Calling bullshit on the safe spaces panic


A confession. When I read that a student at Brown University had responded to a debate about rape culture on campus by establishing a literal safe-space with “cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies”, I laughed, heartily, like the callous old monster I am. Even with my stern and serious head on, the idea that survivors of sexual assault should be patronised and treated like toddlers is profoundly wrong-headed and actively harmful.

The details emerged in a piece by Judith Shulevitz in the New York Times this weekend, which railed against the supposed creep of “safe-space” culture on campuses and the supposed chilling effect it is having on free speech.

I read a lot about this phenomenon. I read about it in the New York Times, in the Washington Post, in Reason, in the Guardian, in Spiked, in the New Statesman, in THES etc etc etc. Without exception, the pieces condemn student radicals for hiding from ideas, for curtailing free speech and for being anti-intellectual. The authors are almost invariably older journalists, authors and academics, at the tops of their professions.

It is not accurate to call this a debate. That would suggest two roughly equal sides putting their points of view with comparable prominence and allowing the audience to judge which has more merit. This issue is almost entirely one-way. An unholy alliance of liberal-left establishment and libertarian ideologues are collectively shitting on student radicals without the barest hint of a right to reply.

Take the examples in Shulevitz’s piece. At a lecture by a Charlie Hebdo journalist, a Muslim student stood up at the end, raised concerns about Islamaphobia and said that “she felt threatened too.” An exchange of opinions then followed in the student newspaper.

We are clearly meant to mock the student, comparing herself to a Charlie Hebdo journalist in the aftermath of the slaughter in Paris. But what Shulevitz did not mention is that the lecture was held 15 days after the brutal murder of three Muslim American students in Chapel Hill, 14 days after a Muslim family had been assaulted while shopping in Michigan, while Mosques were being firebombed and vandalised across the US and numerous Muslim organisations were receiving specific death threats. Whatever one’s views on the (complex) politics of Charlie Hebdo and broader issues of Islamophobia, I’d suggest that “feeling threatened” was not necessarily an unreasonable reaction for a Muslim student.

What else? Well, a couple of weeks ago, a professor called Laura Kipnis wrote an article attacking “paranoia” around sexual relationships between staff and students. Around 30 students held a little march and handed in a petition to the University administration, asking that they reaffirm the institution’s commitment to its sexual misconduct policies and to distance themselves from the opinions of their senior staff member. That was it. Shulevitz says that in response “last Wednesday, Northwestern’s president, “Morton O. Schapiro, wrote an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal affirming his commitment to academic freedom.” In fact Schapiro’s article makes no mention of the Kipnis affair, unsurprisingly, since there never was any challenge to academic freedom. There is no suggestion he even had the Kipnis protests in mind.

This is the pattern, again and again. When examined, these incidents of students suppressing free speech turn out to be no such thing. In actuality, a handful of (relatively) powerless activists raise a whisper of objection to something objectionable – often a single raised hand in a lecture hall or a tentative first opinion piece in the student newspaper- only to be denounced as bullies and oppressors by an array of the most powerful voices from some of the most prestigious and elevated media platforms on the planet. It is a bizarre, Alice in Wonderland topsy-turvy narrative where those with the loudest voices yell constantly about being silenced by a handful of sophomores.

Once all the total non-events are stripped from the Shulevitz piece, what are we left with? Well there is the story from 2013 of a student Halloween ball where an Afrobeat band were supposedly cancelled for being “too white.” On closer inspection, it appears what happened is that a low-key Facebook discussion about “cultural appropriation” was invaded by outside elements who turned it into a full-blown flame / troll war. It appears the organisers decided the booking wasn’t worth the stress and cancelled.

This leads neatly on to the one example in the article which really does raise a free speech concern – the cancellation of the abortion debate between Tim Stanley and Brendan O’Neill at Christ Church, Oxford, last year.

As is made clear here, the debate was not cancelled to shield delicate students from nasty thoughts. It was cancelled because some students were angry and planned a protest or picket of the event. It appears that the powers that be (whether student or staff, it makes no difference) are now so terrified of student activism that they will cancel an event at the merest whiff of a protest. There is a clear parallel too in the cancellation of comedian Kate Smurthwaite’s gig at Goldsmiths. In that case a protest wasn’t even organised, just the slightest mention of the idea of a possible protest was enough to elicit panic among organisers.

This is the real story here. Back in the real world, away from the delusions of persecution of the world’s most privileged voices, universities in London, Birmingham and beyond have been taking out injunctions to ban student and staff protests on campus. In Cambridge police were caught trying to recruit students to spy on and inform upon their peers. Not so long ago the president of ULU students’ union was arrested on his way home from speaking at a peaceful rally.

It is easy to point at student politics and laugh. As the well-meaning activist with her rape-culture rumpus room made only too apparent, sometimes students can be very silly indeed. It was ever thus. Nonetheless, student politics matters – even if only as a training ground for years to come, campaigns to come, careers to come.

The right to free speech on campus is non-negotiable, academic freedom is essential. So too is the right to protest, the right to agitate, the right to organise, the right to picket. Free speech not only means the right to say unpalatable and unpopular things, it also involves the right to call oppression and bigotry for what they are when we see them.

