Don’t Say “White Guilt”

I don’t want to hear it. I’m annoyed to sometimes hear the phrase from progressive quarters. I wouldn’t be surprised if it originated in the African American civil rights movement, a way of talking about white people doing activist tourism, or some such. But most of the time when I hear it now? It’s from shameless racist cockstains. Whether you fit that description or not, don’t bring that phrase in my house.

I don’t feel guilt for the actions of racist whites. I feel shame. There’s a difference. Guilt would be if I felt personally responsible for slavery, lynching, etc. I don’t. I feel some guilt for the actual racist things I’ve done due to unconscious biases, but being neurotypical, my brain doesn’t even let me feel all that bad about it. I feel alright.

Shame though. I feel gross for sharing qualities with scumbags. I feel gross for having kinship with people like Trump and David Duke. I feel ashamed to be the same race as these people not because I think there’s something inherent in race that makes one good or evil, but because THEY make our shared race important in a disgusting way.

Likewise atheism and manhood. I’m ashamed to be the same apparent gender as Thunderf00t, Eron Gjoni, Daryush Valizadeh, and Ted Bundy – not because I think being a man makes one inherently evil, but because THEY have exercised the social power of their gender in evil ways. Because Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, TJ Kirk, Pat Condell, Penn Jillette, Bill Maher, and more have cited atheism and secularism in defense of shitty terrible positions.

People of privilege at this moment in history are in high reactionary mode, becoming more loud, terrible, fearful, and hateful than ever before. They’re making us look bad. If you don’t feel that, well, good for you, Jimmy. But you should be aware Trump reflects on you. Dawkins reflects on you. You cannot escape your brand, and it is being dragged through the shit right now in an epic way, by YOUR fellows.

You might not feel the shame like I do, but if you did, it might prepare you for the way the oppressed react to your presence. Might help you understand things like Schrodinger’s Rapist and Hands up, Don’t shoot. Whatever the case, don’t talk to me about white guilt.

A Reason for Joining Freethought Blogs

People are hungry for content, something to fill their minds with, engage, distract, allow them to feel outside of themselves in a good way. When they come to a blog network instead of a random singular blog, they will see other articles in the sidebar, and click on those. They need content! Need it.

So. Let’s say your blog doesn’t have a ton of up-front appeal by itself, but if people come around a while, get to know you, they really like what you’re offering. How do you get them to come back repeatedly so they can get past the initial unfamiliarity?

Show up in the sidebar on a blog network. People come here for what they know, for PZ or Iris or other authors they followed from other places. But they need more, and they’ll see your articles in the sidebar. They will get to know you. Your stuff will be seen. All you have to do is be productive and you can have an audience here.

The pay is sub-minimum wage, but you could monetize that in other ways. Parlay it into speaking gigs, sell merch, take donations for specific kinds of content, whatever. But you can do none of those things without an audience. A blogging platform gives you a guaranteed audience. I love it. I’m not taking full advantage of it at the moment, but it’s here for me when I’m ready.

That said, we aren’t a good cultural fit for lots of people. You don’t have to agree with everything everyone says. There are bloggers here I won’t read at all, or that I’ll just skip their comment sections. But the bare minimum: You have to be OK with unapologetic atheism. There are many of us who are in full-blooded opposition to islamophobia, but none of us will defend islam itself from fair criticism, none of us think any religion should be shielded from blasphemy. That puts us at odds with large swaths of the liberal community.

Meanwhile, none of us are going to tolerate misogyny, racism, queerphobia, etc., and that puts us at odds with unfortunately large swaths of the secular community. Look around, feel things out, do what seems right for you. But know that it’s a pretty cool deal. Think about it.

Difficulties of Being Good

I know the title of this article sounds like I’m about to go into some self-pitying biz about how “no good deed goes unpunished” and only the virtuous suffer and so on. I’ve been on that tip in the past, but it doesn’t seem right to me anymore. No, this article is about the disadvantages people have when it comes to being a good person, which is a way in which I might be rather fortunate.

First, what I mean by being good: Causing no harm to others, generally leaving people in an equal or better state than that in which you found them. Being a positive (or at least not negative) influence in society. This is not something everyone aspires to, but most would prefer to at least not be thought of as evil. Even that lower bar is a hard one for some of us to clear. What is it that makes it hard to be good?

