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“uncomfortable by my presence”

Do not wear humorous t-shirts on a plane. Do not mock the absurdity of the TSA security theater. And most of all

Having been booted from our flight, the transit police now began to aggressively question us. At one point, I was asked where my brother lives (he was the one who gifted me the shirt). A bit surprised by the irrelevant question, I paused for a moment before answering.

“You had to think about that one. How come?,” she asked. I explained he recently moved. “Where’d he move from?” “Michigan,” I respond. “Michigan, what’s that?,” she says. At this point, the main TSA agent who’d questioned me earlier interjected: “He said ‘Michigan’.” Unable to withhold my snark, I responded with an eye-rolling sneer: “You’ve never heard of Michigan?”

This response did not please her partner, a transit cop named Mark. Mark grabbed his walkie-talkie and alerted his supervisor and proceeded to request that he be granted permission to question me further in a private room. His justification?: “First he hesitated, then he gave a stupid answer.” Michigan, my friends, is a stupid answer.

And then, he decided to drop any façade of fair treatment: the veil was lifted, this was about who I was and how I looked: “And he looks foreign.”

…do not look foreign.

Arijit got to experience the full weight of our stupid airport security system: he was thoroughly screened, held over and questioned at length, and ultimately kicked off a flight because he made the bigot sitting at the controls feel “uncomfortable”.

(A prediction: someone in the comments will blame the victim. He shouldn’t have been wearing a scary t-shirt, they will say, or he should have been deferential and cast his eyes downward and answered every stupid question politely. Just so I don’t have to reply to every such inanity, I offer you this preemptive reply: fuck you. Attitude is not and should not be a crime. Nor should be flying while brown.)

Comments

  1. jnorris says

    As I understand it, Delta employes bigots as pilots and the bigots get to decide who flies and who doesn’t. I plan to avoid Delta from now on. I’m using my imagination and I can see the bigoted moron pilot deciding at 20,000 feet that he imagines someone on the plane is uncomfortable with me on board.

    I am a supporter of labor over management. In this case i don’t see why Delta keeps employing these two pilots. There must be hundreds of better qualified unemployed pilots available to take over at a moments notice.

    So to Delta, the Official Airlines of Hatred and Bigotry, go Fuck Yourselves.

  2. crocswsocks says

    …Because we’re Delta Airlines! And life is a FUCKING NIGHTMARE

    - John Mulaney

  3. says

    Buffalo eh?

    No surprise there. The airport is in Cheektowaga, where African-American drivers have been pulled over by cops and asked “What are you doing out here?”

    Buffalo is in Erie County, which a few years ago I was told was the 4th most segregated county in the US.

    Definitely not surprising to see xenophobia coming from there. I got into an online argument in a listserv with a Buffalo councilman when someone proposed giving some of the 26,000 abandoned houses the city owns to Katrina victims.

    He objected, saying that Buffalo didn’t need the extra burden of “immigrants” with “no knowledge of our culture.”

    (I could go on about stupidity I’ve seen from the TSA in Tampa and San Francisco, but anyway…)

  4. Brownian says

  5. says

    @5 Uh oh… build a post and they shall come.

    As if a terrorist would dress in such a way as to draw attention. Or wear a Cory Doctrow shirt. Theater like this has always annoyed me, from public schools to Paris Island to simply flying it seems like the US has some obsession with doing as little as possible good in the most dramatic way possible.

  6. Pteryxx says

    Arjit’s blog post ends with several avenues to make formal complaints about racist treatment: to Delta, Delta’s CEO, to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Transit Police, and to the federal Aviation Consumer Protection Division. (In this case, he says, the actual TSA agents treated him professionally.)

  7. says

    Is this really so specific to Delta?

    I’m not up on the details of US domestic carriers. But since there’s now a chance I might visit in the next couple of years, it would be nice to know if any airlines are more worth my custom…

  8. Brownian says

    It’s only because it seems like it would be rubbing salt into Mr. Guha’s wounds that I don’t retell the story of how two years ago here in Canadia I accidentally knocked an airport security agent to the floor while smelling like a grow op and they still let me on the plane.

  9. congaboy says

    I have a metal hip replacement. When I go through the airport it sets off alarms. Before the “see you naked” machines, TSA would have to pat me down. Then, TSA moved to the more invasive pat-down aka “the date rape.” My first and only time through, a young male TSA agent came to feel me up. He was polite, a bit embarrassed, but tried to be professional. He lost his composure when I told him, “this is going to end with you gently holding me while I quietly weep into your shoulder.” He actually found that amusing and took it easy when it came to checking near the twig and berries.

  10. Amphiox says

    As if a terrorist would dress in such a way as to draw attention. Or wear a Cory Doctrow shirt.

    If the terrorists were clever, they’d have one member of their team dress like that. He will distract the security, waste their time, and of course be completely clean. Meanwhile, the rest of the team, looking completely normal, will pass without incident either a few passengers earlier or later down the line.

  11. Brownian says

    If the terrorists were clever, they’d have one member of their team dress like that. He will distract the security, waste their time, and of course be completely clean. Meanwhile, the rest of the team, looking completely normal, will pass without incident either a few passengers earlier or later down the line.

    Sure, unless we use the patented “Strip search anyone who looks like Ben Stiller” technique. Infallible.

  12. says

    I’m still trying to figure out why it is that airports are swarming with uniformed federal agents who search each and every passenger…and not a single warrant has been issued for any of those searches, and no oath or affidavit detailing the probable cause has been presented justifying those particular searches. And let’s not get into the seizures….

    The TSA is nothing but a bunch of virulently anti-American thugs who get paid tax money to shit on the Constitution and smear it in our faces. The lot of them, their superiors and their superiors’s superiors, and the members of Congress who voted to give them their illegitimate authority, ought all to be tried for treason, convicted, and spend a very long time in prison.

    Yes, this would include significant portions of two branches of our government, and the third branch wouldn’t even think of doing anything but support the treasonous acts of the other two, which is why justice will never be served on this matter.

    God damn, but I miss my Constitution….

    Cheers,

    b&

  13. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    Then, TSA moved to the more invasive pat-down aka “the date rape.”

    Oh please don’t call it that. That’s not right. That’s wrong. It’s not date rape, calling it date rape is dismissive to rape survivors. Just like gamers saying “I just got raped!” when their characters die quickly by an enemy in game. Just don’t.

  14. andyo says

    Amazing. Racism all around in Delta land. “Just use your imagination.” What a dickhead.

  15. davidct says

    There is now a zero tolerance for failure to prevent a terrorist act on the part of the government. As a result the president cannot risk closing Gitmo or repeal the Patriot act. We will still allow torture when appropriate no matter how ineffective. The liberties of ordinary citizens be damned while we continue to vote for people who take our rights away. We once bragged about having the longest unguarded boarder in the world. Now you need a passport to cross. Somehow with all of this we fail to notice that Osama has won.

  16. procyon says

    I wouldn’t wear a shirt like that to the airport and my family hasn’t looked (or sounded) foreign for over eighty years. Isn’t flying stressful enough? Why purposely test the idiocy of the TSA?
    Not worth it for me.

  17. says

    Brownian:

    Sure, unless we use the patented “Strip search anyone who looks like Ben Stiller” technique. Infallible.

    I still don’t get Harris’ argument here. Ben Stiller/Sam Harris/Mr Darkheart/whoever don’t look a goddamn thing like the people who are actually targeted for racial profiling.

  18. Snoof says

    he should have been deferential and cast his eyes downward and answered every stupid question politely

    Wouldn’t have worked, anyway. That’s not “deferential”, that’s “looks guilty”.

  19. kosk11348 says

    Ben Goren, they are voluntary searches (you can refuse them and choose not to fly if you wish). And passengers can voluntarily surrender prohibited items, but nothing is “seized.” Unless you are carrying something illegal, in which case the police will become involved.

    Airport security is a hassle, but it’s not unconstitutional.

  20. echidna says

    I wouldn’t wear a shirt like that to the airport and my family hasn’t looked (or sounded) foreign for over eighty years. Isn’t flying stressful enough? Why purposely test the idiocy of the TSA?

    Because the harder you try to comply, the harsher the demands become in an abusive relationship. And we are talking about an abusive relationship.

    If a t-shirt or “foreign” looks or accent are enough to signal that you are worthy of abuse, and this can’t be changed, then it’s time to leave. At the very least, acting on this notion saved a number of lives about 80 or so years ago.

  21. andyo says

    I wouldn’t wear a shirt like that to the airport and my family hasn’t looked (or sounded) foreign for over eighty years. Isn’t flying stressful enough? Why purposely test the idiocy of the TSA?
    Not worth it for me.

    Did you read PZ’s post?

    To the end?

  22. a3kr0n says

    I was a few hours away from getting my pilot’s license when 9/11 occurred and I haven’t flown since. That’s my protest. Nobody else seems to care.

  23. lexie says

    Procyon, Just because you choose not to wear something doesn’t mean you can’t support others. I don’t even own anything which would be likely to annoy airport security but I am still capable of acknowledging that people shouldn’t be discriminated against for their choice in t-shirts or for having reasonable levels of melanin in their skin. Even if you continue to choose not to actively take a stand against unreasonable rules, doesn’t mean you can’t be supportive of others.

  24. erikthebassist says

    Jafafa @ #4

    Let me set you straight on a couple of things. I grew up 2 minutes down the road from that airport, went to Cheektowaga Central high school through tenth grade. My parents still live there, and while I spent many years away, I’ve now come back for one reason, the people.

    The people in Cheektowaga and Buffalo in general are some of the nicest and most genuinely good people you will ever come across. It’s called the “The City of Good Neighbors” for a reason. It’s a fiercely liberal district filled with mainly blue collar, union workers and is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country. Cheektowaga is affectionately called Cheektawarsaw by it’s mostly polish inhabitants, yes polish, one the most persecuted group of immigrants to ever come here. It is segregated yes, but not by force or economics, it’s segregated because generations of families put down roots and maintain and care for the neighborhoods they were lucky to grow up in, and know the value of community, but that doesn’t mean that racism is rampant. We have our share like every other city, but when you have Polish neighborhoods next to Italian neighborhoods, next to German and African American neighborhoods, you end up with pockets of culture and people like that. It doesn’t mean that brown or black people aren’t welcome. If you go to the local mall, the Walden Galleria, you’d think you were at a mall in Miami or Los Angeles for the diversity you’d see, and I almost never hear a racist comment about it.

    Entire neighborhoods that were at one time exclusively white are now fully integrated and that trend is spreading quickly with nary a complaint. Buffalo was the gateway to the west at one time and one of the more popular destinations for immigrants fleeing the violence of World Wars I and II. You can visit historic landmarks all over the city that were part of the underground railroad. Come visit, you’d love it. The cops in Cheektowaga are notorious assholes for sure but they are that way to every one, no one likes them, not even us white folk so please take your second hand stories and stuff em’ until you actually come visit the place, you’d be surprised at what it’s really like. The shitty weather has a way of bringing people together, regardless of skin color.

  25. says

    You might as well go ahead and tell me to fuck off. I’m going to blame the victim. In fact, I’m going to suggest that he may have intentionally wore that shirt as an intentional provocation.

  26. Amphiox says

    Now you need a passport to cross. Somehow with all of this we fail to notice that Osama has won.

    If by “win” you mean inconveniencing the west and triggering regressive policies therein, at the cost of having your organization decimated, the one government in the world that supported you the most overthrown, and well, being dead, then sure.

    If by “win” you mean what most people consider it to mean, namely achieving one’s primary objective – the expulsion of Westerners from the Middle East, the overthrow of the House of Saud, the destruction of Israel, and the establishment of a restored Islamic Caliphate, then no.

    Hyberbolic references to a dead terrorist are not needed to express one’s disapproval of the TSA effectively.

  27. says

    You might as well go ahead and tell me to fuck off. I’m going to blame the victim. In fact, I’m going to suggest that he may have intentionally wore that shirt as an intentional provocation.

    So, are the TSA the lords of flight right now that offending them will guarantee you don’t take a flight?

  28. captainahags says

    If by “win” you mean inconveniencing the west and triggering regressive policies therein, at the cost of having your organization decimated, the one government in the world that supported you the most overthrown, and well, being dead, then sure.

    If by “win” you mean what most people consider it to mean, namely achieving one’s primary objective – the expulsion of Westerners from the Middle East, the overthrow of the House of Saud, the destruction of Israel, and the establishment of a restored Islamic Caliphate, then no.

    Hyberbolic references to a dead terrorist are not needed to express one’s disapproval of the TSA effectively.

    I think the point is more that if his goal, as a terrorist, was to make the US as a society live in fear, he pretty much succeeded. The lengths to which people are willing to go and the rights they are willing to sacrifice due to the spectre of terrorism frankly scares the hell out of me. The number of times I’ve heard arguments for warrantless wiretaps along the lines of “well I have nothing to hide!” is fucking absurd. Could you imagine anyone trying to pull that shit pre 9/11? Or, more accurately, pre-9/11 hysteria?

  29. says

    Needless to say, a devout Muslim should be free to show up at the airport dressed like Osama bin Laden, and his wives should be free to wear burqas.

    What a lovely racist caricature Harris has painted here. I suppose if it were French terrorists he’s be talking about striped shirts, berets, and tiny tiny mustaches?

    You might as well go ahead and tell me to fuck off. I’m going to blame the victim. In fact, I’m going to suggest that he may have intentionally wore that shirt as an intentional provocation.

    Based on? Oh right, he’s Arab/Persian/African/Muslim, so he’s automatically presumed to be a rat by the ‘atheist/skeptics’. You people are racist fucks

  30. procyon says

    I’m not blaming Arijit for what happened to him. I’m saying I personally don’t have the temperament to test the TSA like he did. I’ve been pulled aside and taken to a “room” for questioning twice because my name was mistakenly on some “watch”list. I didn’t like it one bit. While somewhat apologetic, the officers in both cases made it obvious they weren’t playing games. Ignorance and authority combined scare the shit out of me. It was intimidating and aggravating and a little scary in that you really don’t know how far these guys will go.
    I have flown since with no problems, but for me flying is scary enough without having to deal with armed officers with the power to detain you.
    I am going to be flying again in or month or so with my brand new artificial knee and am already apprehensive about what will happen when I set off that alarm.
    I applaud Arijit for his willingness to take on the TSA idiocy, and someone has to do it, just saying it’s not for me.

  31. says

    Fundies and atheists apparently have a shared hatred of ME folk. I just wanted to repeat this because I suffer from the delusion that if I keep pointing this jackassery out more people will start caring.

  32. machintelligence says

    If you want real excitement, try wearing a Sgt Bilko T shirt in China.

    In 1987 a British tourist visiting Tibet was wearing a Phil Silvers Sgt Bilko T-Shirt that Chinese soldiers attempted to rip off her as they thought the image of Sgt Bilko was the Dalai Lama.[5]
    5 ^ “Tourist Had to Get It Off Her Chest: ‘Dalai Lama’ Was Sgt. Bilko”. Los Angeles Times. November 13, 1987.

  33. Amphiox says

    I’m going to blame the victim. In fact, I’m going to suggest that he may have intentionally wore that shirt as an intentional provocation

    He could not have worn that shirt as provocation, intentionally or otherwise, if that shirt was treated the way it should be treated, as not provocative at all.

  34. Amphiox says

    I think the point is more that if his goal, as a terrorist, was to make the US as a society live in fear, he pretty much succeeded.

    But that WASN’T his goal.

    His goals were not secret. He declared them to the world, many times.

    Making the US as a society live in fear was NOT his goal. At BEST it can be seen as a strategy he pursued in order to achieve his goal, step one of his five (or whatever) step plan. But the thing is, step two failed.

    Saying that bin Laden succeeded in his goal is like saying the Japanese Empire succeeded in their goal for the Pacific War because they bombed Pearl Harbor semi-successfully.

  35. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Ben Goren, they are voluntary searches (you can refuse them and choose not to fly if you wish). And passengers can voluntarily surrender prohibited items, but nothing is “seized.” Unless you are carrying something illegal, in which case the police will become involved.

    Airport security is a hassle, but it’s not unconstitutional.

    Bullshit. It’s a de facto restriction on freedom of movement contingent on giving up one’s 4th amendment rights. The courts have decided there’s no limit to the surveillance/detention power of these poorly trained TSA cashiers without warrants.

    “Voluntarily surrender” “Prohibited items?” Shit. The list of such items is based on whatever dumb-ass judgment a TSA cashier makes. Example:

    I flew from New England to the midwest last week. On the way home my captain’s knife (otherwise known as a wine corkscrew) was confiscated. You see that teeny, tiny little “blade”? It’s less than an inch long. And it’s dull. I’d have to treat any potential stabbing victim as if I were grinding them up in a mortar and pestle to get any serious damage out of it.

    But you know what they didn’t even look at? My Merkur safety razor. You know, the old-fashioned kind that actually works. It’s loaded with a realrazor blade that’s about ten times as sharp as any of your expensive disposable cartridge shavers. It’s so sharp I have to soften my beard and shave very gently if I don’t want blood running down my face. And I keep a styptic pencil at hand.

    If I wanted I could slash someone’s throat so quickly and so effectively with that thing they’d bleed out and die in minutes.

    So, again, you were saying how all this is reasonable? Or, are you perhaps considering suggesting that safety razors should now be banned and only disposables allowed? (You can thank me when you get your “appreciation check” from Gillette:)

  36. rowanvt says

    I’m honestly surprised they still allow pens and pencils onto planes at this point. I stabbed a kid in the arm with pencil in 6th grade (finally cracked after 6 months of non-stop harassment encouraged by a teacher who thought I was “disrespecting her authority” by still not being good at long division at that point. I kid you not) and drove it in pretty deep. An adult could drive a pen easily into a throat, abdomen, or eye.

  37. bionichips says

    I’ve flown about 20 times with 2 artificial hips and never had a problem – I tell the staff at the scanner I have artificial hips and will trip the sensor. I have never had a problem – just a couple of extra minutes for a non-intrusive pat down.

    And yes, I think it is silly, but there is a time and place for everything.

