Bill Donohue is now writing about Jesus sucking His own dick

Not sure if it’s more appropriate to append my previous post, but this is too good.

Because life comes at you fast, there are new developments to the story described in my important blog post about a Comedy Central show writer and the Catholic League:

Weisman was so incensed by our decision to report him to Viacom president Robert Bakish (Viacom owns Comedy Central), that he went on an obscene Twitter rampage against me. Personally, I really don’t care what he says about me, but I do care about his filthy tirade against Jesus Christ.

The worst of Weisman’s tweets was a remark he made about Christ, saying that our Lord “sucked his own d***.”

I’m not sure “incensed” is the correct word to describe Weisman:

Donohue did not address whether or not He is theoretically able to suck his own dick. Sadly, we’ll probably never know for sure.

Bill Donohue has a tantrum about a show on Comedy Central

Comedy Central has a new show called Corporate, which is a satirical take on the drudgery of working in the corporate world. Anyone who has spent any amount of time in an office will find aspects of the show to be familiar. Overall it’s pretty decent. The only critiques I have are that the satire has all the subtlety of a brick through a window, and that Aparna Nancherla is underutilized.

Segments of the right do not like this show. I only know this because Jake Weisman, one of the show’s creators, has been gleefully posting articles about the backlash. It’s tended to skew towards accusations of the show being “anti-business,”but after a recent episode, Catholic tears began to flow:

They really hate Christians, especially Catholics. [this makes little sense as the episode in question is mostly, if not entirely making fun of Protestantism] Indeed, that is the most defining characteristic of those employed by Comedy Central. It is not certain whether they screen for bigots, or whether only bigots apply.

“Corporate” is a show most Americans have never heard of. They are not missing anything. Last night it sent a Valentine’s gift to Catholics by portraying a lay person dressed like a nun who gives an advertising executive the finger.

She works for a group of mega-churches, the Glorious Salvation Ministries, and is interested in hiring the ad company to do a marketing campaign. An employee of the ad firm shows up wearing an oversized rosary, suggesting that both characters are Catholic. [not true – this was performative Christianity on the part of the employee as directed by the CEO. I can’t tell if this makes it more or less blasphemous]

At the end, the nun-like character is shown sucking a cross-shaped popsicle seductively. She smiles, saying, “My favorite flavor—the blood of Christ.”

All the employees are godless and the show writers never pretend that the Christian god has any basis in fact:

After learning about the Catholic League response, Weisman tweeted about it. Someone responded, leading him to joke that he wanted to “bring the whole system down.” Or, wait was he serious??? Enter Bill Donohue:

Viacom has a serious problem on its hands: Jake Weisman, the co-creator and writer of the Comedy Central show, “Corporate” (he also stars in the show), has threatened to “bring the whole system down.” He was referring to the Roman Catholic Church.

Weisman made his threat yesterday on Twitter. His incendiary comment was in response to a news release I wrote about the February 14th episode of “Corporate.” In it, the Eucharist was obscenely mocked.

It must also be said that the filthy responses that supported Weisman’s tweet cannot be reprinted here—some were aimed directly at me.

In one sense, I am happy Weisman made this threat. While Hollywood was not always a bastion of anti-Catholicism, in the past half-century it has certainly evolved into one. Let’s be honest: If Jews were portrayed the way Hollywood portrays Catholics, it would be labeled the premier anti-Semitic industry in America.

(This is somewhat reminiscent of the Jesse Farrar fiasco, in which people are apparently unable to recognize obvious jokes.)

I’m generally not in the business of parsing out nonsense like this, and I will not start now except to say fuck this guy and his pathetic victim complex. Weisman, for his part, was positively (and justifiably in my opinion) gleeful:

I have to admit this adds to my enjoyment of the show.