A few mental illnesses can be a factor. Antisocial Personality Disorder and Narcissism can make it very hard to be good, especially for the undiagnosed and those lacking in self-awareness. But there are much more common difficulties found in the neurotypical. Four that I’ll talk about right now: bullying instinct, greed for wealth, greed for power, and social privilege. (There are probably better formal terms for the first three that I’m unaware of, but bear with me.)

Bullying instinct is expressed in a lot of different ways, but fundamentally it’s the drive to hurt the disadvantaged for pleasure. There are lots of ways to be disadvantaged. A new kid at school with no social capital or buffer of friends to protect them, a physically weak person against a strong one, a child or elderly or disabled person in the care of an able-bodied adult, a member of a traditionally oppressed class faced with the privileged, and so on. In cyber-bullying of the MRA/GG/etc. variety, the disadvantage is being a singular public personality against an anonymous horde in an as-yet lawless domain. The public faces of cyber-bullying (Gjoni, Yiannopoulos, that fake goth, Dawkins, etc.) would be relatively powerless if not for the hordes of flying monkeys that fill the sky whenever they say a name, and for the way society doesn’t believe respect or defend the types of people they usually target.

I’ve never understood why people want to hurt those who are vulnerable to them. I want to hurt people who cause harm to me or to others, but whether that’s good or bad (it ain’t great), it isn’t the same thing. I want to protect people who are being hurt. To hurt someone who can’t fight back? Why do that? What’s the appeal? But one doesn’t have to look far to see that it’s an extremely common instinct. So much so that you would be wrong to pathologize it, to say it’s a mental illness. If a personality trait affects 35% of your species, it isn’t a mental illness, it’s just part of the range of neurotypical behavior. (I pulled that number out of my rear, no idea what the numbers are actually like or if there’s even reasonable way for anyone to find out.)

This question has plagued me since I had the language to articulate it – Why bullies? My earliest memory is getting a bloody nose from a much larger child. It’s the genesis of this article. This everyday emotional sadism no doubt makes it very difficult to be a good person. Moving on though, greed for wealth and power.

Greed for wealth is another thing I’ve never understood. Desire for a spacious house, fun toys? A fast shiny car? Cool-looking clothes? I get all of that, I’ve felt it to some extent or another same as anyone. But the dollars themselves – why want those? And the status symbols – why want those? A fast shiny car could be forty years old, cared for and maintained. Why get a brand new Bentley every year? The only reason is status, and I do not fucking understand that. What feels good about that? Driving fast, looking at your nifty possessions with satisfaction, OK. Wanting possessions that do nothing for you except denote your willingness and ability to waste a fuckton of money? What is that?

And even if you are one of the rich that doesn’t splurge on those things, that does hold onto your paper, hustle it into offshore accounts, pay off politicians to never tax you. Why? What is that good for? It’s nothing. It’s utterly abstract. Even if you have that money in gold, the value of gold is subjective. It isn’t magic. If two men are in a golden prison with no food, food is more valuable to them. Papers, gold, bitcoins, who cares?

My dude suggested to me it’s a fear of class warfare – an understanding that the rightfully outraged will ultimately tear down your castles, leading to a feeling that you must build that castle into the sky just to feel safe. I don’t know, but desire for money and status symbols compels many people to do very bad things. Being good when you have those urges can’t come easily.

Greed for power over others. I’ve had a small measure of this before, and while taking advantage of the power you have for petty stuff I get (like choosing what movie your crew goes to), seeking additional power, holding desperately onto what power I have, this has never been appealing to me. Again, what does it mean? Why would you want to have control over others? Any praise that comes from those you control is automatically suspect as coerced. With power you can’t feel truly loved, only feared. Why would you want that? From high school clique control to shift managers in fast food up to high offices and dictators, the lust for power can make it more difficult to be good.

Lastly (on my list, if not in reality), we come to social privilege. While the other traits on the list are things I’m fortunately lacking, privilege is definitely not. I’ve been raised as a presumed boy, presumed man, in a society that favors boys and men so powerfully it’s god damn nightmarish. I’ve been white in a country that will fucking destroy you without a thought for being anything else (if you aren’t lucky). The worst thing about privilege for the privileged is that it makes us feel entitled over the oppressed and simultaneously blinds us to noticing that sense of entitlement. It’s a huge barrier to being good.