At present, the real danger on campuses is not from plaintive student demands for safe-spaces and trigger warnings, but the systematic and often concerted efforts to avoid or prevent protests and demonstrations, to shame and bully radicals into silence, into acquiescence with their seniors and presumed betters. While for decades patronising old lefties have bemoaned the lack of radicalism and political consciousness among students, now many of the same old lefties bemoan its very existence.

Comments

  1. StillGjenganger says

    So what would be your desired outcome?

    – One side imposes its vocabulary and terms on the other, so that all debate follows their rule; the other side adapts or is excluded. Which side would you back, for a future ideological hegemony?
    – Debate continues, dominated by loud accusations and offended feelings, as no one can accept engaging with words or people that do not follow the party line?
    – People segregate into separate echo chambers and no longer talk to each other?
    – People settle down to some vocabulary to talk in, of necessity based on the status quo because that is the one everybody knows, and stop talking about safe spaces and microaggressions when someone with divergent opinions comes along?

  2. Ally Fogg says

    What do you mean, desired outcome?

    I don’t particularly agree with any of the scenarios you outline, nor do I recognise them.

  3. Ally Fogg says

    … but to volunteer my own, I would like to see active flourishing of all forms of political engagement on campuses, including (indeed especially) protests, pickets, demonstrations, marches and I would like to see university authorities (both management and students) commit to actively facilitating that where possible.

    I would like to see oppressive expressions such as racism, homophobia etc loudly and vocally challenged and condemned.

    I would like everyone to accept that they do not have a god-given right to a platform or an audience.

    I would like everyone to accept that they have no right to be protected from offence or political and ideological opposition.

    Oh and an immediate end to capitalism, militarism, patriarchal gender norms and for Stereolab to reform.

  4. H.E. Pennypacker says

    I just read the Shulevitz piece and I find it strange that you read it as a claim that academics etc. are persecuted by the desire for safe space. Her main argument seemed to be that an obsessive preoccupation with shielding students from difficult ideas and opinions was detrimental to the students themselves.

    How these dynamics actually play out on American campuses is rather hard to gauge from the outside. I’m always rather sceptical of the picture of professors cowering in fear of reprisals from feminist and anti-racist students but also I can well imagine that the climate on American campus may well over emphasise “safety” at the expense of actually engaging with issues.

    The situation at English universities is rather different. It wasn’t that long ago that I was at university and there wasn’t much talk of safe spaces then (although it certainly existed). Student protest in England over the last few years has more often been connected to things like tuition fees or working conditions for staff – rather more old-school, anti-capitalist concerns.

    Again it’s hard to know without actually being there but it seems like the American “safe spaces”, “trigger warnings” etc. protests have often been unopposed, or supported, by university administrations (which have a lot to lose if there campuses are seen as hostile environments for women, LGBT folk or ethnic minorities) and the opposition coming from the university establishment has been from lecturers, professors etc. Conversely, in England the opposition (in my experience) to student protest comes almost exclusively from the administration (it affects the money making) whilst teaching staff are generally supportive of student action.

  5. Some Person says

    Honestly, I think when a radical feminist professor like Kipnis who herself wants to chemically castrate all rapists feels that current feminist activism is creating a climate reminiscent of the inquisition, I think it’s time to consider the notion that things have gone overboard. It’s interesting how the classic anglo-saxon narratives of puritanism and contractualism seem to once again have combined to oppress those they’re supposed to protect from themselves.

  6. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    for Stereolab to reform.

    The best band to ever make the exact same album 10 times. (See also: Jesus and Mary Chain.)

  7. says

    StillGjenganger, I presume that the last of your outcomes…

    People settle down to some vocabulary to talk in, of necessity based on the status quo because that is the one everybody knows, and stop talking about safe spaces and microaggressions when someone with divergent opinions comes along?

    …is the one you prefer. (If not, then the rest of this comment doesn’t apply.) However I notice that it includes the phrase “stop talking about” followed by a list of concepts you don’t like. That’s not a dialogue you want, but a monologue where those with opinions you don’t like obediently listen, without answering back.

    You are of course free to set a debate on those terms. However your opponents are equally free to ignore you, avoid you, picket you, exclude you from venues they own, or even lobby the owners of other venues to deny you a platform. (The owners are equally free to tell them to get lost.)

    That’s how free speech works. Being angrily criticised, being called a bigot, or being shunned may hurt, but it’s not censorship or silencing. It’s other people using their own free speech back at you.

  8. StillGjenganger says

    @hyperdeath
    Well, there is the problem that for people to actually be able to talk they need a minimum of agreement, at least on acceptable terms and what they mean, and on being willing to listen. To be sure, the terms need to be negotiated. But if anyone who does not share your basic ideals is shunned as a bigot, the two of you cannot talk. What happens next is that each side tries to dominate public debate, and the winner (if any) squeezes out the loser and has an effective hegemony. Sure, all is fair in love and war, but personally I have a taste for talking with people instead of trying to exclude them.

    @Ally 3
    I can see two likely scenarios in what you describe.
    Either a single coalition gets all the student activists – most likely left-wing intersectionalists who have more of them already. They can then, with support from the university authorities, make it hard or impossible for any politically unwelcome opinion to be heard on campus. After all, why would you go and talk to people who do not want to hear you and who systematically shout you down, with the blessing of the university administration? I seem too remember it worked like that in the seventies – and some university departments were 100% Marxist for a generation afterwards.
    Or other students get so fed up with this that they organise their own activists and start fighting. Each lecturer would then have friendly activists who invite and back him, and enemy activists who try to shout him down, and the University would have to give equal-opportunity support to demonstrations from left and right, Greens, and Animal Rightists, Labour and Tories and Ukip. The first scenario sounds more likely than the second, but neither would be either efficient or pleasant. Ultimately it would make more sense to have explicitly political universities, so that people could choose their poison instead of having to spend half their time fighting other student activists to get an education that matched their politics.