Drunk for the first time

I’m 36 years old. Until a few months ago I had never been drunk. In the mid-90’s I became aware of straight edge as part of my growing love of punk and hardcore music. For those unaware, it was a term coined by Ian Mackaye (of Minor Threat and Fugazi) to denote his abstention from drugs and alcohol, and it grew in popularity enough to become a thing. I won’t dwell on the psychology of why this was appealing to me except to say that I legitimately had no interest in drugs or alcohol for most of my life. That not doing them was something connected to music I loved only reinforced that noninterest. It’s been a little over a decade since I ended my involvement in that particular scene and while I kind of stopped thinking of myself as straight edge, I continued to not partake.

In 2016, my wife and I were in Latvia. At a chocolate bar, a very cool thing that should be everywhere, we learned about the country’s traditional drink, Balsam. It sounded really cool and I decided “fuck it, I want to try this.” So I did. At first, I tasted what I thought were some of the ingredients that were described, but it was followed by what I can best describe as pure fire. Or maybe it was the reverse of that – I can’t seem to remember. It was pretty good. However, it was only a sip – I didn’t want to lose my wits in a place I’d never been.

Since then, I’ve tried various things, but none I’ve really cared for. Wine is fine, but I can barely drink more than a glass. I like it with dinner primarily because it limits my liquid intake in the hours before bedtime (otherwise I drink a ton of water with meals, which leads to obvious results). Beer is pretty gross, although I’ve not hated a few kinds. Mixed drinks are almost all terrible. I kind of like whiskey, but not enough to actually buy any – shit’s way too expensive. Overall, I’m fairly certain I’ve passed the point in life where one is able to get over bad tastes in order to achieve the goal of getting drunk. Most, it seems, are able to get over it, the switch is flipped, and they develop a very real affinity for it. It’s not likely that’ll ever happen with me.

By last November, I still had never had enough alcohol to actually be drunk. A few times I’ve felt hot in the face, and that things were slower than normal. I wouldn’t classify it as enjoyable, though one time with friends it was kind of okay. But finally, it happened. My wife and I were visiting her parents in New Orleans, and my father-in-law insisted on getting me drinks while out in the French Quarter. He was paying so I was like sure whatever.

I eventually became drunk (on Makers Mark whiskey if you’re curious). It was… weird.  I was constantly evaluating my brain-state and preoccupied with what was happening and whether or not I’d remember what happened that night. While walking, I was very focused on not falling, and frequently tried to walk in a straight line – I was pretty good at it and was proud of myself. More than a few times I thought “How the hell can anyone DRIVE like this?” I still think this. Drunk driving doesn’t seem like it’s a good idea IMO.

When we got back to where we were staying I threw myself on the couch and incessantly told my father in law that “We need to get wings!” We did and they were great. Though still, as I am wont to do on the few occasions I eat meat, I felt shitty for eating animals that lived brutal, terrible lives. I’m glad alcohol didn’t completely dull this sense.

Overall, it was much more enjoyable back at the AirBnB, rather than being out. I was more relaxed. Fortunately, I apparently drank the “right” way (through no fault of my own): I woke up without a hangover.

(I should note that my wife said I was a bit more weird and quiet than normal. Sounds about right.)

I can kind of, but not totally understand the appeal after having this experience (I’ve always understood on an intellectual level). As I noted, perhaps there’s an optimal time for introduction to alcohol and I’ve missed it. Maybe if in my younger days I sat around crushing beers with my bros, I would get it. Or maybe I’m just not wired this way: I greatly dislike not being in control of myself. Also, while drunk, I had to urinate roughly a billion times which really sucked.

My father-in-law has asked a few times since if I’m drinking more now. And the answer is no. Partially because I’m cheap and don’t view it as a worthy expenditure. But mostly it’s because when I buy something to drink, it’s going to be because I like the taste. Most of the time I’ll take a good soda over any kind of alcohol. Those other times will likely not result in me drinking enough to get drunk.

