Patton Oswalt fans and how to outrage properly

Famous comedian, Patton Oswalt, Tweeted this:

Rich straight white guy telling the world he’d appreciate “less outrage”. This notion doesn’t sit well with those who daily face various forms of outrageous and awful kinds of oppression or marginalisation. How exactly should people of colour show “less outrage” while responding to racism? How should rape survivors and targets of sexual assault convey “less outrage”, while daily exposed to men who think they own women’s bodies? How should gay rights activists threatened with death convey “less outrage” in countries where their existence is a crime?

I’m not sure and I’m not sure Oswalt is either. Oswalt is a smart, compassionate person, from a lot of what I’ve read; I’ve no doubt he’s genuine in his intent, even if, in this case, he’s unsuccessful in his delivery. Oswalt, respectfully, doesn’t get a free pass though – as I would not get a free pass if I said something awful but well-intentioned about transgender people (i.e. when I kept using “transgendered” for example), targets of sexual assault (“don’t wear slutty clothes!”), etc.

Writer Ijeoma Oluo was equally unimpressed.

It didn’t help that this was his response, though.

While it’s important to not dehumanise your opponent, sometimes you aren’t dealing with a group or response worth investing time in to convey pity. For example, when racists mock me, when sexists threaten women with rape, why should our first response be pity? Why should I take time to try understand when they’ve made things unsafer with violent threats? It might certainly be a response, and perhaps those not being targeted could demonstrate it (say, a rich white guy), but we don’t get to assert to targets of oppression how they should respond.

This doesn’t mean all responses to bigotry is justified of course – but when you’re merely asserting, and asserting from a place of privilege, it doesn’t help anyone. Indeed, it only helps the people who want to see marginalised people silenced: See, my hero Patton Oswalt says you persons of colour/women/etc. lack compassion and can’t even respond to your oppression right!

And, indeed, when Oswalt publicly responded to Ijeoma (putting a “.” before Replying so that all 2 million of his Followers could see), this made the situation worse.

I think this, above the initial Tweet, demonstrates a profound blindness constructed by good intention: Oswalt is good to acknowledge her and acknowledge her making good points. But, too, Oswalt must surely know that amidst his 2 million followers, as a comedian and white man, that he’ll have reactionary, “edgy” men willing to say horrible things to women online; he must know there is an imbalance of replying to a women of colour, who is a writer on these issues, in a public forum he can’t control, that it would work out worse for her. If he agreed she made good points, why not discuss it privately and perhaps blog it, thus putting it on a platform he can control? This a media ethics failing on Oswalt’s part, considering the size and scale of his Twitter platform.

Oswalt is one thing. The flood of men telling Ijeoma to “take a joke”, “get a sense of humor”, and so on – i.e. please shut up and stop insulting my hero – was nauseating.

I’ll summarise their Tweets in italics.

Humourists get free pass to say whatever they want. I realise you just said being told to lighten up is awful, but I’m going to repeat it.

I can’t really offer a response, so I’m going to make a baseless comment on your character.

How dare you be so self-centered as the kind of person who faces regular oppression to tell a rich white man how to be a better ally?

Anything said or done in jest gets a free moral pass, Part 534.

Let me explain how satire works…

And on it goes.

Everything you do is wrong because of your race and gender – not because you misused your privileged position to tell marginalised people to be less outraged, instead of men like yourself to be less dickish.

“Male’s”. No straight white male has ever had opportunity to voice their opinion, including you, a celebrity comedian with 2 million Followers.

The mythical creature, the SJW, feeds off the need to be offended – there’s no way racism, sexism, etc., exist to such degrees, everywhere that warrants marginalised people to be responsive to those who should be helping.

Oh yes, nothing like wanting an ally to do better to convey how much marginalised people hate him.

Pwned. I’m a great guy.

Patton Oswalt is god because he makes me laugh, Part 3,344.

I’m going to make a slave joke at a black person. That should go down well. 

Please notice my boredom. Please. I am the spiritual sequel to Oswalt’s inital Tweet.

Until white men are in positions of power – like presidents, Nobel prize winners, scientists, head of bushinesses – we must keep defending them.

Marginalised people love bigotry. Persons of colour have to search far and wide to find racism; women really struggle to encounter sexism. 

So what do we notice,

1. Lots of men love explaining to marginalised people how to handle oppression. They can’t imagine maybe they don’t know what they fuck they’re talking about because this is a world designed to be a blank page for men – especially white men – to make their mark. “I’m a white man! You must listen to me!”