  38. says

    I’ve flown about 20 times with 2 artificial hips and never had a problem – I tell the staff at the scanner I have artificial hips and will trip the sensor. I have never had a problem – just a couple of extra minutes for a non-intrusive pat down.

    And yes, I think it is silly, but there is a time and place for everything.

    Oh fuck you.

  39. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    I’ve flown about 20 times with 2 artificial hips and never had a problem – I tell the staff at the scanner I have artificial hips and will trip the sensor. I have never had a problem – just a couple of extra minutes for a non-intrusive pat down.

    And yes, I think it is silly, but there is a time and place for everything.

    Lemme hazard a wild guess here. Do you look white?

    Because somehow I’m thinking that someone who looks Middle Eastern/brown won’t have quite as easy a time of it.

  40. vincenthewitt says

    And I should be free to walk through Central Park at 3am holding wads of 100 dollar bills in both hands without fear of being robbed. Really, seriously, I should be free to do that.

    But I choose not to do that, because I know that I live in the real world.

    C’mon everyone, no one can claim not to know that airport security personnel are petty, stupid, irrational, and reactionary. Many airports even have signs that say “We take all jokes seriously”, just to warn people who might be inclined to wear “ZOMG TERRIST” shirts.

    I know it’s wrong to blame the victim, but what would you think if you heard that someone got robbed in the Central Park scenario described above? You’d think they were a fucking idiot!

  41. says

    I know it’s wrong to blame the victim, but what would you think if you heard that someone got robbed in the Central Park scenario described above? You’d think they were a fucking idiot!

    Well I think SOMEONE is a fucking idiot.

    If you know it’s wrong to blame the victim and do it anyway…why do you insist on making the world a worse place.

  42. says

    And I should be free to walk through Central Park at 3am holding wads of 100 dollar bills in both hands without fear of being robbed. Really, seriously, I should be free to do that.

    But I choose not to do that, because I know that I live in the real world.

    Do you actually have reason to do that? you know like how people have to travel? Also should the police be allowed to dow hat you do which is laugh at people and turn them away? You know what? I really really really hope that you get ironically robbed sometime soon. Then you can come back and I can laugh at you

    C’mon everyone, no one can claim not to know that airport security personnel are petty, stupid, irrational, and reactionary.

    GASP! People are being petty stupid irrational, reactionary and abusing power! I must jump into action and mock and belittle their victims! Because I am a total tool who gleefully accepts horrible things done to other people because they’re not me and I am a self righteous douchebag who has a false sense of invulnerability and justification brought on by the privilege of society constantly blowing me!

  43. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    vincenthewitt wrote:

    I know it’s wrong to blame the victim, but…

    Imma stop you there. Don’t. Just, don’t.

  44. says

    I love ass hole here. Because he totally doesn’t see that he gave the EXACT reason why blaming the victim is harmful. He identifies what the real problem is…and then goes on ignoring it and not even realizing its something that should be addressed because seriously fuck those A-rabs.

  45. chrislawson says

    To those who blame the victim: I wouldn’t have worn that shirt either, but unless Arijit behaved in a way that actually represented a threat to the safety of the flight, then the people who booted him off have been unreasonable and abused their powers.

  46. says

    I’m not saying he shouldn’t wear the t-shirt, but I am saying it completely reduced me to tears.

    I’M KIDDING. I KID. I’m a joker. You’re alright.

  47. says

    @Ing, since when does the name “Arijit” sound like he’d be one of the “ME folks”? Indian, I’d assume. As to your broader point: yeah, stupid victim-blaming self-styled atheist racist arseholes can GTFO.

  48. says

    It seems that no one has actually gone and read the original blog in full, if you had you would see his concluding remarks

    In this case it was Delta Airlines and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police who were the problem.

  49. consciousness razor says

    And I should be free to walk through Central Park at 3am holding wads of 100 dollar bills in both hands without fear of being robbed. Really, seriously, I should be free to do that.

    But I choose not to do that, because I know that I live in the real world.

    C’mon everyone, no one can claim not to know that airport security personnel are petty, stupid, irrational, and reactionary. Many airports even have signs that say “We take all jokes seriously”, just to warn people who might be inclined to wear “ZOMG TERRIST” shirts.

    I know it’s wrong to blame the victim, but what would you think if you heard that someone got robbed in the Central Park scenario described above? You’d think they were a fucking idiot!

    Okay, so far, I have it that airport security personnel are like robbers in Central Park, and people who wear funny t-shirts are like fucking idiots who get robbed by them (and maybe unlike the non-idiots who get robbed). Which one of those do you think is a crime? And these security personnel: I thought they were supposed to be preventing crimes, not committing them. But I guess sometimes you have to break a few omelettes to make an egg, eh?

    However, I’d say most people, not just security personnel, are often petty, stupid, irrational and reactionary. Indeed, you’re being a good example of that at the moment. So I suppose there’s no time or place we can avoid being fucking idiotic, by giving the petty, stupid, irrational and reactionary people an excuse. Of course they don’t know any better (obviously, because they’re security personnel: it’s right there in the name), so we can’t blame them for having poor excuses. It’s fucking idiots like me who should know better.

  50. says

    So the block quote got misplaced

    The concluding remarks were

    “There’s much wrong with the TSA and the entire airport security operation — to wit — but in this case, the TSA agents I personally interacted with were courteous and professional.”

    In this case it was Delta Airlines and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police who were the problem.

  51. vincenthewitt says

    I think you guys are forgetting about the real world. You can play dumb if you want, but you all know deep down that sometimes we have to grin and bear some pretty shitty situations.

    For example, at school, there were many bullies who would taunt the weaker students when they were walking down the hall, going to the toilets, etc. The ones who stood up for themselves got beaten up, even though they had every right to object to the taunting. The ones who kept quiet were pretty much left alone. As one of the victims of such bullying, I wished with all my heart that these bullies did not exist, but they did, and that left the victims with a decision to make about how to respond to the verbal abuse. Some people decided to respond in a way that led to physical abuse. Other people decided to respond in a way that did not lead to physical abuse.

    The airport security staff are bullies, make no mistake. But travellers can make a decision about how to respond. Wearing a “ZOMG TERRISTS” t-shirt is a stupid thing to do, given the reality of the situation. If you were a close friend or relative of Arijit, you probably would have warned him not to wear that t-shirt, right? If I saw him leaving the house to go to the airport wearing that t-shirt, I would have stopped him and said “Dude, why are you wearing that? You know that’s not going to go down well with the security douches?”

  52. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    You can play dumb if you want, but you all know deep down that sometimes we have to grin and bear some pretty shitty situations.

    I want to live in a world where people give a shit about changing the norms that allow people like you to say “grin and bear some pretty shitty situations.” I actually want to make shitty situations less frequent and less acceptable.

    If you’re not on board with that then fuck off. You’re not “keepin’ it real.” You’re apologizing for a horrible reality and supporting its maintenance.

  53. consciousness razor says

    I think you guys are forgetting about the real world. You can play dumb if you want, but you all know deep down that sometimes we have to grin and bear some pretty shitty situations.

    Yes, and in the real world, if you don’t, you’re fucking idiotic. It’s a shame none of us live in the real world. It sounds like a fascinating place.

  54. MichaelE says

    “Just use your imagination”

    What, he’s going to turn into a giant porcupine and kill them all?

  55. vincenthewitt says

    I want to make shitty situations less frequent too. But the solution to the airport security problem will be solved by actions such as (a) voting for politicians who will fix the problem, (b) writing letters of complaint to the airlines, (c) boycotting the worst airlines, etc. etc.
    The problem will not be solved by stupidly wearing a “ZOMG TERRISTS” t-shirt.
    Similar to the school bullying situation: The problem won’t be solved by trying to confront the stronger bullies and getting beaten up as a result. The problem is solved by alerting teachers and parents to the problem so the bullies can be disciplined, raising awareness about the problem, etc.

  56. says

    I am a young white woman and now insist on not being separated from my American hubby because of problems at airports (mostly immigration agents, but still) USA is a very unfriendly place to travel to, from, or through. Its a shame.

  57. John Phillips, FCD says

    vincenthewitt, so what is the limit on what one could wear in a supposedly free society. How do we know to complain except by testing the boundaries. Or should we all just metaphorically, or even literally, cower in the corner until the bully tells us it’s OK now.

  58. vincenthewitt says

    I should add (d) taking legal action / suing the airlines and (e) organizing protests / rallies against the airlines to the suggest actions above.

  59. vincenthewitt says

    @ 66. John Phillips, FCD

    I think it’s a common sense thing. As in, there’s no need for a hard-and-fast rule; you know it when you see it. I think we all know the kinds of t-shirts that would cause us to stop a friend and go “Dude, it’s probably not a good idea to wear that”. And let’s be honest, the vast majority of t-shirts would not cause us to do that.
    But if you do want a hard-and-fast rule, it’s probably a good idea not to wear a t-shirt that makes references to terrorism or mass murder when boarding an aeroplane.

  60. John Phillips, FCD says

    But again, how do we know to complain or take any kind of action if we are all too afraid to test the boundaries of our supposed freedoms in a supposedly free society.

  61. John Phillips, FCD says

    Oh, and when dealing with ‘bullies, whether in the school playground or some officious authoritarian little thug, common sense is rarely so common.

  62. consciousness razor says

    The problem won’t be solved by trying to confront the stronger bullies and getting beaten up as a result.

    He wore a fucking joke t-shirt. How is that like confronting a bully?

    Is the “real world” you live in made of false analogies?

  63. says

    Ing, since when does the name “Arijit” sound like he’d be one of the “ME folks”? Indian, I’d assume. As to your broader point: yeah, stupid victim-blaming self-styled atheist racist arseholes can GTFO.

    “Do not look foreign” It’s the stupid racism of Harris’s “looks possibly Muslim”. They’re accepting of this racism because of the stampede to be tough on Islam and all that shit.

  64. consciousness razor says

    But if you do want a hard-and-fast rule, it’s probably a good idea not to wear a t-shirt that makes references to terrorism or mass murder when boarding an aeroplane.

    So it’s probably a good idea, meaning that you’re a fucking idiot if you don’t?

  65. says

    I think it’s a common sense thing. As in, there’s no need for a hard-and-fast rule; you know it when you see it.

    A hallmark of an oppressive reign is that the law is intentionally vague. The line between legal/illegal, allowed/not allowed is blurred…this is so the authorities can selectively enforce laws, privileging the favored and harassing the undesirable and so that civilians are kept in line. They think twice because what they’re dong MAY be illegal. It is this “may” that is important. If it was obviously arbitrary everyone would note that they are basically slaves of the state, but by pretending to have a set of firm rules that you can use common sense to get by it gives the illusion of safety. “I’ll be ok as long as I follow the rules! I won’t be stupid like my neighbor!”

  66. says

    It’s just common sense to go to the other side of the street when a white woman approaches…if you don’t do that you’re just asking to be lynched.

    I’m not asking anyone to sit in prison or any civil disobedience. I’m asking you to shut the fuck up and stop blaming the victims. You’re doing the TSA’s job for them. You are actively enabling this behavior. You are literally right now being an accomplice to some asshole shitting on your fellow citizen. This attitude is what enables them to do this to the next person.

  67. Snoof says

    But if you do want a hard-and-fast rule, it’s probably a good idea not to wear a t-shirt that makes references to terrorism or mass murder when boarding an aeroplane.

    Actually, it doesn’t matter.

    You’ve bought in to the authoritarian idea that if you obey the rules (like not wearing Inappropriate T-Shirts), nothing bad will happen to you. It’s not true. The rules are whatever the petty tyrants say they are, and if they want to fuck with you, they’ll find an excuse.

  68. says

    TLDR version: You’re an asshole who willingly sold away some of your (and your neighbor’s) freedom and safety due to the illusion that only other people will be effected.

    Now you know so you can either stop holding people down while the bully punches, or you can double down because you’re too much of a coward to live in the real world and prefer the illusion of safety your obedience grants.

  69. consciousness razor says

    Ing:

    Yep, they “police” themselves by doing for them what the actual police can’t get away with, just to be “safe.” That’s how you avoid being bullied, believe it or not, since it isn’t bullying if you do it to yourself. Common sense and all that.

  70. dianne says

    And I should be free to walk through Central Park at 3am holding wads of 100 dollar bills in both hands without fear of being robbed. Really, seriously, I should be free to do that.

    You are. In case you haven’t updated your stereotypes recently, the Central Park of the 1970s is long gone and the greatest danger to your money in CP these days is buying too many cheap touristy things from the vendors there.

    But even supposing you did get robbed in Central Park, it will almost certainly not be by the police. The analogy would be if you couldn’t walk through Central Park without having the police come up to you, declare you “suspicious”, and steal your money. To claim that the scenarios are equivalent is to claim that TSA and Delta were the equivalent of muggers. Perhaps true, but probably not the point you wanted to make.

  71. John Phillips, FCD says

    Benjamin Franklin:

    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

    Can never be repeated too often IMO.

  72. says

    #60, vincenthewitt

    The ones who stood up for themselves got beaten up, even though they had every right to object to the taunting. The ones who kept quiet were pretty much left alone.

    Bullshit.

  73. John Phillips, FCD says

    Ing, I wouldn’t disagree with your disagreement :) except to say that it should be in addition to ‘not deserve’.

    P.S. it’s Phillips, i.e. no relation to the multinational :)

  74. dianne says

    Re the T-shirt. TSA is required to take joking threats about bombs seriously. This T-shirt does not contain a threat, joke or otherwise. It makes fun of the excessive fear surrounding air travel and the overboard response. In no way does it imply that the wearer has a bomb or is in any way a threat to the airplane. And even if he’d worn a T-shirt that said, “Hi, I’ve got a bomb and am planning to use it”, the expected response from TSA would be a very complete search of his luggage and person and probably a lecture about making stupid jokes that make everyone else’s life more difficult–followed by clearance and entry onto the plane. Which is what likely would have happened if he looked “white”.

  75. Beatrice says

    I wouldn’t wear a shirt like that to the airport and my family hasn’t looked (or sounded) foreign for over eighty years. Isn’t flying stressful enough? Why purposely test the idiocy of the TSA?
    Not worth it for me.

    It is really nice that your family chose not to look foreign, in order not to anger anyone. Unfortunately, not anyone has the luxury to “not look foreign” at their convenience.

  76. says

    By the way, noone here seems to have mentioned yet that the reason he was eventually pulled off the flight was that

    Passengers on the plane supposedly felt uncomfortable with my very presence on the flight.

    Passengers. In other words, fellow USAnians. Presumably part of those authoritarian followers that Altemeyer talks about. The TSA guys only questioned him more after the pilot decided to boot him off based on those passengers feeling uncomfortable. It wasn’t the TSA that objected first, it was the Delta staff after passengers complained. Quite pathetic.

  77. Beatrice says

    The ones who stood up for themselves got beaten up, even though they had every right to object to the taunting. The ones who kept quiet were pretty much left alone.

    Bullshit.

    Yup.
    —-

    If we all just comply with the bullies they will leave us alone and be nice to everyone…. Er, something sounds wrong here. It almost sounds like bullies don’t really want to bully, but are tempted into it with our sweet, sexy, taunting disobedience. If only we wore our skirts longer and our T-shirts jokeless, they would totally leave us alone and become nice people.

    Oh, did I mix some things up there? Sorry, all this victim blaming started sounding the same to me.

  78. consciousness razor says

    And even if he’d worn a T-shirt that said, “Hi, I’ve got a bomb and am planning to use it”, the expected response from TSA would be a very complete search of his luggage and person and probably a lecture about making stupid jokes that make everyone else’s life more difficult–followed by clearance and entry onto the plane.

    Not if the t-shirt is the bomb. Do they even scan for explosive t-shirts? Or couldn’t you strangle someone with one? What if the message on the t-shirt was so sarcastic that it could send one of the security personnel into a homicidal rampage?

    I mean, I know security personnel are expected to be petty, stupid, irrational and reactionary. vincenthewitt just informed us fucking idiots of this. But here I am being a fucking idiot again. They know how to spot an actual threat, right?

  79. dianne says

    It wasn’t the TSA that objected first, it was the Delta staff after passengers complained.

    Well, if they did. I can’t remember ever being asked by an airline employee how I felt about another passenger being on board and always assumed that if I said “I don’t like X’s T-shirt” they’d tell me to mind my own business and not worry about what another passenger wore. I suspect that the passenger who felt uncomfortable was imaginary. OTOH, there are people who buy the whole security theater thing, so maybe someone did complain. But if they did, why didn’t the Delta staff reassure them that the passenger with the scary T-shirt had been screened and everything was safe?

    Hmm…do you think I can get white men in scary business suits thrown off the plane by saying I’m uncomfortable with their attire? Since they’ve established willingness to let customers decide on the appropriateness of other customers’ satorial decisions.

  80. dianne says

    Rorschah, I’m sure that’s what they told Arijit. And it might very well be true. But if it was passenger complaints, that still doesn’t excuse the response of the Delta staff (who were likely also US-Americans). There is no requirement for passengers to behave well, but airline staff are supposed to be professionals and behave as such.

  81. says

    This pretty much sums it up:

    Not offending the sensibilities of racist passengers who get offended by being forced to travel alongside people of color shouldn’t be Delta’s goal. No one wins when we tolerate and accommodate such odious behavior. Delta should be willing to recognize the civil rights of all their paying passengers over certain passengers’ “right” to be fearful of Scary Brown Men.

    If offending any dingleberry’s sensibility can get you booted off a flight, then we’re really in trouble. And airlines need to look at their priorities and procedures. I think that’s the lesson from this one, not that some t-shirts may not impress TSA(insert your local TSA equivalent here for non-US readers) staff.

  82. dianne says

    It’s getting harder and harder to find a US based carrier that is even semi-reasonable. Delta is now out. Continental-United is out. Southwest is out. USAir? American? Do any of the carriers even have an interest in maintaining their customer base? They all seem intent on pissing people off as much as possible.

