Go High or Go Low: What’s the Best Way to Resist in 2017?

CN: Ableist language and transphobic comments

We all remember Michelle Obama’s famous “When they go low, we go high” quote from earlier this year. It was a rallying cry to all of us disgusted by the Right’s racist, sexist, and queerphobic rhetoric. However, I can’t help but wonder: what does going high instead of low look like?

A few days ago, I think I went low.

On Wednesday I tweeted “.@MsBlaireWhite is the Ben Carson of trans people.” Blaire White then retweeted it, called me a moron, and . . . well you can look at all the responses yourself. (READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!) At first I was thrilled to piss off so many Twitter assholes, but then I talked to some Facebook friends and I realized I kinda went low. Don’t get me wrong; I still think Blaire White is fifty shades of wrong about . . . everything! Yet, as Michelle pointed out in the video, technically I used the same trolling technique the Twitter trolls use. I issued an apology on Twitter, but as a friend pointed out, we keep losing whenever we try to go high, so what can we do?

At first I thought, “Well, since I’m a skeptic, I’ll just continue to debunk bad ideas.” But then I came across this article from The Christian Century called “Fascism Can’t Be Stopped By Fact-Checking.” In it, Daniel Jose Camacho says debunking propaganda with facts and data sounds like a good idea, but . . .

The problem is a particular vision of the world supported by people with power to carry it out. This kind of political project can’t be fact-checked away. As the profoundly undemocratic conditions in the state politics of North Carolina have recently proven, conciliatory attempts to compromise with this project are absorbed and outmatched by those wielding power. In such cases, our American fallacy of bi-partisanship is exposed because there are certain things that cannot be met halfway and there are times when both parties fail us.

In other words, the Alt-Right doesn’t care what a nobody on the Internet like me thinks.

Camacho’s suggestion instead is:

The important thing to keep our eye on is the power we do possess and the various avenues by which we can resist. What can resistance look like? I think we will have to utilize all of the legal, political, economic, activist/organizing, artistic, and religious means available to us.

Naturally, being an atheist I don’t use religious means, especially since theology plays a huge role in oppression. However, I think what he’s trying to get at is it’s not enough to simply write blogs and do podcasts debunking Alt-Right propaganda. Don’t get me wrong; I think those are great forms of activism, which is why I do what I do. Also, as Cody Charles of Everyday Feminism recently pointed out, some people literally do not have the means to march in the streets. So I interpret Camacho’s suggestion as this: whatever means you have to resist the Trump regime, use them!

And maybe that’s what Michelle meant by going high.

What do you think?

Bi Any Means Podcast #80: Top 10 Bi Any Means Episodes of 2016

Today I’ll be counting down the top 10 Bi Any Means episodes of 2016. These are the most played and downloaded episodes from the past year. I’ll play clips from each episode, and give my thoughts about that particular interview.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #80: Top 10 Bi Any Means Episodes of 2016” on Spreaker.

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The Biskeptical Podcast #15: Festivus Airing of Grievances

Today’s episode is our first annual Festivus Airing of Grievances. In the tradition of Seinfeld, we’re gonna tell the world all the ways it has disappointed us throughout the year. We’ll also hear some grievances from our audience, so stay tuned because we got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re gonna hear about it!

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #15: Festivus Airing of Grievances” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #79: A Very Bi Any Means Christmas

For today’s episode, I’m spending Christmas with some of my friends and fellow podcasters. I’ve got Jeremiah from The SJW Circle Jerk, Ris McCool from the Inciting Incident, Chris from The Podunk Polymath, and Uber4ortyse7en from The Secular Barbershop. We’re going to talking about celebrating the holidays as atheists, and I’ll cap off the discussion with Shelley Segal’s cover of Tim Minchin’s “White Wine in the Sun.”

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #79: A Very Bi Any Means Christmas” on Spreaker.

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My Top Ten Unpopular Christmas Opinions

It’s almost Christmas again, and with all the ways 2016 fucked us over, I figured it’s time for something lighthearted. So to celebrate the holiday, here are my top ten unpopular opinions about Christmas.

10). “Love Actually” is one of the worst movies ever. Okay, forget all the hot British men for a second and actually look at the movie. We’ve got Andrew Lincoln being a creep around Keira Knightley, Colin Firth trying to sleep with a woman who doesn’t speak English, an outlandish wedding scene, Liam Neeson cracking bad jokes about his wife at her funeral (not to mention playing Bay City Rollers after his shitty eulogy), and countless fat jokes. Plus, this is the movie that launched a million bad “Let’s get a bunch of celebrities together to make a cheesy holiday-related movie” movies. No thank you!

