You say you want me to reach out to you. You say it, and yet, you hide from me -- if you talk to me at all, you hide from me under narcissistic defenses like "You don't really feel the way you say you do", "It hurts me when you say you feel the way you do", or "Sure, I lay down with dogs, but I have no idea where these fleas came from."

You hide from me because you're scared to look at the damage you've done to me, to us.

When I posted that meme, the only response I got from someone on the "other side" I was supposed to reach out to said:

"And yet, you call people racist and sexist."

Paraphrasing: "you deserve to be called a faggot, because that is the punishment justly meted out to people who name racist and sexist behavior, people who question white and male cognitive authority."

Kiese Laymon wrote, about being called a racial slur:
I think and feel a lot but mostly I feel that I can't do anything to make the boys feel like they've made us feel right there... ("How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America: A Remembrance")

You can't empathize with me because there is nothing I could call you -- not "racist", not "sexist" -- that would ever make you feel like I feel when you tacitly excuse anti-queer hate speech.

You can't empathize with me, and you don't want me to empathize with you. You don't want to see what my grief looks like.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
This article about applying harm reduction to your secure use of the Internet has been going around. I can't share it in good conscience without adding a few things to it. I work for Google, but the following is my personal opinion.

If you're concerned about your data being collected (and I understand that you may be concerned about Google retaining your data not because you think Google will use it inappropriately, but because you fear that the federal government will require them to surrender it), use Chrome without being logged in. People disagree on how safe Tor really is, but my odds are on "not." If you don't have the level of technical expertise necessary to read the source code for yourself, you probably shouldn't be risking your life on it. It doesn't guarantee full anonymity. The reasons why are fairly complicated, which is a good sign you might want to avoid being lulled into a false sense of security.

For email, I wouldn't really recommend riseup. The author alludes to this, but: any widely used anarchist/radical site has been compromised already. Having a low volume of data makes you an easier target.

A friend I trust has confirmed that Signal is trustworthy. I agree with this article that regular SMS is not secure.

Passwords: use a password manager, turn on 2-factor wherever you can. Pretty much what they say.

Google: Don't log in when searching if you're worried (use multiple browser windows). As an insider, I can say Google takes user trust and privacy extremely seriously. I can't share everything that backs up that belief, but I will vouch for them.

It was pointed out to me that: "Turning off geolocation on a cell phone doesn't do much; the government can and will subpoena cell phone tower records which provide enough geolocation information."

If you would like to see how Google works with government requests for data, watch this official video on how Google responds to search warrants.

I don't trust Duck Duck Go any further than I can throw them, honestly. I would say the same thing about any other small service. They may be trying to do the right thing, but there are lots and lots of ways to retain more data than you intend to, and it takes a huge amount of human resources to not do that.

tl;dr: Only big companies have the resources to actually protect your privacy. Whether they want to do that is a different story. I'm confident that Google does want to do that, because without user trust, Google has no business.

Pretty much nothing is resistant to the government coercing you or your friend with the email server or Google into giving up data, because coercion is how the government works.

Use non-discoverable media when possible. Talk in person.

Whatever you're doing, think about what security people call your "threat model": what are you trying to defend against? What concrete risks do you face if your data gets into the wrong hands? What are the benefits of using a communication mechanism that's subject to surveillance? An example of threat modeling is your bicycle lock: if you have a nice bike and you ride in a major city, you might want to carry a heavy-duty Kryptonite U-lock at all times, plus extra locks for the wheels. That's because you can infer, based on information that you have, that your bike is attractive to thieves, there are many thieves, and they will try hard to steal your bike. If you have a rusty bike and live in a small town, you might be OK with a cable lock because the benefit of not having several pounds of metal to carry around outweighs the risk of theft, and a good U-lock costs more than your bike did. You can think about analogous trade-offs as they apply to your use of networked communication technologies.

This is one post where it's perfectly fine to well-actually me if you have security or systems expertise.

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tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

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