  83. consciousness razor says

    If offending any dingleberry’s sensibility can get you booted off a flight, then we’re really in trouble. And airlines need to look at their priorities and procedures.

    So does TSA. It doesn’t matter where the complaint originated. They enforced it. And since when do airlines, much less passengers, tell them how run security?

  84. randay says

    I went through security at a big European airport. I had a layover in Philadelphia(one of the worst airports in the world)and I thought I would still be in the transit zone for my connecting flight.

    However, I had to go through security again though I had previously been controlled! This time I was taken to secondary search because the dumbass controller couldn’t recognize my keys in my carry-on. The guy who took me there apologized and said that she was new on the job. I found myself in the long corridors of this airport with garbage restaurants and overpriced beer.

    So I continued my trip. On return, I went through security at my departing airport and again had a layover in Philadelphia. This time there was no extra security check and I walked out into exactly the same corridors as before!

    These people must have their heads up their asses, or they do extra checks depending on the time of day and the people available. BTW I didn’t wear my T-shirt with a 19th century picture of American Indians holding rifles and the text saying “Homeland Security. Fighting terrorism since 1492.

  85. says

    “And he looks foreign.”
    WTMF? Is that even legal? :-0 Sounds like someone should be firing up their lawyer!

    I seem to remember some passengers in UK being stopped for wearing a t-shirt with ‘Green Piece’ written under a (green) gun and another for wearing a shirt with transformers/manga-esque figure carrying a gun.

    Because I’m sure terrorists advertise the fact on their t-shirts…

  86. davem says

    Ben Goren, they are voluntary searches (you can refuse them and choose not to fly if you wish).

    One of us needs a new dictionary, methinks. To me, ‘voluntary search’ means I can fly without a search.

    And passengers can voluntarily surrender prohibited items, but nothing is “seized.”

    Really? I had some skin cream taken off me, because 75ml of it was in a 125ml container. They haven’t given it back to me – I’d call that ‘seized’.

    Last time I went through security, even after I had told them exactly where the metal was in my leg, they couldn’t detect it. WTF?

  87. says

    IANAL, but wasn’t the argument for the constitutionality of airport searches that due to heightened security concerns, they’re automatically “reasonable”, and that the US constitution talks about “unreasonable searches and seizures”?

  88. insipidmoniker says

    No, no, no, no. It’s not about the fucking t-shirt! The t-shirt was a bad excuse, otherwise they would have left the incident at making him remove it. If he was a white guy I’m damn sure he would have been on the plane, probably without changing clothes at all.

  89. says

    vincenthewitt

    The airport security staff are bullies, make no mistake. But travellers can make a decision about how to respond. Wearing a “ZOMG TERRISTS” t-shirt is a stupid thing to do, given the reality of the situation. If you were a close friend or relative of Arijit, you probably would have warned him not to wear that t-shirt, right? If I saw him leaving the house to go to the airport wearing that t-shirt, I would have stopped him and said “Dude, why are you wearing that? You know that’s not going to go down well with the security douches?”

    Okay, seriously, fuck you. As someone who was bullied mercilessly in school, regardless of how hard I tried to follow the “just shut up and conform and they’ll leave you alone” advice the well-meaning imbecile adults in my life gave me, I can tell you from a position of reasonable authority that you have just indicated that you know exactly fuck-all about how one should respond to bullies.

    In my experience, trying to keep my head down and avoid doing the things I was bullied for was exactly what made matters worse. On the other hand, the shining moments in my memory of that time, and the ones which enabled me to survive (rather than being driven to a suicide attempt like one of my classmates was), were the ones in which I couldn’t take it any more, ignored the advice of the asshats like you who thought that head-down conformity was the solution to everything, and stood up for myself. The very best one was the time when I deliberately went out of my way to wear the most ridiculously exaggerated possible versions of every clothing style my tormentors had made fun of me for. Oddly enough, every single one of them left me alone that day. If I’d been a little wiser, I would have just kept right on doing that every day thereafter.

    So if we’re going to compare airport security to childhood bullies, then every single goddamn one of us ought to wear copies of Arjit’s shirt to the airport, every time we fly. Maybe that might actually drive the message home that this shit isn’t acceptable any more.

  90. says

    I’ve been pulled aside and taken to a “room” for questioning twice because my name was mistakenly on some “watch”list. I didn’t like it one bit.

    You gotta nerve, flying with that name.
    See how easily that works?

    Sally Strange
    The “Ben Stiller stripsearch” is a nice trip to compare two completely different things of which one may be reasonable with one that isn’t.
    Stopping Harris because somebody vaguely looking like Ben Still is wanted for an actual crime he has commited is in no way similar to stopping everybody brown because some brown people commited a crime some time and aren’t even “wanted” anymore on accounts of being dead.

    vincenthewitt

    I know it’s wrong to blame the victim, but what would you think if you heard that someone got robbed in the Central Park scenario described above? You’d think they were a fucking idiot!

    Congratulations, you just managed to equate Airport security with thugs, I think you might have a point.

    Josh
    A friend of mine had her emory-board confiscated

  91. dianne says

    So if we’re going to compare airport security to childhood bullies, then every single goddamn one of us ought to wear copies of Arjit’s shirt to the airport, every time we fly. Maybe that might actually drive the message home that this shit isn’t acceptable any more.

    Excellent idea! Wonder where you buy them?

  92. Don Quijote says

    That bit about the wife having a different family name made me wonder how the TSA deal with Spanish people. Just about all of us have different family names.

  93. carlie says

    Shouldn’t we have all the “rape jokes are funny” types descending in droves yelling “FREEEEE SPEEECH!!” here?

    Where are they?

  94. neal says

    Not to blame the victims or anything, but … empirical study* indicates that the TSA is responsible for more deaths than 9/11. Using estimates for elasticity of demand for air travel and automobile travel, Blalock, Kadiyali, and Simon estimate that increased congestion results in roughly 400 additional traffic fatalities per year. In the eleven years since 9/11, then, the TSA’s increased “security” measures are responsible for between 4 and 5 thousand deaths, roughly twice the number of people who died in the World Trade Center (and, of course, less than 1% of the people who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan – c.f. studies published in The Lancet – but naturally they don’t count because they’re not American).

    * Blalock, Kadiyali, Simon, “The Impact of Post-9/11 Airport Security Measures on the Demand for Air Travel.” Journal of Law and Economics, November 2007.

  95. dianne says

    @Neal: That doesn’t even count the additional cancers likely to occur due to backscatter radiation during screening. Of course, a fair number of those will occur in TSA officals themselves.

    Every time I go through airport security I seriously want to inquire about the screeners’ health and their insurance status…what’s probably worse is that I’m not just being snarky any more. It’s really starting to worry me.

  96. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Thank you, erikthebassist. I just love it when people who don’t live here tell third hand stories about the area as if it had any fucking resemblance to the truth.

  97. erikthebassist says

    Couldn’t let that one slide Illuminata =) Buffalo has a bad rap but it’s really a great city, tons of culture and history. Of course what these TSA agents did was appalling and they should all lose their jobs, but that’s no reflection on the city in general.

    Nice to meet a local on the FTB boards. If you ever get a chance to catch Lance Diamond, introduce yourself to his bass player (me ;) ) It would be nice to get to know some of the local atheist / skeptics.

  98. vincenthewitt says

    Okay, seriously, fuck you. As someone who was bullied mercilessly in school, regardless of how hard I tried to follow the “just shut up and conform and they’ll leave you alone” advice the well-meaning imbecile adults in my life gave me, I can tell you from a position of reasonable authority that you have just indicated that you know exactly fuck-all about how one should respond to bullies.

    Fuck you, too. It is a fact that I saved myself from innumerable beatings at school because I kept my mouth shut and didn’t try to tell off the bullies who taunted me and others like me. You have displayed an arrogant, egocentric willingness to privilege your own experience above the experiences of others. I’m sorry you were unable to deflect the bullies at your school, but that doesn’t licence you to be a conceited fool.

    And by the way, I never said that victims should “just shut up and conform”. I said they should refrain from trying to stand up to stronger bullies who will only beat them for it. Conformity had nothing to do with it. Learn to read, you dumb fuck.

  99. left0ver1under says

    “Looked foreign”? What exactly does that mean? The person isn’t white? Chechens are caucasian and there have been a few terrorists among them. And Bosniaks (Bosnian muslims) are white, too.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if a few people of First Nations (Canadians) and Native American (US) descent have been profiled and harassed for “looking foreign”. I haven’t heard of any such cases, but I’ll bet there are some.

  100. Air says

    If you have the good fortune to pay for (hah!) or get upgraded to first class or are an ‘elite’ flyer at many major airports, you are entitled to ‘expedited screening.’ This means no shoes off, no coats off (so no T-shirt exposure required), no computers out of the bag, no scanners (that I have seen where I have flown) and you breeze through. This is not one of those systems where you are registered specifically through a separate agency, by the way. What does this say about the utility of the screening mere mortals undergo?

  101. redwood says

    Went through screening yesterday at San Francisco on my way back to Japan with a group of Japanese college students from my school. We had all gone through except for one girl. She’s 20, small, cute and was wearing a short skirt and tight T-shirt–very little left to the imagination (or to hide things in). As we watched while putting on our shoes, she was body searched by a female TSA worker who touched her all over, even on her bare legs (why pat someone down there?). The student was embarrassed and upset and I don’t blame her. Tell me that was necessary.

  102. Doubting Thomas says

    Look, if you see a train coming and you intentionally stand on the track and dare the train to hit you, when it does, you are a victim. But of what?

    I can see the value of protesting what the TSA and Delta do. Its wrong and all kinds of stupid.

    What I don’t get is someone with a foreign sounding name wearing an intentionally provocative shirt acting all innocent like he was surprised at being treated like that.

  103. antigone10 says

    To those who are curious:

    The captain, on any flight, is the final authority on who gets to fly on that plane. If s/he doesn’t want a person on the plane because they beat them up in junior high, they can do it. If they don’t want that person on the plane because they are aggressively drunk, they can do it. If one said “Nice tits” to the flight attendant, and they think that makes the guy an asshole, they can do it. And yes, if they are racist dickbags, they can kick someone off for being Middle Eastern.

    For the most part, this is actually a good thing. For one, since the pilot is going to be responsible for the plane and everyone on it, it is nice that they actually get a little authority to keep the flight running safely. Of course, like any power, it can be abused, an (sadly) aviation is not lacking in jerks. As something that is OVERWHELMINGLY white, male, and middle- to upper- middle class (flight school is expensive) you get a lot of conservative jackasses. Which is why this power is not absolute: you do get a review. For the most part, the union will back you up- the aggressive drunk? ABSOLUTELY. The sexist douche? Maybe. The guy that beat you up in junior high…possibly, I have heard of a couple of cases. For being a racist jackass? No, they won’t back you up.

    But that isn’t what the pilot’s going to say. Captain up there is going to say “Because I wanted to get this plane out on time, and because I didn’t want there to be tension in the back of the plane that could spill over into passengers doing something aggressive”. Which the union probably will defend, and the pilot will possible get a slap on the wrist, maybe.

    So that’s your double-edged sword. I firmly believe pilot’s need to have some level of authority to do their jobs, and that the union needs to be on hand to defend them. This isn’t going to be limited to Delta, though they seem to have more than their share of assholes- probably the stick-up-the-ass corporate culture. But it just sucks because you do get plenty of pilots who think the world revolves around their ability to follow a little white line.

  104. rowanvt says

    #60, vincenthewitt

    The ones who stood up for themselves got beaten up, even though they had every right to object to the taunting. The ones who kept quiet were pretty much left alone.

    Odd, after I stabbed the kid in the arm with a pencil, most of the bullying tapered off and what little remained was done at some distance.

    In Jr. High, when the bullying was just beginning again with a different set of kids I chucked a book at one of them. The bullying once again came at a distance, out of throwing range. Fairly easy to handle at that point.

    Is violence necessarily a “good” response? Of course not, but I was a child and my patience with the bullying and “just ignore them” had worn out. And my responses to it *worked*.

  105. Snoof says

    Look, if you see a train coming and you intentionally stand on the track and dare the train to hit you, when it does, you are a victim. But of what?

    For this analogy to be valid, the TSA would have to be completely without free will or agency; running on rails, so to speak. Since they’re people, and not trains – people with a great deal of personal discretion, in fact – it doesn’t work.

    This is what pisses me off about victim blaming. People act like the only choices made were those of the victim, and the people actually responsible were just blind natural forces. If you get mugged, the mugger chose to steal from you. If you’re harassed by goons in uniform, it’s the goons who chose to harass you. The fact that you may have made yourself more or less of a target is irrelevant – they chose to act, and they bear the responsibility.

  106. says

    some dude with bladder cancer was getting interrogated last time I flew. He had some kind of medical device that was camouflaged as a cooler and he had to explain that in front of everyone. I felt so bad for him.

  107. says

    This now-deleted comment from one David MacGuire, “Vice Chairman of the American Liberty League. Russian Orthodox Christian,” was the sort of RWA victim-blaming bleat I’ve come to expect from people who fetishize the word “liberty.”

    I can’t load his entire Twitter feed, but another gem from him was, “When you support Pussy Riot, you are supporting the attack by militant and unrepentant atheists on the symbol of Christian victory in Russia.” Yesterday he called the Todd Akin fiasco a “manufactured spectacle.”

  108. says

    I can tell you from a position of reasonable authority that you have just indicated that you know exactly fuck-all about how one should respond to bullies.

    I haven’t actually seen any one approach that works in a majority of cases. Sometimes everything that could be tried fails, and sometimes one approach works in one case and not the other. I am glad you found something that worked for you.

  109. says

    erikthebassist:

    yes polish, one the most persecuted group of immigrants to ever come here.

    Uh…. I can name any number of immigrant groups who were a hell of a lot more persecuted. Including Jews, who were frequently persecuted by Poles.

    The cops in Cheektowaga are notorious assholes for sure but they are that way to every one, no one likes them, not even us white folk

    I rather doubt they target “us white folk” in the same way they target everyone else. Your privilege, please to be checking it.

    jt512:

    You might as well go ahead and tell me to fuck off.

    Fuck off, JT.

    Rowanvt:

    I stabbed a kid in the arm with pencil in 6th grade (finally cracked after 6 months of non-stop harassment encouraged by a teacher who thought I was “disrespecting her authority” by still not being good at long division at that point. I kid you not) and drove it in pretty deep.

    Good for you. Seriously.

    Is violence necessarily a “good” response? Of course not…

    You know what, when violence is being directed at you, being violent back is often the answer. I wish I’d slammed a few heads into a few walls myself when I was that age. It’d have saved me an awful lot of grief. And PTSD.

    bionichips:

    I’ve … never had a problem

    Yes, it’s all about your experience, right? Everybody else’s is irrelevant.

    Vincent Shitwitt: Did you repurpose the argument in your initial comment from a rape thread?

    C’mon everyone, no one can claim not to know that airport security personnel are petty, stupid, irrational, and reactionary.

    Therefore, we should never challenge this situation in order to improve it.

    I think you guys are forgetting about the real world…you all know deep down that sometimes we have to grin and bear some pretty shitty situations.

    See above. Your rationale was also that which encouraged women to put up with sexual harassment, black people to put up with segregation, and GLBT people to put up with police beatings and gaybashings.

    But the solution to the airport security problem will be solved by actions such as (a) voting for politicians who will fix the problem, (b) writing letters of complaint to the airlines, (c) boycotting the worst airlines…(d) taking legal action / suing the airlines and (e) organizing protests / rallies against the airlines to the suggest actions above.

    HAHAHA wow, you really think that (a) our politicians give a fuck (especially those who take campaign donations from airlines), (b) the airlines give a fuck, (c) the airlines give a fuck, (d) everybody has money to press a lawsuit, and (e) the airlines or the media give a fuck? The media doesn’t even report much on Occupy Wall Street anymore.

    I think it’s a common sense thing. As in, there’s no need for a hard-and-fast rule; you know it when you see it.

    “Common sense” = “things I believe in that I have never critically examined.”

    Anne C. Hanna:

    Okay, seriously, fuck you. As someone who was bullied mercilessly in school, regardless of how hard I tried to follow the “just shut up and conform and they’ll leave you alone” advice the well-meaning imbecile adults in my life gave me, I can tell you from a position of reasonable authority that you have just indicated that you know exactly fuck-all about how one should respond to bullies.

    This. How much you wanna bet that Vincent was a bully?

    Alethea:

    @Ing, since when does the name “Arijit” sound like he’d be one of the “ME folks”? Indian, I’d assume.

    What, you think ignant racist fucknuts can tell the difference?

    Rorschach:

    If offending any dingleberry’s sensibility can get you booted off a flight, then we’re really in trouble.

    We’ve already had women booted off flights for showing cleavage, wearing an outfit that was “too skimpy,”, and, my favorite, wearing a pro-choice T-shirt.

    Years ago, on a plane, I was offended by the priest sitting across from me wearing a “Priests for Life” pin, but the idea that I could get him tossed off the plane didn’t even occur to me. Funny, that.

    Doubting Thomas

    Another user handle proclaiming how ~~~skeptical~~~ its owner is.

  110. jefrir says

    @Procyon

    I wouldn’t wear a shirt like that to the airport and my family hasn’t looked (or sounded) foreign for over eighty years. Isn’t flying stressful enough? Why purposely test the idiocy of the TSA?

    How exactly does one stop looking foreign?

  111. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    This guy should have know better than to wear that shirt.

    Pussy Riot should have know better than to play that song.

    Rosa Parks should have know better than to sit in that seat.

  112. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    And I should have know better than to hit submit without making sure I had all the “n”s I needed.

  113. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I rather doubt they target “us white folk” in the same way they target everyone else.

    For cops in the Lovejoy district especially, def not. (Lovejoy is our local working poor white supremacist neighborhood). But he is right in that “white folk” don’t like them either. Cops in the suburbs see very little ‘action’, as it were, and so love to go way the fuck overboard when there is some.

