Oh, I have not self-flagellated sufficiently for The Cis, what monster am I

Back in the good old days of 2011 when Nazis were indisputably punchable and the President of the United States did not issue orders via Twitter, a fellow by the name of Paul Elam launched a website called “Register Her.” It was a domain dedicated to publishing the photographs, home addresses, phone numbers, routes to work and/or any other personal information folks could acquire–a practice commonly called “doxxing”–of women who have caused “significant harm to innocent individuals.” Alongside convicted female sex offenders and murderers were… women whose sexual assault allegations were defeated in court. Most feminists would recognize the problems immediately: How there exists a gap between morality and legality; how courts must convict with evidence that proves the defendant performed the deed “beyond all reasonable doubt;” how an acquittal doesn’t necessarily mean the action had not occurred. And that’s without taking into account the evidence that most law systems perform poorly when attempting to prosecute sexualized violence. The final, perhaps most critical detail, is that he wasn’t the sole contributor. His followers can and did propose their own profiles for the women who had, in their view, wronged them, and doxxing soon became a mainstay of online “men’s rights activism.” It became an assumption that if you were being filmed by MRAs, your face could end up on the darknet, and your details shortly thereafter.

Most people would agree, given this context, that if Paul Elam walks up to you with a video camera and you’re a woman, he’s engaging in an act of intimidation, because we know what he does with those images. Now the courts might say “it’s legal to film someone in public,” but, again, recalling our morality/legality gap, courts have also said upskirt photographs are legal too. Again, it’s not a particularly difficult analysis to perform–the law is behind most people’s conceptions for morality, so the argument “it’s legal” should be understood to be irrelevant when the actual discussion is ethics. It is, in essence, surrendering the argument altogether, though to those of an authoritarian bend it is convincing.

[Read more…]

At this point the anti-trans crowd isn’t shy about lying through their fucking teeth

Lydia Bilton (nor her editor, for that matter) couldn’t even make it one article without contradicting herself.

An expert gets it wrong? Do tell.

Journalism pro-tip:

The mom

is not

an expert

And frankly, she’s blaming the doctors because she didn’t follow their orders. That’s bad enough, if she wasn’t trying to “warn” people about the fucking healthcare regime that she deliberately defied.

Fuck off, 9News, and fuck you, Ali.




Threatening protesters with 75 years is totally reasonable, rules #j20 judge

I find myself gobsmacked in reading these statements. The entire argument by the hundreds of defence lawyers for the J20 defendants mass arrested on Trump’s inauguration is that taking protesters to trial for 55+ years worth of charges is an act of intimidation in and of itself, in violation of the First Amendment. The j20 judge just kind of… completely ignores the implications of Kerkhoff’s [the prosecutor] actions and ploughs straight ahead.

“The government comes in and says my client is liable for a felony—all they’ve established is that he’s arrested, not even what he did during the march,” defense attorney Veronice Holt argued in July. “You can’t just say, ‘As many people as the government can catch need to stand trial.'”

But Judge Lynn Leibovitz writes in her decision that the charging document has all of the necessary specificity to go to trial. The government says that all of the defendants operated as part of the “black bloc,” using those tactics to commit violence and evade identification. Because the government is using aiding and abetting and conspiracy liability, “each defendant charged in the indictment may be liable for the acts of others alleged in the indictment,” writes the judge

Yes, Leibovitz. That’s the fucking problem. If these charges result in conviction, it’s a blank cheque to police to scoop up as many people as they want, as long as some twit breaks a window.

She also rejected the argument that the charges amounted to a First Amendment violation. Defense lawyers said that people might protest less if they feared they would be held legally responsible for the actions of others.

But Leibovitz writes that those arguments are, in essence, also about whether the government has evidence against the individual defendants that would justify their charges, a question she writes is better addressed at trial, the first of which is slated to start in November. She concludes that the indictment’s details survive both First and Fourth Amendment challenges.

In essence? Threatening you with several decades is entirely reasonable and not at all intimidation.

Solidarity is now evidence for conspiracy.

