tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
2030-12-18 02:14 pm

How to post comments if you don't have a Dreamwidth account

I request that you read my comment policy before commenting, especially if you don't know me offline.

If you have a LiveJournal account and want to leave comments on my journal, you can do that without giving Dreamwidth a password or any personal information except an email address. You can follow these instructions (with slight modifications) if you have an account on a site that provides OpenID credentials, too. (For example, any Google or Google+ account should work this way.) Here's how:

  1. Go to the main Dreamwidth page
  2. Follow the "Log In with OpenID" link
  3. In the "Your OpenID URL" box, put yourusername.livejournal.com. For example, if I wanted to log in with my LiveJournal account, I would type "catamorphism.livejournal.com".
  4. Click Login.
  5. Click "Yes, just this time" or "Yes, always" when LiveJournal asks if you want to validate your identity.
  6. The first time you log in, you'll see a message "Please set and confirm your email address". Click the "set" link and follow the instructions.
  7. You'll get an email from Dreamwidth containing a link. Follow the link to confirm your email address.
  8. Follow the instructions. You should now be able to leave comments.

Edited to add as of February 26, 2013: There have been intermittent problems with using OpenID to log in to Dreamwidth. The most reliable way to comment is to create a Dreamwidth account, which is free.
tim: Solid black square (black)
2016-12-06 09:50 am

What went before can come again.

[CW: violence against women]

27 years ago today, 14 women were killed in an act of sickening violence at the École Polytechnique engineering school in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They were targeted for being women and for being engineers.

Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department
Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student

The man who murdered Bergeron, Colgan, Croteau, Daigneault, Edward, Haviernick, Laganière, Leclair, Lemay, Pelletier, Richard, St-Arneault, Turcotte, and Klucznik-Widajewicz said — before he killed himself — “I am fighting feminism”.

More
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
2016-12-05 11:03 pm
Entry tags:

[Linkspam] The trouble with linkspam (week 3)

Bruce Cockburn, "The Trouble with Normal"

Epistemology

  • Trump’s lies have a purpose. They are an assault on democracy., by Ned Resnikoff for ThinkProgress (2016-11-27).
    "If Bush and Rove constructed a fantasy world with a clear internal logic, Trump has built something more like an endless bad dream. In his political universe, facts are unstable and ephemeral; events follow one after the other with no clear causal linkage; and danger is everywhere, although its source seems to change at random."

    "Bannon is a skilled practitioner of the “darkness” strategy, but he is not its inventor. The real Master of the Dark Arts is another Karl Rove equivalent: Vladislav Surkov, a top adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin."

    "... Surkov then let it be known that this was what he was doing, which meant that no one was sure what was real or fake. As one journalist put it: “It is a strategy of power that keeps any opposition constantly confused."

    “Trump gaslighted me,” Fields later told Terris for an article about the incident. “I worry now that he’s gaslighting the country.”

    "It is tempting to take solace in the belief that, if Trump cannot be taken literally, his extreme rhetoric might conceal a secret moderate streak. But that hope would be misplaced. Non-linear warfare is intrinsically authoritarian. The president-elect is speaking the language of dictators."

    “Surkov’s philosophy is that there is no real freedom in the world, and that all democracies are managed democracies, so the key to success is to influence people, to give them the illusion that they are free, whereas in fact they are managed,” writes Sakwa. “In his view, the only freedom is ‘artistic freedom.’”

    "First, social media companies need to be held accountable for facilitating the spread of misinformation. Men like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, through their greed and stupidity, have shepherded authoritarianism to power in the United States. By embracing a facile definition of “openness,” they’ve sought to reap the traffic benefits of right-wing propaganda while ignoring its disastrous social consequences....

    Second, journalists need to understand what Trump is doing and refuse to play by his rules. He is going to use the respect and deference typically accorded to the presidency as an instrument for spreading more lies.... That is the choice every news outlet faces for the next four years: Subservience and complicity, or open hostility. There is no middle ground."

    "For the next four years, Donald Trump will seek to shred any institution that threatens his ability to unilaterally determine what is real." [emphasis added]

    The politics of "do it for the lulz". It's like 4Chan collectively got itself elected president.
  • Why I don't like the term "AI", by Chris Martens (2016-12-05). 'But ultimately, it's not the first word in "AI" that bothers me, that makes me hesitant to adopt it as a field I identify with -- it's the second one, intelligence. My issue is not just that "intelligence" is poorly defined and hard to measure, but actually that it highlights everything I find culturally wrong with computer science as a field: a false dichotomy and prioritization of the "smart" over the "dumb", the "rational" over the "emotional", and a supposition that these qualities are immutable and acontextual.' (Full disclosure: I'm quoted in this blog post.)
  • Frightened by Donald Trump? You don’t know the half of it, by George Monbiot for the Guardian (2016-11-30). "As usual, the left and centre (myself included) are beating ourselves up about where we went wrong. There are plenty of answers, but one of them is that we have simply been outspent. Not by a little, but by orders of magnitude. A few billion dollars spent on persuasion buys you all the politics you want. Genuine campaigners, working in their free time, simply cannot match a professional network staffed by thousands of well-paid, unscrupulous people." (n.b. I think any analysis that only considers the role of money in politics without considering the role of racism in politics is incomplete.)
  • ‘Don’t play identity politics!’ The primal scream of the straight white male, by Hadley Freeman for the Guardian (2016-12-02). "It boggles my brain that this even needs pointing out: political elections have always played identity politics. The difference is that the game was heretofore entirely weighted towards the white straight male, which I guess is why it comes as such a shock to that demographic when they are not at the absolute forefront of every single political discussion now."

Political science

  • [CW: neo-Nazi propaganda quoted in a critical context] "Fascism is not to be debated, it is to be smashed", by [tumblr.com profile] smarmygryffindor (2016-12-05) "this is why i say not to argue with fascists, at least, not seriously. if you do, argue with them calmly at first and post sources and all that shit to prove that you’ve got facts and reasoning on your side for the sake of others who will read it, and under no circumstances let them piss you off or upset you. then, once you’ve made your point well enough, just start fucking with them back. don’t make the mistake of thinking arguing with fascists is a debate; it’s all for show, all about who can make the other one look worse. so it’s vital that you point out how fucking inane their talking points are, yes, but it’s also vital that you let them (and everyone else) know that you Are Not Taking Them Seriously. Because you shouldn’t, no one should. You don’t have to prove that human beings deserve rights and racism is wrong."
  • [CW: domestic violence, graphic violence against women, anti-Black slurs, queer eliminationism] Trump's Cabinet, by [tumblr.com profile] quantum-displacement (2016-11-19). The juxtaposition of the list of necessary content warnings and the title says it all, doesn't it?
  • Trump, Cabinet could avoid millions in taxes thanks to this little-known law, by Drew Harwell for the Washington Post (2016-12-02). It's important to maintain our sense of outrage at Trump's unprecedented level of corruption -- that will be key to surviving kleptocracy.
  • Potential Conflicts Around the Globe for Trump, the Businessman President, by Richard C. Paddock, Eric Lipton, Ellen Barry, Rod Nordland, Danny Hakim and Simon Romero for the New York Times (2016-11-26). Likewise.
  • Shy Person’s Guide to Calling Representatives, by [tumblr.com profile] actionfriday (2016-11-18).
  • What is the social purpose of David Brooks?, by grapesmoker (2016-12-03). "His sociology is risible, and his lack of self-awareness is legendary; this is, after all, the man who unironically taught a class at Yale on the subject of humility and assigned them his own columns."

Economics

  • Men Dump Their Anger Into Women, by Emma Lindsay (2016-11-29):
    "So many men I know are unable to live a happy life when they don’t have a woman who stops them from feeling the negative feelings that accompany their poor life decisions. It’s notable that they often do not stop making these poor life decisions."

    "Why do angry men deserve sex and I don’t? Why do angry men get women devoted to their emotional caretaking?"

    "...we raise men to be angry by default."

    "I’ve noticed that when I am forced to endure male culture too long (say, working as a programmer) I also start having trouble identifying my own emotions."

    "The only men I know who go to therapy are either gay or in a very bad place. Straight men don’t go to therapy for a tune up, like I do, or many of my female friends do. "

    "Most men in my social circle manage their emotions with alcohol, drugs, work, women, or some combination of the above."

    (I'd add only that Lindsay's comments about how men are raised do not apply only to men who were assigned male at birth, and only apply to men.)
  • Lawyers: New court software is so awful it’s getting people wrongly arrested, by Cyrus Farivar for Ars Technica (2016-12-02). Another one about software, license agreements, economic incentives, and moral responsibility. "All lives matter, especially those who are being wrongfully put behind bars due to computer problems."

    The article asks: "How do you blame software?" I don't think this is actually a complicated question. How do you blame a bridge? You blame the people who make it (and -- maybe more so -- the people who profit from the labor of those who make it.) It's time for everyone to hold the software industry liable for professional negligence.

tim: "System Status: Degraded" (degraded)
2016-11-30 08:22 am

What responsibilities do social media companies have to their users?

[CW: suicide]

Elizabeth Waite was a trans woman who committed suicide last week. I did not know Elizabeth, but several of my friends did. In an article for the Daily Beast, Ben Collins described what happened after she died (CW if you follow the link to the article: it quotes extremely transmisogynistic and violent comments and images, including some that incite suicide.)