On the opposite end . . .

9). “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” should be a Christmas movie classic. If you love bad campy movies as much as I do, you will love this movie! The plot is ridiculous (Martians kidnap Santa Claus so Martian children can learn how to have fun), the acting is bad, and they remind the audience over and over again who the bad guy is (“That’s Voldar. He’s the one who doesn’t like us.”). Plus, the theme song is catchy as hell.

While we’re on the subject of movies . . .

8). “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie. It takes place during Christmas, it refers to Christmas over and over again, and it has Christmas music on the soundtrack. It’s a fucking Christmas movie! Deal with it!

Moving on now . . .

7). I honestly don’t give a shit if you say either “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” Seriously, you can wish me a Happy Kwanzaa and I’ll just say, “Thank you! You, too!”

6). I think the Festivus Airing of Grievances should be a Christmas tradition. Hate passive aggressive Christmas dinners with your right-winged Trump-voting relatives? The Festivus Airing of Grievances is a great way for you to finally get it all off your chest! You probably won’t be invited to next year’s Christmas dinner, but at least you were honest for once in your life.

5). I hate Christmas shopping. I love giving presents to my loved ones, but I hate the shopping part. I hate the decoration overload, I hate hearing the same Christmas songs over and over again on the PA system, and I hate the whole idea that capitalism is a Christmas virtue. This is why I either buy gifts from Amazon, buy them from local artisans, or just make mixed CDs. The less time I spend surrounded by Christmas capitalism, the better!

And while we’re on the subject of music . . .

4). “Hallelujah” is not a Christmas song. Apparently it wasn’t bad enough that Pentatonix completely ruined the song; now, thanks to these losers, it’s a Christmas song. Even though I still love Leonard Cohen, I can’t stand this song now.

While we’re at it . . .

3). I fucking hate “The Little Drummer Boy!” From the repetitive “barumpa-bum-bum” to the ridiculous line about farm animals keeping time, this song is a stinker, let’s admit it. It’s no wonder David Bowie asked the TV show producers to write him some new lyrics when he sang it with Bing Crosby.

In fact . . .

2). I hate 90% of Christmas music out there. Sure, I have my favorites, like “Christmas in Hollis,” “Happy Xmas (War is Over),” and “I Believe in Father Christmas,” but in general most of it sucks. I mean, how many fucking versions of “Joy to the World” do we really need?

And now, probably the most unpopular Christmas opinion of all . . .

1). I fucking love Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime!” Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, it’s repetitive. Yes, Paul and rest of Wings do a weird thing in the video which I can only describe as the English version of a conga line, but it still makes me happy, goddammit!

. . .

Now that all that’s out of the way, Happy Holidays!

Check Out My Speaking Debut At The 2017 AHA Conference!

Need something to look forward to in 2017? Well today I’m pleased to announce I’ll be making my conference speaking debut at the 2017 American Humanist Association conference!

My talk will be called WTF is GenderQueer? Here’s the elevator pitch:

Genderqueer is a relatively new term that everyone’s talking about, but very few people know about. Despite celebrities such as Ruby Rose and Miley Cyrus openly talking about being non-binary, several people believe it’s just something Tumblr invented to be hip and cool. This presentation will go over the basics of what it means to be genderqueer/nonbinary, all the terminology used, what gender therapists have to say, and how to be better allies for genderqueer people.

I don’t known it will be, but the conference will be held from June 8th to the 11th in Charleston, SC. You can book your ticket now.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna freak out from excitement and start busting my ass off putting the talk together.

Bi Any Means Podcast #78: Foundation Beyond Belief with Noelle George

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My guest for today is Noelle George, the Executive Director of Foundation Beyond Belief. According to her bio on FoundationBeyondBelief.org, “Noelle is a secular activist who grew up in Seattle, Washington, but didn’t become passionate about secular activism until she moved to Houston, Texas, and was constantly asked ‘Where do you go to church?’ She has worked as a degreed chemical engineer and project manager, but moved to secular activism in 2009. Since then, she has leveraged her previously learned professional skills to help multiple national secular organizations and has also traveled around the country consulting with local groups on the topics of volunteering, leadership, organizational skills, and feminism. In addition to her work at FBB, Noelle is the founder of Mothers Beyond Belief, is on the advisory board of Secular Woman, and is on the American Humanist Association’s LGTBQ Humanist Alliance Advisory Council.” So today we’re going to talk about her background and Foundation Beyond Belief.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #78: Foundation Beyond Belief with Noelle George” on Spreaker.