This is a weird blog to write, and I’ve only done so because I think it’s a bit unusual that one waits so long to do something that most people have done before the end of their 20’s. Rereading this, I’m not sure it’s very interesting. However, after I do magic mushrooms, the subsequent blog will blow all your fucking minds [1].

[1] Just kidding about the second part of that sentence. No one needs to read about some dipshit doing psychedelics. Unless, of course, I find God and need to write one more post about leaving this atheist network.

Hell yeah Steve Bannon

Following his hilarious public emasculation, Steve Bannon scuttled back to his fetid lair to lick his wounds, largely out of the public eye. But he’s back:

The former White House chief strategist argued the movement against male-dominated politics was going to advance similarly to the Tea Party – a conservative movement loosely associated with the conservative branch of the Republican Party – but would surpass it in terms of impact.

He added: “I think it’s going to unfold like the Tea Party, only bigger. It’s not Me Too. It’s not just sexual harassment. It’s an anti-patriarchy movement. Time’s up on 10,000 years of recorded history. This is coming. This is real.”

Cool! If ever there were a social institution that should’ve been snuffed out in the cradle, it’s the fucking patriarchy. This will likely be the only time I hope he’s right. I like this idea much better than his silly apocalyptic war fantasies.

Here’s some more:

“You watch. The time has come. Women are gonna take charge of society,” Bannon said, according to Green. “And they couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch.”

In this context, Trump is like the final boss of an early 90’s video game. He is everything rotten about this country fused together in the form of one repellent man-child, whose final defeat will usher in an era that will see his most odious beliefs destroyed. Bannon sees the would-be patriarchy smashers as the plucky heroes to get it done. I know life doesn’t work like this, but it’s a nice thought.

For Rojava

The destabilized Syrian and Iraqi hinterlands have given rise to a bewildering constellation of organizations, warlords, and opaque borders, the causes of which are complicated and manifold. Out of that fog has risen a new kind of state, centered on a mélange of anarchist, socialist, and other skeins of broadly leftist ideologies – the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, colloquially known as Rojava. It is an eminently worthy and important experiment.

This most recent manifestation of an autonomous leftist region is under siege. However, its existence isn’t very well known by the general populace. This shouldn’t be too surprising – to most, they are just one of many entities existing within the context of a civil war in Syria that is barely comprehensible and not worthy of too much scrutiny. ISIS are the bad guys, and aside from them, the surrounding states, and the meddlesome West, the other entities are virtually indistinguishable. One is reminded of the confusing and fluid state of Afghanistan after the US invasion in 2001.

In the past several centuries, it’s taken war to provide the unique and varied set of circumstances necessary for revolutionary attempts at sovereignty. Just about all were either eliminated in the cradle or transformed into authoritarian regimes that were never able to implement their specific ideology’s lofty ideals. Of the ones that persisted, the justifications for their betrayals varied from place to place, but in the end, they only offered funhouse mirror images of the excesses of capitalist states: “the revolutionary organization cannot reproduce within itself the dominant society’s conditions of separation and hierarchy.”

Rojava is somewhat comparable to the Catalan anarchist-controlled areas during the Spanish Civil War, particularly in the similarities between the mujeres libres and Rojava’s Women’s Protection Units. More broadly, both were born during the chaos of war. Both were (and in the case of Rojava are) obviously imperfect in implementing their utopian ideals, but this should be expected as their existences have occurred during the trauma and destruction of warfare and surrounded by a variety of powerful enemies. Rojava has even attracted would-be revolutionaries from the West, echoing the exodus of leftists to Civil War era Spain, and contemporarily paralleling the modern-day allure of ISIS and other Islamic fundamentalist groups to disaffected Muslim youth.