I’m sure the freeze peachers will be here any minute now.


No, I won’t be friends with conservatives either

Apparently there was a dust-up in British parliament because Labour member Laura Pidcock said she “wasn’t going to be friends with Tory [conservative] women.” I mean, this controversy is ridiculous for so many reasons–I have never “befriended” a colleague either, so I don’t understand why that would be contentious–but also because it implies that somebody’s personal politics shouldn’t affect your view of them.

Abi Wilkinson breaks it down. She distinguishes between “ambivalence” towards suffering versus actively perpetrating it (which is precisely the reason I tend to dislike conservatives), but otherwise has a pretty good rebuttal:

Roughly a week ago, Labour MP Laura Pidcock said in an interview that she doesn’t want to “hang out with Tory women” in Parliament. The 29-year-old was discussing the support she’d received from one specific group of Labour colleagues, who have invited her to join a WhatsApp group and offer advice on “anything from procedure to women’s issues”. A barrage of criticism followed, with numerous pundits expressing disapproval at her attitude. Comments she previously made about Tory MPs were taken out of context and presented as evidence she sees everyone who has ever voted Conservative as “the enemy”. Her actual point – that she has already friends she chooses to spend time with and is in Parliament to “be a mouthpiece for [her] constituents and class” rather than to socialise – got lost.

Heaven forbid a democratic representative represent their constituency. Didn’t she get the message that Parliament is just a proxy for corporate networking??

(The sarcasm runs deep)

There are two broad, related criticisms of Pidcock’s stance which seem to have become muddled. The first is that by ruling out friendship with MPs from the other side of the House, she’ll limit her ability to engage in potentially productive cross-party work. The second presumes there is no relevant difference between Parliament and any other workplace or social context, and posits that writing off a whole group of people without getting to know them individually is simply narrow-minded.

Both of these arguments rest on a very particular understanding of what politics actually is. Cross-party work is only possible so far as there is an overlap in goals and priorities. Pidcock has since clarified that she will “work with a Tory if it is going to benefit the people in [her] constituency” – but argues that basic ideological differences make the possibilities for cooperation limited. She notes that she has already attempted to reach out, but when she “asked them to sign [her] letter asking for a pause to Universal Credit” she was ignored, and describes Conservative MPs as “ambivalent to the suffering of [her] constituents”.

“Ambivalent to the suffering of constituents” seems to nicely summarize the direction of conservative politics since the 70s, yes.

Many such MPs would doubtless object to this characterisation, but this disagreement is at the heart of the conflict between Conservatives and the left. Publicly, at least, Tories tend to argue that their policies are the only logical option in the circumstances that exist. Austerity might hit the poor hardest, but that is just unavoidable. We simply have to balance the books. The way the economy works now is the the only way it can possibly work. To see politics as fundamentally conflictual, as Pidcock does, you need to believe that more than one possible alternative exists.

The consequences of the last politician to balance the books at any cost can still be felt in Alberta, over a decade after his legacy. Unless you’re rich, I don’t recommend it. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the primary recruiting arena for conservative politics is wealthy frat boys.

Read more here.


I’m sure the frozen peachers are right around the corner

I’m going to keep dredging this up because every time there is a development in this case, I am positively floored by how draconian and authoritarian the prosecution is.

The case against the J20 protesters–over 200 people who were kettled and mass arrested because they wore the same colours as someone who broke a window–has been repeatedly described as “unprecedented.” For starters, there is the simultaneous charge of both conspiracy to commit rioting and having committed the riot itself. Instead of evidence of intent factoring into sentencing provisions, the prosecution, by pressing both, is trying to bilk the defendants for a maximum sentence of 20 years instead of 10.

This is on top of the evidence for the third felony charge–inciting a riot: “Anti-capitalist slogans.” Also a 10 year max sentence. The indictment clearly describes that there were half a dozen defendants who are alleged to have actually carried out property destruction, so it is unclear how the half dozen could be accused of inciting the riot, or the 194 alleged inciters of committing it.

Yep, those freeze peachers will be here any second now, I’m positive.