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To Build A Bridge Or Burn It?

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Last week, two of my favorite podcasts–Angry Black Rant and The Thinking Atheist–did episodes about whether or not conversations with Trump voters are worth it. I won’t rehash everything they said, but it’s a question I’ve been thinking about for quite some time now: When is it appropriate to build a bridge, and when is it better to burn one?

Unfortunately I’m still figuring it out, but from my experience, it depends on the situation.

For example, it’s way too easy to write off everyone who voted for Trump as an alt-right neo-Nazi bigot, but that’s not always true. As Seth Andrews pointed out in last week’s episode of The Thinking Atheist, a lot of people voted for Trump because they were afraid Clinton would raise taxes and spend government money recklessly. I think they’re wrong, of course, and so does Seth, but I have met Republicans who say that’s why they voted for Trump. So in these situations, I prefer talking to them about it rather than preaching. In fact, the day after the election I briefly mentioned to my co-workers that as a queer trans person, I’m worried about the future of my rights. Surprisingly they understood, since my Republican co-workers are, for the most part, fairly LGB-friendly (I deliberately left off the T because they still need some work in that area).

The same goes for religious people. I know it’s a cliche, but I do have some religious friends, and they’re actually pretty cool. In fact, I recently made friends with a local barista who spent a year doing The World Race, and her mother is the pastor of the local Methodist church. We meet to chat about once a month, and I can tell she’s the kind of Christian who puts people before dogma. I still disagree with her on the whole God thing, but we agree on a lot of other things, like how so many evangelicals look past the Trump Tape. This is another situation where I ask her about her story, she asks about mine, and we better understand each other.

Now we get to the fun part: When to burn bridges!

While it’s true that not everyone who voted for Trump is a neo-Nazi, neo-Nazi Trump supporters do exist, and it’s impossible to reason with them. Believe me, I tried! They’re so poisoned by White Nationalist Kool-Aid that they’ve become to immune to the antidote of reason (wow, how poetic!). When I try to use Street Epistemology and ask them why they believe they’re right, they hurl insults and YouTube talking points. They’re obviously not interested in having a discussion; they just want to be right.

It’s the same for religious people. I tried to reason with fundamentalists, but to no avail. Like the alt-right, religious fundamentalists cry “Free speech!” when you try to explain to them why they are wrong. And just like the alt-right, religious fundamentalists literally make a living off of using scare tactics to make their audiences afraid of The Other, whether it’s LGBTQ people, Muslims, atheists, people of color, feminists, liberals, or anyone else they don’t like. I literally have no patience for these people.

This is why I hate that meme of the rainbow pride person hugging the Confederate flag person. It’s not that I don’t believe in forgiveness; it’s that I hate the idea of breaking bread with someone who thinks I should be punished for being queer and trans. When I was involved with the Emergent Church, I heard so many “progressive” pastors say homophobes and LGBTQ need to sit at the communion altar together for the sake of church unity. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to play nice to someone who is actively trying to take away my rights! I tried breaking bread with people who think my humanity is invalid, but I only ended up with table scraps. Call me an SJW, but I’d rather break bread with Meghan Phelps-Roper than her mom Shirley.

So yeah, that’s where I’m at right now. Like I said, I’m still trying to figure it out.

The Biskeptical Podcast #14: Black Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Today on the show, Morgan and I look at this year’s War on Christmas. From Black Santa to Festivus Poles to Starbucks cups, we give you the rundown on how we godless heathens are taking away Christmas.

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #14: Black Santa Claus is Coming to Town” on Spreaker.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #77: Secular Solstice with Raymond Arnold

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My guest for today musician Raymond Arnold. He is the creator of a secular solstice celebration that’s held every year around the time of the winter solstice worldwide. According to the official Secular Solstice website, “This holiday was created for people with a worldview rooted in both science, progress and compassion. Who want to make the world a better place, and who understand that sometimes this means learning new things that challenge your worldview. The Secular Solstice is a time when we tell inspiring stories that remind us we’re not alone. That challenge us to work to make a better future. But, crucially, those stories have a firm grounding in our latest, best understanding of the world.” So today we’re going to talk about how this celebration began, what a typical service looks like, and how people can participate.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #77: Secular Solstice with Raymond Arnold” on Spreaker.

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