Currently, they are on the verge of being crushed by the considerable might of their Turkish neighbors to the north. Taking a page from the Bush-Cheney handbook of giving military exercises Orwellian names, the offensive is called “Operation Olive Branch.” This has been on the horizon since its inception – the Turks have long had an uneasy coexistence with the Kurds within and adjacent to their borders. They could scarcely have picked a worse person to get their inspiration from than Abdullah Öcalan, one of the founders of the hated Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Anti-Kurdish sentiment is something they have in common with every other state in the vicinity, all of whom are hostile to the idea of a pan-Kurdish nation state. It doesn’t take much imagination to ponder why Kurds wouldn’t want to remain under the watchful eye of authoritarian regimes that hate them.

As of today, Afrin has yet to fall. I glossed over this earlier, but the area is a veritable hornets nest of competing interests. The US are content to give funds and munitions to the Kurds (as they have for decades) but oppose any kind of Kurdish state. Turkey is simultaneously backed by Russia and collaborating with the remnants of ISIS, while seething over US support for the Kurds. Syria wants its territory back. NATO has remained silent. The UN is powerless. Obviously, the preceding snapshot is not entirely correct and certainly missing key narratives (this is a good summary of the geopolitical situation). But the underlying theme is that a good thing is in peril. I don’t really know how else to end this other than to say that this sucks.

It shouldn’t matter if we can ever truly know if lobsters feel pain

Switzerland recently banned the boiling of live lobsters. However, the debate still rages: do they actually feel pain? We broadly think that animals closely related to us can. This extends to mammals, and to a lesser extent birds. But the issue is murkier with the rest of the animal kingdom. It begs the question of when and in what species did pain evolve? Or, if it evolved multiple times, is there more than one lineage that contain animals which experience something like pain?

I think that there is something it is like to be a lobster. Perhaps I am taking it as an article of faith. Although I would counter that by saying that denial cannot be a more accurate hypothesis than mine. Neither hypothesis can ever be empirically known. As Thomas Nagel (who I would imagine isn’t too revered around these parts) writes in What Is It Like To Be A Bat:

Our own experience provides the basic material for our imagination, whose range is therefore limited. It will not help to try to imagine that one has webbing on one’s arms, which enables one to fly around at dusk and dawn catching insects in one’s mouth; that one has very poor vision, and perceives the surrounding world by a system of reflected high-frequency sound signals; and that one spends the day hanging upside down by one’s feet in an attic. In so far as I can imagine this (which is not very far), it tells me only what it would be like for me to behave as a bat behaves. But that is not the question. I want to know what it is like for a bat to be a bat. Yet if I try to imagine this, I am restricted to the resources of my own mind, and those resources are inadequate to the task. I cannot perform it either by imagining additions to my present experience, or by imagining segments gradually subtracted from it, or by imagining some combination of additions, subtractions, and modifications.

If anyone is inclined to deny that we can believe in the existence of facts like this whose exact nature we cannot possibly conceive, he should reflect that in contemplating the bats we are in much the same position that intelligent bats or Martians would occupy if they tried to form a conception of what it was like to be us. The structure of their own minds might make it impossible for them to succeed, but we know they would be wrong to conclude that there is not anything precise that it is like to be us: that only certain general types of mental state could be ascribed to us (perhaps perception and appetite would be concepts common to us both; perhaps not). We know they would be wrong to draw such a skeptical conclusion because we know what it is like to be us.

Bats are one thing – they, like we, are mammals. For contemporary organisms in the arthropod phylum, we are even further away from having a common ancestor, probably by around 500-600 million years. For lobsters in particular, if there is something it is like to be one, there are even less means of conceptualizing what those experiences are like than there are for bats. One idea was put forth by Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka. They theorize that primordial inner states were akin to being suffused in white noise:

The unavoidable consequence of all the sensations that result from the incessant and persistent neural stimulation of the animal’s external and internal sensors is a global by-product of neural activity we call “overall sensation.” We suggest, by way of metaphor, that it is a kind of “white-noise sensation”—a weak, completely functionless, and meaningless side-effect of an interconnected sensory-motor system, which is dynamically processing electrical and chemical signals triggered by sensors, communicated to effectors, sent back to sensors again, and so on.