Lastly, the five counts of property destruction (5 years max a piece) clearly name which defendants they accuse of directly perpetrating the action, and yet the prosecution has gone ahead to press all five charges to all 200 odd defendants. This includes a defendant who didn’t actually participate in the protest, but merely organized it.

And they’re being tried collectively. (emphasis added)

[Read more…]

Glad to see red-baiting make a return

The title of this post is sarcasm, for those of you who aren’t following along at home.

One thing that struck me about the Beltway’s coverage of the Berkeley protest was how commentators accused the anti-fascist protesters of feeding into Nazi persecution narratives. I found this accusation to be badly misdirected. The media were deliberately trying to get the white supremacists on film and on their microphone, and what they printed a day later  confirmed that they were selling a very familiar drink: Red bait. I was disappointed to see self-avowed skeptics swallow the media narrative uncritically, as the material from the non-professionals clearly shows a different story from “vicious hoodie thug attacks innocent Trump supporter”–a Trump supporter who had pepper-sprayed a crowd of people while wearing a Pinochet shirt, the Chilean capitalist dictator legendary for his torture & mass murder program against socialists [not going to link to it but LITERALLY ALL THE TRIGGER WARNINGS if you look it up].

At minimum, please take the time to browse amateur footage. Yes, you’ll have to sift through the alt-right versions, but that’s how I also found this hilarious tweet: alt-right dude says the protest turned into a “massive militant demonstration,” but shows exactly nothing happening. Not even the people actively trying to smear anti-fascist protesters could find something incriminating, but you can trust the Beltway to play something up for clickbait and distort the picture.

Assume they’ve got a slant at least as severe as the anti-fascists themselves.

[Read more…]

Staff Sergeant Mildly Annoyed, reporting for duty in the Outrage Brigade

“Don’t feed the tone trolls.”

One of my first experiences with in-person transphobia was actually a feminist context, rather than an atheist one. One of the other participants had made a classic bungle in trans-antagonism: conflating gender identity and gender role. This isn’t a terribly uncommon mistake. In the admittedly esoteric field of trans feminism they are terms of art, generally heading in the direction of consistent meaning within the discourse; the mistake is analogous to using chromosomes and genes interchangeably, or conflating quarks with protons. It’s a sign the person is unfamiliar with what trans scholars have actually written about ourselves, and although this conflation is a foundational premise in many trans-antagonistic strains of feminism, I try to assume it is simply a matter of ignorance.

It was eventually my turn to speak. I introduced myself as well as my area of interest, and explained that many definitions within trans discourse often use the term “gender identity” in relation to an experience of the body (comfort, apathy, distress) and use the term “gender role” to describe external expectations thrust upon you specifically because of your assumed sex assigned at birth. [ex: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5] In this way many feminist observations are easily reconciled with trans liberation: All people are in part oppressed by these rigid and unrealistic expectations, in different ways and to different degrees, and we should unlearn them. All will benefit–cis, trans, man, woman, both, neither, sometimes either, all or none of the above. This is not to say that gender roles account for all people’s oppression, just a part of it. From this perspective the alleged “spat” between trans folk (chiefly trans women) and feminism is utterly nonsensical. There need be no disagreement.

And yet. And yet…

I was accused of being “angry”–by someone, and I kid you not, red in the cheeks and raising her voice–even though I was flatly stating what trans discourse actually says. I hadn’t even accused the speaker of malice (again, I assume ignorance first). All I meant by my comment was that the basic idea motivating the other participant’s bizarre animus against trans folk wasn’t rooted in any material I was aware of–material I continue to be unaware of, as the people using this premise seldom cite sources, or when they do, cite each other saying the other said this in a fashion that would have had me laughed out of my undergrad.

One would hope that as the self-styled paragons of debate and rationalism and/or empiricism, atheists would recognize a straw-stuffing exercise when they see it, and applaud someone for speaking up in the name of rigorous debate.

