Friday, December 19, 2014

Paraphrasing a feminist...

In light of the recent, apparent bullshit from 'Jackie' of UVA and Lena Dunham, a thought: the most revolutionary thing you can do when a woman tells you she's been sexually assaulted is to ask for some fucking evidence.

Fairness of description

Now, some people may bristle at the idea of calling the actions of North Korea 'social justice', to say nothing of left-wing or progressive. An attempt to smear the political left, etc, etc.

In reality, it's the exact opposite: it's fairness, and it's long overdue.

As long as Iran or the Taliban are painted as conservative or right-wing organizations, I'll happily note that the North Koreans are left-wing. Refer to female genital mutilation as being a 'conservative religious' practice, and I'll describe NAMBLA as a progressive organization

And if you're someone sympathetic to a socially conservative outlook broadly, I suggest you start doing the same. The first step of a real cultural reaction to these progressive problems is to control your own language, rather than letting your words be picked for you by the very people you're criticizing.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Progressive online activists score one against Sony Pictures

As much as people are loathe to admit it, North Korea is a left-wing, "progressive", state-atheist country, and the latest frenzy of hacking and terroristic threats doled out on behalf of Kim Jong Un was some left-wing, progressive online activism. Social justice was demanded, and was apparently received.

If you agree, all I ask is that you call it as much when you discuss it with others. In fact, please make sure - when your friends or even family bring up what a shame it is - to label it appropriately.

Left wing.
Progressive.
Social justice.

The first step of cultural pushback is calling things exactly what they are, even in casual conversation. Here's a great opportunity to take that step if you haven't yet.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

For the white SJW, minorities are pets

Extremely fragile pets, who need quite a lot of special treatment.

The most absurd thing about Della Kurzer-Zlotnick's letter is, of course, the fact that it's written by someone named Della Kurzer-Zlotnick. Five seconds of googling tells me that this name is real, but if in two days it turns out that the entire thing is a hoax and this is actually the name of a bit alien character from Star Wars, put me down for having said I had my doubts about this name from the beginning.

Less absurd is a student at a university trying to bullshit her way out of a close exam date, and while most of the internet is plying the angle of the ever-fragile university students who faint at the drama of hardship, the cynic in me suggests that this is more a case of a woman who's been fucking around lately to the point where she's worried she may have protested (or partied) her way out of a good grade. While it's long been noted that people tend to wring their hands and argue that extraneous circumstances absolutely call for the thing they'd want, extraneous circumstances be damned, less appreciated is the fact that politics is often the handmaiden of personal want and hunger, rather than high-minded idealism.

But what's really the story here isn't the fragility Della puts on display, but just who the "fragile ones" are on planet Kurzer-Zlotnick:
It has come to the attention of students that students of color, particularly Black students, who have suffered significant trauma over the past few weeks due to the Grand Jury decisions are not at all in a place to take their finals right now. I am not among these students, and as a white, middle-class person, I have to privilege [sic] of being able to step away from these events and put enough energy into schoolwork and finals to assure that I will pass my classes.
Well, it's a good thing the minorities have a white middle class woman of privilege to speak out on their behalf.

Seriously, is there no man among the minorities Kurzer-Zlotnick encounters who is willing to step forward and say "Look, I can talk to my professors myself, thanks - I don't need some white bitch who just "cares" so damn much to speak for me"? Or is it mandatory you give up your balls if you step foot on campus nowadays? Granted, I wouldn't rule that out, but still.

No, I go too far. I'd expect a woman - a "woman of color" - to step forward and say as much too, but apparently the pleasure of being a victim has so thoroughly robbed people of their self-respect that, for better or for worse, they just accept this shit in silence. Or, God help us, with encouraging nods and clapping of hands.

"Thank you, Della! Thanks for establishing I can't keep my shit together in any professional capacity if Jesse Jackson's calls for a protest/riot didn't result in criminal charges being pressed against who he desires! I would have said this for myself, but you know people like me - too damn emotional and shaken up to do much for ourselves. But thank God you'll protect us!"

