The Red and the Black — My Latest for Splice Today

It was only a matter of time before cops would kill an unarmed black person here in Maryland’s Eastern Shore region. On September 15, 2018, a Greensboro, MD police officer killed 19-year-old Anton Black after chasing the young man for allegedly trying to abduct a 12-year-old boy (even though Black and the 12-year-old were related and there was no abduction attempt). The officer tazed Black, pinned him to the ground, and Black became unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at Easton Memorial Hospital moments later.

Since then, Black’s friends and family have demanded answers from the Greensboro Police Department. The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun have written about it. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan spoke last week to demand answers. A video of the incident between Black and the police officer was recently released, and Black’s family currently wants the Department of Justice to conduct a civil rights investigation.

Meanwhile it’s quiet on the Eastern Shore. The local newspaper has covered the story numerous times, but flip open to the editorial page and not a peep. No Eastern Shore citizens demanding answers, other than the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black. No editorials from the Star Democrat staff. Once again, Eastern Shore residents cover their eyes.

Read the rest here.

Understanding the #CancelPinkWashing Controversy — My Latest For Splice Today

Maybe it’s just my anxiety, but I’m worried that I didn’t make myself clear with this one. I support #CancelPinkwashing and BDS. Maybe this excerpt will clear things up:

Despite what The New York Times’ Bari Weiss and Bret Stephens might write, saying that Palestine has a right to self-determination doesn’t mean Israel doesn’t have the same right. Being against both Israel’s political policies and Hamas is not a contradiction. Even the pro-Israel organization J Street is vocally against the West Bank Occupation, and calls on the US government to denounce the illegal settlements.

I do agree with Weiss and Stephens that some criticisms of Israel are full of anti-semitic dog whistles. For example, there was the 2017 Chicago Dyke March where a gay pride flag with a Star of David on it was considered explicitly anti-Palestinian. Then there’s the recently elected Ilhan Omar who once tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world,” which makes me think of the Happy Merchant figure plotting for world domination. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd once compared the actions of the Israeli government to those of Nazi Germany.

You can read the rest here.

Maybe Trump is Good for Something — My Latest for Splice Today

Don’t let the title fool you, friends. I have NOT taken the red pill, nor will I ever. Maybe this excerpt will clear things up:

This hypothetical situation reminds me of something I heard Slavoj Zizek once say about bosses. “If you have a boss who is up there,” he said, “the old fashioned boss shouting at you, exerting full brutal authority—in a way it’s much easier to rebel than to have a friendly boss who embraces you or [asks], ‘How was last night with your girlfriend,’ blah blah, all that buddy stuff.” In other words, friendly authority figures make one more accustomed to the status quo, therefore actual progress is nearly impossible. Perhaps Zizek is right. After all, liberals hardly said a word about Obama’s drone warfare. Why should they? At least Obama wasn’t a neoconservative like George W. Bush, who hoped blowing up the Middle East would trigger the Second Coming of Christ. Things were finally stable under Obama.

Maybe Trump’s good for something. The 2016 election inspired countless individuals on both the Left and the Right to stand up and say, “Oh hell no!” Trump inadvertently spearheaded the Women’s March movement which, despite currently being in limbo because of alleged anti-semitism, still made a positive impact on American politics. Trump’s blatant racism and xenophobia finally convinced people that America is not a post-racial society. Would any of this have happened if voters picked a friendly authoritarian in 2016?

Now that that’s out of the way, read the rest here.

I’m Not Ready to Reach Across the Aisle — My Latest for Splice Today

Former Twitter rivals Eve Peyser of Vice and center-right New York Times columnist Bari Weiss have officially ended their feud, and they recently wrote an op-ed to tell the story. The two writers met at a conference, Peyser asked Weiss if she wanted to hang out, and the two quickly bonded over the things they had in common. They report that they’re open to befriending people with different political views (with the exception of neo-Nazis, of course), and hope others can do the same to escape toxic social media culture.

I’m still hesitant about reaching across the aisle. I know I’m supposed to step out of my echo chamber of fellow SJWs and break bread with the classical liberal/center-right pundits of the Intellectual Dark Web in order to make American civil again, but all my past attempts have failed miserably.

Read the rest here.

Will Non-Binary Gender Markers Go Nationwide? — My Latest for INTO

Jessica Porten of Rewire recently wrote: “The future is not female; it’s non-binary.” Perhaps she’s right, given the recent news about non-binary gender markers in Colorado and DC schools adding non-binary gender options on enrollment forms. Non-binary people — people who do not identify as either men or women — are getting more recognition and acknowledgment, both within and outside of the LGBTQ community.

Legal recognition of non-binary and intersex people has surprisingly come a long way since Jamie Shupe became the first legally recognized non-binary person in the U.S. in June 2016. Now there are five states — Arkansas, Oregon, California, Maine, and Minnesota — that offer non-binary gender markers on driver’s licenses and state IDs, along with the District of Columbia.

But there are questions about the future. Will non-binary gender markers go nationwide? What are the legal barriers preventing that from happening? What about people who think there shouldn’t be any gender markers at all?