And yet, and yet

Here we are: Staff Sergeant Mildly Annoyed, reporting for duty in the Outrage Brigade. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, because I’m so numb to people’s ignorance on trans issues that “anger” is actually a relatively rare emotion I experience anymore. In fact I am pleasantly surprised whenever someone manages to speak on the issue without unknowingly spewing bile on their audience. So at this point, expect y’all to be, at best, clueless. My bar is so low for atheist dudebros that they gain a point of approval just for figuring out that “transgender” is an adjective.

Nothing you say ever really surprises me anymore. Maybe it stings your ego that you are not the Paragon of Perfect Thought in every subject, that you sound like a child when you wander into areas beyond your expertise. That’s not writing you off or putting all your work in a trash bin. It is, in fact, a demonstration of the precious debate that many of you claim to admire. Sometimes y’all are really fucking wrong, but somehow when we discuss that, we’re “dividing the movement.”

If I could be assured I were inoculated against the consequences of asinine men, I would consider it immensely amusing that many of atheism’s much-vaunted leaders say, with no hint of irony, that those of us concerned with fairness and justice are being divisive, after tweeting third-rate shit like this:

I’m not outraged. I’m no more outraged than when a toddler throws a tantrum. It’s the sort of immature, emotional outburst you simply expect from them, and while it certainly may be annoying, we would not say that a parent trying to coax their toddler back down to Earth is “outraged.”

Some toddlers continue to express anger nonetheless. At least in their case it’s sometimes because they can’t articulate between degrees of necessity and desire because they lack awareness of abstract concepts.

I wonder, then, what your excuse is.

Staff Sergeant Mildly Annoyed signing off. Ten four.


The greatest tragedy in Sarah Ditum’s mind is treating white women like adults

Let’s get one thing perfectly clear: Sarah Ditum is constitutionally incapable of directly stating what she means. She has been trained in a feminist tradition that trades almost exclusively in equivocation and doublespeak. This is one aspect of debunking TERFs that makes the task so grating–the ambiguity, rather than being a sign of the TERF’s lack of principles, instead reflects poorly on the critic since we sometimes guess incorrectly at what they’re trying to say. From there they can swoop in and claim that they actually meant something else, which, again, should be considered evidence that they are shitty communicators rather than evidence the critic has misunderstood. So I confess, I’m at a backfoot here, squinting at Egyptian hieroglyphs without the benefit of a Rosetta stone.

Feminists have spent decades trying to get the value of women’s unpaid labour recognised, to basically no avail. The trouble all along, it turns out, was the framing: instead of saying women deserved credit for their contribution to the economy, feminists should have said that women deserve blame. Because blame is one commodity where people are happy to give women their due. The obvious absence of women from the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia – where female counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed by a car allegedly driven by an alt-right supporter called James Alex Fields – could have lead to a discussion about the male near-monopoly on violence. Instead the impulse to cherchez la femme kicked in early and hasn’t let up since.

This isn’t particularly difficult, Ditum.

[Read more…]

Social constructionism in sex

My inestimable colleague Crip Dyke reminded me that I’ve never justified the vocabulary I use in my writings on trans issues. In her post, “Every Other Trans Person is Wrong,” she explains that consensus is seldom achieved among minority communities, and yet this does not excuse inaction in the face of oppression on the part of majorities. It’s true–I couldn’t possibly hope to wrangle in the entirety of all trans people on the planet, but she is correct when she writes elsewhere that my word choices on trans issues are deliberate and calculated to achieve specific ends, despite the lack of universal agreement among those for whom the terms may apply. So today I’d like to show my work and demonstrate that calculation. I can’t form The Official Consensus of Teh Trans, but if you understand why I use the words that I do, you’ll be better equipped to respond to differences of opinion within the trans community, and thus the lack of apparent consensus may be less intimidating in your wish to materialize your good will towards trans folk into substantive action. (This post obviously assumes you have that good will. If you don’t, that’s a tirade for another day.)

Content Notice: I am going to invoke cissexism and endosex supremacy specifically as a means to discuss it. In addition there is a sex ed component where I show variations in genitalia in a non-sexualized fashion, but in our sadly unenlightened society that is nonetheless NSFW.

[Read more…]