  9. Ally Fogg says

    Gjenganger, you seem to have a kind of absolutist, dystopic view of these things where political debates and activism lead inexorably to a grand showdown – like the end of Highlander “there can be only one.”

    Really, it is not like that. The political commons, which is seen in a kind of microcosm on campuses, is a dynamic, chaotic forum. People, ideas, ideologies, arguments come and go, drift in and out of fashion and popularity. New ideas emerge which alienate previous generations. People argue with each other. Sometimes they hate each other. Sometimes people who are otherwise opposed will form unlikely alliances on a specific goal, other times people who are closely aligned will bitterly fall out over a minor point of disagreement. So it goes.

    All of this is as it should be.

  10. says

    I would like everyone to accept that they have no right to be protected from offence or political and ideological opposition.

    Here’s where I disagree with you: “offense” and “opposition” are two very different things (though there is a lot of overlap between them); and we do everyone a disservice by confusing the two. I have a right to criticize the policies and tactics advocated by black student activists, but I do NOT have the right to shout racial epithets at them or do anything to make the academic environment more hostile or less welcoming to them than it is to me and other whites.

    Students are required to live and work close together, and to subordinate their whims to the educational mission their colleges are paid to perform. And that requires all students (and teachers and administrators of course) to abide by a shared code of conduct in all of their interactions. We do hot have a right to be shielded from unpopular ideas, but we DO have a right to participate in academic, social, business and political activities without being needlessly offended, bullied, or made to feel less than equal in our rights. You need to get the distinction straight, because too many childish bigots and assholes are refusing to do so.

  11. xyz says

    Ally, thanks for your thoughtful post and follow up comments. It’s pretty funny that these days it’s the establishment crying out, “Help, help I’m being repressed!”

  12. badgersdaughter says

    The best band to ever make the exact same album 10 times. (See also: Jesus and Mary Chain.)

    Jars of Clay wasn’t bad about fifteen times, either, despite being a Christian band. 😀 Ahem. Anyway.

    My father, who was a member of the student uprising in Budapest during the revolution in 1956 that successfully used street warfare to run off the invading Russian tanks (not that they stayed run off), might have had a thing or two to say about whether students should be allowed to organize and protest.

  13. Jacob Schmidt says

    “cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies”

    I like 6 of those 8, hold nothing against the other 2, and find the final listed (excised here) resource, “students and staff members trained to deal with trauma,” useful and pragmatic.

    Indeed, my university brings in actual frolicking puppies for stress and anxiety relief, to the enjoyment of the majority of the student population.

  14. That Guy says

    I have very little patience with student politics. from what I remember from my recent undergrad days, they seem to fall into two broad categories, 1) larval politicians, with little to no interest in actually using the university for learning ( there are too many Jim Murphies in the world) and 2) complete fucking assholes who adopt any contrary ‘leftist’ cause they can to cause maximum distruption for anyone else- the kind that have problems with athiest societies and people like Maryam Namazie.

    THAT BEING SAID, I’m sure I’m just remembering the worst of the worst, and even if they ARE all complete fucking assholes, the only power they really wield is in the student ecosystem*, so I don’t think there’s any truth in the idea of some kind of highly mobilised guerilla protest wing that’s shutting down debates whenever they catch the scent of anything more right wing than Tommy Sheridan on the breeze.

    *That is not to say this power cannot be abused, in my degree there was a couple of incidents where student societies had noisy sit-in protests in rooms while exams were in progress, a member of the NUS made veiled threats of violence when the union announced to have a debate featuring a racist asshole, along with general corruption in the student union when it tried to pass any faintly contentious motion.

  15. says

    …a piece by Judith Shulevitz in the New York Times this weekend, which railed against the supposed creep of “safe-space” culture on campuses..

    Um…has this person read any history of universities? The ENTIRE PURPOSE of a college or university is to provide a “safe space” where people can teach and learn and process new information, without the pressures of either public emotion or short-term economic need. That’s been the purpose of universities since the ancient Greeks created Europe’s first academies.

  16. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    I am also concerned about this topic. I do not see social conflicts like many others though. I tend to see these things in terms of where the fear and aggression is placed and I can explain if it becomes relevant. Functionally, among other things that looks like “approach/pause/withdraw” when things are calm and “fight/flight/freeze” when things are not calm. People become somewhat simpler when things are not calm, In good and bad ways. I do want a place in society for people to express themselves in uncalm ways, and still be heard properly and get assistance.

    I care about Safe Spaces as a general thing. They are where a person unable to react in a calm way can do many things to help themselves or allow others to help them. In such a space they will ideally be able to express their trauma, understand it with the help of others, and decide what to do with it. Activism is not assumed for people who use these spaces, but activists can learn from these spaces if they are very careful.