2. Humour doesn’t have any moral baggage to such people. Here, Oswalt isn’t being comedic, but he is a comedian. For some reason, that gives him moral immunity to say what he wants. Humour is a way of speaking, not an automatic free pass to say what you want. Just because humour makes people laugh doesn’t make it right all the time. We can criticise it as we do cartoons caricaturing Jewish people, white people who blackface, etc.

3. This was also telling.

As I’ve said before: nothing insulates bigotry more than thinking my friends/fans/followers can’t possibly be bigots! Indeed, the idea that the only bigots online silencing persons of colour is white supremacists is obviously false: but it’s a helpful picture to draw so you have neat moral boundaries. If you can say “only white supremacists silence people of colour”, it means you can get away with saying anything and never think “Maybe I’m being a bit racist”. Because, hey, you’re not a white supremacist, so you can’t possibly be doing something bad to people of colour!

As I say, Oswalt is a good person I admire. My issue is his fans’ responses and his media ethics failure, in making this public on an unequal platform (his +/- 2m million Followers versus 1) over which he has no control.

I can only hope he does better. We all fuck up.

 

I won’t treat Muslim people like children

But apparently Anjem Choudary will continue to.

I tweeted this in response to him yesterday

Plenty of people are discussing opposing Islam, the radical aspects of its tenets and community – and of course ex-Muslims are not being referred to or included. Regardless, I thought I’d respond to Choudary’s view that, for some reason, USA Today decided to host on its platform. There’s something to be said about providing “both” sides of the debate and one of those is give it to someone who isn’t himself spouting bigotry and undermines a whole group of people. [Read more…]

People have been murdered in Paris: This is what I don’t want to discuss…

Harmless people are dead. Gunned down in one of the most prosperous cities, in one of the most stable countries in the world. What we know is that the gunmen are scum and thugs, that Paris is on lockdown, that people are dead.

We know basically nothing else.

Here’s what I don’t want to discuss:

  • How evil Islam is

I am an apostate. An ex-Muslim who, for many, deserves death for abandoning Islam. I know very well what Islam is, firsthand. I don’t want to talk about how evil you say Islam is, how terrible you think Muslims are, how dumb you think religion is. Talk among yourselves,  but don’t expect me to be alongside when I’m interested in conveying solidarity and waiting for more information.

  • Gamergate

Nope. Despite people wanting to draw me in. Nope.

  • Charlie Hebdo were asking for it, by being provocative.

I’m sure we’ll see plenty blame Charlie Hebdo for the attacks because of their decisions in publication: I’ll take that as seriously as blaming women’s clothes for their assault or Salman Rushdie for the fatwa against him.

Nope. Extremists and thugs, by definition, don’t need “a reason” – just as sexists, rapists, etc., don’t need “a reason”. This is easily undermined by the many who are dead by such hands who did nothing “provocative”.

Look: I’d rather we focus on standing against the murderers, supporting loved ones and friends and colleagues in media. A good way to fight terror is to show strength against this fear; a good way to fight terror is to support one another and show unity, not pointless debates and bickering, which only means we operate on the poison ground extremists want.

The paradox of rejecting entitled male/nerd culture

You’ve probably all seen this Laurie Penny piece, detailing the problems with geek/nerd culture, entitlement and so forth. I’ve long been a great admirer of Penny’s work and she’s done a lot for me in terms of understanding and combatting male entitlement and sexism.

One of the first responses I got when Tweeting Penny’s piece was a rando complaining it was yet another “white woman femsplaining” to men. I thought, as someone who is neither white nor a woman, I’d outline why I support Penny’s general position and want us to oppose nerd gatekeeping and general manosphere attitudes.

Like a cliche, I unfolded into puberty gripping a game controller, bullied, shy, and lonely. I had more interest in reading than I did in other people, despite desperately wanting to fit in. Yet, it seemed easier to complete Resident Evil’s ludicrous puzzles than speak to girls. Since I had a funny name and a strange accent, I didn’t fit in with any one group: non-Muslim friends couldn’t invite me out because of drinking and no pork products; Muslim kids didn’t like my boredom or open disdain for religion. And on it went, throughout almost all of my school years.

I was a shit to girls as a teenager, as I think almost all teenage guys probably are. All I really had were my fantasy books and games and alien shooters. My parents divorced, I had major health issues and so on.

More recently: Games themselves have been an essential way to combat chronic pain, after I found myself literally walking with a cane due to an illness no one really understands (it made my legs look like zombies had had a bit of fun). I literally earn my livelihood from writing about and studying games and games culture (among other things of course). I wrote a mini comic and one of my dreams is to do graphic novels.