One can have every trait on this list and still be a good person, but to do so, you have to understand what you’re up against. You have to fight through it. If you manage to be good, even saintly with your favored people – family, friends, your race or social class – but are a menace to people outside of that group, then you’re a bad person. Take an honest look at yourself, get it together, try again.

Myself as an example: I don’t want to hurt people for fun, I don’t want money or status or power, I even have some genuinely positive intentions. But I’ve done bad things, mostly from being blind to my privilege over women. And even some years after I started to get educated about that privilege, I still fucked up, I did bad, because I’m so habituated to that privilege. Did I rape anyone? No, never been in a situation where that was even a question. But I definitely did some things that could be construed as sexual harassment of the verbal type, made a few women feel unsafe or alienated. And with regards to race, I’ve had some fuckups too.

I’ve been bad, I can certainly make mistakes in the future, but I don’t want to be bad, and I’ll do my best to keep that from happening. When I’m called out, I’ll cop to it, apologize, take the appropriate punishment. The kind of people who don’t want to acknowledge that privilege is real will read this and shake their heads, think of me as some self-flagellating fool who is putting myself through torture over invisible sins.

Guess what, dudes? Once you recognize your privilege (it’s as blindingly obvious and real as the sun if you are willing to look), recognize your harmful impulses, being good isn’t that hard. You might screw up, you might have to do some apologizing, might take some deserved licks. But 99.9% of the time? It’s pretty fucking easy, and it feels good to know I’m not hurting people, feels good to know that I can actually help people.

You can do it too. Pay your taxes. Don’t keep up with the Joneses. Don’t boss people around. Recognize your advantages and use them to offset the disadvantages others face. Tell your bros at the meeting to shut up for five minutes so the woman can talk. Realize you might not be seeing everyone as fully human, wake up, meet the humans all around you. You might be able to take the scare quotes off your “gay friend” and your “black friend,” might be able to occupy a friendzone with comfort and style.

It’s the right thing to do.

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Though Pepe’s meme is usually in the hands of hate criminals, in hateless incarnations, I can dig.  Here we see the sad Pepe in a very brief animation.

Two things:

I had this foolish schedule with only an eight hour gap between two eight hour shifts, and rather than monkey with buses to get ten minutes of sleep at home, thought I’d be clever and sleep in the break room.  I barely slept and ended up super sweaty and vile.  I felt so gross it killed me.  Plus just working that shift wrecked me even worse than the job usually does.

I’m in this state that is hardly a relief from the quasi-depression I’d gotten into from long underemployment.  I put myself through pain and stress all day for a reward that seems inadequate and a million years away.  My first paycheck is in about four days, it feels further away.  Feels like I’m hurting myself for nothing but self-loathing, a punishment for inadequately providing for my loved ones for years.  I do my customer service game face as much as possible, but it’s a thin mask on a zombied out pile of agonized cellz.  Seems to fool about 65% of people.

Thing two, being around humans means sexism, racism, misogyny, fatphobia, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia.  If you’re clued into that shit, you know why anyone would want a safe place from it all.  It is shot through so many of our conversations and ways of relating to each other.  Like, in any work environment, you’re going to have one or more guys whose interactions with women are all creepy as hell.  Maybe for whatever reason the ladies are sorta OK with it or front as such, but it doesn’t make it less grody to see a fiftyish dude smiling on young ladies over everyone else.

Then there’s like a third of all lady conversations that seem to come back to weight, with a lot of self-loathing and popular delusions and eating disorder talk.  Then there’s the really disgusting fuckers – the ones with minds so full of hate they need to be shitting on someone to feel right.  Some are macho men, some are ladied-out ladies, but they’re usually awash in cisheteronormativity, have to treat the existence of non-cishet people as a joke in and of itself, act like LGBTQIA people are repulsive, when it’s the brains on these creeps that are the most disgusting thing in the room.