The night the article describes, I sat in my office after work with Elizabeth's profile open in a tab, watching the stream of hateful comments pour in almost faster than I could report them to Facebook. My friends had mentioned that members of an online forum known for terrorizing autistic trans women were flooding her profile (particularly her last post, in which she stated her intention to commit suicide) with hateful comments. Since I didn't know Elizabeth and wasn't emotionally affected by reading these comments in the same way that I would have been if I had known her, I felt that bearing witnesses and reporting the comments as abuse was work that I could usefully do. Since many of the comments were obviously from fake accounts, and Facebook is well-known for its desire for good data (read: monetizable data), specifically accounts attached to the names people use in everyday life, I reported those accounts as fake as well.

And later that night, I watched dozens and dozens of emails fill my inbox that were automated responses from Facebook's abuse reporting system. Most of the responses said this:


Thank you for taking the time to report something that you feel may violate our Community Standards. Reports like yours are an important part of making Facebook a safe and welcoming environment. We reviewed the comment you reported for displaying hate speech and found it doesn't violate our Community Standards.
Please let us know if you see anything else that concerns you. We want to keep Facebook safe and welcoming for everyone.


screenshot of the quoted text

Because the posts in question were eventually made private, I can't quote the comments about which a Facebook content reviewer said "it doesn't violate our Community Standards", and in fairness to the person or people reviewing the comments, some of the comments weren't obviously hate speech without the context that they were in a thread of people piling on a dead trans woman. Facebook lacks a way to report abuse that goes beyond "the text of this individual comment, in the absence of context, violates Facebook's Community Standards." That's part of the problem. If trans people were in positions of power at Facebook, you can bet that there would be a "report transmisogynist hate mob" button that would call attention to an entire thread in which an individual was being targeted by a coordinated harassment campaign.

Likewise, even though Facebook is notorious for harassing trans people for using the names we use in everyday life as our account names, when I reported an account with the name "Donny J. Trump" for impersonation, I got an email back saying that the account would not be suspended because it wasn't impersonating anybody:

screenshot of the aforementioned text

Facebook's tools don't address this problem. Imagine you're the family member of a trans woman who just died and whose profile is receiving a flood of hateful comments. Dozens of users are posting these comments -- too many to block, and anyway, what good would blocking do if you don't have access to the deceased person's account password? The comments would still be there, defacing that person's memory. Reporting individual comments has no effect if the harassment is conducted by posting a series of memes that aren't necessarily offensive on their own, but have the effect of demeaning and belittling a person's death when posted as comments in response to a suicide note. And getting an account converted to a "memorial account" -- which allows someone else to administer it -- can take days, which doesn't help when the harassment is happening right now. Again: you can look at Facebook and know that it's a company in which the voices of people who worry about questions like, "when I die, will people on an Internet forum organize a hate mob to post harmful comments all over my public posts?" are not represented.

But Facebook doesn't even do what they promise to do: delete individual comments that clearly violate their community standards:

Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on their:

Race,
Ethnicity,
National origin,
Religious affiliation,
Sexual orientation,
Sex, gender, or gender identity, or
Serious disabilities or diseases.


Out of the many comments in the threads on Elizabeth Waite's profile that clearly attacked people based on their gender identity or disability, most were deemed by Facebook as "doesn't violate our Community Standards."

At this point, Facebook ought to just stop pretending to have an abuse reporting system, because what they promise to do has nothing to do with what they will actually do. Facebook's customers are advertisers -- people like you and me who produce content that helps Facebook deliver an audience for advertisers (you might think of us as "users") are the raw material, not the customers. Even so, it's strange that companies that pay for advertising on Facebook don't care that Facebook actively enables this kind of harassment.

If you read the Daily Beast article, you'll also notice that Facebook was completely unhelpful and unwilling to stop the abuse other than in a comment-by-comment way until one of the family members found a laptop that still had a login cookie for Elizabeth's account -- they wouldn't memorialize it or do anything else to stop the abuse wholesale in a timely fashion. What would have happened if the cookie had already expired?

Like anybody else, trans people die for all kinds of reasons. In an environment where hate speech is being encouraged from the highest levels of power, this is just going to keep happening more and more. Facebook will continue to refuse to do anything to stop it, because hate speech doesn't curtail their advertising revenue. In fact, as I wrote about in "The Democratization of Defamation", the economic incentives that exist encourage companies like Facebook to potentiate harassment, because more harassment means more impressions.

Although it's clearly crude economics that make Facebook unwilling to invest resources in abuse prevention, a public relations person at Facebook would probably tell you that they are reluctant to remove hate speech because of concern for free speech. Facebook is not a common carrier and has no legal (or moral) obligation to spend money to disseminate content that isn't consistent with its values as a business. Nevertheless, think about this for a moment: in your lifetime, you will probably have to see a loved one's profile get defaced like this and know that Facebook will do nothing about it. Imagine a graveyard that let people spray paint on tombstones and then stopped you from washing the paint off because of free speech.

What responsibilities do social media companies -- large ones like Facebook that operate as completely unregulated public utilities -- have to their users? If you'd like, you can call Facebook's billions of account holders "content creators"; what responsibilities do they have to those of us who create the content that Facebook uses for delivering an audience to advertisers?

Facebook would like you to think that they give us access to their site for free because they're nice people and like us, but corporations aren't nice people and don't like you. The other viewpoint you may have heard is: "If you're not paying for the product, then you are the product." Both of these stories are too simplistic. If you use Facebook, you do pay for it: with the labor you put into writing status updates and comments (without your labor, Facebook would have nothing to sell to advertisers) and with the attention you give to ads (even if you never click on an ad).

If you're using something that's being given away for free, then the person giving it away has no contractual obligations to you. Likewise, if you are raw material, than the people turning you into gold have no contractual obligations to you. But if you're paying to use Facebook -- and you are, with your attention -- that creates a buyer/seller relationship. Because this relationship is not formalized, you as the buyer assume all the risks in the transaction while the seller reaps all of the economic benefit.


Do you like this post? Support me on Patreon and help me write more like it. In December 2016, I'll be donating all of my Patreon earnings to the National Network of Abortion Funds, so if you'd like to show your support, you can also make a one-time or recurring donation to them directly.

tim: Solid black square (black)
2016-11-28 10:35 am

[Linkspam] Linkspam during wartime (week 3)

Talking Heads, "Life During Wartime"


A Trump presidency would literally be unconstitutional. Would? Will?

Electoral College must reject Trump unless he sells his business, top lawyers for Bush and Obama say, by Judd Legum for ThinkProgress (2016-11-24).
This is where the Electoral College comes in. Tribe notes that the Electoral College was “originally conceived by Framers like Alexander Hamilton as a vital safeguard against the assumption of the Presidency by an ‘unfit character’ or one incapable of serving faithfully to ‘execute the Office of President of the United States [and] preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.’”

“[T]o vote for Trump in the absence of such complete divestment… would represent an abdication of the solemn duties of the 538 Electors,” Tribe said.

This view is not a position of disgruntled liberals. Richard Painter, Bush’s Chief Ethics Counsel, was in complete agreement with Tribe and Eisen during a recent appearance on CNN. “I don’t think the electoral college can vote for someone to become president if he’s going to be in violation of the Constitution on day one and hasn’t assured us he’s not in violation,” Painter said.

Resisting normalization

  • No, Trump, We Can’t Just Get Along, by Charles M. Blow for the New York Times (2016-11-23).
    Let me tell you here where I stand on your “I hope we can all get along” plea: Never.

    You are an aberration and abomination who is willing to do and say anything — no matter whom it aligns you with and whom it hurts — to satisfy your ambitions.

    I don’t believe you care much at all about this country or your party or the American people. I believe that the only thing you care about is self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. Your strongest allegiance is to your own cupidity.

    I also believe that much of your campaign was an act of psychological projection, as we are now learning that many of the things you slammed Clinton for are things of which you may actually be guilty.

    You slammed Clinton for destroying emails, then Newsweek reported last month that your companies “destroyed emails in defiance of court orders.” You slammed Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for paid speeches and conflicts of interest, then it turned out that, as BuzzFeed reported, the Trump Foundation received a $150,000 donation in exchange for your giving a 2015 speech made by video to a conference in Ukraine. You slammed Clinton about conflicts of interest while she was secretary of state, and now your possible conflicts of interest are popping up like mushrooms in a marsh.

    You are a fraud and a charlatan. Yes, you will be president, but you will not get any breaks just because one branch of your forked tongue is silver.

    I am not easily duped by dopes.

    I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so.

    I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, but rather to speak up for truth and honor and inclusion. This isn’t just about you, but also about the moral compass of those who see you for who and what you are, and know the darkness you herald is only held at bay by the lights of truth.