I care about these cultures and they literally make my life. And the most dangerous and poisonous things to these cultures I live off, live in and that have shaped me have been those who gatekeep it. Not those putting up new walls, but those who’ve cemented themselves inside. Not those breaking barriers but those putting on locks.

I hate the term nerd and geek. Where once maybe it demarcated activities a select few were interested in and obsessive about, we live in a world of celebrity scientists and well-funded science shows; big comic book films topping the box office; the foolish and boring Star Wars franchise continuing to exist (blegh); video games making more money than a lot of Hollywood films. Nerd culture has blossomed and been amalgamated into general culture. It’s not strange to like Superman or play Dragon Age; it’s kind of expected.

Nonetheless, like someone who has great knowledge about cars or has a career in the automotive industry, some of us are more invested than others. But that investment gives no more legitimacy to deciding who may and may not participate than a footballer denying you entrance to a match because you can’t name every player for England (they’re a team right?).

Of course: I understand that “nerd culture” – or whatever – which we can loosely call games, comics, and film were the domain of the “outcast” or the “bullied”. But isolation from the rest of the world was a bug, not a feature of that culture. Now it’s bloomed into every day life of big budget Marvel films and billion dollar game industries.

And yet we still have people – mostly men – “defending” it, gatekeeping, testing women because “why would a woman I’m attracted to be interested in “nerdy” things – unless it was to get attention, to be a slut, or… something not really ever defined?”

Gatekeepers: You are not protecting “the culture” by deciding who may and may not participate, you’re poisoning it. When the barrier for entrance is correlated to your level of sexual interest, that’s both unfair and disgusting. This is the trajectory the arrow of “you’re too pretty to be a scientist/business person/etc.” flies and you’re putting up a new bullseye. You’re the child hugging a puppy who you love so much you strangle it; you’re the gardener who drowns his plants. What culture needs is expansion and growth, which comes from freedom. With freedom comes diversity.

Not hilarious

Nerd gatekeeper humour = hilarious

It’s not even a moral goal anymore, since gatekeepers need only face reality: games, films, comics are no longer their domain. It’s everyone’s. Thus, when gatekeeping, they’re not only being willfully ignorant – by not facing reality – but as with many acts done out of ignorance, damaging. Many, of course, don’t believe they’re harming – almost no one believes his actions are harmful or bad, otherwise he wouldn’t act that way. But again: such a view is due to ignorance – willful perhaps – in which case it’s intentional in a by proxy sort of way.

Many would attempt to convey sympathy. That there’s something that unites us or that we should find some common ground to understand these poor gatekeepers. But we’ve seen what such people do. We know how invested they are in maintaining a status quo, in deciding who is and is not welcome to be part of their culture. But, as I previously highlighted, when you make something so central to your identity, you can’t help but become a gatekeeper and arbiter of whoever else decides to use it, too.

Yet this is description, not justification.

And it doesn’t matter if they’re a minority, what matters is their passion and investment. And that’s where this gets weird…

See, we often use the term nerd and geek to also describe deep investment and knowledge about these cultures, not just the culture themselves. That’s why the bizarre fake geek girl nonsense involves testing female humans* with the smallest details of arcane knowledge… to see whether they warrant a nerd/geek cred (they never do, but that’s cos they’re icky girls). But the attitude matters too –  that investment, that time, that passion. As I’ve indicated, I have that for games – but I also have it for ethics and media and other things (I don’t have much of a social life).

But what we witness with gatekeepers and Gamergate and MRAs and other entitled men raging on the Internet at women is the same attitude: They’re nerds about entitlement, they’re geeks of poisonous causes. How are we supposed to match that? Heating up hollow causes and feeding off the misplaced outrage is a system we’ve long witnessed. So often, we’re dealing with obviously utter nonsense – men are the most oppressed, white people are under threat of representation in media, etc. – but it still requires time to respond, and response is required due to the very real consquences.

We can think Gamergate, for example, is nonsense but we still have to deal with consequences of harassment. Gatekeeping is a feature of entitlement and entitlement is very real, even if its justification is not. This is why in order to respond we need to keep propping up the goals worth fighting for: inclusion, tolerance, acceptance, support. Yet, we must also operate by dipping out feet into the rushing waters of nonsense that brings these waves crashing to the shores of the real world. It doesn’t matter whether games truly are in danger of the feminists; what matters is those feminists getting bomb threats and being chased out their homes.