    As for the charge that it is a highly segregated city – I think that’s probably true. Or at least, WAS true. The neighborhood in the suburbs that I grew up in was lily white back then, and is not anymore. That said, even if it does still qualify in the top 4, I’m not sure it’s because the white people here are just such horrible “xenophobic” racists so much as we’re also, like, the second POOREST city in the country. Hard to move around when there’s no money to do so and rent is ridiculously high. (Not San Fran high, of course, but still absurd for such a dirt poor city).

    ++

    If you ever get a chance to catch Lance Diamond, introduce yourself to his bass player (me ;) )

    I certainly will! Though, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to live in Buffalo and NOT go see Lance at least once. Same goes for chicken wings.

  114. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    and, my favorite, wearing a pro-choice T-shirt.

    That story makes my jaw drop every time I see it. Just how the fuck can we still pretend to be the “home of the free” anymore?

  115. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I’m sorry you were unable to deflect the bullies at your school, but that doesn’t licence you to be a conceited fool.

    But your claim that you did deflect your bullies does give you that license?

    talk about displaying “an arrogant, egocentric willingness to privilege your own experience above the experiences of others. “

  116. Paul says

    But your claim that you did deflect your bullies does give you that license?

    talk about displaying “an arrogant, egocentric willingness to privilege your own experience above the experiences of others. “

    This. I had bullies where aggression made the situation worse. I had bullies that backed off after I got into a fight with them.

    There is no one-size fits all solution, except to stop winking and nodding when it comes to “boys will be boys”.

  117. Brownian says

    I just want to have repeated for clarity that despite all his Central Park bullshit, vincent actually feels that words on a T-shirt are an unacceptable challenge to authority.

  118. Paul says

    I just want to have repeated for clarity that despite all his Central Park bullshit, vincent actually feels that words on a T-shirt are an unacceptable challenge to authority.

    To be fair, there’s also a picture. And the color scheme is pretty horrid.

  119. erikthebassist says

    Uh…. I can name any number of immigrant groups who were a hell of a lot more persecuted. Including Jews, who were frequently persecuted by Poles.

    uh… citation? Before there were dumb blond jokes, they were Polish jokes. I know because I was the butt of many of them growing up. Poland has been occupied dozens of times over the last few centuries, and poles were massacred right alongside Jews by the Nazi’s. The first generations of poles to come to the states were shunned and ignored for their reputation for being stupid. It was so bad that when my great grandparents came over, they changed the spelling of their name so as to appear Russian instead of Polish. I didn’t say “THE most persecuted”, I said “one of the most persecuted”, in other words, among the most persecuted.

    And your reading comprehension problems continue…

    I rather doubt they target “us white folk” in the same way they target everyone else. Your privilege, please to be checking it.

    I never said they did, what I was countering was the notion that Cheektowaga in particular is some hotbed of racism by cops. All police forces are guilty of profiling in one form or another, it’s a huge problem and I wasn’t pretending it wasn’t, but I’m not aware of any evidence to suggest that the problem is any worse in Cheektowaga than it is anywhere else, and am in fact inclined to believe based on my own anecdotal experience that cops in the buffalo suburbs are less likely to be straight up racist than in other cities I have lived or spent time in. In fact, I know of at least a dozen LA Sheriff’s deputies who should all be in jail for the civil rights violations they have perpetuated against minorities while the cops in Buffalo and Cheektowaga that I do know have not so much as uttered a racist word in my presence, but maybe that’s because they know I’d tear em’ a new one if they did.

    Again, I’m not saying it’s not a problem here just as it is elsewhere, I’m saying that if it’s not exactly average in that respect it might be slightly better than average. I’d be happy to change my mind if presented with evidence to the contrary but Jafafa’s second hand story telling was an insult to the place I call home in the absence of such evidence.

    And it will please you to know that I am well aware of my white/male privilege and have discussed it with my African American and Latino friends on many occasions. Being a musician who has cause to be out and about at odd hours of the morning with people of different skin color, I have witnessed firsthand the treatment of my black friends by the police, by club owners and by idiots in the audience. I know I get more gigs than minority musicians because club owners can be racist and don’t want to draw the “wrong kind of crowd”, and I try and hire minority musicians or refer gigs to them whenever possible to counter that. I don’t need your lecture about privilege thank you.

  120. says

    erikthebassist:

    uh… citation? Before there were dumb blond jokes, they were Polish jokes.

    Having jokes told about you is just as bad as having being enslaved or having suffered pogroms.

    poles were massacred right alongside Jews by the Nazi’s.

    And Poles turned around and massacred Jews at the end of WWII.

    And it will please you to know that I am well aware of my white/male privilege and have discussed it with my African American and Latino friends on many occasions.

    Hey, everybody, Erik has black and Latino friends!!

  121. says

    Illuminata, I don’t know anything specifically about the Buffalo area in terms of race relations, but just because “white folk” hate the cops doesn’t mean they aren’t less likely to be profiled than other people.

    Suburban cops don’t necessarily profile out of boredom. A great many suburbs in the U.S. were sundown towns, and many still are. Buffalo as a whole never was; I don’t know about specific neighborhoods therein. The Sundown Town Database has information about Tonawanda and North Tonawanda; I don’t see anything about Cheektowaga.

  122. erikthebassist says

    Oh go fuck yourself Daisy, I’m one of the good guys. My point was that I go out of my way to try and understand just how deep that privilege runs, and one way to do that is to hear directly from minorities what it is they have to deal with on a daily basis. Your just being a troll now and you know it.

    Nice cherry pick to make it look I was just talking about jokes, that was used to illustrate how others felt about Poles, they were considered stupid, worthless, unemployable, a blight on the neighborhood. The systematic discrimination against Poles when they immigrated en masse to the states is part of our cultural history. Again, I was talking about groups of immigrants and how they were treated when they came here, not slaves, not Jews who were rounded up in their own homeland and massacred, but immigrants, and among immigrants, the treatments of the poles by the already entrenched whites in the states was comparatively horrible. To any dimwit it’s clear I’m not comparing it to what Jews or Blacks suffered through. Learn how to fucking read you troll.

  123. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Hey, everybody, Erik has black and Latino friends!!

    Not what he said.

    but just because “white folk” hate the cops doesn’t mean they aren’t less likely to be profiled than other people.

    Not what I said.

    I’m not groking what a ‘sundown town’ is. Off for more extensive googling. Please stand by.

  124. erikthebassist says

    Oh and Daisy, “Frequently persecuted by poles” is not at all what was laid out in the wiki article you linked. There was a brief bout of violence between the two ethnic groups, for two years in the power struggle following WWII, aside from that poles and Jews have mostly been friends and allies, not to mention the large contingent of Jews native to Poland.

  125. says

    Sorry, Illuminata, but I read Erik as incredibly whiny and defensive, and I honestly don’t see why people can’t admit that their hometowns have issues. I grew up around Boston, which has seriously fucked-up race relations, but I don’t bristle with “hometown pride” whenever someone mentions it.

  126. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    Hey Erik, you know, if you have to say you’re “one of the good guys”… Frankly, you’re full of shit. I say this as someone who has quite a bit of Polish heritage. Yes, there was some discrimination from less-recently-settled Americans, but nothing at all like what was faced by many, many other people. You’re coming off like every damn Plastic Paddy who’s whining about “no dogs no Irish” signs. (Which are another myth.)

    But go on, keep explaining to a Jewish woman how much the Polish people looooooooved her ancestors. You’d of course know better, and there’s a mysterious silence from the opposing side.

    Seriously, Erik, you are acting like your damn town is a magical wonderland of happy progressive people who all live in perfect racial harmony. Either your town is magic, or you’re missing a fucking lot.

  127. JJLatFtB says

    Dear PZ,

    I agree with the point and preemptive refutation of the predictable “blame the victim” comments. But why do you feel so comfortable with the profanity? I know you don’t care (and no, I don’t know why I’m wasting my time), but it so lowers the respect I have for people who write in that way because it makes me doubt their emotional stability. I suppose if your intent is to preclude any possibility of psychologically mature and honest discussion, an exclamatory emotional outburst like that is probably effective. But then, the only apparent reason to leave the subject open to comments is to collect fan mail.

  128. says

    JJLatFtB:

    But why do you feel so comfortable with the profanity? I know you don’t care (and no, I don’t know why I’m wasting my time), but it so lowers the respect I have for people who write in that way because it makes me doubt their emotional stability.

    Only fucking shit-brained morons with giant sticks up their asses correlate the use of profanity with “emotional instability,” “psychological immaturity,” or “dishonesty.”

    Fucking christ, do people like you read? You know, Rimbaud, Twain, Joyce, Lawrence, Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Burroughs, Alice Walker? All of whom used naughty words? Or do you stick to sickly ~~inspirational~~ shite with breaking clouds on the cover?

  129. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    JJLatFTB: Kindly, at your leisure, go fuck yourself, your ableism, and your refusal to actually read for content and decision to instead howl at any display of valid emotion and “tone”. Straw-Vulcan prigs are worse than useless, and should primly shut the fuck up if adults using bad words so woulds their delicate sensibilities.

    Sincerely,
    HappiestSadist.

    PS: you’re a shitweasel.

  130. erikthebassist says

    For 9 centuries Poland was the seat of Jewish civilization in Europe. 6 Millions poles were slaughtered by the Nazi’s during WWII, 3 million of them Jewish. Just a couple of quotes among many I could have culled from your two links that I’m guessing you didn’t even read. Jews have experienced persecution every where they’ve gone but much less in Poland than almost anywhere in the world, aside from modern day Isreal. My point stands, thanks for the two links backing that up.

    I bristle at comments like Jafafa’s because Buffalo gets a bad rep that it doesn’t deserve and it’s economic troubles stem largely from that bad rep as most of it’s college graduates flee for economic prosperity elsewhere. Sure Buffalo has it’s problems, tons of them, and I’m happy to discuss them openly in the appropriate forum, but this thread was about racism as practiced by the NSA at the airport here, and someone tried to extend that in to the implication that this city is more racist than others, which simply isn’t true. I love this city, it’s my home and I try to make it better. Why on earth do you give a damn?

    WTF is your point anyway Daisy? Oh that’s right, you didn’t have one, you just came in this thread to bait a flame war and try and accuse someone of being blind to his own privilege, sorry to have dissapointed you, now fuck off troll.

  131. says

    In re racism in Buffalo, I can’t speak to that city in particular, but my experience of upstate NY in general is that it tends to be a pretty progressive and cosmopolitan area, with a strong civil rights/anti-slavery history. So I’m completely willing to believe that Buffalo might well actually be less racist than average for the U.S. Certainly, upstate NY seems, from what I’ve seen on my visits there, to be a more universally welcoming place than my own hometown, a moderate-sized far northwest suburb of Chicago. It’s not like things were overtly, aggressively racist in my hometown, such that a white person like myself would notice, but it was (and remains) *very* WASPy, and there were a lot of little hints that there might be some not-so-good reasons why things stayed that way.

    Of course, every locality has its own particular issues, and maybe Buffalo really *is* a very nasty, segregated place. I don’t know. I haven’t spent much time in that particular city myself, and I haven’t seen any good data or heard any non-white residents relate their experiences with the city. But I can understand a local who loves his home getting a bit irked at having it denigrated by people who haven’t lived there, unless they’re providing reasonably solid evidence to back up their criticism. So, as a lover of upstate NY myself, I have a certain amount of sympathy for Erik on this, entirely aside from the question of whether he expressed his defense of his home in the absolute best possible way.

    ———

    As for vincenthewitt, I think Illuminata and Paul pretty much nailed him. He came in here talking about how his own personal experiences with bullies meant that Arjit was absolutely for certain wrong wrong wrongity victim-blamably wrong to choose a particular strategy for dealing with a certain class of bullies, because vincenthewitt’s own strategy is the only one that can possibly be right ever. And then he cusses me out because *I* didn’t carefully make it clear that I don’t think that my own strategies are necessarily universally applicable? Hypocrisy, thy name is troll.

    But, yeah. I freely concede that there are some times with some bullies that keeping one’s head down for the moment is the only safe option. However, it’s not a long term solution, because if that’s all you ever do, you end up letting the bullies own the whole world. There’s a time when the consequences of letting the bullies continue what they’re doing are worse than the consequences of standing up to them, and I think we’re already getting to be well past that point with “security”-related government overreach.

    Certainly, we’re well past the point where the most appropriate response to bullying is to attack the *victim of bullying* for not choosing what vincent”judge, jury, and executioner”hewitt thinks is the optimal response to the bullying, rather than being angry at the bullies for being a bunch of fucking assholes. You, vincenthewitt, remind me of the dipshit guidance counselors at my school who spent more time trying to brainwash me and others into believing that it was our fault that we were being bullied than they did trying to get the fucking bullies to leave people the hell alone. If you were really yourself a victim of bullying, as you claim, then you sound perilously like you’ve embraced the Stockholm Syndrome and made it into a way of life. Protip: it is unwise and unhealthy to treat this as a point of pride.

  132. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    but I read Erik as incredibly whiny and defensive,

    Understood. And maybe he is. I still disagree that he said what you reduced it to.

    and I honestly don’t see why people can’t admit that their hometowns have issues.

    I did *exactly* that. I prefaced the explanation of the cop-hate in white people in the area with agreement with you on how the cops do target POC disproportionately. And pointed out the white supremacist enclave that is part of Cheektowaga. Of course it has issues. Everywhere there are humans, there are issues. I simply think that the original post about the area being full of nothing but white xenophobic racists to be unfair. And, it is.

  133. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    So, as a lover of upstate NY myself, I have a certain amount of sympathy for Erik on this, entirely aside from the question of whether he expressed his defense of his home in the absolute best possible way.

    This is where I’m coming from too. One gets such incredibly nasty shit just for *being from* the area, I totally get being defensive about what really is a cool city, but for the stereotypes. To be clear, Erik is barking up the wrong tree with this polish-hate nonsense. And, there are overt racists in this city. And they are not at all silent or hard to spot – see Carl Paladino.

  134. truthspeaker says

    dianne
    22 August 2012 at 2:41 am

    But even supposing you did get robbed in Central Park, it will almost certainly not be by the police. The analogy would be if you couldn’t walk through Central Park without having the police come up to you, declare you “suspicious”, and steal your money.

    “Making furtive movements” is the excuse the NYPD will use for a stop-and-search, and they won’t steal your money, just the small amount of weed you had in your pocket. Unfortunately, once you take it out of your pocket (because the cop told you to empty your pockets), it’s now a misdemeanor instead of a civil citation.

  135. says

    JJLatFtB:

    But why do you feel so comfortable with the profanity?

    Why don’t you?

    I’m pretty sure I speak for many when I say we’re all deeply saddened to lose your respect.

  136. JJLatFtB says

    Only fucking shit-brained morons with giant sticks up their asses correlate the use of profanity with “emotional instability,” “psychological immaturity,” or “dishonesty.”

    Fucking christ, do people like you read? You know, Rimbaud, Twain, Joyce, Lawrence, Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Burroughs, Alice Walker? All of whom used naughty words? Or do you stick to sickly ~~inspirational~~ shite with breaking clouds on the cover?

    Wow! I wasn’t upset or angry about the profanity, but it seems that you are. I can’t even express an opinion without a tirade? I would have been less disappointed if PZ had said “fuck you” to the TSA or to the transit police in the story. I share that opinion. But he was saying “fuck you” not to the authorities, but to his readers who might have even a fleeting thought that perhaps this victim could have worn a less provocative slogan on his shirt that day.

    By the way, if PZ meant for his blog post to be some form of libertine poetry, then I retract my objection and apologize to HIM. Of course, this blog isn’t meant to be a scientific journal of any kind and he is the sole arbiter of the blog’s style and appropriate language. I haven’t seen him use vulgarity in video though, so my feeling is that he is a little more self-restrained when he speaks. Have I missed the speaking engagements where he tells the audience members with contradictory opinions, “fuck you”?

  137. erikthebassist says

    Ok, let me clear about the “Polish hate nonsense” – Had I been trying to say that what my grand parents and great grandparents experienced when immigrating here was in any way comporable to what Jews and African Americans have experienced then I could see getting berated, but I never tried to make that comparison, words mater and I specifically limited it to groups of immigrants to this country for a reason.

    Had I been trying to say that I personally have suffered to any noteworthy degree because of my cultural heritage I could also see beeing berated. That would be an equally idiotic thing to try and assert.

    The reason it was brought up is because Jafafa tried to assert that Cheektowaga is a hotbed of racism. The reason this is not true is because Cheektowaga is predominately a polish neighborhood, and most of our parents and grandparents remember the poor treatment they received because of their nationality, which makes them less likely to be racist.

    If someone had used the N word or any other racial epithet in the presence of my polish grandmother, they would have gotten a crack on the back of the head. While our school was predominately white, we had a few black kids and they were by most accounts treated with respect, and were in fact quite popular. When one of them left town his going away party brought the cops to the local Sheridan Hotel because way too many kids showed up and caused a ruccus.

    That is the only reason I brought up the historical persecution of the Polish immigrants. We treat people with respect because we have an idea of how it feels to be treated otherwise. I was not speaking to anti-semetism in Poland after WWII, I wasn’t trying to compare the Polish plight to that of other minority groups. And when I said that Jews and Poles had a long history of being friends and allies, I wasn’t making an absolute statement or talking about how much Polish people loved the Jews, I was talking about a broader view of history in which Poland has a deep and complicated role in the history of the Jewish people. I should have to write a book to clarify these statements, as they are minor sidenotes to the broader argument that it is simply not true that this incident is in any way indicative of the way minorities are treated here in general.

    Buffalo is an extremely progressive city but of course it has it’s fair share of assholes, just like anywhere else. My only point was that because of it’s cultural roots it tends to be more friendly to minorities, not less. Is there room for improvement? Always, and I do my best to call out racist bullshit when I see it, which I do, on a regular basis, because Buffalo is certainly not “Magic Land”

  138. Brownian says

    I don’t know about the getting assimilated part, but for the purposes of having a conversation with you, please do! I’d love it!

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever read.

  139. Brownian says

    Whoops, don’t know where that quote came from.