They stress that this “white noise” is initially functionless, but could be the “raw material for the first types of experiencing.” This is, of course, imperfect, as white noise contains both visual and auditory components, neither of which were available to early life in the time period they discuss. But one can theorize what attempted predations and other injuries produced in these nascent inner states – perhaps it is akin to a jolt of electricity that disturbs the relatively static background. Current species of lobsters have evolved from these ancient experiencers for as long as we have temporally. Neural networks are continually refined and integrated, and perhaps they experience something more than the “white noise” of their ancestors.

Just as I think there is something it is like to be a lobster, I also believe they experience their own form of pain. An either/or conception of nonhuman pain is possibly inaccurate, but I’m going to take it as a given: either they do or don’t experience pain. As I wrote in an earlier blog, every living organism – sentient or nonsentient, conscious or nonconscious – is an entity comprised of molecules that resist entropy. The resistance of entropy doesn’t entail that pain is felt by every biological entity, especially if we attempt to fit the concept of pain into parameters defined by human experience. While we may hypothesize correlates given that we are evolutionarily related to every organism, it’s truly something we can never “know.” Indeed, one can never “know” the person sitting next to them experiences pain – the only pain internally experienced is one’s own.

Most animals experience nociception, a recognition of tissue damage, that sometimes includes reflexive actions. This is not the same thing as pain, but they are related. Pain can be described as nociception combined with an inner state, such that the experiencer feels stress that is particular to that organism’s genetic and neurological design. One could also go further and attempt to connect nociception and pain to suffering, but I’m content to stop at pain.

Again, granted my belief that there is something it is like to be a lobster, is there a noetic distinction between its internal state when it’s hanging out in its natural habitat, as opposed to being subjected to nociception, like being placed in boiling water? If one accepts that lobsters have some kind of inner life, I don’t see how the answer can be anything but yes, since different environmental stimuli leads to different behaviors that can readily be observed. I don’t think it’s too wild to say one state is probably “better” for the lobster than the other and, moreover, that they have an internal preference that is influenced by pain.

The amount of research that’s been performed to answer the question of pain, and whether or not different animals experience it is kind of mystifying to me (Descartes is an eminently worthy scapegoat). While human observations can lead to evidence-based conjecture, we can never truly know. It seems like a waste of time, and pretty cruel when experimentation involves harming animals. However, research that provides evidence for pain may lead to a large-scale shift in attitude. For example, Victoria Braithwaite’s research on fish entails cruelty, which is something I don’t really care for, but could lead to less overall suffering by changing cultural attitudes. Maybe. I’m a bit skeptical. On a personal note, when I purchased Braithwaite’s book, Do Fish Feel Pain?, the person who checked me out had a good laugh at the mere idea. So there’s probably a ways to go.

Some people couldn’t care less whether nonhuman animals feel pain, but some may. For the latter group, I don’t get why one wouldn’t err on the side of caution and do what they can to mitigate causing potential pain to another organism they’re utilizing (as distinct from causing pain as a byproduct of a conflict with another organism). If it is true they do not feel pain, then the efforts to lessen pain don’t matter. But since we’ll never know, and there’s a nonzero chance that they DO experience pain that is specific to each species, maybe we should try to stop being assholes. For lobsters and other aquatic organisms whose populations are continuing to be decimated by overfishing and climate change, the least we can do is give them relatively painless deaths in the service of feeding our insatiability.

Aziz Ansari and the plight of Good Men

The striking thing about the Aziz Ansari situation is how familiar it feels. If the story, as relayed by his accuser were to have extended over a period of a few days, it could very well have been an episode of Master of None – a meet-cute centered on a shared interest in photography leads to several dates, which include the main character clumsily trying to get laid. I’ve little doubt Ansari would’ve treated it with the nuance fans of the show, of which I am one, have been accustomed to.