  • Making White Supremacy Respectable. Again., by Katherine Franke for the Los Angeles Review of Books (2016-11-21). Franke connects the dots excellently between the normalization of white supremacy and brocialist class-only analysis that decries identity politics:
    Let me be blunt: this kind of liberalism is a liberalism of white supremacy. It is a liberalism that regards the efforts of people of color and women to call out forms of power that sustain white supremacy and patriarchy as a distraction. It is a liberalism that figures the lives and interests of white men as the neutral, unmarked terrain around which a politics of “common interest” can and should be built. And it is a liberalism that regards the protests of people of color and women as a complaint or a feeling, ignoring the facts upon which those protests are based — facts about real dead, tortured, raped, and starved bodies. The liberalism Lilla espouses reduces these facts of human suffering and the systems of power that produce that suffering as beside the point.
  • Prejudice, “Political Correctness,” and the Normalization of Donald Trump, by Julia Serano (2016-11-22). Lots of great points to take away here about the blame game that white male leftists play to blame their own failures on vulnerable groups:
    So unsurprisingly, in the wake of the most shocking U.S. presidential election outcome in recent history, many pundits have decided to place the blame, not on the horribly blundered mainstream media election coverage, nor the millions of people who actually cast their votes for Donald Trump, but rather on activists on the left who have pushed too fiercely for “identity politics” or “political correctness.” Their thesis (whether stated explicitly or implicitly) is that if Democrats simply ditch all this “political correctness” nonsense, then they can win back many of those voters.

    And frankly, I cannot think of a worse possible takeaway message from this election....

    So how do activists accomplish changing these social norms? Well, there are a number of ways, although they tend to fall into one of two camps. There are “soft appeals,” in which the activist makes a thoughtful, well-reasoned case on behalf of the group, or in which members of the group demonstrate (through their everyday actions) that they are non-threatening, competent, moral, etc., and thus deserving of acceptance. In a perfect world, soft appeals would be sufficient to bring about increasing acceptance, but unfortunately there is one big problem: Soft appeals only work if members of the dominant majority are open to changing their minds. Some are, of course, but many others are stubbornly resistant to relinquishing their prejudice....

    To put it another way, “political correctness” is not an ideology, nor is it a specific set of behaviors. It is simply a slur that people utter when they want to dismiss an expression of social justice activism that they do not like. One person’s “political correctness” is another person’s common decency or righteous activism....

    It is also crucial to note that, while many people resent activist attempts to change social norms, we are not the only ones engaged in such actions: Those who harbor prejudices are also constantly trying to assert and/or change social norms, albeit in the opposite direction. And yet, these latter attempts do not face similar scrutiny or smearing. If I promote gender-neutral restrooms or pronouns, I will be dismissed as being “politically correct,” whereas North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (who championed HB2, the law that criminalizes trans people who use public restrooms) is never described as “politically correct” (even though he has clearly engaged in political attempts to enforce a social norm of his own creation).

    Trump repeatedly bragged about wanting to destroy “political correctness” — once again, the term acts as a euphemism for dismissing or dismantling social justice norms. Trump ran the most explicitly racist and xenophobic national campaign of my lifetime. He made numerous blatantly misogynistic comments, and we learned of numerous accusations that he sexually assaulted women (not to mention his own bragging to that effect). He openly mocked a disabled reporter and called deaf actor Marlee Matlin “retarded.” In any other recent election cycle, any one of these incidents would be disqualifying, let alone all taken together. These acts would have been disqualifying because, after many decades of social justice activism and advocacy, we had firmly established social norms that deemed these sorts of blatant discriminatory acts to be beyond the pale, to be simply unacceptable. Granted, prejudice most certainly had not completely gone away, but the fact that there was a steep social price to pay for overt expressions of discrimination helped to keep the most extreme bigots at bay....

    And now, in the face of the biggest potential rollback of social justice norms in the last fifty years, some political pundits are urging Democrats to reject “political correctness” (by which they mean social justice activism). Seriously, are you kidding me?....

    You know what: I would *love* to stop talking about being transgender. It would be absolutely wonderful to live in a world where I didn’t have to constantly consider that aspect of my person. But you know what? I don’t have the privilege of not thinking about it, because there are shit-tons of people out there who hate me, harass me, and who wish to criminalize and silence me *because* I’m transgender. “Identity politics” is not an expression of narcissism (as some pundits seem to believe), but rather a form of organized activism to resist those who wish to disempower and disenfranchise us. Donald Trump ran a campaign that constantly stoked hatred against minority/marginalized groups; he selected one of the most anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-women’s reproductive rights politicians in the nation to be his running-mate; he is now tapping white nationalists to play high-level roles in his administration. All of these prejudices have long histories. And yet somehow, these pundits have the gall to claim that *we’re* the ones who are making this about identity?

  • Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today., by Timothy Snyder (2016-11-15). I don't agree with all of this, but "Do not obey in advance" is a good reminder.

Moral courage

  • [CW: Nazis, Holocaust] Trump: The Choice We Face, by Masha Gessen for the New York Review of Books (2016-11-27):
    The difficulty stems from the realist tradition in politics. In contrast to what is sometimes called idealism, the realist position holds that the political world is governed not by morality but by clear and calculable interests. Alliances and conflicts turn into transactions with predictable outcomes. The realist reasoning is applied most clearly and most often to international relations, but it has seeped into all political life, turning virtually every conversation into a discussion of possible outcomes.

    Realism is predicated on predictability: it assumes that parties have clear interests and will act rationally to achieve them. This is rarely true anywhere, and it is patently untrue in the case of Trump. He ran a campaign unlike any in memory, has won an election unlike any in memory, and has so far appointed a cabinet unlike any in memory: racists, Islamophobes, and homophobes, many of whom have no experience relevant to their new jobs. Patterns of behavior characteristic of former presidents will not help predict Trump’s behavior. As for his own patterns, inconsistency and unreliability are among his chief characteristics....

    We cannot know what political strategy, if any, can be effective in containing, rather than abetting, the threat that a Trump administration now poses to some of our most fundamental democratic principles. But we can know what is right. What separates Americans in 2016 from Europeans in the 1940s and 1950s is a little bit of historical time but a whole lot of historical knowledge. We know what my great-grandfather did not know: that the people who wanted to keep the people fed ended up compiling lists of their neighbors to be killed. That they had a rationale for doing so. And also, that one of the greatest thinkers of their age judged their actions as harshly as they could be judged.

    Armed with that knowledge, or burdened with that legacy, we have a slight chance of making better choices. As Trump torpedoes into the presidency, we need to shift from realist to moral reasoning. That would mean, at minimum, thinking about the right thing to do, now and in the imaginable future. It is also a good idea to have a trusted friend capable of reminding you when you are about to lose your sense of right and wrong.

  • Thanksgiving Discussion Guide by Showing Up for Racial Justice. Thanksgiving is past, but study now for your holiday gatherings with racist family members (if your family is white).

Calling it what it is

  • Hey, Republican parents who said you didn't know how to explain gay marriage to your kids: any tips on explaining neo-Nazism to mine? -- [twitter.com profile] cberedjick (2016-11-22).
  • If you voted for Donald Trump... by Tess Rafferty (2016-11-21).
    I am tired of trying to see things your way while you sit in your holier-than-thou churches/white power meetups, refusing to see things mine. Did I just lump you in with white supremacists? No, you did that to yourselves. You voted for the same candidate as the KKK. You voted for a candidate endorsed by the KKK. For the rest of your life, you have to know that you voted the same way as the KKK. Does that feel good to you? Here's a hint---it really shouldn't, especially if you call yourself a Christian.

    I'm tired of pussyfooting around what offends your morals while couching what offends mine, because racism, misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia offend mine.

    Let me say it right here---if you voted for Trump, I do think you are a racist. I do think you're homophobic. I do think you're a misogynist. Racism, and homophobia, and misogyny are all a spectrum, and you're on it. You might not be a 'cheering while a black man gets lynched' racist, but boy, did you just sell them the rope and look the other way.

  • The Identity Politics of Whiteness, by Laila Lalami for the New York Times Magazine (2016-11-21). "A common refrain in the days after the election was “Not all his voters are racist.” But this will not do, because those voters chose a candidate who promised them relief from their problems at the expense of other races. They may claim innocence now, but it seems to me that when a leading chapter of the Ku Klux Klan announces plans to hold a victory parade for the president-elect, the time for innocence is long past....

    No, the top issue that drove Trump’s voters to the polls was not the economy — more voters concerned about that went to Clinton. It was immigration, an issue on which we’ve abandoned serious debate and become engulfed in sensational stories about rapists crossing the southern border or the pending imposition of Shariah law in the Midwest.

    If whiteness is no longer the default and is to be treated as an identity — even, soon, a “minority” — then perhaps it is time white people considered the disadvantages of being a race. The next time a white man bombs an abortion clinic or goes on a shooting rampage on a college campus, white people might have to be lectured on religious tolerance and called upon to denounce the violent extremists in their midst. The opioid epidemic in today’s white communities could be treated the way we once treated the crack epidemic in black ones — not as a failure of the government to take care of its people but as a failure of the race. The fact that this has not happened, nor is it likely to, only serves as evidence that white Americans can still escape race."

  • White nationalists? Alt-right? If you see a Nazi, say Nazi, by Lindy West for the Guardian (2016-11-22).
    the US press has been floundering in a gyre of panic over the internal taxonomy of racists....

    Not a Nazi, then, just a guy who’s shaken hands with a whole bunch of them. That’s fine. We’ll wait and watch....

    One defining aspect of alt-right white supremacy is that it vehemently denies its own existence … This erosion of language is an authoritarian tactic designed to stifle dissent. If you cannot call something by its name, then how can you fight it?"