    This:

    The reason it was brought up is because Jafafa tried to assert that Cheektowaga is a hotbed of racism. The reason this is not true is because Cheektowaga is predominately a polish neighborhood, and most of our parents and grandparents remember the poor treatment they received because of their nationality, which makes them less likely to be racist.

    Is the dumbest thing I’ve ever read.

  140. insipidmoniker says

    JJlatFTB,

    If you make any kind of effort to look through this blog you”ll notice that PZ and the commentariat have a long and glorious history of creative profanity. It is a conscious decision to keep ignore tone and form and instead focus on content. What you are doing is the rough equivalent of going to an open party and criticizing the host’s sartorial choices. Choices that the majority of the guests have also made. In short, you are being exceedingly rude and I kindly ask that you desist with your churlish behavior.

  141. Beatrice says

    Hello there, JJlatFTB.
    It’s unfortunate that the language of this blog doesn’t suit you. There is a big internet out there, I’m sure you’ll be able to find something you will like.
    Farewell!
    Adieu!

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  142. erikthebassist says

    Did you grow up in a polish neighborhood Brownian? Do you know fuck all about the part of Buffalo we’re talking about? Then how can you say that? What exactly about the premise that people who have experienced ill treatment because of their race or nationality tend to be less racist is so dumb?

    Are people absolutely devoid of empathy? Isn’t it a bit easier for hyper privileged people who have never experienced adversity to look down their noses at those who are different than they are? To have less empathy for the plight of minorities when they have no clue what it means to be under privileged? Seems like common sense to me that it plays a factor, and having grown up in this neighborhood, I can tell you it plays a major factor. Sit down and have a conversation with a Polish immigrant from my part of town some time and you might know what the fuck I’m talking about. They remember coming to America and how that felt, they welcome future immigrants and scoff at the idea that America can’t make room for more and be the melting pot that they gave up everything to come and be a part of.

  143. Loree says

    Is this a case of not reading the fine print?

    From http://shirt.woot.com/offers/threat-level-doctorow :

    Wear this shirt to: reassure your fellow citizens with a message of anxiety and suspicion.

    Don’t wear this shirt to: an airport security checkpoint, or anywhere near a secure federal installation.

    This shirt tells the world: “In paranoia we trust.”

    We call this color: Code Red.

    The preceding comment was tongue in cheek…

  144. JJLatFtB says

    Kindly, at your leisure, go fuck yourself, your ableism, and your refusal to actually read for content and decision to instead howl at any display of valid emotion and “tone”. Straw-Vulcan prigs are worse than useless, and should primly shut the fuck up if adults using bad words so woulds their delicate sensibilities.

    Sincerely,
    HappiestSadist.

    PS: you’re a shitweasel.

    “Ableism”? I had to look that up. I don’t understand why you think I’ve engage in discrimination against the disabled, UNLESS you think that I think the use of profanity is a disability. I guess emotional outbursts may be a sign of a mental disability. But I don’t think PZ has any such mental disability.

    I did read PZ’s content and the link. I agree that the Delta manager and uncomfortable passengers (if any) overreacted. I agree that the TSA agents overreacted and the Transit Police probably violated the rights of Arijit and his wife. The pilot should have said to those passengers and gate manager, “It’s a harmless expression with no profanity or vulgar imagery.”

  145. JJLatFtB says

    If you make any kind of effort to look through this blog you”ll notice that PZ and the commentariat have a long and glorious history of creative profanity. It is a conscious decision to keep ignore tone and form and instead focus on content. What you are doing is the rough equivalent of going to an open party and criticizing the host’s sartorial choices. Choices that the majority of the guests have also made. In short, you are being exceedingly rude and I kindly ask that you desist with your churlish behavior.

    Quite right. It’s not my party, but I was invited to the party and invited to express my opinion. I haven’t found a discussion on the subject of style or appropriate language, so I merely commented when I encountered this use. I’ve read quite a bit of PZ’s work and don’t often find profanity and I didn’t find this use particularly creative, just provocative. I didn’t think my expressed opinion was radical or disrespectful (unlike Arijit’s shirt which was meant to at least be disrespectful), and yet I was personally attacked within minutes, asked in the most impolite way to leave, and told that I am not welcome in this corner of web due to my distasteful actions.

    If this was a plane and my opinion was written on a shirt, the pilot wouldn’t even have had a chance to through me off, the other passengers have already ripped my head off.

  146. vaiyt says

    @48:

    Maybe. Would you say thieves make a good job of keeping us safe from ‘idiots’ and their wads of money? Would you say the ‘idiot’ shouldn’t have their money returned or the thieves prosecuted because ‘well, he should expect to be robbed, walking around with money like that’?

    That’s what your analogy needs to work.

  147. rwgate says

    Vincenthewitt: From time I was in 4th grade and got my first pair of glasses, I was the target of constant bullying and intimidation. I was small, lightweight, wore glasses and was in advanced science and math classes. A perfect target, in other words.

    Bullying is something you remember forever. I still remember the names of those who did it to me over 55 years later. I was constantly bullied until high school (11th grade). When someone pushed me into my locker as I was getting my books, I turned and hit the closest person behind me so hard he was unconscious for 15 minutes. That’s when the bullying stopped.

    When you don’t respond, you just invite more of the same. Surely you’re aware of wives being beaten by their husbands? As long as it is allowed to go on, it will only get worse. The abuser isn’t going to stop until there is a reason to stop (a court order generally does nothing, but a baseball bat carries some weight).

    I’m generally a believer in diplomacy, but I can say that as an adult who can defend myself. Sometimes the only response is to fight back, and I would teach any grandkids of mine to do just that. Otherwise, it just never stops.

    P.S. The guy I knocked out? He came up to me the next day, black eyes and all, and apologized.

  148. adamgordon says

    So, JJLatFTB, I’m curious to hear exactly what kind of “psychologically mature and honest discussion” we’re missing by PZ telling victim-blamers to fuck off.

  149. insipidmoniker says

    JJlatFtB,

    You don’t think your opinion was offensive or disrespectful because you haven’t taken the time to familiarize yourself with the culture on Pharyngula. Objecting to the tone of an argument, or tone trolling as it’s generally called here, rather than addressing the substance of the argument is, to put it lightly, frowned upon.

    You’re entitled to your opinion, and the commentariat here is entitled to tell you precisely what they think of your opinion. Honestly, opinion in general isn’t given much leeway or credence here. Most of the regulars are vastly more concerned with facts and evidence than they are with any opinion.

    In closing you are, at best, derailing this thread with a discussion of manners. If you wish to continue this, why don’t we take it to Thunderdome?

  150. says

    Erik, I appreciate your comment at #158.

    But, yes, Poland has historically had a great deal of antisemitism. Jews having lived there for a millennium does not contradict this fact; it explains it. They were a handy scapegoat for religious and civic leaders, who were often one and the same.

    I don’t deny that the Nazis persecuted Slavs. However, there was a hierarchy of persecution. As an atheist of Jewish heritage, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth when Poles or Polish-Americans emphasize the persecutions they or their ancestors have dealt with while minimizing antisemitism and their people’s role therein. To allude to Happiestsadist’s comment, it’s rather like Irish-Americans whining about fictional “No Irish Need Apply” signs while denying how the Irish eventually “became white” in the U.S. and, as a group, have certainly not been innocent of racism against people of color.

    You are correct in that “Poland has a deep and complicated role in the history of the Jewish people.” However, there’s a vast chasm between “writing a book” and glossing all the complications over with a blithe declaration of longstanding friendship.

    I can appreciate that you yourself try not to perpetuate racism. However, being “one of the good guys” is not something on which I take the word of someone on the internet whose track record I don’t know. A lot of people make this claim while being anything but.

    Illuminata:

    I did *exactly* that.

    I had no problem with your comments. I will say that I’m aware of coastal disdain for “flyover country,” which is a complex issue. I didn’t consider that western New York might suffer from it, which was my oversight.

    JJLatFtB:

    I can’t even express an opinion without a tirade?

    Depends on what that opinion is, cupcake. If it’s yet another tedious whine about how potty-mouthed we all are, yes, you’re going to be treated to as many f-bombs and s-words as I can cram into my rant.

    By the way, if PZ meant for his blog post to be some form of libertine poetry, then I retract my objection and apologize to HIM.

    Oh, dear. Do you even go here?

    As for “ableism,” you were being called out for using “emotional instability” as an insult. Use of psychiatric diagnoses as insults is frowned upon here.

  151. JJLatFtB says

    So, JJLatFTB, I’m curious to hear exactly what kind of “psychologically mature and honest discussion” we’re missing by PZ telling victim-blamers to fuck off.

    We’ll never know. The unequivocal invective made it impossible to exchange ideas before the first comment was made.

  152. Beatrice says

    We’ll never know. The unequivocal invective made it impossible to exchange ideas before the first comment was made.

    Oh, well. So I’m imagining these 175 comments? They didn’t really happen.

    I only wish we never knew what you had to say. I could have lived with that.

  153. adamgordon says

    We’ll never know. The unequivocal invective made it impossible to exchange ideas before the first comment was made.

    WTF? here’s how you exchange ideas: type them on your keyboard and hit submit. Nobody’s stopping anyone from doing that.

    How do you know that there are ideas not being exchanged here specifically because of the ‘invective?’

  154. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    JJLatFTB: The ableism was in your conflation of mental issues with the inability to discuss a topic. Unacceptable, and untrue. Fainting at the first few fucks your hear and swiftly shushing those who use such terrible words, on the other hand, does rather derail the conversation. If you don’t like the tone, the internet is vast, and I’m sure you can find an inoffensive blog somewhere.

    Erikthebassist @#165: While I appreciate your clarification, I think it’s definitely worth mentioning that historically, and across most populations, prior oppression and victimization has ZERO effect on predicting anti-oppression attitudes in groups. This applies to all minorities including those who experience actual victimization right now, and unless your town somehow is wholly unlike any other human populations, I have to question your assessment.

  155. erikthebassist says

    Wow Daisy, not the response I expected, thank you for that, honestly and with all sincerity, thank you. I retract my troll comments directed toward, now having a much clearer understanding of your narrative and how it would color your intepretation of what I wrote. I apologize if I could have been clearer about why I brought up the polish issue in the first place. I hope my comment at 165 further elucidates what I meant. I was trying to convey my impression of the general mindset of the people I know and love in Cheektowaga, nothing more.

    I learned a little bit more than I knew about the history of Polish and Jewish relations in the process, I’ll have to admit that most of what I knew was through osmosis and storytelling, and not any serious or academic approach to the subject, although now I’m interested and hope to find time to do some reading on it.

  156. JJLatFtB says

    In closing you are, at best, derailing this thread with a discussion of manners.

    Derailing what “thread”? PZ already said “fuck you” to anyone with a dissenting opinion, so this “thread” should have been nothing but a bunch of fans saying, “Yah!”, “Yah PZ! You’re right!”, “Right again PZ!”, and “Stupid fucking racists! (even though your blog post was about airline and law enforcement procedures and not the race of the passenger)”.

  157. erikthebassist says

    historically, and across most populations, prior oppression and victimization has ZERO effect on predicting anti-oppression attitudes in groups.

    I’m not prepared to argue aginst this, although it seems counterintuitive, not to say this is evidence aginst it being the case either way. A great many things about the world that are true are counterintuitive.

    All I can say is that I wish I had a dollar for every time one of my elders corrected myself or one of my friends when we were younger and made callous statements about the underprivileged or minorities, and how those corrections were often couched in the golden rule and how well they knew how it felt to be treated or talked about that way.

  158. says

    Late to the thread, but I’m glad I came.

    Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to learn I had been deceived when learning history.

    vincenthewitt has informed me:

    The problem won’t be solved by trying to confront the stronger bullies and getting beaten up as a result.

    ***

    I said they should refrain from trying to stand up to stronger bullies who will only beat them for it.

    The fables I’ve heard tell concerning historical characters such as MLK and Ghandi were fabrications, or at least only half-truth.

    If they existed at all, and if they attempted to stand up to aggressors via non-violent confrontation, they were beaten into obscurity for no reason whatsoever. They solved nothing.

    The same can be said for those who purportedly stood beside them. Some still living today. What fucking liars they are when the claim their movement had any effect.

    Thank you, vincenthewitt, for clearing up a misapprehension I held concerning social movements.

    Shit, I might have actually stood up against RWA oppression at some point. What would that have gotten me? A bloody nose, that’s what.

    An idiot standing there with a bloody nose for no reason.

    *whew*

  159. says

    JJLatFtB:

    The unequivocal invective made it impossible to exchange ideas before the first comment was made.

    Making snide remarks about someone’s honesty, intellect, and stability based on their use and tolerance of profanity is, of course, totes polite and civil.

    BTW, you may have noticed that various dissenting opinions have been posted in this thread, and not all replies thereto were hostile, or even profane. That said, victim blaming is shitty and deserves a “fuck you.”

    Happiestsadist:

    I think it’s definitely worth mentioning that historically, and across most populations, prior oppression and victimization has ZERO effect on predicting anti-oppression attitudes in groups.

    Yep. See also: Israelis/Palestinians, or black Christians/GLBT people.

    Erik, no worries. I do have a short fuse, and you hit one of my various hot buttons.

  160. insipidmoniker says

    JJLatFtB,

    Your comment about what this thread Should have been is telling. Obviously, some are not bothered by the cursing and can actually discuss the topic at hand.

    And there is evidence in the post that race affected the procedures.

  161. says

    Quite right. It’s not my party, but I was invited to the party and invited to express my opinion. I haven’t found a discussion on the subject of style or appropriate language, so I merely commented when I encountered this use. I’ve read quite a bit of PZ’s work and don’t often find profanity and I didn’t find this use particularly creative, just provocative. I didn’t think my expressed opinion was radical or disrespectful (unlike Arijit’s shirt which was meant to at least be disrespectful), and yet I was personally attacked within minutes, asked in the most impolite way to leave, and told that I am not welcome in this corner of web due to my distasteful actions.

    Generally a blog post is an implicit invitation to express your opinion of the *topic of discussion*. Instead, you chose to express a hostile opinion about people’s language choices. You thereby engaged in a pointless derail rather than making a relevant contribution to the conversation. Moreover, this was your *first* contribution to the conversation. The thing you *most* wanted to say, the first impression you chose to make on everyone here, was that you, from your vast wisdom as a total outsider, think the usual way of doing business around here is just unacceptable and awful and how dare they. Why does it surprise you that this kind of behavior didn’t exactly win you a friendly reception?

    I tell you, if you happened to show up at a party at *my* house and the first words out of your mouth, even before “Hello!” and “Thanks for inviting me!” were about how you heard some swears as you were coming in the door and we should all stop that because it’s just not nice, you’d be out on your ass before you even had time to hang up your coat, and you wouldn’t be invited back.

  162. madbull says

    This guy who had really long white hair and flowing beard and was dressed in funny clothes got a full pat down. He was a really sweet guy, I spoke to him later, he told me that during the pat down they kept verbally telling him what they were gonna do next. He was like Couldn’t they just shut up and do it ?

    Looks like anybody who doesn’t conform to a certain image we have of ‘normalcy’ is going to be treated as less than human. With all the scare tactics the narrow band of what is deemed normal, gets narrower and narrower. Maybe we should all walk into airports naked, that way they won’t have to bombard us with xrays to take naked pictures.

  163. Amphiox says

    unlike Arijit’s shirt which was meant to at least be disrespectful

    That’s the point. It mocked a position that does not deserve respect.

    To be “respectful” to a position that does not deserve respect is being DISRESPECTFUL to everyone and anyone who stands to be harmed if that position that does not deserve respect is taken seriously (ie treated “respectfully”).

    “Respect” is a useless concept when it comes to debate.

  164. Brownian says

    Did you grow up in a polish neighborhood Brownian?

    I’m Lithuanian. I grew up to some degree in that community. I’ve some understanding of how Eastern European parents and grandparents are with respect to racism and bigotry after having suffered it themselves.

    Do you know fuck all about the part of Buffalo we’re talking about? Then how can you say that?

    Your claim isn’t about some specific part of Buffalo, it’s about how people who’ve suffered discrimination based on ethnicity are less likely to be racist.

    What exactly about the premise that people who have experienced ill treatment because of their race or nationality tend to be less racist is so dumb?

    It’s not obvious?

    Even if it is the case that this little neighbourhood is a Benetton ad, you need to do more than simply assert that it’s because of some shared history of past discrimination.

  165. Brownian says

    Ah, Happiestsadist already covered this:

    I think it’s definitely worth mentioning that historically, and across most populations, prior oppression and victimization has ZERO effect on predicting anti-oppression attitudes in groups.

  166. Brownian says

    Hell, in this thread, atheists, who’ve as a group suffered and continue to suffer, cannot necessarily be counted on to stand up for a person of colour being mistreated on the basis of his T-shirt.

  167. Amphiox says

    I think it’s definitely worth mentioning that historically, and across most populations, prior oppression and victimization has ZERO effect on predicting anti-oppression attitudes in groups.

    If anything, there might be a trend historically towards groups having experienced intense oppression to turn around and oppress other groups even more later when they manage to get their hands on some political power.

  168. says

    Illuminata,

    This is where I’m coming from too. One gets such incredibly nasty shit just for *being from* the area, I totally get being defensive about what really is a cool city, but for the stereotypes.

    Huh. I didn’t realize there were widespread nasty stereotypes about the area. My own upstate NY experience has been mostly in Rochester, and it’s always left me with very positive feelings about that general part of the country.

    Rochester in particular has a substantial Orthodox Jewish community (including members of my partner’s family), and my partner tells me that his classmates at the local public school included people from all over the world. Historically, there’s all the Underground Railroad work, anti-slavery activism, and women’s suffrage activism that came out of the area. Kodak, the formerly dominant employer in the area, used to be a great place to work back in the day, with a strong commitment to taking care of its employees. The local grocery chain Wegman’s is continuing in that tradition, in addition to running pretty much the best grocery stores ever. The city, and especially the Eastman (of Eastman Kodak) School of Music, played a substantial role in the growth of jazz, and the annual Rochester Jazz Festival helps keep that scene vital. There are a lot of nice public parks in and around the city, frequented by all kinds of people. It’s just a damn nice place in a lot of ways.

