Clarity is (almost) everything

These are the kinds of responses I’ve got for making various arguments.

If you criticise those who mock, deride and laugh at beauty pageant contestants, it’s because you want to sleep with said contestants. This despite the fact that you will probably never meet these women. Obviously, you have a sick fantasy that they will see your defense, purchase a one-way ticket to your foreign country, and fly over straight into you (and your girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s) bed.

If you criticise those who target innocent women unnecessarily, you think you’re better than all women, that women need men to defend them. This despite not having made mention of women’s abilities – or lack of thereof, apparently – at all.

If you criticse arguments which aim to eradicate all guns, you are a shrill for the NRA or other powerful organisations – despite not being an American citizen and having an Arabic name.

If you criticise people’s ideas and arguments, you are attacking their person – despite never having met, despite the fact that no matter who you are, a bad argument is a bad argument. Einstein saying the world is flat doesn’t change it’s shape.

Online engagements tend to be unhelpful to proper discussion – by which I mean allowing for proper treatment of other individuals and their viewpoints.

I fail to understand this need to act as though the person you’re dealing with is a genuine monster, is really trying to undermine your life and hurt those you love. This doesn’t mean such people don’t exist, only I don’t think it’s everyone who disagrees with you. [Read more...]

UPDATE: Large homophobic Christian organisation apologises to LGBT community, shuts down

Well. This is something.

Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality, issued an apology to the gay community for years of undue suffering and judgment at the hands of the organization and the Church as a whole.

[Read more...]

Wherein I take issue with an innocent person being mocked for one mistake

I wrote a post, now at the Guardian  where I take issue with the unnecessary mockery and derision aimed at Miss Utah 2013, Marissa Powell. Basically, I’m realising I’m waging a war on an entity I’ve decided to call “the Internet”.

My favourite comment so far is this one [click to enlarge].

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 7.00.11 PM

This person has uncovered my secret plan! Nooo!

Should we help prisoners to kill themselves?

My latest post is up on Big Think, where I examine the ethics of a convicted rapist facing life imprisonment. He is requesting that he be put to death.

In this short piece, I look at whether we should or shouldn’t help him die. Prisoner ethics and the morality surrounding punishment is something I find incredibly important.

I need your help with an article on video games

Some of you might know I’ve written some pieces on video games and also sexism.

At the moment, I’m doing some research into a piece on sexism and video games, trying to find an effective way to undermine much of the horrible responses that my non-male friends receive who speak out against misogyny and sexism, and speak for more inclusiveness. Indeed, they don’t even need to be speak out: they just need to be non-male and be vaguely public.

I therefore am looking for anyone

1. who has worked with and created games, especially female led ones, and

2. has experienced (or even said) the hateful, horrible things that tend to come from male gamers.

I’ve gotten some great contacts and spoken to some creators already, thanks to my wonderful co-bloggers here at FtB. But I’m hoping some of you out there that can give me more insight and information on this serious topic.

I am really wanting to write this, since the latest batch of Anita Sarkeesian hatred hit the internet like a flood of shit from the mouth of an inter-dimensional rage monster.

I’m part of this industry, as a consumer and very amateur critic. And I don’t want to be part of an industry or group in which people feel marginalised, unable to express their creativity and brilliance, or feel targeted, merely because of their sex, race, sexual orientation, or whatever.

If you can offer any help – whether recommending people or you yourself – please use the Email Me button on my About.me page. Thank you.

UPDATE 17/06/2013:

I’ve received some excellent responses. Thank you all.

Apologies that some comments have landed up in the spam and pending folders. Not sure why. We are having some tech gremline battles here, apparently.

Speaking of, some comments appear to be off-topic and just plain strange. I speak more about it here.

The devils in the details

My friend Jacques Rousseau has done me the favour of writing (and improving) the article I was busy with (I was so writing this before him!), before I began having serious Internet problems.

South African media – and perhaps international – has managed to develop a rhetoric of speaking of Satanism as some bizarre evil thing, which tends to involve broken teenagers, murder and/or suicide. This has come as a result of numerous murders and other crimes, where the accused have muttered something about Satanism. This might be what perpetrators call it but that would be doing a disservice to Satanists, Satanism and, more importantly, reality.

Even though we [in South Africa] are ostensibly guaranteed freedom of religion by our Constitution, a minority religion like Satanism (and to a lesser extent, various Pagan religions) are almost universally a shorthand for evil – largely because what people understand by “Satanism” is exactly what Christians would want it to be. [Read more...]

Nothing to fear because I have nothing to hide

“Only if you’re doing something wrong should you worry, and then you don’t deserve to keep it private.”

Daniel Solove tackled this argument in 2011. As he points out, people making this argument misconstrue many aspects about what constitutes (personal) security and privacy.

“This issue isn’t about what information people want to hide but about the power and the structure of government.”

Thus, how much a government knows and monitors is indicative of that country’s governance. Our inability to know what they’re collecting, how they’re viewing this data and what they’re deducing from it should be our main concern. It is Kafkaesque as well as Orwellian, though it is because of the former that we should actually be concerned. [Read more...]

If your “science” has no data, no one should believe you

The British writer Martin Robbins has a long and important battle against what he terms “data-free celebrity science”. This is “science” as touted by those who have established themselves as good scientists or thinkers – among their colleagues – and proceeded to use that goodwill to build a soapbox to spread their ideas.

[Read more...]

Of witchcraft and circumcision in South Africa

Here in South Africa, witchcraft is being blamed again for the deaths of some young men, who themselves participated in unnecessary circumcisions. To try criticise even the circumcisions, one is left with the “culture” defense which is worth strongly criticising and opposing.

Look, no matter what it’s blamed for, I can almost guarantee that witchcraft probably wasn’t responsible. But more importantly, it ties into a general attitude of long accepted traditions, which go against reason and science. JT Eberhard makes some good points. [Read more...]