  • The Rise Of The ‘Alt Right’ And Religious Right Are Chillingly Similar, by Katherine Cross for The Establishment (2016-11-23).
    The history of the Republican Party these last 30 years is the tale of a flesh-eating virus....

    The racists Trump has courted will destroy the Republican Party as we know it, but that slow, violent death will catch us all in its wake, with potentially devastating consequences for American democracy—and what may rise in its place should comfort no one....

    The tragic reality is that just as Reagan exploited the resentment of white Christians, now the resentments of white men in general—especially white people who feel dislocated by social progress—have been harnessed into a potent brew that has actually brought fascism into power here. Though a minority in this new movement, young whites who’ve expressed their nihilism and outrage through trolling and harassment campaigns like GamerGate, or through sites like 4chan, also have been politically aroused. To a party desperate for young blood, they provide a likely target.

tim: Solid black square (black)
2016-11-21 08:35 am
Entry tags:

[Linkspam] State of emergency linkspam, week 2

Again, no nice formatting due to the high number of links I was sifting through.

http://echothroughthefog.cordeliadillon.com/post/153393286626/how-to-call-your-reps-when-you-have-social-anxiety

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/217831/what-to-do-about-trump

http://joshuafoust.com/this-is-not-normal/

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/19/hamilton-mike-pence-trump-voters-safe-space

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/11/18/george-takei-they-interned-my-family-dont-let-them-do-it-to-muslims/?utm_term=.87d582b3aac4

https://blog.valerieaurora.org/2016/11/18/spreadsheet-of-signs-of-fascism/

https://thecorrespondent.com/5696/were-heading-into-dark-times-this-is-how-to-be-your-own-light-in-the-age-of-trump/1611114266432-e23ea1a6

[Syllabus for white people to educate themselves -- I haven't read all these links yet, but I plan to] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1By9bUjJ78snEeZuLXNGBdlVMJgEQWMEjR-Gfx8ER7Iw/mobilebasic#heading=h.bi12zdslqy3z

https://milenapopova.eu/2016/11/dear-liberal-friends-you-do-not-have-the-tools-to-fight-trump.html

https://storify.com/miniver/how-fascism-accumulates-power-by-testing-people

http://bust.com/feminism/18550-white-working-class.html

http://www.theestablishment.co/2016/11/13/questioning-safety-pin-solidarity-revealed-why-i-cant-trust-white-people/

[also re: safety pins] https://www.facebook.com/amadi.lovelace/posts/416858352035561

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/i-told-conservatives-to-work-for-trump-one-talk-with-his-team-changed-my-mind/2016/11/15/f02e1fac-ab7c-11e6-977a-1030f822fc35_story.html?utm_term=.c460b3ffaf1e

http://www.theestablishment.co/2016/11/15/right-now-theres-not-much-to-do-but-survive/

https://www.facebook.com/anand.kalra/posts/10107350655399473

And one non-election-related link, because we need it:

http://queenmobs.com/2015/11/addmtv-the-mountain-goats-this-year-2009/
tim: Solid black square (black)
2016-11-14 09:32 am
Entry tags:

[Linkspam] Monday, November 14: state of emergency linkspam

Sorry, poorly formatted list because I'm a hurry to get all these included. May go back and edit later.

Actions I have taken to prepare for the Trump administration, by Valerie Aurora (2016-11-13). I like the emphasis here on mutual aid, and I agree with the level of seriousness.

These Babson College frat bros messed with the wrong Wellesley women of color – because we fought back, by Jalena Keane-Lee for the Tempest (2016-11-11). This happened at my alma mater.

a time to heal, by Kris Straub / chainsawsuit (2016-11-10). A comic.

"funny how folks grousing on working harder to understand plight of folks with rural background they never mean my queer ass from Briggs, Tex" -- [twitter.com profile] destroyed4com4t on Twitter

Documented Instances of Harassment, and a Request to Trump Supporters, by Jim C. Hines (2016-11-12).

Doing Liberation Theology In A Reactionary Time, by Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thisthlethwaite for the Huffington Post (2016-11-12). 'Christofascism, according to Sölle, is a Christianity that individualizes and sentimentalizes Jesus, severs his connection to the Hebrew prophets, and makes a mockery of his ministry and mission to the poor and the marginalized. Christofascists have a “God without justice, a Jesus without a cross, an Easter without a cross — what remains is a metaphysical Easter Bunny in front of the beautiful blue light of the television screen, a betrayal of the disappointed, a miracle weapon in service of the mighty."'

How Do You Talk To Your Kids?, by Saladin Ahmed (2016-11-12). A poem.

"If you're a Trump voter who is tired of being called a bigot, if you say you voted for him based on gun rights or economic issues, or because you think Hillary really was that awful, and in spite of his rhetoric, rather than because of it, I believe you. If you're in my life, I clearly don't think you're a vile hateful person. But if you're now watching protests across the country and you don't understand why, or think they are just being sore losers, let me break something down for you. These people aren't just angry or sad that someone they didn't support won the election, they're scared...", by Michael Rex (quoted by Sydne Sullivan) (2016-11-11).

I've heard enough of the white male rage narrative, by Hadley Freeman for the Guardian (2016-11-10). "Trump’s supporters, like Brexit supporters before them, will say that these are merely the bleatings of the sore losers – the Remoaners, the Grimtons, or whatever portmanteau is conceived next. This objection always misses the obvious point that these people aren’t mourning for themselves. Whereas those who voted for Trump and Brexit did so to turn time back for their personal benefit, those who voted for remain or Hillary Clinton did so because they know time only moves forward, and this benefits society. To try to force it back hurts everyone."

A graphic on what "it's going to be ok" really means, by Geri Weitzman (2016-11-11).

I’m a disabled American. Trump’s policies will be a disaster for people like me., by Ari Ne’eman for Vox (2016-11-09).

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/13/health/what-should-i-do-before-january-doc-trnd/index.html

http://billmoyers.com/story/farewell-america/

http://usuncut.com/politics/no-hillary-clinton-trump-doesnt-deserve-chance/

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/11/silicon-valley-donald-trump-critics-tech-reactions

http://www.rollcall.com/news/opinion/im-a-coastal-elite-from-the-midwest-the-real-bubble-is-rural-america

https://www.facebook.com/DKGreen67/posts/10157674816235099?pnref=story

https://weeklysift.com/2012/09/10/the-distress-of-the-privileged/

http://modernloss.com/grief-revisted-election-2016-post-mortem/

https://www.splcenter.org/reporthate

http://m.dailykos.com/story/2016/11/9/1595296/-California-Does-The-Right-Thing-in-the-Face-of-Trump

http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/11/10/trump-election-autocracy-rules-for-survival/

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/nonviolence-as-compliance/391640/

https://thinkprogress.org/david-clarke-trump-protests-must-be-quelled-785a92cf6e60#.ibq44c8qy

http://www.vox.com/2016/9/19/12933072/far-right-white-riot-trump-brexit

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/11/10/russian_government_actually_we_were_in_contact_with_the_trump_campaign.html

http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/11/09/heres-why-we-grieve-today/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/adolfoflores/after-trump-election-immigrants-fret-over-deportation?utm_term=.rpx1q4gVE#.quejd048o

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/a4494411/mike-pence-anti-abortion-views/
tim: Solid black square (black)
2016-11-12 05:36 am
Entry tags:

State of emergency

I can't sleep, so I'm writing down the things I wrote down on post-its over the past few days when I wasn't sure where to put them:

Racism is neither absurd nor irrational. It's self-interested. You can't teach something their salary depends on them not knowing.

What "diversity of opinion" means is that saying what's happening right now is normal and fine.

All y'all told me that I had to show more respect to white cis het men, more deference to white cis het men, because "diversity of opinion" etc. etc. But you don't get my labor today. I'm grieving; if you're not going to grieve with me, stay out of the way. If you've lost nothing, then you can't understand the loss that I'm grieving. If you can't accept without understanding, then stay out of the way.

What America stands for is racism, xenophobia, transmisogyny and other forms of misogyny, and rape culture, and it showed us that this Election Day. Don't forget that. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

Right now, my friends and I are trying to decide between fight, flight, or freeze, and not everybody has the first two options. If you have other options, consider yourself lucky.

the rest of this is addressed to my friends and allies, known and unknown

You don't need to be better. This didn't happen because you weren't good enough.

You don't need to forgive, understand, listen to or empathize with Trump supporters. You don't need to comfort them about what they did, or temper your expressions of rage and grief to make them feel less guilty, because you do not need to set yourself on fire to keep somebody else warm.

You might feel like you didn't do enough to stop this. Forgive yourself, then start doing whatever it is you wish you had done.