    From the perspective of a person with more, let’s say predatory-compatible tendencies, most of the time when I see people criticize safes spaces they honestly seem to be representatives of the “status quo”. They seem to want people in pain out in the open, where they can be prey and mostly can’t effectively defend what they believe society should do to respond to what hurt them. They don’t understand that “being triggered” means that they re-experience what hurt them (ironic since they seem to be triggered by the concept of being triggered.) Triggerable people need to be able to testify and communicate about what they experience, without facing aggressive people who are connected to the issue in a very different way that often leads to being socially overwhelmed by criticism.

    We need safe spaces. It’s the only way to allow people to express themselves about sensitive things that harmed them. I see the jackals and wolves circling. It’s why many internet articles about things group A are swamped by people from Group B (and others) desperate to distract from that real harm, often by replacing attention to that harm to anything possible. As a person who wants to see a social conflict be a fair conflict it disgusts me.

    @StillGjenganger 1
    Posts like yours are interesting to me. I can usually pick out a fellow authoritarian by how much they simplify the terms of disagreement. Your “book ends” that lead to a common middle are very intense and very simple things that do not reflect reality very well. It’s a hard habit to get out of, I sympathize but only to a point.

    – One side imposes its vocabulary and terms on the other, so that all debate follows their rule; the other side adapts or is excluded. Which side would you back, for a future ideological hegemony?

    This pattern sets up interesting paranoid mirror images of the current situation that seem intended to scare. The majority already sets up a limit on the vocabulary (think about the opposition to vocabulary that seeks to add detail to gender issues) and tries to keep all debate following their rules, and debate is excluded by many means up to and including internet harassment mobs. I see that activity for what it is even if the participants are only following their instincts.

    – Debate continues, dominated by loud accusations and offended feelings, as no one can accept engaging with words or people that do not follow the party line?

    I hear both “parties” (such a poor summary of the factions and forces involved) exclaiming about offense. But you have done nothing here to describe what the sides are offended about. That’s useless to someone like me that deep down wants a mental tool to take and run with, if I let that part of myself do so anyway. What do you have to say about what the “sides” are offended by?

    – People segregate into separate echo chambers and no longer talk to each other? ?

    *Collapses into cackling laughter.*
    This is different from the present situation how?

    – People settle down to some vocabulary to talk in, of necessity based on the status quo because that is the one everybody knows, and stop talking about safe spaces and microaggressions when someone with divergent opinions comes along?

    But is the “status quo vocabulary” good enough to reflect reality?

    And what do we do with the ones who refuse to incorporate what we learn about ourselves and the universe? Or the ones who are either too dependent on the status quo or too busy/fearful to consider challenges to it?

    “Everyone” can be wrong, and I have few fucks to give for that portion of “everyone” that you are referring to so inaccurately (after all you would not be making this point if there were not people challenging the vocabulary). But of course the one with the divergent opinions here is you or you would not have brought that up, if I am wrong I would like to hear why.

    What are your divergent opinions?

  17. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally 10
    OK, this will not end with some kind of dictatorship. But I do think that everybody’s view of fair political debate is heavily biased towards their own advantage. We all want to be free to exploit our own strength without restrictions, but feel a need for protection from the strength of others. Left-wing radicals feel they deserve the power to take on capitalism on equal terms; trans activists feel they deserve the power to take on the cis-sexuals on equal terms. And Silvio Berlusconi feels he deserves the power to take on the Italian state and judicial system on equal terms, …Surely your own preference for officially support for student activism, and letting a hundred pickets bloom, is strongly connected with the fact that you and your friends are activists and this is a battlefield where you can count on winning. Just like your relaxed acceptance of letting the political ferment develop wherever it wants might have something to do with the fact that successive waves of left wing radicals have been winning those battles over the decades and most likely will continue to do so. The rest of us are no better, of course. The commentariat prefers polite debate because that is their strength and wants to be protected from being shouted down by loud activist minorities. And inactive conservatives like me fear for the future as long as either kind of left-wing activist can effectively hijack the agenda and establish their own minority opinions as the official view, redefining the dissenting majority as a bunch of marginal idiots.

    That said, I do think that you are severely underestimating the power that you and your friends actually have. And no, That Guy, this is not a bunch of irrelevant students. The general policy of wining the debate by changing language and making the wrong opinions hard to express in polite society has been very successful over the years, from non-sexist English through hate speech to gay marriage and multiculturalism. Certainly, a lot of people would be surprised to hear that activist opinion is effectively powerless: Brendan Eich, Anita Sarkeesian, Julie Bindle, both sides of the Donglegate affair, James Watson, …

  18. Bugmaster says

    @Ally #3:

    I would like to see oppressive expressions such as racism, homophobia etc loudly and vocally challenged and condemned.

    This is a valiant goal, but I don’t think that it is achievable in a stable fashion, unless you are willing to sacrifice the idea of safe spaces.

    It’s easy to say, “I want to make sure that bad ideas are vocally challenged”, and, at the same time, “I want to make the campus a safe space where bad ideas are never uttered”. As long as you are the Idea Czar, both of these policies work well, and in fact reinforce each other.

    But unfortunately, in real life, there’s no Idea Czar, and thus the situation is unstable. Sooner or later, the public opinion will shift, or the administration will change, or whatever (*); and suddenly you will discover that it is now your own ideas that are considered Bad. And now, everyone is encouraged to challenge them, and no one can defend them, because to do so would be Unsafe.