When people ask why I care about gatekeeping – even though I’m not often “prevented” from entering, Gamergate – even though I think it’s nonsense, MRAs – even though I’m a man, I need to always point to these goals: security, freedom, safety, properties I want to see on the Internet, which means the world. I don’t want any space I have some impact on to be one where others feel unsafe because they’re not the right race, gender, etc. We fight for safety in many ways – but one I’m less certain of is silence and ignoring. This isn’t a call to arms or anything so noble, it’s an outline of my own reasoning for dealing so often with people my Followers shake their head at, for those so obviously wrong.

Their views are worth ignoring; the impact their actions have for harmless people is not.

UPDATED:

Added a sentenced related to this Tweet.

* Also known as "women".

“The only reason @theLindywest defends men is because men eventually started to whine like victims the way feminists do.”

This was in reference to Lindy West being a decent human being and conveying support for Shia Labeouf, due to his rape allegations.

Notice Mr RP Philosophy characterises “I was raped” as a “whine”.

Notice that a man alleging that he got raped is him sounding like a feminist or a victim – because apparently men can’t be either or both (spoiler: they can) and apparently both are bad.

Notice it can’t be that Lindy thinks defending people who are possible victims is a moral thing to do.

Notice the silence that has fallen on the manosphere when a man has been allegedly raped and feminists are the ones conveying support. Because, hey, maybe the feminists have a point about how to be decent that dudes who threaten women and support rape… don’t? Amazing.

It seems to me that if you’re going to call yourself “activists” the one thing you could do for men is support them. One thing. #YouHadOneJob

At least this continues to confirm my view that one of the worst things for men is the men’s rights movement.

Media ethics 101: Don’t publish names of alleged rape victims [Updated]

The Rolling Stone college rape campus piece is already a complicated mess. The alleged rape victim, however, has to contend with another aspect of media and platform.

As Isha Aran notes:

Charles C. Johnson, a former Daily Caller writer and founder of GotNews (a conservative site rife with racist and Islamophobic content parading as “Independent, Unbiased & Unafraid”) has claimed that multiple sources have confirmed to him the identity of “Jackie,” the woman whose alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia was recounted in the Rolling Stone piece “A Rape on Campus.”

What, then, is the ethical response? (Emphasis mine.)

in an absolutely disgusting move, Johnson has published her name, or what he thinks her name is.

Lovely.

The details of the original case are already being heavily scrutinised, there is a lot of clarity still required; given the lack of clarity, how can Johnson release details? What purpose does releasing the name of a woman serve? Further, why not, as a media person, focus on the actual media space – Rolling Stone – that is central to this confusion? Even then, you’d have to engage in very specific, complicated arguments with some sensitivity to rape survivors and the climate itself.

This seems to be nothing but another reason to shame women, fueled by the the MRA fantasy of women crying rape at every opportunity. This is unethical journalism and is vile. Such a focus must be considered in an environment that regularly disbelieves rape survivors; that punishes them for silence and for speaking out. Indeed, such a move isn’t merely about the woman he wishes to reveal, but many others who will see – and know – that this is the price for speaking out.

Of course we should care about allegations that turn out to be false – but even to this, Johnson is doing damage. Even if Johnson was correct, there is nothing ethical in his response. You don’t get moral immunity, even if you’re fighting for a moral cause. What makes a cause moral isn’t merely its stated ideals, but how we promote, communicate and defend it.

And releasing the name of a woman online to people who already dislike women can’t possibly have good consequences. This is the Internet, after all.

This is a failing of using one’s platform and media information; there are complicated moral issues involved in targeting people with your platform. And I see no reason anyone should support Johnson’s disgusting move.

UPDATE 09/12/2014:

The Washington Post‘s Terrence McCoy asked Johnson what his endgame is, specifically when it comes to outing “Jackie”.

So what’s the end game? What does he hope to achieve from publicly shaming a young woman he claims to be Jackie? Who would that benefit? Johnson has an immediate answer.

He wants revenge for what he perceives to be a rupture in the public trust, inflicted by writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s article. “I want [Rolling Stone Managing Editor] Will Dana to resign. I want the people who control Rolling Stone to go over all of Sabrina’s stories. And I want Jackie to get psychological help. I want all the fraternities, suspended under these dubious stories, to be reinstated.” Then, because why not: “I want the [University of Virginia] president to resign. I would like some truth.”

And he intends to get it.

Yes, I’m sure the only and most moral way to achieve these lofty goals is to reveal the identity of a young woman at the centre of an alleged rape.

Why we should love the “Terminator: Genisys” trailer

First if you really want the best experience of the upcoming Terminator film, don’t watch any trailer, read any article. I wish I was in your shoes.