    That said, there’s still a substantial amount of poverty in the city, and that poverty is disproportionately black. The Rochester public school system is where this story happened. Kodak’s history of benevolent employment policies is marred by its concomitant history of resistance to unionization and to hiring black workers. In driving around other parts of upstate NY, I’ve seen angry signs protesting the Native tribes’ assertion of their long-ignored land rights. Upstate NY is responsible both for the origin of (massively racist from the start) Mormonism, and for the first violent persecutions of Mormons. And, quite frankly, nice as it is that the Orthodox Jews have found a friendly, tolerant place to comfortably call home, their religion is pretty sexist and awful in a lot of ways and the world would be better off without it, so they’re also one of the downsides of the region.

    It’s a complicated place, just like anywhere else, and it’s not perfect. I’m not going to excuse its bad features, but it’s also got a lot of good to it, so it makes me sad to discover that stereotyping it as one-dimensionally awful is a thing.

  169. Ichthyic says

    PZ already said “fuck you” to anyone with a dissenting opinion

    fuck you and the strawmen you erect.

  170. Ichthyic says

    Hell, in this thread, atheists, who’ve as a group suffered and continue to suffer, cannot necessarily be counted on to stand up for a person of colour being mistreated on the basis of his T-shirt.

    there ARE atheists who are also passive authoritarian personalities.

    not surprising they exist. it would be surprising if they existed in relatively large numbers though, given that atheists as a whole are like a herd of cats.

    oh, and on the “we can’t be racist, we’re polish!” thing…

    agreed. but the person you accuse of saying something really stupid will not understand why.

    privilege.

  171. erikthebassist says

    Ichthyic, douchewaffle, already been addressed, try not skipping to the end of the thread half way through reading it because you just can’t stand to keep your mouth shut.

  172. erikthebassist says

    I’m Lithuanian.

    So the answer is no

    I grew up to some degree in that community. I’ve some understanding of how Eastern European parents and grandparents are with respect to racism and bigotry after having suffered it themselves.

    So all eastern europeans are a monolithic culture? Even after they’ve migrated and spread out?

    Your claim isn’t about some specific part of Buffalo,

    yes it is, try reading then comprehending, helps if it’s in that order.

    it’s about how people who’ve suffered discrimination based on ethnicity are less likely to be racist.

    no it’s not.

    It’s not obvious?

    no, it seems counterintuitive to me based on my experience, but as I stated earlier, I’m not prepared to argue that the opposite isn’t true. Counterintuitive != false.

    Even if it is the case that this little neighbourhood is a Benetton ad,

    it isn’t, and I never said it was. Read what I wrote, not what you imagined I wrote.

    you need to do more than simply assert that it’s because of some shared history of past discrimination.

    not when i’m countering hearsay with first hand experience I don’t.

  173. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    Ichthyic, douchewaffle, already been addressed, try not skipping to the end of the thread half way through reading it because you just can’t stand to keep your mouth shut.

    Who the fuck says we can’t address earlier comments even if others have? And it was a whole whopping 14 comments before Ichthyic’s comment. How is that not reading the whole thread? It’s not like the douchewaffle apologized, clarified, changed or took back the fucked up statemend Ichthyic commented on.

    What the fuck is wrong with you?

  174. says

    What exactly about the premise that people who have experienced ill treatment because of their race or nationality tend to be less racist is so dumb?

    for starters, it’s not well-supported by evidence: colorism is one example; internalized oppression is another. And so is internalized racism by members of one minority group about other minority groups.

  175. jefrir says

    Erik, while abhorring all discrimination is one reaction to oppression, another, sadly common, one is to lash out at anyone who is seen as lower on the scale, so as to at least have someone to feel superior to.
    And experience of one form of discrimination does not necessarily translate into awareness of other forms – see, for example, the feminist movement’s history of racism and transphobia. Or the gay rights movement’s history of sexism and biphobia.

  176. says

    The reason this is not true is because Cheektowaga is predominately a polish neighborhood

    this is as incoherent as saying Catholics can’t be bigoted against members of other religions, because once they were the target of religious bigotry in the US.
    that’s just not how that works. once you’ve been made a member of the privileged class, amnesia sets in and you start behaving the same way you were once treated. works both for “honorary christians” and for “honorary whites” (meaning, all the people who were suddenly sufficiently Amurrican even if they weren’t WASPs)

  177. Brownian says

    The reason this is not true is because Cheektowaga is predominately a polish neighborhood, and most of our parents and grandparents remember the poor treatment they received because of their nationality, which makes them less likely to be racist.

    This is what you wrote. I’m going to refer to it, because you seem to be unaware of what it says.

    So the answer is no

    So all eastern europeans are a monolithic culture? Even after they’ve migrated and spread out?

    Well, since your claim is not that Cheektowaga and Polish people are magic, but that it’s the history of bigotry against those people make them less likely to be bigots, then in that sense, yes, Eastern Europeans such as Lithuanians should also be subject to that process.

    yes it is, try reading then comprehending, helps if it’s in that order.

    You don’t understand your own claim.

    no it’s not.

    That’s exactly what “most of our parents and grandparents remember the poor treatment they received because of their nationality, which makes them less likely to be racist” means.

  178. says

    The people in Cheektowaga and Buffalo in general are some of the nicest and most genuinely good people you will ever come across. It’s called the “The City of Good Neighbors” for a reason.

    there’s a book called “How Fargo of you” in which a guy who moved there from Arizona (Phoenix, I think) recounts how incredibly nice people in Fargo and ND were to him as he was going about settling in.

    this niceness is a fact. another one is that it evaporates the moment you don’t fit ND’ers definition of “one of us”, as can be seen by the ridiculous fight over the Fighting Sioux logo among other things.

  179. says

    it’s mostly polish inhabitants, yes polish, one the most persecuted group of immigrants to ever come here

    dumbest thing I’ve read today. maybe if that said “most persecuted group of white immigrants”, that could conceivably be true. But not otherwise.

    The shitty weather has a way of bringing people together, regardless of skin color.

    lol.

    Before there were dumb blond jokes, they were Polish jokes.

    which, of course, is much worse than (for example) being forbidden from marrying in addition to being the butt of jokes.

    and among immigrants, the treatments of the poles by the already entrenched whites in the states was comparatively horrible.

    compared to what, exactly? to the Irish, who were compared to apes the way that’s currently done to African Americans? or to non-white immigrants, many of whom had laws written to specifically make sure they wouldn’t be able to become American?

    aside from that poles and Jews have mostly been friends and allies, not to mention the large contingent of Jews native to Poland.

    O.o
    no. Poland was a refuge for Jews in the Middle Ages, hence the large numbers of Jews of Polish descent. But in more recent history, that’s just not true. It’s not particularly true today either, though compared to other places it’s probably not notably worse.

  180. says

    actually, here’s an amusing anecdote about Polish immigrants on the topic of immigration:

    my mom was hanging out with some neighbors once, talking about how the neighborhood was changing (it was becoming more Russian, less Polish), and one of the women in the group actually said (in Polish, no less): “all these foreigners really need to stop coming here”

    most hilarious example of pulling up the drawbridge behind you. ever.

  181. randay says

    Ms.Daisy Cutter, with her appropriate description, has along with some others, completely highjacked this thread. I wonder why, whatever the subject, someone has to bring in the Holocaust. It is a variation of Godwin’s Law.

    Ms. Daisy doesn’t mention Jewish revenge on Germans after the war. Known as the Nokmim and one infamous group Nakam, they killed Germans they considered responsible and even used poisoned bread to try to kill 2,000 supposed SS in a PW camp. They also tried to poison the water of several German cities, specifically to kill civilians.

    She also doesn’t mention Jewish terrorists(Stern Gang et al) in Palestine who continued to kill British and Palestinians. Remember the King David Hotel? Nor does she mention the letter bombs they sent and the buildings they bombed in Europe. Their plan to bomb the British Parliament from a plane was discovered by the French Police.

    So in the future, why not just try to stick to the subject?

  182. says

    Erik, I’m with you on defending Buffalo, but I can also see why some people aren’t entirely thrilled with the way you chose to do it. I know you meant well, but you’ve (apparently inadvertently) echoed a trope that’s commonly used to defend a lot of stuff that *is* racist. I get that you were just trying to provide background and justification for your personal experience, but given the subtle and pervasive ways racism operates in our society, it’s kind of on those of us who aren’t personally targeted by racism to keep in mind how our words might sound to those who *do* experience it, and to learn how to avoid adopting the language that perpetuates it. Consequently, if you’re one of the people who benefits from racial privilege, the best way to respond when it’s pointed out to you that you’ve made some kind of racism faux pas is to just say, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to do that, and I’ll try to avoid it in the future,” rather than trying to defend it and insist that what you said was actually okay.

    In this case, you’ve echoed the trope, “We can’t be racist because we’re oppressed too,” which is a close cousin to, “But I have black friends!” in terms of its irrelevance as a defense. I’m completely willing to believe (a) that your forebears and their neighbors experienced some level of discrimination, (b) that it’s in principle possible that many of them are less racist than the white American mean, and (c) that for some of them this may have been partly due to their own history of experiencing discrimination. But, just as in the case of white people and their “black friends”, there may be dramatic differences between your experience of the community’s racism as a white member of that community, and the experience of a black person who encounters that community. So your one white person’s report that the community doesn’t seem racist to you doesn’t really constitute adequate evidence that the community is significantly less racist than average, given that racism is the *norm* in our society rather than an outlier. Trying to suggest that this community is substantially less racist is actually, in modern America, an *extraordinary* claim, which demands correspondingly extraordinary evidence. And you haven’t provided that. All we’ve got is your own personal experience, as a person who would not himself be targeted for racism, combined with this supporting claim that the Polish immigrant community’s history of being discriminated against is what supposedly makes them less racist. Unfortunately, as has already been pointed out in this thread several times, there is no necessary connection between a history of victimization and an absence of bias against other minorities, so this supporting claim is itself not very strong.

    So, while it may indeed be the case that Buffalo is less racist than average, the arguments you’ve made here don’t really demonstrate that very solidly. Instead, they just help to perpetuate the excuses that racist communities often use to escape having to deal with their own racism, things like, “We can’t be racist, because little ol’ white me doesn’t see it,” and, “We can’t be racist because we’ve been oppressed too.” So, well-meaning though you may be, you’re doing a certain amount of harm to others by making these arguments, not just defending your city.

    I admit, I didn’t personally view your initial comment as seriously problematic. I just saw it as you trying to express the local flavor and context of the place, and not trying to make any claims beyond that. And, yeah, it sucks to be called out aggressively on something that you didn’t mean the way the other people in the conversation apparently heard it. But even then, your best bet is still just to say, “Shit, I didn’t mean it like that. Sorry,” rather than trying to defend it, ’cause defending it makes it end up sounding like maybe you *did* mean it that way after all, or, at the very least, like you think protecting your pride is more important than avoiding giving aid and comfort to racism. You’re probably mostly a good guy, and Buffalo is probably a mostly good place, but just… don’t defend this argument. It’s not a positive path.

  183. erikthebassist says

    Anna: Or people can read what I actually wrote, in which I clearly admitted that in retrospect my claim my only be true of my experience, but people here just can’t resist piling on. I addressed your complaint long ago, in comment # 179 where I said

    I apologize if I could have been clearer about why I brought up the polish issue in the first place. I hope my comment at 165 further elucidates what I meant. I was trying to convey my impression of the general mindset of the people I know and love in Cheektowaga, nothing more.

    and then again in 182 where I said

    I’m not prepared to argue against this, although it seems counter intuitive, not to say this is evidence aginst it being the case either way. A great many things about the world that are true are counter intuitive.

    All I can say is that I wish I had a dollar for every time one of my elders corrected myself or one of my friends when we were younger and made callous statements about the underprivileged or minorities, and how those corrections were often couched in the golden rule and how well they knew how it felt to be treated or talked about that way.

    I’m not sure how much clearer I can be that my initial stance that people who have experienced discrimination are generally less likely to be racist is probably wrong, and it’s not something I’m going to try and defend, but that in my experience this has been true. I clearly apologized for making such a claim, but I do stand by the fact that there is, my little neck of the woods, Cheektowaga, in my experience less overt racism than I have seen in many other places, and that in large part this is due to the large Polish contingent here and that particular subculture’s attitudes towards race.

    What I’m being told is that my experience is not valid because my initial claim was not universally true. I”m also hearing people say that I am either lying about my experience or deluded about my experience and upbringing because you people can’t imagine a part of the country where white people aren’t raging xenophobic assholes across the board, yet not a single one of you jerks has been here or spent any time here. Mean while there are those that continually back up my initial simple claim, that in comparison to many other places around the country, WNY tends to be less racist, not by much, it still has racism, but tends to be less racist than many places, and this was all in response to completely unfounded claim that Buffalo is MORE racist than other parts of the country.

    Think about this, you assholes are all up in my shit because I refuted the unfounded claims of someone that has never been here, and received a corroborating refutation from another local. You can all fuck off, I’m done trying to communicate with you idiots in any meaningful way. A few of you have been great, but the cloud of assholes that rushes in and piles on without bothering to try and understand what people are saying is just to ridiculous to try and address.

    To be clear Anna, I thought your particular response was well thought out and not ass-holish at all, I’m referring more to Brownian, ichthyic, jadehawk and the rest of the late to thread can’t fucking read assholes that continually try to make life difficult for anyone not in their little click here at FTB, be they friend or foe.

  184. erikthebassist says

    In rereading your post Anna, I have to specifically address one issue, never did I claim that Buffalo was significantly less racist or with out racism at all, my claim was much less extraordinary, only that it tends to be less racist than many other places, in my experience. I also explicitly stated that I have personally witnessed plenty of racism here and never claimed to be able to speak for the experiences of minorities. I know full well, and have stated before that I know full well that I am in a privileged position and so struggle to understand the extent of racism experienced by minorities in my community and in others, but I make that effort, on a regular basis, so my POV is not completely blinded by privilege, even if I know and have to continually remind my self (and others) that I can’t REALLY know what it’s like to be a minority or a woman ftm. But I don’t know why I bother repeating it, those that couldn’t be bothered to read it the first time aren’t going to read it this time either.

  185. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    Yes, erik, keep harping on that while you ignore your similar unfair treatment towards Ichthyic, which has been pointed out to you.

    Think about this, you assholes are all up in my shit because I refuted the unfounded claims of someone that has never been here, and received a corroborating refutation from another local.

    Yeah, so? Doesn’t mean that other local isn’t blinded by privileged or just defensive about their hometown. Doesn’t mean yours or their experience amount to shit. Especially since this started with you getting huffy when Jaffashots said it wasn’t surprised to hear this story considering other stories about minorities treatment by cops in the area and a study about it being on of the most segregated places in the USA. Then you made it worse and people called you on your crap about polish being one of the worse persecuted minorities ever so you got called on that.

    this was all in response to completely unfounded claim that Buffalo is MORE racist than other parts of the country.

    This is incorrect. This is not how it started. No one claimed Buffalo is more racist. You read that into people’s comment regarding not being surprised. I wouldn’t be surprised at this behavior happening anywhere and everywhere in the USA to be honest.

    And in your first comment:

    The people in Cheektowaga and Buffalo in general are some of the nicest and most genuinely good people you will ever come across.

    This is ridiculously biased and I doubt this is actually the case. This sentence put your defense of your hometown into overdrive. It’s overreaching. If you really wanted to responded to Jaffashots, you could have talked about the Buffalo council member who said that bullshit about immigrants or any proof it’s segregated not by class, just families settling down.

    Also, your opinion and anecdotes don’t really amount to shit, especially considering I know plenty of people in my rural hometown in MI, who would make that exact same claim about how everyone in town is so great and not that racist – all while it’s a sundown town.

  186. Paul says

    What I’m being told is that my experience is not valid because my initial claim was not universally true.

    Nobody is denying your experience. They’re pointing out that your “initial claim” was stupid. Do you still defend it? If you haven’t read #203, you should.

  187. erikthebassist says

    Paul, read what I wrote at #179 and #182, then read your question again, then ask me again why I’m getting frustrated dealing with you lot.

    I read #203, #203, just like Brownian’s initial comment as well as at a least a dozen other comments made by the regulars here completely ignore anything I’ve said since #158.

  188. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I had no problem with your comments. I will say that I’m aware of coastal disdain for “flyover country,” which is a complex issue. I didn’t consider that western New York might suffer from it, which was my oversight.

    Ahhh, I understand now. Thank you for the clarification.

    WNY does suffer the same disdain. I was about to say “doubly so because of the stereotypes about our weather (which aren’t true, p.s.)”, but I don’t actually know how bad it is for other “fyover country” places, so nevermind.

    but yes, Buffalo goes get a unfair amount of shit. The most popular is talking about how all the women are as big as buffalos. You know, cuz that shit is hi-lar-i-ous.

    ++

    this niceness is a fact. another one is that it evaporates the moment you don’t fit ND’ers definition of “one of us”, as can be seen by the ridiculous fight over the Fighting Sioux logo among other things.

    And, therefore, Buffalo is exactly the same. Because magic! *jazzhands*

  189. David Marjanović says

    erikthebassist, as you have stated yourself, you should take your pink sunglasses off and read more. The world is a considerably shittier and more complicated place than you used to think.

    I’m honestly surprised they still allow pens and pencils onto planes at this point. I stabbed a kid in the arm with pencil in 6th grade (finally cracked after 6 months of non-stop harassment encouraged by a teacher who thought I was “disrespecting her authority” by still not being good at long division at that point. I kid you not) and drove it in pretty deep. An adult could drive a pen easily into a throat, abdomen, or eye.

    There have been murders where the murderer rammed a pencil into someone’s heart.

    The ones who stood up for themselves got beaten up, even though they had every right to object to the taunting. The ones who kept quiet were pretty much left alone.

    Bullshit.

    Thirded.