"All the petty demons trying to break me in two
I was born stronger than any of you
It's alright
It's alright
It's alright"
-- the Mountain Goats, Hail St. Sebastian
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
2016-11-10 10:47 pm
Entry tags:

A harm reductionist guide to a harm reductionist guide

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.
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
2016-11-10 09:18 pm
Entry tags:

You Don't Want To See These Guys Without Their Masks On

[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: Solid black square (black)
2016-11-10 11:17 am

"America", Allen Ginsberg (excerpt)

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: Solid black square (black)
2016-11-10 02:40 am
Entry tags:

Fear

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: A bright orange fish. (fish)
2016-11-07 05:26 pm
Entry tags:

[Linkspam] Monday, November 6

Election

  • Exit Strategy, by EricaJoy (2016-11-03). "Staying is not a desirable option. Staying leaves me in a country run by a person who can start a war and would probably start one because someone slighted him."
  • [CW: sex; sexually explicit images (porn covers)] The Erin Brockovich of Porn, by Jeremy Lybarger for Esquire (2016-11-04). "We almost made it through lunch without mentioning the turkey basters full of cum, which would have been a shame."
  • Goodbye to all that: I’m done with Election 2016, by Sady Doyle for Global Comment (2016-11-03).
    I’m tired. I’m tired of debating whether gender plays a role in the election of the potential first female President, whether sexism is affecting media coverage or public sentiment, whether Hillary Clinton’s female supporters are selfish for caring about gender when There Are So Many Other Problems In The World After All, whether sexism itself even qualifies as a problem. I am tired of the lingering hangover of the Democratic primary, tired of what this conversation has shown me about the seemingly well-meaning, “progressive” men in my life. I am tired of seeing the damage that even the mildest, wimpiest, plaid-shirt-clad beardy-bro can do when he’s been given license to stop taking sexism seriously, and therefore stopped worrying that he might get somebody hurt.
  • is donald trump a ‘man of peace’?, by leftytgirl (2016-11-03). 'Why do some on the left seem to believe Trump is a ‘man of peace’? What personal traits of his is this based on?'
  • What Hillary Clinton's Fans Love About Her, by Chimamanda Adichie (2016-11-03).
    A conservative writer labeled her a congenital liar when she was first lady, and the label stuck because it was repeated over and over—and it was a convenient label to harness misogyny. If she was a liar, then the hostility she engendered could not possibly be because she was a first lady who refused to be still and silent. “Liar’ has re-emerged during this election even though Politifact, a respected source of information about politicians, has certified that she is more honest than most politicians—and certainly more honest than her opponent.

    Because she is already considered guilty in a vague and hazy way, there is a longing for her to be demonstrably guilty of something. Other words have been repeated over and over, with no context, until they have begun to breathe and thrum with life. Especially “emails.” The press coverage of “emails” has become an unclear morass where “emails” must mean something terrible, if only because of how often it is invoked.

  • When Truth Falls Apart, by Maria Bustillos for The Awl (2016-11-02). So good:
    "Dismediation is looking to make you never really trust or believe a news story, ever again....

    It’s not that we can’t agree on what the facts are. It’s that we cannot agree on what counts as fact.

    (There's something to be said here about the relationship between what Bustillos calls dismediation -- the propagation of epistemological nihilism -- and the denial of marginalized people's lived experiences that is the substance of gaslighting.)

  • His message was that America is fine, by Aaron Bady (2010-11-01). Yes, this article is six years old, but so much of it still rings true: '...by condemning both ideological “sides” equally for the crime of being ideological, he implies or explicitly claims that the truth is to be found in a “Real” that is outside those ideological filters.'

Everything else

tim: protest sign: "Down With This Sort of Thing" (politics)
2016-11-05 05:31 pm
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Election 2016: In which I tell you how to vote so you don't have to think about it

In what follows, I'll assume you already have a passing familiarity with the candidates and ballot measures. For background information, http://smartvoter.org/ and https://ballotpedia.org are helpful.

Like most such guides, this one will start out being relevant to everyone eligible to vote in the US, then quickly narrow itself to just California, then further narrow itself to Alameda County and then Oakland (specifically City Council District 1).

tl;dr: Californians, vote no on 60 if you want to protect sex workers, yes on 62 to abolish the death penalty, and Oaklanders vote no on Measure HH to oppose fat-shaming and vote yes on Measure JJ to extend protection against unjust evictions. In writing this, I was helped by the Alameda County Green Party's voter guide and the Friends Committee on Legislation of California (FCLCA) voter guide.

President: Hillary Rodham Clinton

I don't believe that Clinton is the lesser of two evils, or in fact, evil. I believe she is the best-qualified person to be president. I'm not considering making a protest vote; to me, there's nothing to protest.

I'm leaving this part brief both because you've probably already made up your mind, and other people have already said the rest (I don't, of course, agree with every point made in every one of the following articles):


US Senator: Loretta Sanchez

I'm a single-issue voter -- in this specific case, that issue is not attacking sex workers:
A sex work activist group, the Erotic Service Providers Legal Education Research Project (ESPLERP), today joined sex worker rights groups and civil rights organisations in condemning yesterday’s raid on Backpage’s Dallas offices and the arrest of their CEO and controlling shareholders.

“This is just the latest attempt to shut down online sex work advertising,” said Maxine Doogan, President of ESPLERP. “It will not stop sex work. All it will do is force sex workers back onto the streets, where they are far less safe and vulnerable to violence and extortion. In effect, Kamala Harris is deliberately making the lives of sex workers more dangerous to boost her Senate hopes. Disgusting.”

Read more... )
tim: "System Status: Degraded" (degraded)
2016-11-02 09:46 am
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Capital Punishment and the Drive to Re-Enact

[CW: rape]

In my state, California, there's currently a proposition on the ballot to abolish the death penalty: Proposition 62, on which you should vote Yes if you're eligible to do so. You should also vote No on Proposition 66, whose goal is to make the process of state-sponsored murder more efficient. So it seems like it's a good time to think a little bit about the desire for capital punishment as a socially-acceptable response to trauma.

Racism and Capital Punishment

The death penalty persists in the United States is to punish and control people of color, primarily Black people. The legacy of kidnapping and enslaving Black people and using their labor as the foundation of a new state is one of the things that differentiates the United States from almost every other economically powerful nation, and capital punishment is another. Historically, the application of capital punishment to people convicted of rape is one of the most clear-cut instances of the disproportionate application of capital punishment to people of color. The specific case I address here is a case of rape and murder, so keep in mind the history of how capital punishment has been applied to Black men accused of rape even though this particular case was a white-on-white crime. While capital punishment advocates often claim that the death penalty should be reserved for the "worst of the worst" criminals -- and the case I'm about to talk about is just such an example -- in general, the application of capital punishment to white defendants is quite inconsistent, and understanding that helps us understand how "worst of the worst" arguments serve to obfuscate the irreducible racism of capital punishment in the US. While the occasional white death row inmate might help dissemble the racist goals of the death penalty, the thing that predicts where it will be applied most strongly is race, not the severity of the crime.

Of course, people who support capital punishment don't generally try to be overtly racist, so they enlist survivors of violent crime -- generally, white survivors, who other white people sympathize with -- to camouflage their real agenda. Moreover, many survivors of violent crime don't want the people who hurt them to be executed. Nonetheless, there are survivors of violent crime who willingly enlist in the pro-state-sponsored murder campaign, as well as family members of murder victims, and I mean to clear away the cobwebs (well aware as I am that other people have expertly documented the white supremacy that lies beneath.)

Acceptable Trauma Survivors and Revenge

Survivors make good camouflage because most people find it at least somewhat understandable why people would want revenge against people who hurt them or their loved ones in the worst possible ways (sometimes misleadingly called "closure"). The desire for revenge -- specifically the form of revenge that involves having the government murder somebody for you -- is considered within the realm of reasonable responses to trauma, even though there is no consensus among the public on whether or not capital punishment is good public policy (among experts on law and violent crime, of course, consensus exists, and that consensus is that it's bad policy.) And yet we might ask: why?

Read more... )

Acceptable trauma survivors -- those who are victimized by people unrelated to themselves -- are supported when they wish to deal with their trauma by having the state kill people on their behalf. Unacceptable trauma survivors take violence into their own hands -- frequently against themselves, rarely against others. Honesty about the prevalence of violence and abuse requires empathy for all survivors, without granting any class of survivors special permission to potentiate violence. Breaking the cycle of abuse requires ending capital punishment and confronting our collective desire to punish. We can acknowledge that we are hurting while working as hard as we can to control our natural desire to hurt others in response, to show them what it feels like. We have to confront our collective desire for vengeance in order to be freed from the misguided hope that further bloodshed will heal us.

Thanks to Gwen, Jon and Ken for their comments on a draft of this essay.


Do you like this post? Support me on Patreon and help me write more like it.

tim: A bright orange fish. (fish)
2016-10-31 08:01 pm
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[Linkspam] Monday, October 31 🎃

A post about whether you would go back in time and kill baby Hitler, by Jim Henley (2016-10-28). I just want to quote this entire post because it's so good. "You never. Need. To murder. A baby!" (I want to think more about the extent to which violence permeates the culture we live in so that this is a thing that needs to be said.)

Why would Facebook fire Peter Thiel?, by Paul Biggar (2016-10-26). This needs to be said, and maybe because it's a white man saying it, some of the people who need to listen will listen: 'Look at the words they use — “scared for the lives”, “hate and violence”, “his attacks”, “existential threat” — and contrast them to Altman’s and Zuckerberg’s: “because they support Trump”, “support of a political candidate”. Altman and Zuckerberg are talking about mere political support. The others are talking about fearing for their lives.' (I disagree with Biggar about one thing: the idea that people who aren't like him deserve to be safe is political; for most of us, whether we deserve to be safe is a highly politicized question. Nonetheless, the distinction between being unsafe and being disagreed with is important.)