    There are only two ways out of this dilemma that I know of. One is to actually become the Idea Czar, by gaining enough power to crush any opponents outright. This is a tough job; history shows that it’s difficult for any faction to hang on to it for long (the recent record stands at about 75 years), and it’s becoming tougher all the time. Another way out is to encourage public, vocal debate of all ideas, even those (or, rather, especially those) you consider to be bad. But then, you end up explicitly creating lots of unsafe spaces, where bad ideas are endlessly discussed. So, it’s a bit of a tradeoff.

    (*) Technically, it’s also possible that you could be wrong about which ideas are Bad, but the probability of this is too low to be worth considering… right ?

  19. Holms says

    #7 UnknownEric
    The best band to ever make the exact same album 10 times. (See also: Jesus and Mary Chain.)

    “I’m sick and tired of people saying that we put out 11 albums that sound exactly the same. In fact, we’ve put out 12 albums that sound exactly the same.” – Angus Young (AC/DC)

    #18 StillG
    OK, this will not end with some kind of dictatorship. But I do think that everybody’s view of fair political debate is heavily biased towards their own advantage. We all want to be free to exploit our own strength without restrictions, but feel a need for protection from the strength of others. Left-wing radicals feel they deserve the power to take on capitalism on equal terms; trans activists feel they deserve the power to take on the cis-sexuals on equal terms. And Silvio Berlusconi feels he deserves the power to take on the Italian state and judicial system on equal terms, …Surely your own preference for officially support for student activism, and letting a hundred pickets bloom, is strongly connected with the fact that you and your friends are activists and this is a battlefield where you can count on winning.

    And if you are arguing against the use of open discourse, criticism, protest etc. etc. then you are arguing to keep everything the way it currently is. An argument against open dialogue is an argument for status quo. But then I see you identify as conservative, meaning you of course are anti-change, so don’t try the poor wounded conservative ‘why can’t we go back to genteel discussions where all social norms are unchallenged’ routine.

  20. Holms says

    #19 Bugmaster
    It’s easy to say, “I want to make sure that bad ideas are vocally challenged”, and, at the same time, “I want to make the campus a safe space where bad ideas are never uttered”. As long as you are the Idea Czar, both of these policies work well, and in fact reinforce each other.

    But Ally didn’t suggest that bad ideas could never be uttered. He said “Free speech not only means the right to say unpalatable and unpopular things, it also involves the right to call oppression and bigotry for what they are when we see them.” To my eye, this does not preclude bad ideas, but rather, enourages people to challenge what they percieve to be bad ideas by giving them an open and safe platform for such dialogue. Sometimes, one of those critics will put forth a bad idea of their own… and it can then be challenged by others in the same manner. The requirement is that it remains safe to express such criticism.

  21. Bugmaster says

    @Holms #21:
    Absolutely, I agree with you. But, as I said in my comment, this means that sometimes (quite often, in fact), people will quite vocally challenge your own ideas. They may even be impolite about it. They may call your most cherished ideas “bad”, or they may use even worse labels, even ones like “oppressive” or “bigoted”. The ability for anyone to do so creates the exact opposite of a “safe space”, because in a safe space, your most cherished beliefs will never come under such vicious attack.

  22. Holms says

    I disagree. A safe space for discourse means people are not silenced, nor punished for criticism, airing of unpopular views and the like. It does not mean immunity to criticism, and being criticised does not mean your safety has been reduced.

  23. StillGjenganger says

    @Brony 17
    It depends on which spaces we are talking about. Do you want to have some separate spaces where traumatised people can talk freely without risk of being attacked/triggered? Or do you want to make an entire university/political debate safe, so that no one can ever say anything that anyone might be triggered by?

    @Holms, Bugmaster.
    I think Bugmaster got it right. But then, Ally never talked about ‘safe spaces’. A ‘safe space’ means a supportive environment where you can talk openly without fear of being hurt for it. And you do get hurt if a large, aggressive group dismisses your experiences and opinions as nonsense and brands you as bad or disturbed for uttering them. Making things safe for one group does require severe restrictions on what their opponents are allowed to say.

    Free speech is not safe, basically

  24. StillGjenganger says

    @Holms 20
    Picketing is not a tool of dialogue. Nor is ‘vocally challenging and condemning’ people who disagree with you.They are tools of power, intending to force yourself up and the opposition down.

  25. StillGjenganger says

    Language is social. Each group has its own norms, and a group vocabulary that reflects and enforces those norms – and thereby tends to exclude anybody who does not share them. As long as you are taking among friends who share your assumptions that is just fine. But if you want a dialogue that involves different groups – in a general political debate, for example – you need to settle on a language that both sides understand and that does not presuppose who is right and who is wrong.

    It is possible with some care to come up with a reasonable set of words that can reflect both reality and the various current opinions – and that people can understand. For instance discriminating between sex, gender, and gender identity should allow you to express all relevant opinions without prejudging the outcome. That does not mean it is absolutely neutral, it will be closer to some opinions than others. For instance the majority vocabulary on gender roles is surely biased towards the majority idea that sex, gender, and gender identity naturally go together and together form the two existing sexes. But if you cannot avoid favouring someone, is it not better to favour the existing majority vocabulary than just one of the many radical minorities?

    So, by all means challenge the status quo. But start by convincing people of the new ideas, using current language. Not by redefining common words like ‘woman’ so that the new definition presumes your particular politics – and then hounding anyone who does not adapt to your pet biased usage as a ‘phobe of some kind.