So the real question is what's more disturbing: white people treating their non-white peers as faberge eggs who require their constant coddling and tender care, or left-wing minorities who apparently agree to the point where none of them stand up say "Thank you, no, I'm emotionally well-balanced, can you please treat me like a goddamn adult?"

Monday, December 15, 2014

What Progressives Do Not Understand About Laws


Eric Garner's death has come at a convenient moment for protesters. The whole Michael Brown thing blew up for most rational people, once all that 'Gentle Giant', 'hands up don't shoot' shit faded away and all evidence pointed to Brown being a criminal thug. Sure, there's still some true believers out there, but there's also some people who are convinced

But so much emotion and outrage was invested in that story that there had to be SOMEone out there with a bit more sympathetic of a "narrative" to rally behind, so it looks like people are trading in their "Hands Up Don't Shoot" t-shirts for ones that read "I Can't Breathe". Everyone wins - the protesters get to keep on protesting while not feeling quite as stupid as before, t-shirt sellers get to double-dip the same people, and Jesse Jackson gets another funeral to crash. About the only losers here are 'sanity' and 'reasonable discourse', and c'mon - surely our collective rationality is able to take one more for the team, right?

Right.

Anyway, one glance at Eric Garner's wikipedia info indicates he's got a long string of arrests to his name, which is no doubt a testament to the thoroughly racist police department in his city. Regardless of his crimes, I feel bad for him, because the particular crime that got him killed was a combination of resisting arrest and selling loose cigarettes. Because, you know, if you sell singles you may make life more convenient for a lot of people but you'll also make the panhandlers more annoying, and the tiniest of babies are more likely to be able to afford a single cigarette than a pack ergo to sell a loosie is tantamount to KILLING CHILDREN, or so the logic goes.

All bullshit, of course. Or rather, at best - yes, I can see why single cigarettes are no doubt a bad thing, a negative thing, but the fact that something is on the whole negative is not in and of itself a good reason to pass a law against it. Now, there's a few reasons why that is the case - difficulty of enforcement, intrusion into people's private lives, but central to the topic is the fact that if you outlaw something you're running risk of some guy losing his life because a fucking cop pins him to the ground because he's outraged at being hassled for breaking a bullshit law.

Which is something people in general, and progressives in particular, do not get.

One thing I brought up during the talk about forcing Christians (and muslims, and...) businesses to service gay weddings is that people seemed to not comprehend - or not want to admit - that when they passed a law forcing Christians to bake a cake for a gay wedding, they weren't magically making Christians happily bake cakes for the most loving and monogamous of gay couples. They were telling a large number of men with guns, 'If people disobey this law, show up at their house with guns, take their stuff, throw them in prison, and if they act up too much do feel free to kill them or slam them around until they behave'.

Because, you know - that's what happens when you pass a law against something that people would like to do.

What was incredible was how many progressives - Christian progressives, no less - seemed to be in complete denial that this is, you know... how law enforcement works. More than one seemed to have the idea that, well, no, maybe someone would resist the law, but then someone will have a nice talk with them and then they'll happily comply and oh it's a win-win. Men with guns, aka, police officers? They'd never get involved. They certainly wouldn't threaten anyone. There's no air of threat or malice hanging over these people's heads.

Because if there was, that would make LGBT activists and progressives look like a combination of ridiculous monsters, and that is quite impossible, thank you very much. No, what happens is you pass a law and everyone follows it - maybe some of them begrudgingly, but oh, fuck those people anyway, ha ha, won't it be great to make someone violate their conscience?

But no one ever, you know... gets threatened by a cop. Or harassed. Or hurt.

Or killed.

Situations like Eric Garner's never actually happen.

And if they DO happen... well, clearly it's racism. The cops were trying to kill Eric Garner because he's black. The law itself couldn't have had anything to do with it. The reliance on the law couldn't have had anything to do with it. Because if it did, well, that would mean we should be hesitant about outlawing things we dislike which, of course, is unthinkable.

But yeah, this is what happens. This is part of the risk of passing a law like banning the sale of loosies. And you know what? Sometimes that risk is worthwhile. Sometimes you get tragedy happening, almost inevitably, in the normal course of enforcing a law or maintaining one or another good standard.