Of course, this fictionalized version would include the woman, you know, actually wanting it, despite initial misgivings. This basic narrative can be found in any number of examples from the entertainment industry in the last 30 years. Women are prizes to be won by plucky male protagonists. But in the specific real-world example referenced above, it’s pretty obvious the woman didn’t actually want it, and was worn down by persistent and coercive attempts by Ansari.

That Ansari is a powerful multi-millionaire is almost, though not entirely, besides the point. This situation, a first date between a man and a woman who don’t really know each other has to be more applicable to women than Harvey Weinstein-esque situations. Anecdotally, I know far more women that have experienced the latter than the former. Within the context of the perils of dating, it’s both ironic and fucked up that Louis CK so adequately summed it up:

A woman saying yes to a date with a man is literally insane and ill-advised, and the whole species’ existence counts on them doing it. I don’t know how they…how do women still go out with guys, when you consider the fact that there is no greater threat to women than men? We’re the number one threat to women. Globally and historically, we’re the number one cause of injury and mayhem to women.

It’s a harrowing and, despite the source, completely valid thought that I’m not sure I considered or understood until I was in my 30’s, married, and blessedly done with dating. To me, dating was mostly horrible, largely because I didn’t particularly like myself, and was a bit socially awkward. Any reticence on the part of someone I was interested in entailed an immediate cessation of efforts, followed by varying degrees of pitiful self-loathing.

I can’t imagine doing anything like Ansari did and not coming away with the thought that, no, this person is not into me. I would be mortified. But apparently he wasn’t able to comprehend that a woman could possibly not want a handsome, culturally relevant, “woke” multi-millionaire. But again, this type of situation goes beyond the numerically privileged and powerful few and extends across class lines in terms of cishet female/male dating.

(The vast majority of people who read this have not and will never meet me. You are right to consider that perhaps I’m not being completely forthright in the broad description of my personal experiences and may want to extend that line of thinking to any asshole like myself who moralizes on the internet. I know I do. On a related note, I’ve wrestled with writing about #metoo and its adjacent topics for a while now. If you think the last thing anyone needs is another cishet male meditating on it, that’s perfectly understandable and I’m aware this is a valid criticism.)

***

Men are scared. “How,” they wonder, “can I navigate this changing landscape? Everything I say can be put under a microscope – not all men are serial harassing rapists!” they whine. I’m of the opinion that it shouldn’t be too difficult. If you’re interacting with a woman, ask yourself if what you’re going to say might be interpreted as something that may make the recipient uncomfortable. If the answer is yes, don’t say it. Even if the answer is no, maybe still don’t say it. That flirting is now fraught with more peril than in the past should be the least of anyone’s concerns within the overarching discussion of contemporary and historical gender violence. If anything, it should make one do a little self-introspection and consider how they approach those they are sexually interested in.

Good Men are accustomed to being granted the right to be judged on their own actions. A priori judgment is unconscionable. Such Good Men don’t do such things – after all, we live in a post-race, post-gender meritocracy where everyone should be, and generally is, judged on the basis of their character and actions. Perhaps that hasn’t always been the case, but surely in 2018, we have arrived. After all, there’s been a black president and a woman won the popular vote, despite not winning. Why should the Good Men have to answer for the behavior of Bad Men?

In all seriousness, I can’t imagine a group of people (cishet males) less deserving of a privilege so long denied to other groups, especially given the disproportionate amount of violence and destruction they’ve wrought over the past few millennia. When they perceive they are not getting the benefit of the doubt, or *gasp* persecuted, they lash out and cry “not all men!”

It’s here that I leave “they” as a pronoun” and turn it into “we.” I identify more with a man wrongfully accused than a woman being raped/assaulted/harassed. This is an extreme privilege: at no point in my life have I ever been concerned with being the victim of rape/assault/harassment. And this process of identification is where many stop in their stunted quasi-analysis. I know of no evidence to back this up, but I think most (certainly not all) cishet men think along these lines – we’re just not concerned with being victims.