    As for the internet mobs, yes, every side has them. But do you want to establish that as a good way of debating that everybody should follow? Or do you want to fight them, in your friends as well as in your enemies?

  26. Marduk says

    You’re confusing several different issues here.

    The issue of concern with the “therapeutic university” is not that they are radicals sticking it to the system but that they are powerful consumers the system is all too happy to lie down and roll over for. Capricious King Joffreys who have no idea of the power they wield or the long term implications of it. The deeper problem here is confusing what consumers can legitimately ask for if they are paying with changing the mission of institutions around the world that have survived plagues, wars and dictators in terms of clinging to their values. Those against it are not powerful and privileged which is why they are pleading with the outside world for help.

    Academic freedom incidentally is like free speech, its only really an idea and in practice, only ever supposed to be a freedom from government (which it isn’t really anyway), not from other people and not from your employer and not from the complaints of your customers. A very fragile thing indeed.

    @Raging Bee

    Almost but not quite, let us turn to the Cardinal Newman passage I think you are paraphrasing and look at the next sentence he wrote:

    “It is the place to which a thousand schools make contributions; in which the intellect may safely range and speculate, sure to find its equal in some antagonist activity, and its judge in the tribunal of truth. It is a place where inquiry is pushed forward, and discoveries verified and perfected, and rashness rendered innocuous, and error exposed, by the collision of mind with mind, and knowledge with knowledge. ”

    It is that liberalism (let us note, the liberalism of a 19th century Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church!) that is the ultimate safeguard and protection, trading it for an illusion of comfort is highly dangerous.

  27. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @StillGjenganger 24

    It depends on which spaces we are talking about. Do you want to have some separate spaces where traumatised people can talk freely without risk of being attacked/triggered? Or do you want to make an entire university/political debate safe, so that no one can ever say anything that anyone might be triggered by?

    First I need to point out that you have not given me your divergent opinions. So while I should respond with my own vague fluffy uselessness in an equal social exchange, I will be specific. But you did not deserve it.
    Second I need to establish a context and I need to know where you stand on it:
    *Society will evolve. It will change. It always has and it always will and I choose to be an active part of that change. Things that were unacceptable will become acceptable (gay marriage for example), things were acceptable will become unacceptable (pointless dominance displays like gendered and racial insults/epithets hopefully).
    *Some things will be discovered to be unacceptable that are and at some point endless debate should stop. It is important for government to stay out of that one and leave it up to us as a group, but it will still happen. Do you have a problem with society using shame, interpersonal shunning (I don’t like materially abandoning people), and insult to make those things feel socially unacceptable? Note that people who want to talk about those ideas don’t get imprisoned, or beaten, but they will feel awful. Negative emotions are supposed to feel bad, that’s what they do. (And there is a distinction between the negative emotions associated with social criticism and trauma).

    Now for your comment.
    At the moment I don’t think a whole campus should be a safe space (they should contain them), but at the same time as the culture changes so will campuses. A campus is not the government and one can be an active force for social change, but I would want the social forces to be limited to what I said above. So again depending on your divergent opinions I don’t know what more to tell you.

    @26

    Language is social. Each group has its own norms, and a group vocabulary that reflects and enforces those norms – and thereby tends to exclude anybody who does not share them. As long as you are taking among friends who share your assumptions that is just fine. But if you want a dialogue that involves different groups – in a general political debate, for example – you need to settle on a language that both sides understand and that does not presuppose who is right and who is wrong.

    More dry tasteless fluff with no specifics. You do realize that you need substance to be effective in a social conflict right? For both offensive and defensive purposes.

    Norms can be wrong and people try to change them no matter what the majority thinks. The norm of using gendered and racial insults and epithets is wrong. Their accepted use in a debate has a genuine effect on things. Don’t get me wrong, you can try it (on whatever your divergent opinions are). But you will get torrents of criticism that may make the debate impossible. If you are going to actively say or do things that touch on traumatic emotions you will accept the consequences, people like me will see to it.
    I realize that some things worth debating will touch on sensitive emotions, but again you have not given me your divergent opinions. It is not yet possible to be specific about your concerns.

    It is possible with some care to come up with a reasonable set of words that can reflect both reality and the various current opinions – and that people can understand. For instance discriminating between sex, gender, and gender identity should allow you to express all relevant opinions without prejudging the outcome. That does not mean it is absolutely neutral, it will be closer to some opinions than others. For instance the majority vocabulary on gender roles is surely biased towards the majority idea that sex, gender, and gender identity naturally go together and together form the two existing sexes. But if you cannot avoid favouring someone, is it not better to favour the existing majority vocabulary than just one of the many radical minorities?

    Where reality contradicts opinion, I will criticize the majority vocabulary and continue to demonstrate its uselessness until the message sticks. The flow of human moral psychology will do the rest. When reality not only contradicts opinion but does so in a way that traumatizes people I will be less polite.

    So, by all means challenge the status quo. But start by convincing people of the new ideas, using current language. Not by redefining common words like ‘woman’ so that the new definition presumes your particular politics – and then hounding anyone who does not adapt to your pet biased usage as a ‘phobe of some kind.