Why I'm Done Talking About Diversity Or, Why We Should Try an All-White Diversity Panel, by Marlon James (2016-10-20). So many good points here. I think this relates to what I wrote about in "Opinions Are Abundant and Low-Value, too, in that we can only be fooled into thinking "diversity of opinion" is a useful goal if we think of diversity as a goal rather than an incidental outcome.
"Well for one, saying these isms are dividing us is implying that we are equally to blame for the division. What is happening is one group using social, economic and political policies to separate themselves from others, not always deliberately. It’s not for the black person to be more open-minded. It’s for the white person to be less racist."

"Diversity can’t accomplish anything because diversity shouldn’t have been a goal in the first place."

"The point I will raise at a diversity panel this year, will be the same point I raised ten years ago, which again reinforces the question of what purpose these panels serve."
Developer hiring and the market for lemons, by Dan Luu. So many good points here -- Luu examines and eviscerates, in detail, why the belief that engineering managers accurately assess talent -- and therefore, the belief that "all good developers already have jobs" -- is completely wrong. It follows pretty easily from the points Luu makes that prejudice against people who change jobs frequently is illogical unless you blame people for having been in a bad working environment.

Some things that might help you make better software, by David R. MacIver (2016-10-27). This is not just a random bag of ideas -- I think that the points about testing and documentation are deeply related to the points about culture, working from home, and working hours. I'm working on a blog post in which I elaborate just that, but in the meantime, this is a really great list of things you should know about doing software right, written from a holistic standpoint.

Academia, Love Me Back, by Tiffany Martinez (2016-10-27). 'On the second page the professor circled the word “hence” and wrote in between the typed lines “This is not your word.” The word “not” was underlined. Twice. My professor assumed someone like me would never use language like that. As I stood in the front of the class while a professor challenged my intelligence I could just imagine them reading my paper in their home thinking could someone like her write something like this?'

[CW: white men with guns; description of murder] I Went Undercover With a Border Militia. Here's What I Saw, by Shane Bauer for Mother Jones (2016-10). There's a lot here. An incidental point that jumped out at me was: "there is an added concern among law enforcement that going after a group simply for training 'could backfire and make them feel persecuted or victimized.'" So much for the war on terror... oh wait, we only care about terrorists feeling persecuted or victimized if those terrorists happen to be white.

The pyramid at the end of the world, by Elmo Keep for Fusion (2016-10-28). What a weird, beautiful article about a weird, beautiful monument to how close we continue to come to nuclear annihilation. I don't know if it was written specifically about this place, but the song "Nightshift Watchman" by David Wilcox came to mind. "If I do my job, my job is over..."

Debunking Patient Zero, by Azeen Ghorayshi for Buzzfeed (2016-10-26). As several of my friends pointed out this is not news, but it should still be disseminated. '“There was so much anxiety and fear about HIV and origins of HIV that it led to blame — blame along people’s beliefs, blame along people’s prejudices,” Richard Elion, an HIV researcher at George Washington University, told BuzzFeed News. “People want to believe that bad things in the world happen because of bad people. But biology doesn’t work that way.”'

The Racist and Sexist History of Keeping Birth Control Side Effects Secret, by Bethy Squires for Vice (2016-10-17).

When tech firms judge on skills alone, women land more job interviews, by Erin Carson for Cnet (2016-08-27). Not news either, but it's always good to have more evidence.

The Accidental City, by Helena Fitzgerald (2016-10-27). If you're at all sentimental about New York City, subways, or the New York subway system, you'll enjoy this.
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
2016-10-24 09:51 pm
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[Linkspam] Monday, October 24

I noticed a theme emerging as I assembled today's links: emotionally manipulative lies you may have been told lately. Gaslighting seems more prevalent than ever: people who want you to include abusers in your social circle, disengage from the political process, or blame yourself for your place in an oppressive socioeconomic order have a lot of tricks up their sleeves. I hope these links will shine light into those corners of your mind where you might be inclined to believe the voices saying you're "just too late and just no good."

Lie: "Isn't calling people out for their abusive behavior just as bad as abusing people?"

  • When is naming abuse itself abusive?, by Valerie Aurora (2016-10-24). This is so good and I want to print out many copies and nail them to various walls:
    "Naming and accurately describing abusive behavior is necessary and powerful at the same time that it makes many people feel uncomfortable.... Being uncomfortable is not in and of itself a sign that you are doing something wrong. I encourage people to think about what makes you uncomfortable about naming and describing abusive behavior, or seeing other people do it. Is it compassion for the person engaging in abusive behavior? Then I ask you to apply that compassion to the targets of abuse. Is it fear of further abuse by the person being called out? Then I urge you to support people taking action to end that abuse. Is it desire for a lack of overt conflict – a “negative peace“? Then I suggest you raise your sights and aim for a positive peace that includes justice and consideration for all. Is it fear that the wrong person will be accidentally targeted? Then I invite you to reflect on the enormous risk and backlash faced by people do this kind of naming and describing. And then I invite you to worry more about the people who are remaining silent when speaking up would benefit us all."
Lie: "You need to tolerate people who think you shouldn't exist -- not just tolerate them, but collaborate with them. Diversity of opinion is sacred."
  • Peter Thiel, YC, and hard decisions, by Ellen Pao (2016-10-17). "Giving more power to someone whose ascension and behavior strike fear into so many people is unacceptable. His attacks on Black, Mexican, Asian, Muslim, and Jewish people, on women, and on others are more than just political speech; fueled by hate and encouraging violence, they make each of us feel unsafe."
  • Part-Time Power, by Leigh Honeywell (2016-10-19). 'We all get to make a choice as to what constitutes “intolerable intolerance”. YC has made it clear that Thiel’s actions and words are tolerable enough to them to continue to give him power over people in their organization, and I find this unconscionable.'
  • When the Genius Men of Silicon Valley Suddenly Don't Seem So Smart, by Sam Biddle for The Intercept (2016-10-19).
  • The hypocrisy of Facebook's silence on Peter Thiel's support for Donald Trump, by Julia Carrie Wong for the Guardian (2016-10-18). "Money talks, and in Silicon Valley, it seems, money can say whatever it wants as long as one’s public statements (be they convention speeches or Washington Post op-eds) obfuscate the bigotry that lies beneath."
  • “Emotions are Running High…” by Arlan Hamilton (2016-10-21). "This week, another entity was set to make a very generous investment in my company. This was a deal a few weeks in the making, and at approx $500k would have made a huge impact on what we’re building at Backstage. Because this entity has close business ties to Thiel, I was faced with the decision to be a hypocrite and take the cash, or not be a hypocrite and respectfully decline it. I chose the latter."
  • Twitter Fires Its VR Project Manager After Homeless Rant Resurfaces, by William Turton for Gizmodo (2016-10-19). Sometimes there's justice in the world.
Lie: "Sure, maybe he's a serial abuser, but he does such good work and that's the important thing."
  • [CW: sexual harassment; universities; but I repeat myself.] From Texas to the Smithsonian, following a trail of sexual misconduct, by Michael Balter for The Verge (2016-10-24). Systemic sexual harassment and professors' and administrators' insistence on making sure it keeps happening. So familiar.
  • Why I won’t be attending Systems We Love, by Valerie Aurora (2016-10-22). "Even if Bryan doesn’t attack me, people who like the current unpleasant culture of systems programming will. I thought long and hard about the friendships, business opportunities, and social capital I would lose over this blog post. I thought about getting harassed and threatened on social media. I thought about a week of cringing whenever I check my email. Then I thought about the people who might attend Systems We Love: young folks, new developers, a trans woman at her first computing event since coming out – people who are looking for a friendly and supportive place to talk about systems at the beginning of their careers. I thought about them being deeply hurt and possibly discouraged for life from a field that gave me so much joy."
Lie: "You're not allowed to be glad that Hillary Clinton will be the next president -- just look at all the awful things she's done."
  • [CW: abuse] Hillary: My President, my Patronus, by Tierney Wisniewski (2016-10-21). I really related to this article about finding vindication as a child of a narcissist from watching Clinton succeed by exposing Trump for who he is: "I’m an only child. I had no witnesses inside the family. It was my word against that of two unreliable adults. Now, watching one more very unreliable adult, I have millions of witnesses to corroborate my perceptions of what is happening, and the documentation to back up our perceptions. And that part feels awesome."
  • The Leftist Case for Clinton, by Milo Beckman (2016-10-19). "Clinton has consistently been as far to the left as a public figure could be in America without being dismissed as a lunatic."
Lie: "Real conservatives aren't like that. He's just bananas."
  • Trumpworld, by Michelle García for Guernica (2016-10-21) "...For much of the campaign season, the press and commentators have branded Trump as an aberration, his rhetoric seemingly a deviation from the political norm, his vision for the country a frightening possibility of the future. In reality, much of Trumpworld already exists." García shows how Trump's white supremacy and anti-immigrant racism are nothing new. Nor are they unique to the right wing: "Partisan differences offer little or no immunity from the violent border paradigm, even among those seemingly supportive of immigrants."
Lie: "Well, anyone could win against Donald Trump."
  • Hillary Clinton’s 3 debate performances left the Trump campaign in ruins, by Ezra Klein for Vox (2016-10-19). While Trump's opinions aren't unusual among conservatives, his strategy (or lack thereof) is, and Clinton has exploited it skillfully: "The dominant narrative of this election goes something like this. Hillary Clinton is a weak candidate who is winning because she is facing a yet weaker candidate. Her unfavorables are high, her vulnerabilities are obvious, and if she were running against a Marco Rubio or a Paul Ryan, she would be getting crushed. Lucky for her, she’s running against a hot orange mess with higher unfavorables, clearer vulnerabilities, and a tape where he brags about grabbing women "by the pussy.""
Lie: "If you're not doing well economically, you're lazy. Just work harder."
  • The myth of personal life under capitalism, by Susan Rosenthal (2015-01). "Transforming inquisitive children into obedient, producing and reproducing machines requires a persistent shaming process that compels us to reject every part of ourselves that might rebel: our curiosity, our need to be heard and valued, and our need to actively shape our lives and our world. As a result, we cannot be complete human beings. When we believe that parts of ourselves are unworthy, we are ashamed to show ourselves, and our relationships remain superficial and insecure."
  • The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation, by Caitlin Herron (2016-10-17) "The negative opinions directed at millennials are a perfect example, on an enormous societal scale, of cultural gaslighting."
  • Millennials Who Are Thriving Financially Have One Thing in Common… Rich parents, by Gillian B. White for the Atlantic (2015-07-15).
    The study calls this a 'funnel of privilege': Young adults with rich parents soon become rich themselves.