Take, for example, TJ Miller, a shitty comedy person and even shittier human. He is alleged to have raped a former girlfriend, something he vehemently denies. We will never know for certain whether or not Miller did what he’s accused of. We weren’t there. Due to this, Good Men will claim to be agnostic to what actually occurred. Unless there’s a conviction, the only supposedly objective way of knowing for sure, there’s no reason to ruin this man’s life with slanderous accusations. Hell, this could happen to any one of us!

These Good Men are deserving of scorn for not using an essential tool, one of our few saving graces as a species – empathy. They are only able to put themselves in the shoes of those they identify with. They think of how fucked up their life would be if they were falsely accused. This is easy to do. However, they are unable or unwilling to extend that consideration to those they have a hard time identifying with. Any reason for doubt will immediately seized upon. Moreover, they are able to creatively ascribe any number of nefarious motivations to reporters of rape/assault/harassment, in an exercise that can roughly be described as an inverted type of empathy.

Perhaps it’s not that simple (though I think it generally is). One could suppose that a man may have an adequate amount of empathy, but isn’t persuaded that patriarchy or rampant rape/assault/harassment is a huge issue or just isn’t pervasive enough to be a big deal. If this is the case, the gap is intellectual and not necessarily empathetic. They could be presented with statistics, but unable or uncaring to sufficiently comprehend the methodology and results. Of course, it doesn’t have to be any one particular thing. Lack of empathy and dismissal of research are mere strands in a larger web of ignorance, myopia and selfishness.

***

Shitty men are finally getting a small bit of reckoning. Honestly, it’s pretty benign. Dave Chappelle accused Louis CK’s victims of taking “everything from him,” which is fucking nonsense. Sure it might be hard for him to work right now, but none of his wealth, possessions or ability to maintain a privileged lifestyle was “taken.” He’ll probably be back in a few years with a triumphant return to Netflix.

Ansari will probably get to do a third Season of Master of None, though he may want to wait a few dozen news cycles for his story to get buried under the unending avalanche of bullshit that is our culture. His situation has enough of a grey area that it likely won’t affect him too much. A Google search will show just how polarizing it’s been across various media outlets, blogs and social media. He’ll be back sooner or later, none the worse for wear.

If you’re consuming the various stories and thinkpieces related to #metoo, and your first instinct, how this will affect you, is followed by hand-wringing over potentially innocent male victims and fear of interacting with females within a new and scary social landscape, you suck. Stop being a fucking child. Do better.

Revolutionary Left Radio and anticapitalist sectarianism

I love the Revolutionary Left Radio podcast, whose subject matter is what the name implies. Their approach allows for an incredibly diverse amount of voices within the broad landscape of leftist thought to explicate their ideologies, ideas, and research.

The host does a great job of giving his guests room to talk about their area of expertise in a non-confrontational manner. Of course, such leeway can lead to times where the listener may wish for some push-back (for example, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a bunch during a recent Marxist-Leninist episode). But debate is not the point. The point is to learn about the various strands that comprise political thought far to the left of mainstream liberalism. I transcribed the host’s overarching message from the last podcast, which perfectly sums up the podcast’s mission:

We’re pan-leftists, we’re non-sectarian precisely because at this moment in history there’s a material need for leftists of all stripes to put our petty differences aside for now and figure out how we’re going to fight these very real threats on the other side. Because the far right and the capitalists have no qualms about teaming up when push comes to shove. And if we’re arguing “you’re this type of leftist,” or “you’re a Trotskyist,” I’m a Leninist,” “you’re a democratic socialist” “I’m an anarchist,” we are going to weaken and divide and break ourselves down into smaller and smaller groups. We’re going to be impotent in the face of this onslaught of late capitalism.

