Disgust as the animating principle

Senthorum Raj reviews the animating principles informing the criminalization of otherwise ethically justifiable sexual behaviour:

We tend to assume that law is objective and disembodied, but the story of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK shows that, like the people who create it, it is in fact an emotional creature, animated by visceral human feelings — and as far as sexuality is concerned, the chief emotion at work is often disgust.

You don’t have to look very hard to see how much it was disgust, not a concern for morality or justice, that shaped the laws governing homosexual activity. In fact, in the UK, homosexuality was long deemed so perverse that to even speak of it in public would stain your character.

Criminal punishments for homosexual activity, which included the death penalty, thrived on disgust for centuries. Introduced by Henry VIII in 1533, the Buggery Act 1533 criminalised the “abominable vice” of anal sex between men. In his commentaries on the common law of England published in 1765, jurist William Blackstone described buggery as an “offence of so dark a nature” that “the very mention of [it] is a disgrace to human nature”. Colonial statutes (which are still in effect in a number of Commonwealth countries today) referred to sex between men as an “act against the order of nature”.

In 1895, writer Oscar Wilde was put on trial for “gross indecency”, a statutory offence introduced in 1885 to punish individuals who engaged in same-sex relationships, without having to prove they had anal sex. In sentencing Wilde for gross indecency, Justice Willsnoted:

The crime of which you have been convicted is so bad that one has to put stern restraint upon one’s self to prevent one’s self from describing, in language which I would rather not use, the sentiments which must rise in the breast of every man of honour who has heard the details of these two horrible trials.

Disgust, again, was the animating principle. In writing about the Wilde trial, philosopher and legal scholar Martha Nussbaum observes that disgust was not simply an excess or unintended consequence of prosecuting sexual offences; it was central to it. Criminal penalties were contingent on the extent to which the person, and the activity they engaged in, could elicit public disgust.

The observant might note that this remains salient today.

-Shiv

Finding a therapist as a kinky queer weirdo

H. D. Roslin has a piece up about finding a mental health counselor who isn’t going to pathologize your various deviations from the pastey-ass Christian cishetero norm:

Folks who fall outside of social norms by choice, birth, or biology often find themselves wondering if the therapist they can afford will try and “fix” their sexuality, change their family structure, or harshly judge or misinterpret their identities or relationship structures. And these fears aren’t unfounded; marginalized people are accustomed to their identities being medicalized and pathologized, and to being told that who they are, at their core, is broken, sick, or wrong. Add to that the fact that conversion/reparative “therapies” are still legal in 46 states, and it’s understandable why finding a therapist can feel so daunting and scary.

So what’s a marginalized person in need of help to do? As someone who’s logged more than 400 volunteer hours for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and who’s learned how to manage therapy myself, I’m often asked this question. Here are some of the most common queries I hear from humans dipping their toes into the pool of professional guidance, help, and support.

Do I need therapy?

Spoilers: Yep.

That said, I’m not sure this is always the right question to ask. I prefer to ask questions like: Are you flourishing? Do you feel entitled to flourishing? Are there people in your life who rely on you being your healthiest self? Have you ever had the opportunity to evaluate the ways you weathered childhood and adolescence? Have you ever experienced an emotional crisis? How did that go? Could it have gone better? Could it happen again? What kind of support do you have?

How do I find the right therapist?

I will be 100% honest: I cheat. My first stop is always the Psychology Today Therapist Finder, followed shortly thereafter by any local Queer Exchange on Facebook (most major metro areas have one; just do a Facebook search for “Queer Exchange” and whatever metropolitan area is closest to you).

Read more about it here.

I can also corroborate that it helps to be upfront about the various things that are potential landmines. For example, in my inquiries, I said immediately: “I need a kink-aware, queer & trans-friendly professional.” That filtered out the counselors who would fumble upon those disclosures and spared me the waste of disclosing to an unprepared person. But I also live in an area with pretty rigorous rights-laws and such upfront disclosures are no risk to me, so take that with a grain of salt.

-Shiv

 

Youtube censoring educational content for trans people

A few months ago YouTube once again updated their community guidelines such that certain content could be age-restricted, and that age-restricted content couldn’t be monetized. Professional sex educators were understandably upset, as now their means of earning money was going to be denied to them. YouTube’s administrative staff seem to largely operate from America’s sex squeamishness such that even the most benign, descriptive and frankly unsexy video would be flagged. It’s not quite censorship, but it does force sex educators to volunteer their time rather than get paid for it.

Cue the institutional transphobia. Chase Ross, a transmasculine youtuber who I follow, has had vast portions of their content restricted following the guidelines update. The videos that were flagged? They were reviewing prosthesis. Not sex toys. Just implements to facilitate the health of gender dysphoric transmasculine individuals by reducing their anxiety and depression.

