Post-structuralist feminist

PST is an essayist whose series is still young. The works are meticulously argued, and thorough enjoyable for their acerbic wit. Here’s one she did on the motivations of the “YouTube Pundit” genre of vlogging:

The exasperation of the debunker presents as a study in contrast to the giddy self-importance of the YouTube Guru (who may themselves have begun this theatre of the absurd as a pseudo-debunker); Incredulous of the absurdity of the situation they now find themselves in, they also, unfortunately, realize they are one of a precious few people who are adequately equipped to untangle the mess that was gleefully dumped onto YouTube. Again.

The increasing prevalence of this situation is linked to the increasing popularity of a specific attitude — derisive, dismissive, and disingenuous — that has come into fashion over the last decade. It may be funny to think of attitudes as being subject to fashion trends, but it’s pretty obvious this is the case if you spend any length of time watching the various YouTube authorities and Gurus, particularly the ones who prefer to have every position with which they align themselves prefixed by “anti-”.

It is fashionable to LARP intellectual authority, even when it is clearly absurd for the person in question to have a reasonable claim to the title (at least on the topic proposed).

The basic drama of the LARPing performance also includes a crowd participation element — a kind of Greek chorus LARPed by the audience in the comment section — and the formula for the whole production is as follows:

The YouTube Guru has a video published of them haranguing on some topic/person/entire discipline that is presently fashionable to harangue (aka “cool” aka delicious internet points). The video might be an upload from the Guru, or might be uploaded by a curating channel. In either case, they have been posted on YouTube with a trendy title, which, at the time of the writing of this essay, is: “_____________ DESTROYED!!!

Through the video, the Guru passes their pre-digested bits of nonsense down to the baby birds in the comment section, who chirp with delight at their imagined relationship and resemblance to the hero of the hour (doomed to falling out of favor as fashion changes, but for now, the “thumbs up” button is being tapped more than an excellent yo mama joke I could make right here).

The comment section occasionally includes something nominally reminiscent of debate, where fledgling birdbrains try their hand at further regurgitation of nonsense, or perhaps even jumping off an intellectual cliff entirely. “Dumpster fire” is a popular descriptor of comment sections for this reason, but there is at least a sense of belonging in the circle jerk flight patterns, a sense of family; the excitement of attending the daily reunion of All The Very Clever People.

This flavor of YouTube content (though it is an acquired taste, as the uninitiated readily observe) is apparently a very seductive treat — although, I think, seductive only when someone has been starved so completely of intellectual nutrients that any nugget even resembling wisdom is not only palatable, but seems downright profound.

Read more about it here.


“Biological male”

It takes a lot for me to endorse a Twitter thread, mostly because if your message takes more than one tweet I think you should just get a blog. Still, Zinnia Jones has made an argument for why insistence on labeling trans women “biological males” has troubling ethical implications, aside from the overly reductionist interpretation of science.

(Click on the embedded tweet to view the thread).


Thoughts on the Omar Khadr settlement

Stephen Harperbot’s many grave atrocities are still haunting the Liberals today, and much to my chagrin the Liberals have been slow to act on many of them. One such Ghost of Xmas Past is Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was taken to Afghanistan at the age of 15 by his father, a man allegedly affiliated with Al-Qaeda. At some point during his stay in Afghanistan, Khadr was either involved or simply proximal to a combat between AQ and the United States Army. Khadr was wounded during the combat, and was alleged to be responsible for the death of one American soldier. He was captured, and tortured “enhanced interrogated” by both Canadian and American intelligence in Guantanamo Bay. He confessed (as victims of “enhanced interrogation” are wont to do) to a series of war crime charges and sentenced to 10 years prison during a military tribunal, in violation of his rights as a minor to be tried as a minor, based on evidence extracted from torture. In addition, his war crime allegations are a violation of the Geneva Convention–if Khadr was an active combatant, as the “evidence” claimed, then killing another active combatant is supposed to be within the “rules of war.” In other words: Khadr’s trial was a clusterfuck, and nobody involved at any point stopped and said “are we the baddies?”

[Read more…]

Liberal transphobia

Sam Riedel has a good review of recent events which are representative of a broader pattern: Trans folk have a very uneasy alliance with left-leaning people in general, because left-leaning people in general haven’t shed the kyriarchy’s nasty habit of scapegoating us.

Much of my marching time was spent exhorting bystanders to cheer for trans rights. As we passed the iconic Stonewall Inn, I turned once again to my right and screamed “If you have rights because of trans women of color, make some fucking noise!” Hoots and cheers ensued, and we proceeded on our way.

Little did I know that less than two hours later, when #NoJusticeNoPrideactivists blocked the tail end of the parade to call attention to violence against trans women of color, deportations, and the ongoing corporatization of Pride, 12 of them would be arrested by the NYPD. As those same Pride bystanders — standing outside the bar where Black trans activist Marsha P. Johnson, “The Saint of Christopher Street,” resisted arrest and started a riotthat would change the world — watched the arrests, they cheered again. Not for the protesters, but for the police. Judging from photos, at least one of those arrested was a transfeminine person of color.

The message, though unintentional, was clear: The cisgender Left, those who claim to support trans people and our struggle for civil rights (and who make up the vast majority of those at NYC Pride), are quick to cheer our oppressors when that support becomes inconvenient. Bystanders were happy to acknowledge Pride’s sociopolitical roots as long as that acknowledgment was brief and didn’t get in the way of celebrating. As soon as political statements became an inconvenience, their support was swiftly withdrawn. Similar protests took place at other Pride events; D.C. attendees were quoted in the Washington Post yelling “Shame!” and “You’re going to ruin the parade!” to #NoJusticeNoPride activists.

I imagine this is what strategists feel like when one of their pieces is erratic and prone to flying off the chess board. I’ve certainly had to swallow a few bitter pills any time I dip my toe in to local anarchist organizing–the tendency to view any and all institutions as having no justifiable function results in some theories based on conspicuously thin evidence–and I’ve had anarchists rather bizarrely claim that I am victim to the Illuminati “BigPharma.” They don’t seem to understand that the pharmaceutical industry’s biggest ethical problems are related to patents, intellectual property, and ownership; how these concepts interact with distribution or lack thereof; and how that distribution is not being accorded to physical need. Instead, biochemistry and pharmacology as scientific disciplines are capitalist lies!11!!1

Okay, bro. I’ll be taking your eyeglasses now, since medical aides are all a profit-conspiracy.

Read more of Riedel’s review here.