Their approach mirrors my own, philosophically. I take bits and pieces here and there from countless political ideologies, philosophies, religions, etc. I tend to look askance at those who proclaim their adherence to one specific belief. But I get why people do so. I guess I’m just not wired that way.

While the podcast is great, I can’t say it gives me too much hope. Sectarianism in the far left is endemic and, to me, a bit silly. So much time is spent arguing about what comes AFTER capitalism and/or widespread nation-state collapse that the generally agreed-upon institutional enemies are largely left unscathed. Is socialism (insert any number of hyphenated varieties) a threat? Is anarchism (insert any number of hyphenated varieties) a threat? Perhaps Antifa is. But from the perspective of the state, no far left ideology is even close to the threat level of, say, radical Islamic terrorism.

The made-up term “alt-left” is perhaps too kind – at least the diarrhea menagerie that is the alt-right were able to partially coalesce and exert their influence in the service of electing a veritable garbage person as president of the most powerful country in the world. I’m not sure what the corollary would even be in terms of real world effects wrought by the “alt-left.”

Anyways, here are some episodes I thoroughly enjoyed:

  • Black Feminism and Queer Theory w/ Zoe Samudzi
  • Leftist Podcasts, New Atheism, and the October Revolution w/ Dan Arel
  • Anarcho-Primitivism: Civilization, Symbolic Culture, and Rewilding w/ Layla AbdelRahim
  • The Mexican Revolution and The Zapatistas w/ Alexander Avina
  • From Diplomat to Anarchist: The State, War, and the Fight for a Better World w/ Carne Ross
  • Gothic Marxism: The Horror Genre and the Monsters of Neoliberalism w/ TheLitCritGuy
  • Caliban and the Witch: An Interview with Silvia Federici

Should the far left ever unite, this podcast (available on iTunes and Stitcher) will probably play some kind of a role. We should probably hurry.

Dave Chappelle continues to make bad trans jokes

It’s becoming pretty clear that many comedians will cling to their bad trans jokes until the bitter end. The latest prominent example is, once again, Dave Chappelle. I’m not going to link to any of it (but will include an example, seen below). A google search will suffice, if interested. Or you could watch his Netflix special, hoping in vain to catch a glimmer of what made him so great.

An easy maxim to follow in comedy is to punch up and not down. Chappelle continues to punch down with regards to the trans community. The root of this appears to be that he thinks no one would ever give a fuck about trans people if it weren’t for white people, and it’s not something he’s willing to get past:

And I cannot shake this awful suspicion that the only reason everybody is talking about transgenders is because white men want to do it. That’s right, I just said that.

Right. Because white “transgenders” only started existing once Caitlyn Jenner “wanted” to do it. It gets worse from there, even going so far as to include “man-pussy” in a gut-busting punchline. So fucking edgy!

The topic obviously has an effect on him, or else he wouldn’t keep returning to it. But he has no interest in learning about contemporary/historical trans issues. He becomes aware of criticism and rejects it out of hand. There is no introspection, no empathy, no attempt at understanding. He gets to make his bad jokes with an impish smile, and his adoring audience erupts with laughter and applause. It’s all the validation, to the extent it’s even desired, he needs. Well, that and the millions of dollars Netflix keeps giving him.

Within the context of comedy that discusses social/political issues, the best of it is able to inch up to the shadowy line of good taste without crossing over into “problematic” territory. Such comedians that are able to effectively navigate this ever-changing realm are heralded as unafraid truth-tellers.

But crossing that line leads to people complaining on Twitter and thinkpieces. In response, the thin-skinned comedian, upset over critics daring to utilize their free speech, lashes out. Many of the comedian’s fans will circle the wagons which, at the end of the day, are the only class of consumers that matter. Their continued adoration serves as vindication.

To me, worse than the actual jokes was the laughter. It didn’t seem like many in the audience had an issue with his blatant transphobia. It’s hard not to think that such people agreed with the overall sentiment, and to some extent felt that Chappelle was saying things they wish they could.