Bags are packed

Time to launch the Patreon.

I tested it on Facebook the other day to see if I’d done it right and people started pledging right then but this is the actual launch.

I’m going back to the original B&W, with NO ADS and no fatuous people announcing that I’m a transphobe because I have my own ideas about gender. I earned a little income blogging at Freethought Blogs and I need to replace that. Think of me as like a public radio station but without voices and without the “you owe us, please call now” drives. You don’t owe me. Don’t donate unless it’s easy for you and you want to. I like doing this and I like having readers; donating is entirely voluntary.

You can do it


Hoping to hear

People are so nice.


Ed Brayton is not the person I was hoping to hear was leaving I can certainly understand why, though.

Update: adding a poignant public post from a network colleague:


[Personal problems blah blah] I know there’s some shit going down on our blog network that I need to address, and I will once I’ve found enough spoons. I know a lot of my readers are hurting right now. Please let me know if there’s anything in particular you need me to do to help you. Unless you want me to join Ophelia’s pity party. That I cannot do.

This isn’t a pity party I’m having. It’s a disgust party.

A fundamental human need

Amnesty’s prostitution policy document.

Zip down to page 5, and read note 2.

 ²As noted within Amnesty International’s policy on sex work, the organization is opposed to criminalization of all activities related to the purchase and sale of sex. Sexual desire and activity are a fundamental human need. To criminalize those who are unable or unwilling to fulfill that need through more traditionally recognized means and thus purchase sex, may amount to a violation of the right to privacy and undermine the rights to free expression and health.

Ok wait. If sexual activity is a fundamental human need, then what happens in cases where there are no prostitutes available? What would happen if all women had job options they liked better than sex work, so there just were no women willing to do it?

If sexual activity is a fundamental human need, what happens in emergency situations, like earthquakes and floods, when people have to take refuge in shelters and thus have to have their fundamental needs met? Would the Red Cross and MSF and everyone else doing emergency work be expected to provide sex partners along with water and food and shelter and medical treatment?

If sexual activity is a fundamental human need, does that mean that straight men have a fundamental right to have access to A Woman at stipulated intervals?

If sexual activity is a fundamental human need, what right do married women have to say no to marital sex? They can’t starve their husbands, so why should they be able to say no to sex just because they don’t feel like it?

The Supreme Court struck a blow at the heart of the Voting Rights Act

Today in my Inbox an email from one of my heroes – John Lewis. It is, of course, a public mailing, so I’ll share it right here.

Every year, I head back to the birthplace of a new America — Selma, Alabama — where a determined struggle for voting rights transformed our democracy 50 years ago.

On March 7, 1965, Hosea Williams and I led a band of silent witnesses, 600 nonviolent crusaders, intending to march 50 miles to Montgomery — Alabama’s capital — to demonstrate the need for voting rights in America.

At the foot of the bridge, we were met by Alabama state troopers who trampled peaceful protestors with horses and shot tear gas into the crowd. I was hit on the head with a nightstick and suffered a concussion on the bridge.

I thought that was going to be my last demonstration. I thought I might die that day.

We knew the dangers that lay ahead, but we marched anyway hoping to usher in a more fair society — a place where every American would be able to freely exercise their constitutional right to vote, and each of us would have an equal voice in the democratic process.

We knew that standing up for our rights could be a death warrant. But we felt it would be better to die than to live with injustice.

When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, it was a great day. The Act made the ballot box immediately more accessible to millions of Americans of every race, gender, region, economic status, and national origin. It has been called the most effective legislation of the last 50 years.

The Voting Rights Act | The White House

Quote: I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Alabama for the right to vote. I'm not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us. Byline: John Lewis August 24, 2013

But just two years ago, the Supreme Court struck a blow at the heart of the Voting Rights Act, nullifying a key provision that had curbed discriminatory voting rules and statutes from becoming law. As soon as the Court’s decision was announced, states began implementing restrictive voting laws. While some states are changing laws to increase the number of Americans who are able to participate in our democracy, by increasing early voting days and making it easier for people to cast a ballot, far too many states are passing new laws that make it harder and more difficult to vote. Early voting and voter registration drives have been restricted. Same-day voting has been eliminated in some cases. Strict photo identification laws have been adopted, and improper purges of the voting rolls are negating access to thousands, perhaps millions, who have voted for decades. That’s why people are still marching for this cause today. Even as we speak, the NAACP is leading a 40-day, 40-night march from Selma to Washington, D.C. in support of a number of issues, including the issue of voting rights. As citizens, it is our duty to make sure that our political process remains open to every eligible voter, and that every citizen can freely participate in the democratic process. And when it comes time to get out and vote — we have to do so. The right to vote is the most powerful nonviolent, transformative tool we have in a democracy, and the least we can do is take full advantage of the opportunity to make our voices heard. Today at 2 p.m. ET, I’m joining President Obama for an important conversation on protecting voting rights — and I hope you’ll join us. Tune in here. Despite the challenges, I am still hopeful — but we must remain determined. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each and every one of us, each generation, must do our part to help create a more perfect union. Keep marching on. John Lewis Member of Congress The Voting Rights Act | The White House

Quote: The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It's the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society and we've got to use it. Byline: John Lewis August 24, 2014


Hands off god

The NSS reports that the UAE has tightened up its laws by making it illegal to “offend” God.

Wouldn’t you think if there’s anyone who can rise above being “offended” it would be God? I mean – ants can say harsh things about me all they want to; it won’t offend me. Why? Because they’re ants. Their concerns are not my concerns, and vice versa. Our concerns are too different in nature to be subject to emotions like being “offended.” Ants are going to think I’m way too big and ugly and misshapen, aren’t they, because if the criterion is Ant, I don’t meet it. But I don’t care. I don’t particularly want to meet the Ant criterion, and I’m indifferent to any potential disgust ants might feel about how far short I fall.