This seems to be operating from an aggressively transphobic, and distressingly popular, notion that anything related to transgender health qualifies as “sexual,” which plays into one half of trans-antagonists’ simultaneous hypersexualization/desexualization complex.

Much of what I do here is likewise meant to be educational. One reason I’m a lot less likely to migrate away from FreethoughtBlogs is precisely because so many other networks, in their bid to attract ad revenue, will impose restrictions upon the content they can host. And the restriction is almost always related to sexual content–again, American squeamishness (this despite the very obvious hypocrisy of what the ads on these site say. They’re very obviously trying to exploit sex. So you can sell it–if you’re an advertiser–but you can’t teach it, if you’re an educator). And the portions of my content on trans people could very well end up being called “sexual,” even if it’s as stimulating as a Donald Trump speech.

-Shiv

Catholic “charity” attaches strings to its transgender outreach

If you ever wonder why I am incensed at the entrenched Catholic government services in Alberta, here’s a wonderful demonstration of why. A Catholic charity has opened up in India purporting to offer “outreach” to the trans community, but there are some very, very hard to miss strings attached to this outreach: (emphasis mine)

Caritas India, a branch of Catholic social welfare organization Caritas Internationalis, announced the launch of a program earlier this month designed to fight discriminatory attitudes toward transgender people.

“Caritas is open to work with transgender people. I am even open to recruiting them,” Rev. Frederick D’Souza, executive director of Caritas India, said in a statement reported by Vatican Radio.

The group’s initiative aims to combat bias by conducting outreach to transgender communities as part of its development programs, but it reveals the church’s own internal bias in the process.

D’Souza said he hoped the initiative would mark the “beginning of a new school of thought,” in which Catholic leaders offer greater “attention and support” to those dealing with “sexual confusion in their body.”

In the same breath, D’Souza clarified that the outreach would only go so far. By “transgender,” he said, he was referring to a group he classified as “biological transgenders,” which to him denoted those who identify with a different sex but have not undergone surgery.

“We don’t want to confuse the two,” D’Souza said. “We have an opinion on those who undergo sex change, we are not in favor of that. We believe that the natural gender one is born with is what he/she is supposed to cherish and contribute to creation.”

Par for the course for the abusive Catholic institution, this charity claims to offer help to trans folk (in south Asia, sometimes called hijra) but exploits the opportunity to push psychiatric abuse on those who need its help.

In other words, they have no intentions of helping trans folk at all, since the condition on which the help is offered is that we must be willing to submit to something that the American Psychiatric Association–along with basically every credible mental health professional accreditation body in North America and Europe–recognizes as damaging.

Yet the Catholics proceed apace, ever increasing the amount of reality they’re willing to deny in the name of their holy fucking book.

-Shiv


 

A few days after this post was put on the schedule, another Catholic “charity” hit the news for turfing an employee over her belief that we shouldn’t be dicks to gay people. I guess Christmas is only for straights! (And my straight coworkers legitimately ask why I need to host/attend separate Queer Thanksgivings and Christmases and Easters.)

Second free speech rally at U of T: Less violent, still wrong

Content Notice: More trans-antagonistic codswallop.

A second rally for “free speech” was recently hosted at the University of Toronto inspired by the events of Dr. Jordan Peterson’s hysterics, in which the protesters characterize Bill C-16 as being Orwellian, totalitarian, and Maoist. This event was considerably smaller–only 60 attendants versus several hundred–and it did not feature Dr. Peterson himself nor was Rebel Media there to foment a riot. When you don’t have avowedly dishonest demagogues whipping people into a frenzy, actual dialogue can occur.

Colour me surprised.

The protesters and the Facebook event are described as follows:

The event’s description on Facebook stated that “radical left wing activists are trying to impose censorship on our thoughts and speech, and declare a moratorium on any form of expression that THEY deem offensive.”

The rally’s organizers insisted their event was apolitical.Speaking to The Varsity, organizer Maria Morzc said that “Free speech is not a system of beliefs; it is a fundamental human right. And, also, free speech is, basically, I mean, all we want is to state our opinions without being silenced, without being labelled, without being assaulted, and we welcome members of the so-called ‘radical left.’”

Another organizer, Riley Moher, described the group as “not a libertarian group, we’re not an alt-right group, we’re not a liberal group, we just stand for the freedom of speech.”

Here we go, in the spirit of actual dialogue: Basically everything you said is still bullshit. Let’s walk through this one word at a time.

radical left wing activists

Man, isn’t it great how scary you can make something sound when you label it as “radical”? Respecting the pronouns of trans people is radical now. It really is illustrating the bias here. Bill C-16 would criminalize the advocacy of genocide against trans people as well as public incitements to violence, but apparently saying you shouldn’t do that is “radical.” 