    "Haves are turning their riches or their wealth into bigger wealth because they are investing in the housing market by simply living in a house," says Gudell. This advantage is one that these Millennials will carry forward as they earn more than their degree-less peers, and save more than those who were forced to throw away tens of thousands of dollars on rent due to their inability to buy. In the future, they’ll have wealth to pass down to their own kids, continuing the cycle.

tim: A bright orange fish. (fish)
2016-10-17 06:42 pm
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[Linkspam] Monday, October 17

The white flight of Derek Black, by Eli Saslow for the Washington Post (2016-10-15). I am not sure how much credit former white supremacists deserve for coming to their senses, but nonetheless, this is a pretty gripping story about the son of one of the founders of Stormfront disowning his previous involvement with white supremacist groups. Education can and does change people sometimes, even though doing the work of educating isn't any specific marginalized person's responsibility.

Discerning Emotional Abuse in Relationships, by Xan West (2016-10-14).

D&D For Young DMs and Players 3: The X-Card, by Rory Bristol (2016-10-03). Interesting example of content warnings in practice (in the context of roleplaying games.) h/t [personal profile] joxn

[CW: rape, rape culture] When Men Brag About Sexual Assault, by [livejournal.com profile] siderea (2016-10-10). I also recommend its predecessor piece, Trump's Sexual Inkblot. This is about much more than just Trump:
The "locker-room banter" excuse says to women (and others), "you don't get to make the same natural surmises that men get to make about the very same speech acts applied to other crimes". It's a double standard: when the crime being boasted about is sexual in nature, women (and others) are supposed to give it a pass. "He's just saying that. It doesn't mean he does it."

When it comes to sexual crimes and torts, women (and others) are told they are supposed to suspend operation of their common sense. What men say when bragging about sexual misconduct is to be held in a little epistemological bubble, where none of it means, signifies, or counts in any way outside the bubble. Within the bubble – the rhetorical "locker-room" – those speech acts are to be understood and evaluated only by a special set of rules, which insist such utterances are not of relevance to the (presumed female) parties spoken of, only to the (presumed male) parties spoken to. Those utterances are not to be taken outside of the bubble; they are not to be exposed to reasoned contemplation in the light of anything outside the bubble whatsoever. We are to pretend under all circumstances not to have heard that which we have heard that men arrogate to the bubble; we are to pretend not to know anything the knowing of which men arrogate to the bubble. It is, Orwellianly, knowledge that, if we know it, we are forbidden to know.


[CW: suicide, discussion of mental illness hospitalization] Suicide Didn’t Kill Me, But Capitalism Might, by Beck Levy (2016-09-09). 'The bottom line is that in this ongoing crisis, “awareness” and “ending stigma” are toothless if depoliticized. All the awareness in the world won’t dismantle for-profit healthcare. Applying free-market principles to human needs wreaks havoc on our bodies.'

North Carolina Governor: My wife and I are being shunned by friends over anti-trans law, by Nick Duffy for PinkNews (2016-10-13). The lack of self-awareness here is breathtaking.

Men, You Can Survive Without Us—Please Try, by Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment (2016-10-14). "All of this fear that you cannot survive without us is leaving so many of us dead."

The Ada Initiative’s legacy, one year on, by the Ada Initiative, 2016-10-17. Includes a list of ways you can continue supporting women in open technology and culture!

How False Narratives of Margaret Sanger Are Being Used to Shame Black Women, by Imani Gandy for Rewire (2016-08-20). On how Margaret Sanger's views on race have been grossly misrepresented by the pro-forced-pregnancy movement.

on #notallmen, derailing, and the fury it causes, by Jay (2015-08-01). Because this can never be said enough times:
Let’s talk about metonymy.

thefreedictionary.com defines the kind of metonymy I’m talking about as “a figure of speech in which the name of one object or concept is used for that of another to which it is related, as “scepter” for “sovereignty,” or “the bottle” for “strong drink”. So, if we extrapolate, we see how saying “I hate men” could stand in for “I hate the kind of man that rapes, kills, refuses to listen to me, voids my agency, trivializes my experiences, speaks over me, and makes jokes at my expense.”

You can see how the one is quicker and easier than the other.


White Nonsense: Alt-right trolls are arguing over genetic tests they think “prove” their whiteness, by Elspeth Reeve for Vice (2016-10-09). White supremacists got their 23andMe results and you won't believe what happened next! (Truly delightful.)

Election Update: Women Are Defeating Donald Trump, by Nate Silver for FiveThirtyEight (2016-10-11). Good.
tim: A bright orange fish. (fish)
2016-10-10 10:29 am
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[Linkspam] Monday, October 10

Every Body Goes Haywire by Anna Altman for n+1 (2016-10-06). Long, beautiful article about the experience of chronic illness.

[CW: discussion of disordered eating] I Wasn't Addicted To Food. I Was Addicted to Dieting, by Virgie Tovar for Ravishly (2016-10-06). "...I do have a tendency to use experiences the way addicts use substances, because I learned addictive behavioral frameworks growing up." How when food gets used in a way that resembles an addiction, it's actually dieting that people use to distance themselves from their own feelings and reactions, not eating -- the "impulse to create emergencies and drama."

Trans Girl Periods. Yes, that’s right. No, I’m being serious. Just read the damn article, by Alaina Kailyn (2016-10-06). Bodies are so fascinating! I hadn't known that for many trans women, taking the same dosage of exogenous hormones every day still causes hormones to fluctuate, producing the same emotional ups and downs many cis women experience as part of the menstrual cycle, as the body adjusts its own production of hormones in response to the external feedback.

Fuck Portlandia, by In Other Words staff (2016-09-30). "...the last time the show filmed in our space, the production crew asked to us to remove the Black Lives Matter sign on our window."

Elon Musk Follows Zero Women on Twitter, by Sarah Jeong (2016-10-04). "Of course, Musk often retweets articles about Tesla Motors or SpaceX, which means he’s probably retweeted articles written by women. After all, about half the planet is occupied by people who aren’t men, and it would take a lot of effort to manage to completely erase them."

Idiocracy Is a Cruel Movie and You Should Be Ashamed For Liking It, by Matt Novak for Gizmodo (2014-07-29). I've never seen this movie and always thought there was something deeply anti-human about it, and Novak explains exactly what it is.

Trump and the Truth, by David Remnick, Eyal Press, Adam Davidson, and Adam Gopnik for the New Yorker (2016-09). This was written before That Video was released; it's still good to see a small number of Trump's lies systematically exposed.

More Evidence That Open Offices Make People Less Social, by Drake Baer for New York magazine (2016-09-16). Not that facts are going to persuade managers to reject open offices, since open offices were never instituted based on facts, but it's still nice to have facts. "...people who work in open-office plans had worse co-worker friendships than people who had private or shared offices" is something that resonates with my experience, since the sensory overload of an open office is such a drain on my resources that it makes me want to spend as little time in my office -- and by extension, with coworkers -- as possible.

Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem, by Kate Crawford for the New York Times (2016-06-25). "Currently the loudest voices debating the potential dangers of superintelligence are affluent white men, and, perhaps for them, the biggest threat is the rise of an artificially intelligent apex predator.

But for those who already face marginalization or bias, the threats are here."

Your ‘Political Beliefs’ Don’t Justify Racism, by Andrew Wang for the Huffington Post (2016-09-21). I've been waiting for somebody to connect the dots as to how "political diversity" is how fascists sneak their ideology through the back door. This isn't quite that, but it approaches that. (I tried to write about it in "Opinions Are Abundant and Low-Value", too, but since then it's gotten clearer and clearer how transparent "political diversity" is as a veneer over white supremacy and fascism.)

