Random Charlottesville stuff

I am not a news reporter, and I am assuming readers are already familiar with the general course of events.

You may have heard that Donald Trump failed to condemn Nazis in his speech on Saturday. I saw on Last Week Tonight that it was worse than that.

Reporters were actively shouting at him to make a statement condemning White supremacists. He goes to the podium as if to respond, but then says something unrelated.

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Call-out culture: a meta-meta-commentary

A couple years ago, I made this linkspam on call-out culture. “Call-out culture” refers to a pattern in social justice activist spaces of jumping on, and piling upon other activists who are perceived to have made a mistake. It’s an issue when it turns into bullying, or when it just scares people away from communities that they need.

This is a really difficult problem to address, and to be honest, I think I am uniquely unsuited to address it. I don’t have personal experience calling people out, or being called out, or at least not in any way that meaningfully impacted me. I am not a very anxious person, and it is very difficult to scare me or burn me out. My interest in this topic is purely based on compassion, and an interest in the meta. So for several years, I’ve wanted to say something, but couldn’t figure out what to say.

After thinking about it a lot, here’s what I want to say: Most articles on call-out culture are bad. That’s right, I collected a bunch of links in a linkspam, and I think most of those links are bad. I mean, they’re good. But they’re also bad, especially after reading several of them. They often fail to say anything novel or meaningful. And the bottom line is that they’re not having the impact they need to have.

The coopter threat

Just the other day, I read a new article that seemed to epitomize the “call-out culture article”: Righteous Callings: Being a Good Leftist, Orthodoxy, and the Social Justice Crisis of Faith. It’s by Kai Cheng, a former writer at Everyday Feminism. And it follows a particular structure. First, the author establishes “insider status”, making it clear that she is a certified social justice activist critiquing her own culture. Then a list of grievances. And in the conclusion, a rebuke of those who would coopt this criticism to reject social justice entirely.

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Linkspam: August 10th, 2017

Sexual Harassment Is Pervasive and Under-Reported in Gay Bars – I found this link via a Facebook thread, where a bunch of gay/bi men were arguing that it was ridiculous that anyone would ever complain about sexual assault.  They ask, if you don’t want people to grab your ass/dick unasked, why would you even go to a gay bar or club?  This is absolutely infuriating.  This is the sort of thing that makes me think RAINN et al. are completely underestimating rates of sexual violence.

On the Corner: Intersectionality and the Existence of Privilege – Crip Dyke responded to my article criticizing the “privilege” framework.  She disagrees with my conclusion about “privilege” (which is fine!) but thinks that there’s something to be said about the limitations of “intersectionality”.  My response is in her comment section.  I should also link to this one: Every Other Trans Person is Wrong, which is disagreeing with me re: gender and sex language.

University of Oxford – Why am I linking to a random Facebook post by the University of Oxford?  Notice all the comments about the Philippines!  Somebody from the University of Oxford published a study looking at government funded trolls.  Among other things, they found that President Duterte of the Philippines spent $200,000 on trolls.  A bunch of people went to the University of Oxford’s page to attack this study, and it’s hilariously unconvincing.

A reminder to all the Americans out there: Duterte is not like Trump.  Duterte has much higher approval ratings, and has already put the Southern Philippines under martial law.  The martial law was supposed to be 60 days long, but was recently extended to the end of the year–in conflict with the Philippine constitution.

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On being partially vegetarian

Content note: This is just a personal account of how I became partially vegetarian. I won’t say much to defend this decision, although I’ll talk about some of the reasons I did it.

A couple years ago, I decided to eat less meat. First I decided that at restaurants where decent vegetarian options were offered, I would prioritize those. Then I switched out deli sandwich meat for meat substitutes. As for all the dinners I cook for myself, I tried making most of them vegetarian.

I would not say that I am 99% vegetarian, or even 95% vegetarian. It’s really more like 50-75%. At time of writing, the last time I ate meat was… yesterday. There are lots of reasons I might eat meat. Sometimes the vegetarian options at a restaurant are absent or unappealing. Or I’m at a social gathering where the food has meat in it. Or I’m cooking for my boyfriend, who happens to like meat a lot. Or he’s cooking for me. Or I’m just cooking a dish that I haven’t figured out how to make vegetarian yet.

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Can we dispose of the four horsemen?

A comic panel showing the four horsemen on horses. Dawkins: We held a calm, rational debate and came to the consensus that we should initiate doomsday!! For we are the four horsemen of the atheist apocalypse! The world as you know it ends this day!

Source: Virus Comix. This is from circa 2008, and you can judge for yourself how well it has aged.

“The Four Horsemen of Atheism” is first and foremost, a marketing term. The term was coined almost exactly a decade ago, in 2007, in order for the horsemen to sell recordings of themselves.  From there, the term had runaway success.

It appears that the reason that Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens were chosen (instead of other well-known atheists) is that they were all best-selling authors of atheist books in 2007. It also arose from media coverage, such as the famous 2006 Wired article, which coined the term “New Atheists”, and interviewed Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris. (Hitchens hadn’t published his book until 2007.)

But for me, it was never the books which were important, it was the blogs. I started reading Pharyngula in late 2006. I only ever read one of the books, and I read it in 2008 and didn’t care for it. To me, it has always seemed odd how much we venerate book authors. There are other media outside of books, after all! What about bloggers, journalists, youtubers, podcasters, and artists? Or for that matter, any more recent authors?

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Origami: When Rebecca Met Shuzo

Photo of When Rebecca Met Shuzo 1

When Rebecca Met Shuzo 1, by Robert J. Lang

This design is part of a set of 3, and you can find photos and diagrams on Robert J. Lang’s website.  Although his models are 3 inches wide, and mine is only 3 cm wide.

This model caught my eye not just because it looks nice, but because it looked relatively simple to replicate (which is not true of most of Lang’s models).  The biggest difficulty was that the very first step was to fold the paper in 5ths in one direction, and 13ths in the other direction.

To fold paper into 13ths, you could probably just use a ruler, or a printer for that matter.  I am not above such tools.  But if we can do it by origami instead, well wouldn’t that be nice?  So how do we use pure origami to fold paper into 13ths?  Instructions below the fold.

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The “privilege” framework is weak

1. Allosexual privilege

I can give a lot of reasons why “privilege” is a weak theoretical framework for social justice activism. But as it is for many things, I didn’t come to this conclusion by just working through all the reasons, I came to it via an experience. So I’ll start by sharing that experience.

In fact, it’s an experience shared by most asexuality activists of a certain generation. There was a time, around 2011, that activists tried talking about allosexual privilege. This was widely regarded as a failure, and now we don’t talk about it anymore, except to tell newer activists that it’s a bad idea.

The whole debacle is well-documented. This was around the time that the asexual tumblr community was formed, and asexuality discussion that used to be held internally was for the first time exposed to a much broader audience. A lot of ideas were refined during that time, often by way of flame wars with TERFs.1

One of the biggest flame wars was over the concept of “sexual privilege”. As with many flame wars it was a lot of nonsense, but there were a few substantial critiques that came up.

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