It should be the same with God. God’s perfect, omni-everything, transcendent – all sorts. Why would God take anything we say personally? It makes no sense.

Gulf News reports that the legislation makes illegal “any acts that stoke religious hatred” and “any form of expression” that insults religion.

The law, passed by decree at the end of July, “prohibits any act that would be considered as insulting God, His prophets or apostles or holy books or houses of worship or graveyards.”

That’s a very very touchy god, that is. If I were going to have a god, it would be a much more magnanimous, understanding, unflappable god than that.

The legislation purports to allow for an “environment of tolerance” and “broad-mindedness”, but includes potential 10 year jail terms and substantial fines for those who break the law.

Provisions in the legislation include a prohibition on expressing doubt about the existence of God.

Anything else? Doubts about God’s shoe size? Preference in fish? Views on climate change?

UAE is right off my travel plans list.

Bobcats belong in Joshua Tree

Chris Clarke has news.

The California Fish and Game Commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to ban bobcat trapping everywhere in California. The vote, which took place at the Commission’s regular meeting in Fortuna, caps a controversy that started when a Joshua Tree resident found traps illegally placed on his land less than a mile from the National Park.

Concern over the threat to bobcats in Joshua Tree and elsewhere in the state prompted the California Legislature to pass AB1213, the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013, which directed the Fish and Game Commission to establish trapping-free buffer zones around national parks, wildlife preserves, and other areas where trapping is already prohibited. [Read more…]

Guest post: People uncritically generalizing their personal experience

Originally a comment by John Horstman on A horribly effective silencer.

I was just reminded of this excellent article from a year ago (looking at some of the theoretical underpinnings/implications of the rise of use of “triggering” as a silencing tactic, among other subjects) by Jack Halberstam, a radical queer anti-capitalist anarchist who may or may not be considered trans. I’m a product of the 90s scene and theoretical perspective Jack describes in that first link, and indeed influenced by zir writing directly, which likely explains a fair amount of my views on the subject. A not-insignificant part of what makes arguments like this (which Jack notes go back decades – a point I and others have raised) so frustrating is the insistence of your recent detractors that their preferences and viewpoints are settled questions with universally-agreed-upon answers when that’s not even close to true (the first linked article discusses the insistence that “tranny” is universally a slur, irrespective of context, as another example). [Read more…]

A horribly effective silencer

I have to reply to some of the garbage that’s being spewed on PZ’s post about me from yesterday. I’m going to do it here because – oh well the reason’s obvious.

It’s all people who have been examining everything they can see of my Facebook activity going back months – which is creepy and disgusting all by itself. Even if I’m a raving Republican, that’s creepy and disgusting. Since I’m not, it’s all the more so. (If I were a Republican lobbyist or politician or influential think-tanker, ok, fair game, but a minor blogger? Not such fair game.)

One major item in the indictment: I read and sometimes comment in a Facebook group called Discussing gender critical & gender identity. It’s an open group. At the top of the group’s page it has a note on rules, which starts with this:

This group offers a space for people with very different views about “gender” and “gender identity” to engage in respectful discussion. We require people to be civil and we request that group members listen to one another. The point of the group is to foster dialogue and allow for a broader discussion of these issues between those who advocate for gender identity, those who hold gender critical or abolitionist views and those who are exploring and/or undecided.

It has a range of views. Nobody agrees with all of them, because that would be incoherent. It has some interesting discussions, with people who disagree with each other. I don’t agree with everything said there (see above), to say the least. I don’t endorse the group, and neither do I denounce it. I think I have a right to read posts in the group and even (gasp) comment on them without being hauled before the Court of Asshole Opinion.

People have told me Elizabeth Hungerford, one of the admins, is a TERF…but then I’ve learned to be wary of that label, because I’m not sure it’s applied carefully in all cases. In any case I’m not endorsing her, or denouncing her either. People have pointed out that letter to the UN – that looks like a bad idea to me, but I don’t know enough about it to pronounce on it. Elizabeth friend requested me on Facebook and I accepted. That doesn’t mean we go to each other’s houses and put our jammies on and talk about boys – it means we can see each other’s walls. I’m pretty sure I disagree with plenty of her ideas, but then…that’s the case with everyone. Yes, it’s a matter of degree, but I’m still not convinced that this is something the Pharyngula Horde gets to decide for me.

I have on occasion made a joke in that group. The people on PZ’s post are brandishing a couple of those jokes as evidence of my thoughtcriminality. This is how low we’ve sunk – or maybe it’s how low we’ve always been, I don’t even know at this point.

I make jokes about things all the time. I say flippant things. I try not to do it on sensitive subjects, but sometimes I get that wrong.

Well obviously someone like that doesn’t belong on Freethought Blogs. The horror!

And then there’s this one from someone called “Thumper” –

From anteprepro’s link at #101

Ophelia Benson: I know. The TERF panic is a horribly effective silencer.

Oh my god, NO!! How could I possibly have said that?! It’s so obviously NOT TRUE at all in any way!!!

You could not make it up.

Even a joke should have some meaning

Alice Through the Looking Glass chapter 9:

However, there would be no harm, she thought, in asking if the game was over. `Please, would you tell me — ‘ she began, looking timidly at the Red Queen.

`Speak when you’re spoken to!’ The Queen sharply interrupted her.

`But if everybody obeyed that rule,’ said Alice, who was always ready for a little argument, `and if you only spoke when you were spoken to, and the other person always waited for you to begin, you see nobody would ever say anything, so that — ‘ [Read more…]