Read the rest here.

Humanists Face Off Against SCOTUS — My Latest for Splice Today

Earlier this month, the American Humanist Association (AHA) announced that the US Supreme Court will hear their case against the Peace Cross in Bladensburg, MD. The 40-foot tall cross is a World War I memorial that the AHA says is an explicitly Christian symbol on public ground, making it not only a church/state separation violation but also a slap in the face to non-Christians who served their country. The AHA’s legal counsel, led by senior counsel Monica Miller, first filed a complaint against the Peace Cross in 2014, and the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the cross was unconstitutional. However, according to the AHA, a month later both the government and American Legion separately filed petitions to the SCOTUS to overrule the decision. Now the Supreme Court has to face a case that, as the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Andrew Seidel recently wrote, “could bring down the wall” separating church and state.

According to Seidel, there are only two possible reasons why the Supreme Court decided to take the case. The first is that conservative justices welcome such a controversial case because, he explains, SCOTUS’ “solid conservative majority is ready to begin checking items off the Federalist Society wish list.” The second is the conservative justices don’t think there’s anything wrong with a cross on government property and doesn’t think the cross is even a Christian symbol. “If this is true,” Seidel writes, “then those conservative justices essentially do not believe that the Constitution guarantees anything like the separation of state and church currently enjoyed by people in the United States. The justices will have bought into the Christian nationalist worldview that helped carry Donald Trump into office and will do untold damage to our republic and the principles for which it stands.”

Read the rest here.

Will The Rainbow Wave Increase Bisexual Visibility? — My Latest for INTO

Last Tuesday’s midterm election was a watershed moment for many LGBTQ+ people running for office. The winners from the so-called Rainbow Wave include Jared Polis of Colorado, the first gay man elected governor; Sharice Davids, Kansas’ first Native American and gay congressperson; and Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker, two trans women elected to New Hampshire’s House of Representatives. The midterm election was also favorable to bisexuals such as Katie Hill of California, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon, and Harrie Farrow, who was elected Justice of the Peace for Carroll County, AR. And Kyrsten Sinema just eked out a win for Arizona’s open Senate seat.

But will these successes increase bisexual visibility? Even in 2018, bisexual invisibility remains a huge problem among the LGBTQ population, despite bi+ people making up the majority of LGBTQ people. The results of bi invisibility are literally deadly; countless studies show that bi+ people have worse mental health than lesbians and gay men, and are at a high risk of suicide. Will the Rainbow Wave help, even if it’s just a little bit?

Farrow hopes so. “We need more out people to save the bi community from our health and mental health disparities,” she says. “But ironically, the best ways to get more out people is to have more out people. There has to be a sense that when you come out, you won’t be on your own being battered around by a lonely wind totally vulnerable to hate and discrimination; there has to be community and role models to embrace you when biphobes abandon and bully….Just as out and proud gay people shattered stereotypes, the same is desperately needed for bisexuals.”

Read the rest here.

The Case for (Some) Tribalism — My Latest for Arc Digital

I have been thinking about tribalism a lot lately—and I know I’m not alone. Just last week, Arc Digital’s Berny Belvedere wrote a piece on it.

Considering differing viewpoints is an intellectual virtue — yet one we tend to emphatically reject. And that’s why it’s accurate to say we live in echo chambers. … Tribalism exists, and it is exacerbated by the echo chambers we willingly retreat into. This just follows from our human nature. But perhaps it doesn’t have to be this way.

On the one hand I agree about the dangers of extreme tribalism. I’m a literal card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America, but I still read op-eds by Bret Stephens, Bari Weiss, and Arc’s Cathy Young to see what they have to say. I disagree with 95 percent of their ideas — often vehemently — but by reading their arguments, I can give them full consideration, even if I go on to reject them in the end.

I can also gain a clearer picture of why I disagree with them, and at precisely which points. If I don’t read opposing viewpoints, I run the risk of misunderstanding those positions. When I do read them, it crystallizes just where the disagreement lies, which then helps me better express how our views differ.

Despite the benefits of familiarizing myself with opposing viewpoints, I sometimes wonder whether tribalism is really as bad as advertised. I sometimes wonder if all tribalisms are equally bad. What if some tribalism is actually conducive to self-preservation?

Read the rest here.

Bi Any Means Podcast #171: Trump Attacks Trans People…Again

This is another episode I did live on Facebook this past Sunday, not just because I was too lazy to book a guest, but also because the New York Times recently published an article about President Trump’s latest planned attack on trans people. Needless to say, I’ve got some shit to say about this!

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #171: Trump Attacks Trans People…Again” on Spreaker.

The Biskeptical Podcast #57: Taylor Swift Gets Woke

Today we’re going to take a break from Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and the rest of all the horrible stuff happening right now, and instead talking about Taylor Swift’s recent endorsement of Tennessee Democratic candidates Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper. Will T. Swift help usher the blue wave next month? Do celebrity endorsements in general help elections? Let’s find out!

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #57: Taylor Swift Gets Woke” on Spreaker.