Hypothesis: “Radical” here means, “people I don’t like.”

are trying to impose censorship on our thoughts and speech

Only the exact same censorship on your speech that has already existed for every other protected class in the Criminal Code for 40 odd years now. Are you seriously defending the right of people to advocate for genocide?

Also, how does one censor thoughts? No one has said you ought to be subjected to a frontal lobotomy for your inanity. Ridiculous.

and declare a moratorium on any form of expression that THEY deem offensive.

I’ll happily point out you’re trying to declare a moratorium on respecting trans people’s pronouns. It’s a knife that cuts both ways here.

The rally’s organizers insisted their event was apolitical

And I’m the Queen of England.

Free speech is not a system of beliefs; it is a fundamental human right.

Human rights are a system of beliefs. There is no objective system granting value to people’s lives. That is a social construct we more-or-less agree upon to facilitate stability and relative safety in our society. But we are, in the scheme of the universe itself, just a bunch of carbon bickering with itself on an irrelevant speck of sand on a miles long beach.

And, also, free speech is, basically, I mean, all we want is to state our opinions without being silenced

Okay but Bill C-16, again, is concerned with those opinions that think we should die for being who we are. If you aren’t calling for us to be put to death, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than charged with a hate crime.

It is also free speech for people to criticize you. Nobody is silencing you when we say you’re full of shit, or factually wrong, or blind to your own biases. I suspect what you actually want is to say a bunch of bullshit and go unchallenged for it.

without being labelled

CALLED IT.

What do you want me to do? “Transphobic” or “trans-antagonistic” are just words attempting to condense “suspicion or denigration of trans identities” into fewer syllables. Do you want to censor me for pointing out these patterns of belief as expressed by you and your freeze peach lobby?

without being assaulted

Okay sure, but that at least applies to both sides here. More generally, trans people are many many many many times more likely to be assaulted than you are, so maybe you should be directing your anti-assault efforts to cis people? Just a suggestion.

and we welcome members of the so-called ‘radical left.’

For the record, that was Dr. Peterson’s framing of the issue. I do not consider myself radical because I expect the correct name and pronouns to be used in reference to me as is the case with all cis people.

(I consider myself radical because I would see the means of production in the hands of the proletariat).

not a libertarian group

Free Speech Absolutism is certainly compatible with Libertarianism though.

we’re not an alt-right group

Your particular rally doesn’t set off those bells of mine, no. Your rally is a babbling mess but it reminds me more of naive freshmen still railing against “The Man” than it does of reactionary dickheads who want to deliberately restore second-class citizenship for anyone not cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, white and male.

we’re not a liberal group

I promise you the last thing I was going to accuse you of was being liberal.

we just stand for the freedom of speech

Just freedom for thee and none for me, apparently. Remember, you want to express your bullshit without me criticizing you for expressing bullshit. That’s not how this works.

 

Next statement:

A number of the speakers made comparisons between the university’s request that Peterson stop making public statements and totalitarianism. One speaker compared their struggle to the struggles of Chinese citizens decades ago in having to adopt the ideology of Maoism or face execution. “We’re faced [with] the idea of political correctness, with the social ostracization of us, of people who speak out against such mediocrity, against such cruelty, against such an affront to human rationality and the liberal values that Canada and America and the rest of the civilized world has been based on,” he said.

This is rich.

One speaker compared their struggle to the struggles of Chinese citizens decades ago in having to adopt the ideology of Maoism or face execution

We don’t have the death penalty in Canada.

We’re faced [with] the idea of political correctness

As I’ve said before, the freeze peach crowd wants to install political correctness too: It wants to elevate ignorance about gender variance to be politically correct despite the mountain of evidence contradicting their statements. We all want political correctness, and you need to stop pretending otherwise.

with the social ostracization of us

I’m sorry, none of the free speech protesters have been doxxed and are receiving death threats. It’s the trans protesters who cannot return to class until the RCMP has contained or discredited the threats. You’re trying to tell me that saying you’re full of shit is “ostracization”? You whiny fucking child.

of people who speak out against such mediocrity, against such cruelty

Expecting you to use the correct pronoun is “cruelty” now. I suppose the 90+% of us who have been, you know, actually assaulted is–what–mercy?

against such an affront to human rationality

Ahhh the old “my opponent is crazy” rhetorical tactic.

the liberal values that Canada and America and the rest of the civilized world has been based on

Liberal values like my right to say you’re full of shit? I am happily exercising that, right now.