    Ignoring a bully has never worked in my experience. Not a single time. If they want your attention, they will take it. If you try to be their punching ball, they’ll use you as their punching ball.

    No, no, no, no. It’s not about the fucking t-shirt! The t-shirt was a bad excuse, otherwise they would have left the incident at making him remove it. If he was a white guy I’m damn sure he would have been on the plane, probably without changing clothes at all.

    QFT.

    That doesn’t even count the additional cancers likely to occur due to backscatter radiation during screening. Of course, a fair number of those will occur in TSA officals themselves.

    Every time I go through airport security I seriously want to inquire about the screeners’ health and their insurance status…what’s probably worse is that I’m not just being snarky any more. It’s really starting to worry me.

    Oh, most of the devices use T rays (between infrared and microwaves), not X rays.

    Most of them.

  190. says

    Erik, I get that you didn’t mean it that way, and I understand why you find it upsetting to have people responding aggressively to what you didn’t mean. But my point is, it’s on those of us who have privilege to avoid perpetuating problems by talking in ways that reinforce our privilege, even if reinforcing our privilege is not what we meant to do.

    So when we’re called out on our mistakes, we’ve gotta just say, “I’m sorry,” and stop there, rather than going on into, “I’m sorry, but screw you for pointing it out my error in a hostile way,” or, “I’m sorry, but you should still accept what I said because I didn’t mean it like that.” If you absolutely *have* to keep talking after, “I’m sorry,” the thing to say is, “I’m sorry, please help me to correct my erroneous assumptions and/or figure out how to express what I wanted to express in a less problematic way.”

    Because we’ve got privilege, we don’t even always know what we don’t know about these issues, which means we really really need to learn to approach them with humility and uncertainty, instead of assuming that we’re knowledgeable and then getting angry when that comfortable assumption is disturbed.

    To be clear, I agree that the people in Buffalo are probably on average as good as the people anywhere else, and I don’t think it’s fair for anyone without personal experience or a solid collection of statistics to stereotype the place as uniquely unpleasant. I do think that it would be helpful for the people who started making this about Buffalo as a bad place instead of about the problems of airport security and profiling to walk that back a bit. It’s just, you need to back off a bit too on defending what you said, in order to completely clear this all up sensibly. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  191. says

    And, therefore, Buffalo is exactly the same. Because magic! *jazzhands*

    precious.

    or, you could actually think instead of going into insta-defense mode, and catch on to the basic point I was making: saying people are nice while being one of them is meaningless when trying to figure out if they’re nice to people who aren’t like them.

  192. says

    at a least a dozen other comments made by the regulars here completely ignore anything I’ve said since #158.

    lol. yep. we’re magical and capable of responding with blockquotes to things we’ve completely ignored. because that’s how ignoring things works.

    [/Polish immigrant to actual flyover country]

  193. erikthebassist says

    At the end of the day, I’m unable to find a single study that compares racism, which is pretty much unquantifiable, on a city by city, county by county or regional basis, so according to my google fu, which very well may be lacking, there really isn’t any empirical data that can be brought to bear on whether Buffalo is or isn’t any more or less racist that any other city.

    I thought about hate crime statistics but any data has to be controlled for the use of the statutes. Buffalo actually ranks pretty high in violent hate crimes reported for a city of it’s size (24 in 2010), but that could just be that prosecutors are more willing to use hate crime statutes than in other cities.

    I thought the segregation issue, but again, how do you factor in history and economics to know if a city is segregated because it’s racist or because people just don’t move around much and most are happy with the status quo?

    All I can go on is my gut and personal experience on this, and my perception is that when I lived on the west coast for 12 years, I wasn’t comfortable because of the racist attitudes I saw all around me, and when I’m in Buffalo I sense much less tension there, and these thoughts have been confirmed by countless conversations with people who should know, the minorities who live here.

    Either way, I’m exhausted by this discussion and have found it to be completely pointless. I’m sorry about what happened to Arijit. I think it sucks and I’m ashamed it happened in my home town. I will continue to be proud of the Queen City though for it’s diversity and culture, it’s history and it’s people. It’s home and I love it here. Unless you’ve lived here, I don’t expect you to get it, but a lot of Buffalonians carry a lot of pride in this place.

    Toodles

  194. says

    racism, which is pretty much unquantifiable

    lol

    there really isn’t any empirical data that can be brought to bear on whether Buffalo is or isn’t any more or less racist that any other city.

    pretty sure no one other than you thinks this conversation is about Buffalo being notably more racist than other cities; pretty sure this has been pointed out to you already, too. The conversation is actually about the part where you originally claimed it’s somehow less racist because immigrants and stuff. (and yeah I’ve read your backtrack. I’m still allowed to talk about and respond to that idea, however)

    if a city is segregated because it’s racist or because people just don’t move around much and most are happy with the status quo?

    the status quo is racist. how is it that you do not know this? do you know what redlining was, for example?

    my perception is that when I lived on the west coast for 12 years, I wasn’t comfortable because of the racist attitudes I saw all around me, and when I’m in Buffalo I sense much less tension ther

    this is exactly why I noted the “how Fargo of you” example. Fargo is also “nicer” than Phoenix, AZ. but that’s not because it’s actually less racist; it’s because it’s less diverse, and thus produces fewer opportunities for surface-conflict.

    but a lot of Buffalonians carry a lot of pride in this place.

    you’re right. I don’t understand pride for a geographical location. especially one you have to support with really odd arguments that you’ve admitted are based on hearsay and “common sense”

  195. says

    Good, Erik. Go ahead and love Buffalo. To the degree that anybody’s saying you shouldn’t (not that I think anyone meant to go quite that far), they’re jerks.

    It’s just… this is the same kind of conversation we’ve been having about sexism in the atheist/skeptical/humanist/freethought community over the past year or so. The question in that case isn’t, “Are atheists better about inclusiveness than the general population?”, because, hell, maybe we *are*. That’s not the point. Instead we need to be asking, “Do problems exist in our community, and if so, how can we fix those problems?”. Defending the community’s honor from implications of bigotry should be a lower priority than fixing the examples of bigotry that we know are present here as in every other community.

    On the other hand, we also have to target these kind of criticisms carefully in order for them to be useful. Discarding the whole atheist movement as uselessly sexist because of Elevatorgate etc. would be a mistake. It’s because people recognize this fact that we’ve now got Atheism+ coming along. Similarly, disparaging Buffalo as an irredeemably racist hell-hole would also be a mistake. I’ve no doubt that whatever bad stuff might happen there, there are also plenty of good people who want to make their city a welcoming place (but who maybe don’t always have the power to do so or don’t always do so perfectly). The trick is to enable the good people to do better, and to not let the bad ones take over. I hope Erik and his fellow Buffalonians will work on that.

  196. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Erik, in all seriousness that was the most protracted example of whiny, childish Hometown Pride™ I’ve ever seen. You’re going to be embarrassed when you look back on this. No, I’m not calling you a horrible person, or saying that you’re wrong about everything. You are being really foolish on this topic.

  197. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    And I grew up in Syracuse and spent major time in Rochester, Buffalo, Henrietta, and yes, Cheektowaga. People there are like people everywhere: some good, some not good. Get over yourself.

  198. erikthebassist says

    oh ffs, I’m not the one who’s going to look back on this and be embarrassed. I’m done, fuck you, fuck the movement and fuck this blog. /subscribed.

  199. Paul says

    my perception is that when I lived on the west coast for 12 years, I wasn’t comfortable because of the racist attitudes I saw all around me, and when I’m in Buffalo I sense much less tension ther

    I lived in Orange County, CA and I was plenty comfortable. Does my anecdote negate yours? Would it make you self-reflect at all if I noted that I was in a predominantly white neighborhood with a couple token “good minority” Asians and that I looked like “the right sort of people”, so there was generally no reason for me to encounter uncomfortable racist attitudes?

    Even now when I go back it’s all butterflies and rainbows. Except when there’s protests and borderline riots in my hometown because some cops shot an unarmed Hispanic man in the back of the head, anyway.

  200. says

    oh ffs, I’m not the one who’s going to look back on this and be embarrassed. I’m done, fuck you, fuck the movement and fuck this blog. /subscribed.

    Goddammit, Erik.

  201. says

    I’m devastated.

    I’m just pissed off because I tried really hard to give him the benefit of the doubt and see his side of things and talk him into coming around, and he decided that it was more important to preserve his pride by storming off in a huff. This is why I don’t usually bother with that kind of shit, but I guess I let my sentimental attachment to upstate NY get the best of me. :/

  202. says

    Re: erikthebassist 21 August 2012 at 10:23 pm

    The town I grew up in was nice, too.

    But the only murder in the last twenty years was a local, about ten years younger than I, decided to go bashing foreign-looking folks. Luckily it was he who got the bad end of his knife, and not his victim, but there were many people supporting him with, ‘but this is such a nice town!’ and ‘we have many [brown] folk here, even in his school class, how could he be racist?’

    Racists don’t usually out themselves, and when they do, no one wants to be impolite to them.

    We should be impolite to them, because they’re by definition being impolite.

  203. Brownian says

    Unless you’ve lived here, I don’t expect you to get it

    The Sophisticated™ Theologians were wrong: heaven does exist.

  204. Amphiox says

    You don’t have to be pissed yet, Anna C. Hanna. Give him a chance to go off, blow some steam, and reflect in private. He might turn around and come back. You’ve already gone this far for him, it doesn’t cost you too much to go that one more step. Especially since you don’t actually have to do anything.

  205. John Phillips, FCD says

    Brownian #235, I can see why that queue is getting longer all the time :)

  206. says

    You don’t have to be pissed yet, Anna C. Hanna. Give him a chance to go off, blow some steam, and reflect in private. He might turn around and come back. You’ve already gone this far for him, it doesn’t cost you too much to go that one more step. Especially since you don’t actually have to do anything.

    Oh, yeah. I’ll be happy to see him come back after reflection if he so chooses. It’s just, his last post makes me sad. :(

  207. jacklewis says

    @239
    My guess is that other posts made him sad too and caused the final blow up. On the bright side you don’t have to feel sad at all since your posts are very unlikely to be the ones that triggered the outburst (I hope you realize that). How much crap are people supposed to take anyway?

    As a disclaimer I don’t give a crap about Buffalo, and only take pride in my own accomplishments (non trivial ones usually). I don’t take any pride in cities, countries, sexual orientation, etc or other accidents of birth.

  208. Brownian says

    Erik, I hope your flounce isn’t permanent. I dealt with that one paragraph as it was written. I wasnt denying your experience, just your explanation for it.

  209. Brownian says

    How much crap are people supposed to take anyway?

    Since we all know you’re not adverse to doling out your share, jack, do you have an answer to this question?

  210. erikthebassist says

    ok Anne, because this tab was still open on my home PC, I couldn’t resist the urge to read the aftermath of my flounce, and now you’ve made me feel bad so I’ll take the time to explain it for your benefit, and since you’ve been so nice about it.

    The flounce is absolutely going to stick but it’s not a rage quit over a single thread. I’m flouncing not just Pharyngula and FTB but atheism and skepticism in general because I just can’t stand the elitist, arrogant attitudes that so saturate at least the public face of the Movement™. This isn’t a complaint about tone. When someone deserves to be ripped to shreds I’m all for it and am right there with these guys, but the problem is, the regulars here and at most of the other public forums on the subject can’t tell the difference between friend or foe.

    For them it’s all about someone is wrong on the internets and they’ll demonize whoever the hell they choose in the interest of being right or winning an argument. They are eating their own and destroying the Movement™ from with in.

    I’m not talking about the recent schism between the Atheism+ side and the slime pit either. I’m in agreement in principle with everything the A+ side of the issue has to say on the matter. I think feminism and humanism are natural extensions of skepticism and atheism and we should feel obligated to pick up those causes and run with them.

    So I can’t countenance siding with the other guys because they are just so fucked up in their thinking it makes me sick. The JREF has become a joke, CFI same thing, Shermer and the liberturds are equally repugnant.

    See, I used to enjoy participating in the Movement™ because I found like minded people who supported the causes I supported, who cared about the things I cared about. It made me feel good to know I wasn’t alone on this stuff. But now it just makes me feel icky to be associated with it.

    The regulars here and elsewhere no longer care who or what they destroy in their quest for being right. They can no longer recognize friend from foe. I’m not going to participate in a community where there slightest misstep or failure to make yourself perfectly clear the first time causes a rain of browbeating that could knock out a mule. It’s a waste of my time and effort to try and communicate meaningfully with this horde.

    Well, if I can’t stand this place anymore, then the Movement™ is done for me, because quite frankly, this camp is the only one I find myself in agreement with often enough to want to bother being involved in the first place, as the other camps are completely off the rails at this point.

    It wasn’t just about this thread either. I’ve watched countless threads devolve in to the same kind of tripe. I’ve watched the hive mind shred people that should be considered allies over and over again. Trying to convince them that they are doing it wrong would be equally futile, so my only option is to stick the flounce and say fuck it. I’m too busy with my renewed interest in a career in music anyway to bother.

    The Movement™ was a nice diversion while I was in an unhappy marriage and a dead end career but life is good out in the real world for me now and I just don’t have the time or need to sit in front of my PC and get steamed over pixels anymore.

    So thanks for your attempt to counter the brow beating with civil discourse Anne but it was a tiny voice in a cacophony of raging, teeth bearing, insulting invective that was just so bizarrely out of place I’m left dumb founded and disappointed at the the final realization that being an atheist or a skeptic in no way qualifies people to be card carrying actual human fucking beings.

  211. Amphiox says

    I’m not going to participate in a community where there slightest misstep or failure to make yourself perfectly clear the first time causes a rain of browbeating that could knock out a mule.

    Every single regular here has taken this same sort of “browbeating”, many more than once, on any variety of subjects, and have learned and grown from the experience of having our various cognitive errors and unrecognized privileges pointed out to us and being forced to defend our positions. We here do not apologize for calling a spade a spade. If someone points out something to us about our opinions, what we care about is whether or not that point is true, not whether that point was made rudely or politely.

    So, if you can’t take the heat, then yes, please get out of the kitchen.

    The door remains open, but try to train up some thermal resistance before coming back.

  212. Amphiox says

    How much crap are people supposed to take anyway?

    If the “crap” is legitimate in content, infinite.

    If not legitimate in CONTENT, zero.

  213. says

    Erik, leaving because you don’t have time is fair enough, but the rest of it still bothers me.

    Part of the reason people get so aggressive about this stuff is because they really do care about doing things right, and the continual parade of people doing things that are harmful and wrong gets tiresome and makes it hard to be patient with every damn new person who does the same old wrong things in the same old wrong way and needs to be educated about it.

    I’ve been in that position myself, and I’ve gotten aggressive about it too. You just happen to have been lucky enough to have caught me in a patient mood, but sometimes I’m just as aggressive and dismissive as others here have been in this case.

    In some ways, I don’t think this is an entirely avoidable feature in this movement, given a surrounding culture that still treats a lot of pretty nasty stuff as perfectly normal and acceptable, and given the degree to which many of us have become aware of the problems that this causes. Every one of us who knows better than what the surrounding culture teaches spends the vast majority of our time steeped in an environment full of people doing bad shit and not caring about it. So we get tired of dealing with it pretty fast.

    It’s all very well and good to say that giving vent to our impatience hurts the cause, but we’re human beings too, and we can’t always be perfect. For every person who’s on a patience upswing on any given day, there’s going to be at least one other who just doesn’t want to deal with this shit any more. So there’s always going to be some level of that no matter what. The question is, are the things we’re fighting for worth fighting for enough that we push through these moments of friction to find a resolution and then keep working together the next day? For some of us, they are, and for some they aren’t.

    I would like to hope that if this movement keeps going forward and keeps growing then we’ll shift the Overton window enough to make the rest of the world a safer space for folks who share most of these views but, for whatever reason, can’t tolerate the intellectual and emotional meatgrinder that things can turn into at the cutting edge of the discussion. I hope you’ll find somewhere where you can work on these causes and continue to grow your understanding in a somewhat more patient environment.

  214. Amphiox says

    We are human beings. Human beings should be able to take more mental browbeating than any mule. It’s in our effing species name, after all.

  215. says

    ericthebassist:

    ok Anne, because this tab was still open on my home PC, I couldn’t resist the urge to read the aftermath of my flounce

    Haha. Right. Oh my. Riiiiight. The tab was still open.

    Leaving in a huff and a /subscribe, you left the tab open.

    Yeah, that’s plausible.

    When someone deserves to be ripped to shreds I’m all for it and am right there with these guys, but the problem is, the regulars here and at most of the other public forums on the subject can’t tell the difference between friend or foe.

    I don’t know how you live your life, but in mine arguing with someone does not make them my foe. I argue with my friends.

    I’ve watched the hive mind shred people

    The Borg SHREDDETH. SHREDDETH DISSENT!

    You know what’s really funny. You bring up hive mind while complaining that “The Movement” is “eating their own”. I mean… this is just incoherent. You talk about hive mind while pointing out arguments and differences within “The Movement”.

    You’re an idiot.

    The Movement™ was a nice diversion while I was in an unhappy marriage and a dead end career but life is good out in the real world for me now and I just don’t have the time or need to sit in front of my PC and get steamed over pixels anymore.

    Ah, so you cared about the social issues and social justice when you were unhappy and needed a diversion, but now that everything is going swimmingly for you – fuck it.

    I mean social justice is important and all, but… you have to suffer criticism from time to time? You have to defend your arguments? Well fuck that noise, amirite?

    Don’t let the door strike you in certain places as you go, and stuff.

    Or something like that.

  216. erikthebassist says

    tkreacher,

    Some people have more than one portal to the internet. I was following the thread initially at home, then from my ipad and my work pc. I’m heading back to work in just a few minutes and then yes, this tab will be shut and the flounce will be stuck.

    And who the fuck said I was going to stop caring about social justice? Do I have to sit here and waste my time with idiots like you to still care about social justice? To still donate to causes that matter to me and vote for the people I think are most likely to bring about the changes I want to see in my neck of the woods? No I don’t think so, go fuck yourself.