And all this stuff is low-key and banal and common enough that I’ll look like the unreasonable terrible nogoodnik for reporting it.  What could that evil liberal PC police fucker’s problem be?  Does he just hate America?  Hate fun?  I dunno.  Maybe.  Our society as it now exists is fucking unacceptable.  Change it please.  We shouldn’t spend so much of our time hurting each other, regardless of whether or not we recognize that’s what we’re doing.

Oh, also, I saw a gaggle of young skinny white dudes with one wearing a trump hat backwards.  And I didn’t even stop to crush them into bone meal.  I’m really being spectacularly well behaved lately.  The man should throw me a fuckin’ bone already.

Right After the Grodiness

Right as I was still recovering from the norovirus, I got a brutal foot-crushing job in retail. Part time in name only, where they can schedule you for 35 hours while pressuring you to work more than 40 and still not give you full time benefits. I still haven’t received my first paycheck yet and I feel like a bloody piece of hamburger, ready to be consumed and flushed into eternal nothingness. Good times.

My schedule is also so weird and inconsistent that I have a random four week days off next week. Wonder what I could do with that time off, perhaps involving classified ads…? Anyhow, assuming I continue to suffer thru this BS without crumbling into ruin over the longer term, anybody have suggestions for footwear?

Youtube Recommendations

Why is it practically fucking impossible to get YT to stop recommending Louis CK to me? It’s the John Oliver videos I watch, probably. Still, would it kill them to get smarter algorithms for that? Like, adding their own keywords to the data, so they can see that I said “do not like” and “not interested” on twenty videos that had the letters “Lou” in the title and never recommend so much as an Abbott & Costello video to me again. I ain’t a computer genius, but I can’t imagine that would be very difficult.

The Original Ghostbusters was Racist Trash

I’m too wiped out from work to make a substantial case, but it’s around, you can no doubt find it elsewhere. My assertions:

The original two’s treatment of Ernie Hudson was awful. He was marginalized by everything from the script to the camerawork.

Evidence of where this comes from can be seen in earlier works of the writer Harold Ramis. Animal House and the like. Black people were always outsiders, while the fruits of their culture were front and center. Love that music, scared of the scary people and haha, ain’t we just funny like that?

And now, fans of the original hating on the new one have focused that hatred straight at the one black person in sight, to heights more disgusting than ever. Excuse me while I piss on your childhood, you racist misogynist pukes.

The original Ghostbusters was just like its fans: racist trash. Also, fuck all white nerd dudes off the planet, including myself if that’s the price I gotta pay. Let’s go. Let’s leave the humans alone, clearly we’re done with any pretense of being human ourselves, right?

ehhhhhh anyway, Don’t take everything I say too seriously. I got some calming down to do. Will moderate comments eventually. cu L8r.

the grodiness spreadeth

oh yeah, my dude caught it. thing is, he read me this thing where a lady barfed in a restaurant and every single person in a ten foot radius go the norovirus. i barfed within four feet of him once, so it was pretty much a given. aerosolized puke for the win. as much as i like cute animals, i hate nature at least a few moments of every day of my life.

muthafargin noro

i’ve got the motherfucken norovirus off a grody ass baby i never see. roommate is a grannyish baby aficionado and went to pet it despite having caught noro from that household herself at xmas. last time we lucked out, this time i got it. so probs my partner will too. i almost never barf. now i’m barf city. fuck a goddam baby off.

Comedy in Music

Novelty songs and the bands that specialize in them can be musically skillful, but the focus on lyrics makes them less able to lead one’s mood, less fundamentally affecting than music undiluted in artistic intent. Personally, everything I’ve heard of Jonathan Coulton that wasn’t provoking snickers with dirty words? Aggravating as hell. Especially that one with the office zombie gimmick. That was as entertaining as a bad Dilbert joke run on too long. Tim Minchin? Eh. Once in a while.

And I can see how people with less tolerance for lyrical “wit” or lyrics at all could want to throw the entire discographies of The Dead Milkmen, They Might Be Giants, and Electric Six in the garbage. I don’t begrudge them that, but I really like a lot of that stuff. I also recognize that makes me a “geek,” and in this day and age, that should be a real mark of shame. There isn’t a dimension of geek culture that hasn’t been tarnished by the fucking unspeakable conduct of the worst of us. Nonetheless, this.