    I start out precisely as you have suggested so you are not addressing my concerns. There are people who will resist reality for many reasons and react very hostilely towards those who are successfully changing the minds of others. Try talking about feminism or cis-and trans- as modifiers over at 4chan and similar places. Or look the avoidance of the word “evolution” or “global warming” in American politics.

    I will not ignore the fact that those people are acting as social enforcers who are actively hindering others from convincing people of new ideas using current language, the use of -phobe is descriptive and you must be able to address that. -phobes of many kinds act on fear and that activity can be very hostile. Why do you think homophobes go to such lengths to smear gays? The inherent dishonesty and insulting characterizations are easy to see. -phobes want the new language gone and do not want persuasion of others let alone themselves. Until you can functionally address this no one has reason to change.

    You can complain about people feeling hounded about things you are not being specific on all you want. In addition to language that avoids reality, I am concerned about the use of language intended for social dominance displays and maintenance of the status quo. What do you think the resistance to avoiding gendered and racial insults in video gaming is all about? The aggressive human dominant class of people has social tools to maintain that dominance that I will not ignore.

    As for the internet mobs, yes, every side has them. But do you want to establish that as a good way of debating that everybody should follow? Or do you want to fight them, in your friends as well as in your enemies?

    You can’t dismiss what I am primarily interested in and expect me to consider this a remotely fair exchange between us. Why should I respect your concerns about the treatment of your (still unstated) divergent opinions if you dismiss my issues so casually? There are reasons people like me are not very nice to people like you.

    But to give you an answer, I place our context at “social conflict”. How it happens functionally depends on the specific situation, there is no one good way to do social conflict just as there is no one way to do physical conflict. We do conflict with friends, family, social peers, social opponents, and social enemies. We do not conflict with them in the same ways. I am a more nuanced savage than that.

  28. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @ me 29
    The last two paragraphs are mine. The third from the last is StillGjenganger.

  29. says

    Academic freedom incidentally is like free speech, its only really an idea and in practice, only ever supposed to be a freedom from government (which it isn’t really anyway), not from other people and not from your employer…

    Says who?

  30. proudmra says

    Since the right not to feel offended or bullied is being promoted, we should definitely silence all criticism of strongly-held religious beliefs (such as right-wing Christianity or radical Islam). A person with unpopular views could feel personally threatened by somebody openly criticizing their most deep and personal feelings, after all… and that’s far more important on a college campus than exposure to unrestrained ideas and opinions.

    While we’re at it, why don’t we in the U.S. get back to work on that anti-flag-burning amendment? A lot of committed patriots feel intimidated by the airing of opposing views.

  31. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @proudmra32

    Since the right not to feel offended or bullied is being promoted, we should definitely silence all criticism of strongly-held religious beliefs (such as right-wing Christianity or radical Islam).

    Such hyperbole. Very intensity. Much religion-like scare mongering. Such frothing.

    A person with unpopular views could feel personally threatened by somebody openly criticizing their most deep and personal feelings, after all… and that’s far more important on a college campus than exposure to unrestrained ideas and opinions.

    Well now. I have to consider rape victims, and trans persons, and women, and other races, (I’m standard white mutt btw), and the mentally different that often get used as excuses for people that do awful things. Can you give me a reason to think that you are not supported by the historical social majority (that matters strategically in a fair way)? And a reason to think that the views you have in mind are worth considering (because you are being non-specific)?

    If you can tell me either of these things (you don’t have to do both) I can promise to be polite (naturally the owner of the blog can tell me to do what he wants). I have gone to great lengths to learn to put my fangs away. But I do not abandon what I am without a similar social sacrifice. Are you willing to be specific?

    While we’re at it, why don’t we in the U.S. get back to work on that anti-flag-burning amendment? A lot of committed patriots feel intimidated by the airing of opposing views.

    And this is relevant how?

  32. StillGjenganger says

    @Brony 29

    First I need to point out that you have not given me your divergent opinions.

    OK, I will try to do it (briefly if possible), tomorrow when I am more awake. Never did Sir Gjenganger run away when challenged. But considering the inordinate amount of space I take up already, I was a bit leary of answering such an open-ended question.

  33. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @StillGjenganger
    As if did not take up space myself.

    Also I know the difference between rhetorical challenges, and honest substance. Much of what I did up there was because I take social conflict seriously. I will do what I can be be fair when it comes to what I do differently than the average challenging comment.

  34. abear says

    Ally wrote:

    while Mosques were being firebombed and vandalised across the US

    You make it sound like there is a far reaching campaign of mosques being firebombed and muslims being harassed and murdered in the U.S. Maybe when you are calling someone else out for exaggerating you might want to try not to do so yourself.

  35. says

    Never did Sir Gjenganger run away when challenged.

    But several times did he mysteriously vanish in a cloud of equivocation, qualification, and misdirective discourseyness.

  36. says

    abear, that was not much of an exaggeration. There have indeed been increased incidents of vandalism of mosques (and other mosquey-looking places) in many places in the US recently, as well as movements to restrict or prevent the building or expansion of any building that might be associated with Islam or Muslim prayer. And given the Republicans’ eagerness to use mosquephobia to gin up fear and hate, I’m guessing the problem won’t be going away any time soon.

  37. =8)-DX says

    So if I’m to understand correctly, the old farts still want to get those damn kids off their lawn and make sure they don’t rock the boat, because words still mean what they’ve always meant and (only) students should grow a thicker skin. Talking about silly young people saying crazy things: those journalists don’t sound like they’d survive 10 minutes on tumblr.