And sometimes that risk isn't worthwhile, and you realize that oops, wait, maybe outlawing things we dislike - even things we feel quite strongly about - is a bad idea and we should just accept that some bad things will happen, and dealing with them will require other approaches, if we even decide to shoulder that particular burden at all.

However, if we recognize that - if outlawing things we dislike is actually potentially dangerous - we may hesitate. We may think things through. We may even develop a stigma against reactionary use of and expansion of government power. Which, if you're a big fan of using said power for whatever happens to be making you frantic at the moment, is a bad thing.

And with that in mind, well, I suppose it's just better to pretend that if there was a reason Eric Garner died, it cant possibly have anything to do with Eric Garner having broken a stupid, ill-considered law. No, instead it has to be quite entirely due to racism, or one or another perceived injustice.

Hey, maybe it's because someone has a freedom they really shouldn't have, something that we dislike and need to discourage.

And if so? Well, then it's clear what we really need here: yet more laws!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Please go read Shadow to Light's Latest Posts

If you're at all interested in seeing yet another powerful criticism of the Cult of Gnu - as if more were needed - then please take the following to heart.

Go read Shadow to Light's latest posts.

Mike is mounting a particular argument here that I find stunning in its effectiveness as well as its originality. You really should see it for yourself.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Design Argument Replies

Instead of keeping things constrained to the comment section, I wanted to make a new post answering a couple criticisms of the design argument I've just laid out.

First, from Craig:

I could construct a parallel argument for animism, the belief that all physical objects are alive, with souls and wills. Would this be an equally strong argument for animism as yours for design? If not, what's the distinction?

I don't think it's an equally strong argument for one reason: the particular animism argument outlined is very specific, whereas my argument is general.

I'm inferring design for all things - but A) the inference is not a proof, and (more importantly here) B) the inference places no bounds on the designer(s). 'All physical objects are alive, with souls and wills' would be a pretty specific claim - it's assigning a unique will, life and/or soul to each and every physical object, if we interpret the claim strongly. But if we interpret it weakly - that it's reasonable to believe that all things (with no particular objects or even structure of objects delineated) are broadly subject to some kind of life, soul or will (maybe one, maybe many), then you're pretty much back to the design argument anyway. To argue that various physical objects are reasonable regarded as conforming to a will of someone's, somehow, somewhere is so close to the design argument that it's hard to see the difference.

Animism arguments of that type are also complicated by the fact that there's testimony available on the part of at least some of those objects - you know, humans and all.

Now, someone can rightly argue that the type of design I'm inferring is incredibly broad in and of itself, and there are a ridiculous number of exclusive possibilities of design and designers which are compatible with the inference - and there are. But I've already bitten that bullet.

Syllabus has another criticism:

You have to either distinguish design from not-design by qualitative or quantitative metrics. I don't see how it could be quantitative - what would the units of design be? How would you measure them, and so on? Qualitatively, I think it's still kind of problematic. OK, specified complexity (or whatever the term was) was the attempt by the ID crowd to try and distinguish that, but it's still - to my mind - somewhat pseudoscientific.

Well, for one thing, the pseudoscience argument just won't work here - since I'm not even pretending I'm offering a scientific argument.

More than that, though, I don't need specified complexity here, because I have something more basic: direct, first-person experience of acts of design. In fact, I'm doing it right now - and whoever is reading this is recognizing it. I can multiply this experience many times over, depending on how much design I've done or am aware of. But you're going to need something on the order of an eliminative materialist commitment to dare deny the kind of design I'm talking about - and if it's not denied, then I've got the initial evidence for design (indeed, undeniable, first-person experience of it) I was talking about.

Which, going back to the start, puts me in the following position:

I know some things in the world are designed. I know this, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
I have no equally undeniable evidence that there exists anything - no object, no event - which was utterly undesigned.
Yet all those objects and events are possibly designed.
Therefore, on these terms alone, if I conclude anything about the design or non-design of the world at large, I should conclude in favor of design - in the very broad sense.

The difficulty of gathering evidence - maybe even the impossibility of gathering evidence - for the 'it was not designed in any way' view does not give that view a handicap. It just further weighs against it.