  217. erikthebassist says

    Anne, for my last word on the subject; I hear you, but really let’s look at this in retrospect:

    1. Jafafa makes a completely unfounded claim that Cheektowaga / Buffalo is some hotbed of racism. He’s never been here but that’s what people told him.

    2. 2 people who live here step up to say hey, that’s not a fair assessment. Buffalo is a pretty liberal / progressive place as those things go.

    3. In saying that I erroneously assign a pet theory to why that may be, based on personal experience. A couple people point out to me that my reasoning is flawed. First thing I say is yeah your probably right, but it doesn’t change the fact that there’s no reason to label this area as exceptionally racist, and that in my experience, which is admittedly privileged but at least slightly informed by close proximity to minority communities in the area, that if anything, it seems less overtly racist than some other places I’ve been.

    4. A shit storm ensues of people who refuse to acknowledge the fact that I’ve made no effort to defend that initial claim and have backed off of it completely.

    5. A deluge of insults and browbeating continues, making me look like a whiny harpy as I continually try and point out that my views are being misrepresented and words are being put in my mouth.

    Not a rational chain of events from people who are interested in content over invective. It’s invective first, worry about what people are actually trying to say later, if at all. Fuck that noise.

  218. Paul says

    When someone deserves to be ripped to shreds I’m all for it and am right there with these guys, but the problem is, the regulars here and at most of the other public forums on the subject can’t tell the difference between friend or foe.

    That’s a really weird way of saying “people care what I said instead of what I meant to say, and so I’m tired of continuously talking about how people are misrepresenting what I meant* without actually admitting that what I did say was eight kinds of wrong”.

    *But of course they weren’t; you seemed to mean “Buffalo is teh awesome” which was at most lightly snarked at but otherwise left alone, whereas most of the detractors were simply arguing the original statement of “people who are discriminated against tend to be less discriminatory”, which is an insidious falsehood that anyone caring about social justice needs to stand against (it’s just flat wrong with any look at the appropriate literature, and dangerous).

  219. strange gods before me ॐ says

    erik,

    I’m going to agree and disagree with you in varying amounts here. First the disagreement.

    I think that you’ve interpreted some people as suggesting you’re a bad person when they were not suggesting that.

    And I’m certain that some of them were not trying to make your life difficult — Jadehawk for instance in this thread was primarily driven by SIWOTI, and you did say plenty of stuff WOTI.

    I think Paul is accurate and fair here at #255.

    Also,

    I’m referring more to Brownian, ichthyic, jadehawk and the rest of the late to thread can’t fucking read assholes that continually try to make life difficult for anyone not in their little click here at FTB

    I’m certain that these three people are not part of any clique together. I say this as the foremost scholar of cliquery on Pharyngula.

    +++++
    What I’ll agree with you about is that you’ll be happier if you leave. Seriously.

    But let me make a request, and I hope it’s a fair one. If you go around talking about your experiences at Pharyngula, please be precise. Use quotes, include context, try your best to use this tool, and understand that each person who was disagreeing with you was doing so for their own individual reasons.

  220. erikthebassist says

    Ok I may need to seek help for inability to look away from this thread, I’m at work but the damn email from before I /subsribed was still sitting in my in box taunting me. But since I looked, I have to respond to Paul because I think I might finally be able to make my point and clearly put a lense on what it is I’m raged about:

    whereas most of the detractors were simply arguing the original statement of “people who are discriminated against tend to be less discriminatory”, which is an insidious falsehood that anyone caring about social justice needs to stand against (it’s just flat wrong with any look at the appropriate literature, and dangerous).

    Here’s the rub Paul. In comment # 182:

    historically, and across most populations, prior oppression and victimization has ZERO effect on predicting anti-oppression attitudes in groups.

    I’m not prepared to argue aginst this, although it seems counterintuitive, not to say this is evidence aginst it being the case either way. A great many things about the world that are true are counterintuitive.

    All I can say is that I wish I had a dollar for every time one of my elders corrected myself or one of my friends when we were younger and made callous statements about the underprivileged or minorities, and how those corrections were often couched in the golden rule and how well they knew how it felt to be treated or talked about that way.

    <—– Right there Paul, I concede the point, yes, it seems counter-intuitive, but it's also counter-intuitive that observers travelling at different speeds experience time at different rates, or that a particle can be in 2 places at the same time, in other words, "I take your word for it that what I said is not true of populations at large, but it still holds true at least in my little enclave of friends and family, based on my personal experience."

    So why then the continued browbeating and insisting that I'm making an argument that I'm not fucking making?!?!? This is the part that makes me nuts, I conceded the point a long time ago and made no effort to defend it yet every regular for miles feels the need to come in and continue to beat up on it, to the point that nothing else I say matters. This is the problem, the SIWOTI syndrome is so damned engrained that a reasonable discussion can't fucking be had. Say one thing that is innaccurate or ill informed and you're DONE. Might as well pack up an go home because no amount of clarification or pointing at the previous contrition will get the horde off your back. THIS, this is the problem.

    Here's the run down by comment #:

    182, wherin I concede the point.

    The following continue to argue against the point I've already conceded: 189 , 190, 192, 196 particularly

    198 where I reiterate that I reduced my claim to just my circle of friends and family, (but brownian insists that my intial statement is the only thing that matters) and restate for the record that my perception of the matter is most likely not what occurs at large, and that I'm not prepared to argue otherwise. <— another concession.

    200, again arguing against a point that's already been conceded, 201 again, 202, 203, 205, 209

    210 where I again ask that people to recognize I've already conceded the point

    213 – completely ignores 182 – 189 and 210! 3 times now I've tried to concede the point and move the discussion on.

    219 where jadhawk obtusely doesn't understand at all what I'm on about

    221 where jadehawk insists again that I still haven't conceded the point

    224 where josh ignores the concession yet again but wants to talk about how whiny I am, and how embarrassed I should be

    241, 255, and by this point I'm already done, cooked and frustrated beyond the point of ever wanting to have anything to do with this lot again.

    How can you guys not see how insane this is? What makes you think anyone in their right mind would try and engage this group in a reasonable discussion after experiencing something like this?

    In a normal discussion, when some one effectively concedes a point, you drop it and move on, continuing to harp on it makes you look like an over aggressive idiot. And this is exactly why The Horde™ has the reputation it has. Too much SIWOTI and not enough attempt to understand or even listen to in the most curory way what poeple are trying to communicate to you. Good communication requires good listening skills as much as it does anything else, and a good number of the people here have none whatsoever.

    I'm not sure why I think I might be able to actually make a breakthrough with you lot, I must be stupid or a glutton, I don't know, but that's my last try, I can't possibly be any clearer, or more precise about my feelings on the matter.

  221. John Morales says

    [meta]

    erikthebassist, that’s a very verbose way to reiterate you’ve conceded the point.

    241, 255, and by this point I’m already done, cooked and frustrated beyond the point of ever wanting to have anything to do with this lot again.

    Quite evidently you weren’t, were you? :)

    (IOW: you were wrong!)

    I must be stupid or a glutton

    The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

  222. says

    221 where jadehawk insists again that I still haven’t conceded the point

    don’t lie. I said I did notice, but I found the idea worth talking about anyway.

  223. says

    I would love to know though why you think an idea cannot be discussed once the person who presented it has admitted that it was wrong?

  224. Paul says

    So why then the continued browbeating and insisting that I’m making an argument that I’m not fucking making?!?!?

    You made it. People thought it merited discussion. That’s still no reason to falsely claim that “your views are being misrepresented”. Sorry, but even if you kick off a discussion, that doesn’t mean everything people say is about you. If you want to claim misrepresentation, show it. And by more than just throwing an angry fit and naming post numbers while complaining that people just don’t get you.

    I’m not sure why I think I might be able to actually make a breakthrough with you lot

    You flatter yourself if you think most of us give the smallest bit of a damn about that after

    The Movement™ was a nice diversion while I was in an unhappy marriage and a dead end career but life is good out in the real world for me now

    The last thing anyone who cares about discussion of social justice needs is people who are only participating because it’s convenient*. Most would rather use resources on people that aren’t just trying to kill time, I’m sure.

    *I mean, an ally is an ally and such a person shouldn’t be turned away only for that reason. But if they’re leaving and the reason is just “I got mine and I don’t need you, I’ve found better things to spend my time on”, they’re not exactly going to be missed.

  225. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

  226. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    All right, that was snarky of me. I just want to highlight that lots of what we think is so reasonable turns out to be wrong. We have a tendency to think “our own,” whether that’s our town, our family, our coworkers, are different from the rest of the world. Sadly, they’re often not.

    I suffered from this as a gay guy for a long time in thinking I and other gay men were magically immune to sexism and misogyny. Boy, was I stupidly wrong.

  227. Amphiox says

    I would love to know though why you think an idea cannot be discussed once the person who presented it has admitted that it was wrong?

    Because, of course, it’s his idea. He presented it, he owns it. It’s his, and once he decides to put it away, no one else may play with it.

    It’s all about him, him, him, him, him.

    [meta]

    And this is one vivid demonstration of why flouncing is stupid, and we hold it in such contempt. It’s a big fat “pay attention to me me me” display, like a toddler throwing a tantrum.

    If you don’t want to participate anymore, just stop posting. Go away. Come back if you want. At least you won’t look like so much of a fool if you do.

    And don’t expect that the ideas you’ve already presented are still yours to control. They are public domain now. They cannot be withdrawn. If they were stupid and you’re embarrassed by them, you’ll just have to live with that, and accept the lesson about thinking before talking.

  228. erikthebassist says

    Quite evidently you weren’t, were you? :)

    evidently

    I would love to know though why you think an idea cannot be discussed once the person who presented it has admitted that it was wrong?

    You gave absolutely no indication that you saw the part where that point was conceded. My impression was that you thought I was still trying to defend the point.

    If you think there’s more worth discussing then first acknowledge that you know I conceded the point, otherwise it looks like you’re harping. Saying you read my backtrack doesn’t imply that you recognize the point has been conceded, only that you read but choose to continue to ignore it.

    And why continue to harp on it anyway? The points conceded it’s conceded, was there something left to gain other than stroking your own ego about how right you are and how wrong someone else is? Did you bring any new information about it to the discussion?

  229. Amphiox says

    Sorry, but even if you kick off a discussion, that doesn’t mean everything people say is about you. If you want to claim misrepresentation, show it.

    And even if the idea in the form that’s being currently kicked around is a misrepresentation of what you intended, others may still wish to talk about it, in its current form.

    Too bad. You’re not entitled to force them to stop.

  230. Amphiox says

    If you think there’s more worth discussing then first acknowledge that you know I conceded the point,

    You are not entitled to tell others what to do or how to post. All you are entitled to do is point out that you had conceded the point.

    It is your choice whether you wish to do this with dignity, or without.

    otherwise it looks like you’re harping.

    You are not entitled to be the sole arbiter for judging this.

  231. erikthebassist says

    oh please Amphiox, I could turn around and say the same god damned thing to you, 266 and 267 were completely pointless.

  232. jacklewis says

    @Brownian
    “Since we all know you’re not adverse to doling out your share, jack, do you have an answer to this question?”

    Sure I don’t always turn the other cheek, I never pretended to be Jesus or Ghandi… still I usually retaliate after multiple offenses and I don’t initiate the festivities. A minor but meaningful nuance in my personal code of ethics.

    @erikthebassist
    “someone deserves to be ripped to shreds I’m all for it and am right there with these guys, but the problem is, the regulars here and at most of the other public forums on the subject can’t tell the difference between friend or foe.”

    Sure they can, regular=friend, new or not quite regular=foe. You are either with them or against them. It’s herd mentality you must have heard about it.
    To be honest they don’t all do it just a few of them giving the bad taste for the rest… They are easy to spot by their style, they don’t actually write to the person they respond to, they write to some perceived audience who’s approval they seek so they never effectively interact with the “other”. Another easy trick to spot them is the amount of effort they put in to selecting some “cool” avatar name.

    The sad thing is that people like you who concede on a lot of points and write long nuanced thoughtful comments just end up leaving for better pastures (aka just about anywhere else) meaning this place can’t really improve meaningfully (who would want *that* anyway???).

    The trick then is to simply read the articles (there still are some good ones from time to time) and stay away from the comment areas as much as possible. Sure PZ has made an effort to create more civilized areas but they are not linked with actual articles or subject matter so it’s not that much of an improvement on things even if I get the impression he might be somewhat aware of a problem with how things are being handled in the comments… Then again this might just be completely delusional on my part.

  233. John Morales says

    [meta + OT]

    jacklewis:

    Sure they can, regular=friend, new or not quite regular=foe. You are either with them or against them. It’s herd mentality you must have heard about it.

    It couldn’t be that individuals respond to what other individuals write, could it? :)

    (Such psychological projection!)

  234. erikthebassist says

    And with that, work is done for the day, I’m off to enjoy my weekend, which means I’m ready to officially put an end to this flounce and bid you all farewell for good.

    I’ve had countless hours of fun watching you guys rip fundies, mra’s, and other equally useless excuses for a human to shreds, and I’ll miss it I’m sure. I wish you luck but I don’t want to have anything to do with this scene, ever again.

    I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for a rational segment of the movement that believes in treating people decently while maintaining the sharp edge necessary to deal with fundies, mra’s and other scumbags, but you guys ain’t it, and you never will be.

  235. says

    You gave absolutely no indication that you saw the part where that point was conceded.

    ORLY. what do the words “and yeah I’ve read your backtrack” mean in your universe, then?

  236. says

    Saying you read my backtrack doesn’t imply that you recognize the point has been conceded, only that you read but choose to continue to ignore it.

    that’s incoherent. I can’t simultaneously acknowledge something and ignore it.

  237. says

    Did you bring any new information about it to the discussion?

    yes. and discussing how a particular point is wrong is not “harping”, it’s discussing an idea.

  238. says

    a rational segment of the movement that believes in treating people decently while maintaining the sharp edge necessary to deal with fundies, mra’s and other scumbags, but you guys ain’t it, and you never will be.

    noted: only “bad” people should have the arguments they bring to the table dissected. because that’s the rational way of doing things.

  239. Amphiox says

    I could turn around and say the same god damned thing to you

    You could, since you possess freedom of expression.

    But that wouldn’t mean that in doing so you’d be saying anything coherent or meaningful, or even remotely correct.

    And with that, work is done for the day, I’m off to enjoy my weekend, which means I’m ready to officially put an end to this flounce and bid you all farewell for good.

    Translation: “look at me look at me pay attention to me heres more details about my private life so that everyone will pay attention to me me me me me I want to be on a reality tv show”

  240. Brownian says

    Sure I don’t always turn the other cheek, I never pretended to be Jesus or Ghandi… still I usually retaliate after multiple offenses and I don’t initiate the festivities. A minor but meaningful nuance in my personal code of ethics.

    Thanks for the preview of your upcoming autobigraphy, jack, but I couldn’t help notice you ignored my question completely.

  241. says

    Erik,

    I have a partner whom I love very much, but we argue with each other all the fucking time because we are both stubborn assholes. Lately, I have realized that the only thing in our relationship that I hate even more than arguing with him is tediously rehashing the earlier portions of the current argument to decide who was more wrong at what point in the argument and why. It’s mostly just about preserving our respective pride and has fuck-all to do with resolving the actual original point of argument. Both of us have more important shit to do with our lives than that. So I’ve started trying to train myself to recognize that point in our arguments and say, “You know what, I don’t even fucking care any more. Do we agree about [the original point] now, yes or no? Okay, good, let’s go do something else now.”

    So let me ask here: do you agree that oppression doesn’t necessarily make the oppressed people any less likely to engage in oppression themselves, and that it wasn’t useful to argue that? If so, good, you’re done, you don’t need to defend yourself any more, as long as you just stop there and don’t try to argue any further. The only reason you keep getting attacked is because you keep trying to argue *after* you make that admission. You’re saying, “Yes, I was wrong, but…” when you really need to just say, “Yes, I was wrong, sorry.”

    It seems to me that the thing people are primarily annoyed with you for at this point is, the “but”, so if you can lose that I think you’ll be good. However, if you keep trying to salvage your pride and/or retroactively justify your wrongness by arguing that people shouldn’t have been so mean to you for being wrong, you’re going to keep having to fight. This is a community that cares about getting things right, and not at all about pride, because good skepticism demands humility and openness in the face of one’s mistakes rather than denial and diversion tactics. So if all you do is make this about salving your wounded pride by pointing out that other people aren’t perfect either, then you won’t get a lot of sympathy, because you’ll be demonstrating that you still haven’t learned the most important lesson of all.

    It’s also useful remember that you’re not having one argument with one person who’s a gigantic asshole trying to shout you down to the ground at maximum intensity, you’re having a dozen arguments with a dozen people, each of whom is making a different contribution at a (mostly) more reasonable volume. It just seems overwhelming because there’s only one of you to deal with it all. I know it sucks to be faced with that kind of full-bore assault, and to have to back down after experiencing it, but it’s the right thing to do, and you’ll be surprised how fast people’s attitudes toward you will turn around if you do it.

  242. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The sad thing is that people like you who concede on a lot of points and write long nuanced thoughtful comments just end up leaving for better pastures

    Well, that isn’t you JL writing the nuanced thoughts. You just want to think that’s the case. It isn’t.

  243. says

    I’m VERY late to this party, but I’m amused to the point of giggling at the idea that someone who uses a nym like Jafafa Hots could be accused of never having been to Buffalo or Cheektowaga.

    I lived in Buffalo and environs from 1966 to 1982, and still have family in the area. I’ve since lived in DC, LA, and Oakland, and in many ways Buffalo’s racism is some of the most heinous and entrenched I have ever experienced. Some of the worst conflict has been between African-Americans and Polish-Americans, fighting for the bottom rung of the ladder on the East Side and in the suburbs beyond. In fact, Cheektowaga — home of Ja Fa Fa Hots Pizza — mainly owes its existence to Polish flight from the Broadway Fillmore area, which has been the scene of African-American inmigration since the 1960s.

    Though perhaps that tension has all magically gone away in the decade since I’ve visited.