 

Next statement:

Jacob Ritchie was walking by the event when he decided to participate, and he expressed an opposing view. Speaking of Bill C-16 — a piece of legislation aimed at protecting individuals from discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression that Peterson criticizes in one of his lectures — Ritchie said to the crowd, “There’s nothing saying, like, if you go up to a guy and talk to them and you don’t use their pronouns you go to jail or you’re sectioned under the human rights law. It’s if you discriminate against them and you can go and prove that they’ve suffered a harm. And really I think there’s a much higher bar for that than you guys think there is. I think this whole thing is misguided.”

Guess what the freeze peach attenders did?

Ritchie was heckled by some attendees during his statements

“Freedom for me and none for thee” indeed. The organizer of the rally hushed the hecklers, to their credit, but it really punches holes in the whole “freedom of speech” banner they claim to fly.

Again, the high bar Ritchie is referring to is “advocacy for genocide” and “public incitement of hatred.” Are you seriously having to check yourself constantly lest you accidentally let slip “death to all trans”? These fears raised by the freeze peach crowd just do not connect with any reasonable sense of risk. It would be like objecting to the criminalization of attempted murder because every time you walk past someone you have to steel yourself to not randomly stab them to death. Seriously?

 

Next statement:

Morzc said that her cause supports marginalized groups and stressed the importance of free expression to address the issues that these groups face.“Please clear up the confusion. Because, you know, we support the LGBTQ rights and the Black rights, the rights of Black students, the rights of Black individuals in society, in general, and we recognize that they face unique challenges, and we recognize that they need to address those challenges,” she explained. “However, we believe that actually promoting freedom of speech and freedom of expression would go a long way towards actually addressing these existing problems, and stifling free speech will do the opposite.”

I love the “I’m not prejudiced, but” line. It never works.

The former half of Morzc’s statement is just peachy keen, but I fail to see how you can reconcile the intention to promote the safety and well-being of QUILTBAG citizens when there are other citizens who have no intentions of interrogating their prejudices, no intentions of listening or learning, no intentions of fact checking, and every intention of avowedly and self-admittedly antagonizing the safety and well-being of those QUILTBAG citizens. It’s just not compatible to claim reactionary dickheads who want to hurt us deserve the platform to express those sentiments whilst also claiming to care about the QUILTBAG people targeted by this prejudice.

Peterson is a professor. Now that he has gone on record to publicly state he has every intention of discriminating against the trans students who enter his class, he has explicitly erected a barrier to trans folk at the U of T. If any of his classes are core classes for a degree, then trans folk trying to get that degree now have to enter Dr. Peterson’s class trusting that his prejudice won’t unfairly affect his ability to grade them. Alternatively, if they can pretend to not be trans, they might be able to avoid that prejudice–but then, Dr. Peterson forcing trans students to make that choice in the first place (if it’s even an option) clearly demonstrates that he has disregarded the rights of the trans students, specifically the right to access education. This isn’t an issue of two peers in disagreement. This is an issue of a person in a position of authority openly admitting he will abuse that authority to single out certain students.

This is what the U of T faculty were referring to in their letter, that as an educator he has a “responsibility to follow the law and follow U of T policies.” If the U of T doesn’t want to be known as a school that deliberately creates barriers for a certain class of students, it is compelled to repudiate Dr. Peterson. Dr. Peterson has admitted he knows this. He’s tapping into the martyr complex of the far-right by throwing himself on the sword, proving that the “SJWs” and “radical-leftists” are out to get him, when in reality we recognize that he is compromising a number of rights that trans people theoretically have, which have less to do with pronouns and more to do with accessing the same education everybody else can get. They will blame us for the target he painted on his own back.

There’s no guarantee how this will go. Being tenured, it will be next to impossible to actually turf Peterson. But the U of T also has the right to recognize the effect his spastic, howling, attention-seeking episode has had on trans students.

Ultimately what the freeze peach crowd wants is freedom from consequences, as evidenced by their obsession with Peterson. They want their prejudice against trans people to go unchallenged. Peterson is just a convenient screen onto which these anxieties are projected. That’s why it’s not about the legalities of Bill C-16: If they could be bothered to do their homework on Canada’s hate crime legislation, they’d see the threshold you have to cross to be charged. Since I doubt so many of them are publicly posting plans for school shootings, I also doubt any of them will ever face legal consequences for their actions.

And so we resort to social consequences. You know, the things like “that isn’t corroborated by the evidence,” “that’s not true,” “the study doesn’t say that,” “citation needed,” “that’s incredibly rude,” “there’s no reason to believe that,” that sort of thing?

Hardly the disappearing act of the KGB these freeze peachers so fearfully anticipate.

-Shiv