However, if you can’t help yourself, at least watch the trailer without seeing icons, header images or descriptions. I’m not going to embed it but link to it so you can just watch it without, um, spoilers (yes, spoilers in a trailer… I know).

Watched it? Good.

So let’s go through it.

First, bros everywhere.  White men fighting back against overwhelming force – the plot of basically every Hollywood blockbuster. You’ve already got the hint that this is a “reboot”. Yay. Another one? So the first part of the trailer shows the same beats as the original film: scarred John Connor, time machine, soldier volunteers to save Mommy Connor.

Then we see the main evil time-travelling Terminator is a T-1000…. who is played by Korean actor, Lee Byung-hun.

OK, diversity. That’s… unexpected and fucking cool. And he’s amazing.

Then a truck comes jack-knifing through a wall, apparently in time to save our “main hero” soldier bro. The door flings open and at the wheel is a woman, who promptly shoots the T-1000. With the voice of some sort of queen – or, ahem, Mother of dragons – she splains to the dude that if he wishes to continue to not die, he ought to accompany her. Some of you might know the reference.

She then commands him as a soldier.

So, after the boring reboot introduction, we have a Terminator who is not white; we have the white male hero being saved by a woman, who is more badass than anything he’s so far demonstrated.

Then you find out the Governor of California raised Sarah Connor, because… time travel.

Yeah, there’s a lot here. And it’s amazing. I usually make a point of not watching trailers for film, due to spoiler territory and enjoying films more with ignorance. But I couldn’t help seeing this as a sign of progress; see, it’s not just being “PC” and ticking of boxes of – gasp – including people who aren’t white dudes. It’s that all this, almost by definition, seems to mean breaking the mould; it means we can have an interesting lead character, who, by the way, is a woman.

Nothing would be shocking if this was yet another major film which featured almost no one who wasn’t the lazily accepted “core demographic” of action films/video games/comics – instead they recognised that Sarah Connor is one of Hollywood’s best female roles, they recognised there’s no reason to cast yet another white male actor to play the role of a fucking liquid robot (however cool he is).

This little trailer should give us hope, like a small robot hand reaching out as it’s swalloed by boring paint-by-numbers summer blockbuster affairs.

PS: Yes, “Genisys” is a silly name.

“i say it not cause I’m some ass but because I speak the truth of all situations”

Found via CreepyPMs. This is a chat convo where a man is trying to “score” with a woman. I want to focus quickly on his last message essay he sent her. (I recommend reading the short thread in which this appears before). Obviously [sic] all the way down…

 

Fine no games i promise just a conversation. No [airhead] is not [an insult], so many women on the east coast are not attractive. Kind and good hearts I’m sure but not very attractive.

Attractive is, in this instance, subjective. Many people find Brad Pitt attractive, many do not. “Attractive” and “hot” and “sexy” should always be read with “…to me” after.

Honestly very attractive people like us know this, do not lie.

Dudes who know what complete strangers think about themselves and others is totally cool and a way to “score”, bro.

The largest amount of attractive women on the east coast know they are hot. Due to them being attractive they know they do not have to be smart.

Aside from the misuse of “amount” instead of “number”, this shows what happens when “hotness” is used as some kind of universal attribute. Being smart – something we have ways of measuring assuming various definitions of smart (PhDs, degrees, etc.) – is apparently incompatible with “being hot”, because “being hot” means women don’t need to do anything to benefit. This ties into the stupid claims of being “too hot to be lesbian” or some nonsense. Even today, I have smart male friends who laugh at TV shows casting women they find attractive as computer nerds. Men are letting their attraction to a woman be the measurement of a woman’s worth: She can’t possibly be anything more than an entity I’m attracted to.

From this is birthed fake geek girls and so forth.

Can we please put this idiot notion of “being too hot for x” to the dustbin of history?

Women i look and talk to are beautiful like you despite your thoughts of yourself.

Again claiming to know what a strange woman really thinks about herself. Nice, bro.

Because of that most of them are air heads. That is why i say it not cause I’m some ass but because I speak the truth of all situations.

Shame: you’re not an asshole because you speak some hard truth, bro, but because you have shitty views of women.

This also applies to why we are still taking. Your foohawk boyfriend is less attractive than you.

Again: this only makes sense if we say “…to me”. Well, presuming you’re heterosexual, her boyfriend would be less attractive to you. Presumably, she thinks he’s just the right amount of attractive – whatever that means to her (and that’s all that matters).

Thus we are still talking even if you think its for different reasons. Also your hair looked better in the last picture.

Nice bit of judgement there, bud.

In conclusion: I can’t fathom why this guy’s single.

#Whatacatch