Responses to common claims made against childfree people

The Huffington Post helpfully aggregated some common assertions and questions people make against childfree people (in their case, it was women they focused on). Anyway, I wrote a response to each one on Big Think. I added some snark.

Let me know if they’re questions or assertions you’ve got. And, also, how often do you get them, in comparison to men/women companions/friends/lovers.

Update: Love the responses and comments. Please do keep them coming. Fascinating.

‘Cybersexism’ by Laurie Penny: a review and essay

I wrote a review for Laurie Penny’s book Cybersexism at Big Think.

In it, Penny, a well-known and much loved (and of course hated) British writer on politics, feminism and many other topics, outlines the current model of sexism online. Using her own and other women’s experiences, she outlines why it occurs, the ground from which such terrible treatment springs, sexism in general and what sorts of responses we can muster. Her insight, as always, is invaluable and potent.

I used this opportunity to give a perspective as someone who is not the target of sexism; I outline why I care (because we need to do that nowadays?), why others should and related matters.

I am a long-time fan of her work and it’s fantastic to read her in long-form.

Punishment and criminal HIV infection

A recent case in SA raised some questions for me about justice and stigma, and how – in some cases, like HIV – the two can’t be easily separated. That they relate at all was surprising enough.

In my latest at Big Think, I try to outline some dimensions some might be overlooking in their need to see “justice done”.

It’s interesting to note how often people clamour for justice, for something to be done, when a situation arises and yet, how the demand for justice is its own downfall. Or rather unmitigated hysteria. For example, we know that criminalising sex work and drugs – at the very least marijuana – has little basis in reason, but plenty of basis in popularity. As Plato hinted at, laws in democracies are made to be popular not right.

But when justice becomes synonymous with revenge, with knee-jerk moralistic action – rather than thought-out, evidence-based approaches that will help everyone in the society, that will reduce suffering – then we’re no longer talking about justice. We’re talking about mob mentality.

I’m reminded of a powerful scene in The West Wing where – no spoilers – a character’s child is harmed in some way by bad people. The character trolls another in saying they should revise whether capital punishment should be nation-wide and mandatory (for certain crimes). The second character points out that what the other man will do as a father, versus what he should do as a servant of the people, are in conflict; the law is there to be the voice of the latter, for the benefit of all, not a tool to benefit the heightened emotions of a grief-stricken father. What use is law when its wielded by the loudest, the strongest, the most grief-stricken?

This is one of the reasons I consider capital punishment to be immoral – to some degree – since it has no retraction possibility; it’s always closing the door on backtracking our possible mistakes. This doesn’t mean I think capital punishment is the worst punishment – I think, along with John Stuart Mill, that (life) imprisonment can be “a living tomb”, especially as we know reports out of places like Guantanamo, as the incredible Molly Crabapple showed.

Anyway, justice as always is complicated and we mustn’t let our desire for it overshadow its actual purpose in being effective.

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.

So it begins

For some unknown reason, I got an email and now find myself here. It’s like a Twilight Zone episode, so I’m still a bit disorientated and giving one of the worst performances of my life. Seriously, there’s something on the wing!

Oh that’s my name.

In fact, that name on the right isn’t a misspelling or garbled message from beyond the grave: no, that’s mine. And yes there’s a “Q”. And yes there’s an “AU” – which is meaningless, since it phonetically doesn’t even make that goddamn sound when you pronounce it (properly).

In fact, let’s get this out the way: It’s pronounced to rhyme with Warick, garlic, sorry, etc. Not – definitely bloody not – rhyming with squeak, leak, seek, meek, etc. Think stick. Or prick. (Knowing the nature of Internet comments, I’ll probably get some wonderful rhyming words tossed my way soon enough.)

I do want to stress that who I am is actually unimportant. What matters and will matter more to this blog are the ideas, arguments, analysis, etc., that will be written on. I’m really not as fascinating as the topics of infanticide or incest: Do you really care about my favourite make of car (the one with wheels), or do you want to know good and bad reasons for supporting infanticide, euthanasia, drugs, guns, sex work, nonmonogamy, incest and so on? I thought so. Me too. Those are topics that will make this screen as they’ve made others around the Internet.

I write a regular blog at called “Against the New Taboo“, where weekly (at a minimum) I write on topics that have caused people to react with outrage when they think about or encounter them.

But: What doesn‘t elicit outrage, you might ask? People kill each other over computer games, throw children out of school who had lesbian relationships and let women die because abortion is so incredibly wrong of course (/sarcasm). However, I try to encircle ones that most people – including myself – haven’t considered. Suggestions are always welcome, too.

My aim for this blog is for it to be shorter, sharper, more direct: splinters if you will. I’ll write shorter posts, pose questions, make something metaphorically bleed. I’ll try find interesting links, responses. I’ll be shameless and indicate where I’ve written things. I’m sure you’ll tell me about interesting responses to, indicating why I’m wrong.

There’s little else I can consider interesting for a beginning post. Tomorrow I will reblog an old post explaining the name, though given this audience it’s probably not hard to know its origin (hint, hint) and why I chose it. In the mean time, I’ll take my cue from my new friend Ally and open it up to you. I’ll update with answers as they come in (assuming anyone asks or cares). Here’s an page, too.

You can follow me on Twitter, too.

UPDATE: I’ve not decided on a comments policy. However, for this first post, I’m just going to let all comments in. Thank you so far for the kind wishes and congrats.