"Political diversity is valuable. But a definition of political diversity that does not emphasize the reality of identity politics is amorphous, and overlooks how these discussions are often the first issues to be unwelcome and disrespected in the political arena. What then forms is a guise under which racist views must be tolerated. And when such a tolerance is made explicit by an educational institution, that institution becomes an enabler of racist rhetoric."


I especially appreciated this insight into how paradoxically limiting it is to use American two-party politics as the metric for "diversity of opinion": "...it becomes almost impossible to move beyond a partisan realm of discourse when traditional politics have been selected by institutions as the starting and ending point of debate."

[CW: discussion of fatphobia and bullying] Emotional Implications of Weight Stigma Across Middle School: The Role of Weight-Based Peer Discrimination, by Jaana Juvonen, Leah M. Lessard, Hannah L. Schacter, and Luisana Suchilt in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. I read the abstract and another article summarizing this one, about how it's weight stigma, not being fat, that harms the mental health of fat middle school students. (Chorus of "well, duh" from every fat person in the room.)

This Transgender Boy Gave A Powerful Speech To Counter Fear At His School, by David Mack for Buzzfeed (2016-09-14). In a better world, adults would come for other adults who terrorize 12-year-olds because of their amorphous fears -- in this world, 12-year-olds have to stand up for themselves against those adults, and Ari Bowman, a 12-year-old trans boy, did that; you can watch a video of his speech to school board officials.
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
2016-10-08 02:58 pm
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Allyship, empathy, and etiquette

Being an ally to queer people (or any other group, but in this essay I'm going to be talking about queer people) is a process -- it's not a label you can affix to yourself once and for all, but a title that has to be earned by continued effort. What kinds of work does an ally do? How do you create a space that's safe for queer people?

As a general principle, you can show through your behavior that with everything you do, you're thinking through what effect it might have on queer people. The way to demonstrate your intent is not to tell people what it is, but to act on it.

When I was 16 I was dating a guy who was older than me. I won't say how much older -- if I did, you would probably think poorly of him. But what I wish to recall here is a way in which he was wiser than me, perhaps due to being older, perhaps not. At this point in my life, I believed that I was a heterosexual girl, and as far as I know, everybody else also believed that about me. My boyfriend and I went to Boston Pride together. It was my first Pride event, and I don't remember why I wanted to go. I didn't know that I was queer until about two years later. Maybe there was a band playing that I wanted to hear. In any case, I tried to hold hands with him while we were walking through the park to get to the festival. He said that no, we shouldn't hold hands, because it wasn't tasteful for us as a hetero couple to do that at a queer event.

I was ashamed of myself both for having broken a rule and for not having known the rule existed, but I didn't want to admit that, so instead I was mad at him for pointing it out. Surely, I thought, everybody around us should know that we're people who think it should be safe for everyone to hold hands. They should just know that our hand-holding was saying that; not "Look at us, it's safe for us to hold hands in public but it's not safe for you."

I don't hold it against my past self that much for being so narcissistic -- I was 16 and had pretty limited life experience. But nevertheless, I was wrong. I was wrong even though we actually were a gay couple. It's just that neither of us knew it at the time. We experienced heterosexual privilege because we could both be sure that no one was going to look at us and react in the way that homophobes do when they think they see a queer couple.

I also want to note that 1997 was a different time, and context is important. Maybe it would be okay for a couple with heterosexual privilege to hold hands at Pride now. What remains the same, and what will remain the same as long as there's inequality between queer people and heterosexual people, is that there are things that have a different meaning when somebody with heterosexual privilege does it. Indeed, that's precisely what "privilege" means: that the same action can have different consequences, different risks and benefits, depending on who's doing it.

If you are a person experiencing conditional heterosexual privilege at any given moment, what I expect you to do in order to be an ally is to quietly reflect along these lines: "Hmm, am I in a space where it's safe for queer people to make out? Because if I am, then great, I'm going to make out with my partner with reckless abandon. But if I'm not, then I'm not going to do that, because I don't wish to take advantage of my heterosexual privilege. If queer people would get hurt for doing it, I don't want to be the one who's doing it all the while knowing that my queer friends in the same room can't do the same." I expect this more strongly from people who are in a life stage where they've been exposed to enough different perspectives that they can take other people's point of view. (In other words, I don't hold 16-year-olds in 2016 to higher standards than I hold my past 16-year-old self.) And so if someone isn't making this mental calculation, I notice, and I conclude that they're not thinking about how queer people will feel about what they're doing. And then I conclude I'm not safe, because I'm not in the group of people whose welfare is being looked after.

Why might people (any people) engage in public displays of affection, anyway? They might not have any private place in which to be affectionate, which is another reason I don't hold younger people to this standard all that strictly. That can be true both for people with, and without heterosexual privilege in a given situation. They might be swept away by the tide of overwhelming lust -- again, I cut younger people more slack here, since overwhelming lust does tend to take precedence over awareness of others when overwhelming lust is new to you, and that's OK with me. But there are other reasons. Maybe you decided "I would like to let other people here know that I'm a man who has the status that comes from a reasonably attractive woman being willing to let me stick my tongue down her throat." Maybe you didn't, but if you have a choice in the matter -- if you're getting all up on your partner because you weighed the costs and benefits and concluded the benefit to you was greater -- then there's a reason why you're choosing to do it in public.

For people who are affected by homophobia and/or transmisogyny in a given context, at a given moment, displaying affection can be an act of defiance; there's a reason that kiss-ins are a form of protest. I think that we would all agree there are still boundaries as to what it's acceptable to do, sexually or romantically, in front of others who didn't consent to see it. Within the community, we might disagree as to where those boundaries are (for example, some queer people would prefer not to see nudity at Pride marches, others prioritize moving the Overton window when it comes to what kinds and degrees of sexuality are acceptable in public), but we agree that there are boundaries. But systematic homophobia means that the same actions have a different meaning when the people doing them are perceived as being a heterosexual couple.

I don't think it's too much to ask that people think about how what they're doing might affect other people in the context they're in, because I think if you already assessed your surroundings well enough to make the decision to neck in public, I'm going to expect that you also thought through what effect it has on the people around you -- you already concluded that it was safe for you to do this, so I don't think it's asking too much to consider others' well-being too. (And again, I expect more of that consideration from people who are past the age where sex is so new to them that it's easy to get pulled under by a wave of lust and act without thinking.)

So when people with heterosexual privilege who are roughly grad-school age or older are smooching in public, to me that's a signal of an unsafe space. (If they're younger, it doesn't give me enough information to draw that conclusion.) It's unsafe because I know that the people doing that aren't thinking about how queer people might feel about it, and if they're not thinking about that, it's probably not the norm to think about it here. Inattention to (relatively) little slights goes hand in hand with callous disregard for bigger ones.

You might reasonably ask how far it goes, the obligation not to rub in other people's faces "here I am, safely doing the thing you can't do without risking your neck." For example, in the US when the right to marry wasn't universal, there were heterosexuals who refused to get legally married until everybody was allowed to do so. I think that's a nice gesture, but I don't think anyone was obliged to do it. Marriage has financial and social benefits (which is precisely why we were fighting for it in the first place), and I don't think that the collective benefit of a heterosexual person forgoing marriage exceeds the individual cost to that person of not getting married when they would have done it otherwise. If refraining from marriage isn't obligatory whereas being discreet about what you do with your partner is, where do you draw the line? That's really up to you and what you can be comfortable with -- there's no rulebook for how to be a decent human being.

I don't think it's too much to ask when I ask middle-aged people with heterosexual privilege to refrain from making out and heavy petting in, say, the front row of a concert. After all, if you're that age and you can afford concert tickets, you can probably make out later at home, without bothering anybody else. (I don't mind heterosexuals as long as they don't flaunt it in public.) Not every queer person is going to agree with me on this, and ultimately, if you're heterosexual or if you're in a relationship that doesn't make you susceptible to homophobic violence, who you agree with is up to you and your conscience.

I'm trying to be careful to address people with heterosexual privilege here -- conditional or not -- rather than heterosexual people because the effect of two people who really are cis and heterosexual laying it on too thick in public is indistinguishable from the effect of two people doing the same thing who aren't cis, or who aren't heterosexual, or both. It's important to respect people's self-identification, but also important -- if we're going to live in an interdependent world -- to recognize that privilege exists and that both self-identification and others' perceptions of your identity mediate that privilege. If you're trying to tell me that I can't call out any instance of heterosexual privilege in action without first interviewing the people involved as to their sexual orientation, I'm going to say that you're gaslighting me. "What if they're actually pansexual or genderqueer?" re-centers the conversation on the people doing harm rather than the people being harmed. It's a silencing tactic, because the effect is to shame people out of talking about privilege. And it's a gaslighting tactic, because the effect is to cause marginalized people to question their own perceptions of reality. ("You're not really seeing what you think you see.") Saying "this shouldn't affect you because I'm not heterosexual" is more or less the same as saying "I didn't intend to to harm", and we know that intent doesn't determine effects. Both statements are demands that one's own narrative be privileged over anybody else's.

What matters more than the specific subject of PDAs is that if you tell me there is literally nothing you would give up -- no way in which you would make yourself uncomfortable, no matter how small -- for the sake of making queer people more comfortable, then you're just saying you don't care about queer people. If you're not willing to put anything on the line for us, then at least be honest about it and don't gaslight us by telling us you care.

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