  38. says

    proudmra, you did NOT “directly quote” anything I said in comment #11. Either you’re a liar, or your reading comprehension needs a lot of work.

  39. proudmra says

    #11: “we DO have a right to participate in academic, social, business and political activities without being needlessly offended, bullied, or made to feel less than equal in our rights.” Of course, you have NO such right.

    Also, Brony’s peculiar requirements for an opinion or idea to be heard–“prove you’re oppressed, and then I’ll listen”–are laughably irrelevant.

  40. says

    proudmra: first, you only quoted the SECOND HALF of my sentence (can we say “out of context?”); and second, do you really not know what the adverb “needlessly” means?

    So in answer to my earlier question about you, I think I’ll go with “liar.”

  41. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @proudmra 40
    And you know that I read post #11 because?

    Do you know how utterly pathetic it is that you have to resort to “you said something that they said!”

    You do most of my work for me.

  42. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @proudmra 42

    Also, Brony’s peculiar requirements for an opinion or idea to be heard–“prove you’re oppressed, and then I’ll listen”–are laughably irrelevant.

    I would appreciate it if you would have the courage to quote the portion that equates to “prove you’re oppressed, and then I’ll listen”.

  43. johngreg says

    I’ve always been under the impression that so-called “safe spaces” were what most FTB blogs, Skepchicks, A+ ers, and sundry other contemporary erstaz-feminists strive to be: a location, online or meatspace, where substantive criticism of almost any form, disagreement of almost any degree, contrary ideas and opinions, and anyone who holds any belief in real-world equality between the sexes are shunned, dismissed, rejected, and ultimately, removed.

    Yes?

    No?

  44. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @johngreg 47

    I’ve always been under the impression that so-called “safe spaces” were what most FTB blogs, Skepchicks, A+ ers, and sundry other contemporary erstaz-feminists strive to be: a location, online or meatspace, where [i]substantive criticism of almost any form, disagreement of almost any degree, contrary ideas and opinions, and anyone who holds any belief in real-world equality between the sexes[/i] are shunned, dismissed, rejected, and ultimately, removed.

    Yes?

    No?

    Let me get this right.

    As a person who has been involved in this social conflict in the atheist community for several years now you chose to present an unsourced, and in all probability a rhetorically pretend version of the definition of “safe space” for us? If I’m wrong please give me the link and I will take it seriously. Otherwise I am really damn disappointed.

    Because that means that you think someone should be satisfied with your pretend version of another human being.

  45. StillGjenganger says

    @Brony
    One conservative writer claimed that being conservative meant believing that there are several groups with different ideologies and interests, all legitimate, all likely to persist, and the task was for society to find a way of accommodating them. That was when I realised that I was a conservative. It goes with that territory that the status quo has priority over changes – you need a reason to change, but not to stay as you are. And that society should fit the majority better than the minority – the greatest good for the greatest number.
    Progressives seem to believe that there is one set of new ideas that is right and good, and everything else belongs on the scrapheap of history. And periodically new ideas come along to supplant yesterdays ‘right and good’. Here it is not a matter for arbitrating between different legitimate interests, but of making sure that the one right way wins over the wrong ones. This is of course better for you if you happen to be one of those groups whose interests are promoted by the new, right ideas – and worse if you are relegated to the scrapheap. The stakes are high – if you are on the right side of the divide you can trounce the others, if you are on the wrong side they can trounce you. Conf. transsexuals v. radfems.
    You seem to be quite a good example of a progressive:

    If you are going to actively say or do things that touch on traumatic emotions you will accept the consequences, people like me will see to it
    […]
    Where reality contradicts opinion, I will criticize the majority vocabulary and continue to demonstrate its uselessness until the message sticks. The flow of human moral psychology will do the rest. When reality not only contradicts opinion but does so in a way that traumatizes people I will be less polite.

    I read that as saying that you know what is acceptable, you know what is ‘reality’, and you will ‘see to it’ that other people abide by your decisions, with no regard for their right to disagree or to rules of polite interaction. All I can say in return is that the people who tried to hound Anitas Sarkeesian off the internet must have had quite similar feelings – and I would hate to be forced to join their ranks as the only alternative to joining yours.
    Incidentally. the use of ‘-phobe’ is NOT descriptive, it is normative. It presents presupposition that certain opinions are necessarily the fruit of delusion or pathological hatred, and can not be legitimately held. That may well be your opinion, of course, but building that into your vocabulary amounts to setting agreement with you as a precondition for talking.

    I feel more comfortable and more interested on the level of general discussion, and I think it fits better with the discussion topic. But you asked for a list of my politically incorrect opinions, if I understand you right. I am not sure why, and it feels a bit self-indulgent, but OK, I’ll give you one.
    – Circumcision. Peoples right to bring up their children in their culture should be respected unless you can prove significant harm – it is not enough to say that other people must follow your sacrosanct principles. FGM meets that threshold for banning (which is why I use the demonising term FGM), circumcision does not.
    – I am not homophobic, but heteronormative. I think people should be able to live their own lives without harassment, but it does not automatically follow that society must accept everything as equally normal. Much like sadomasochists should be able to practice their sports in peace, but it does not follow that we need to teach safewords, or slave contracts, or the right use of nipple clamps in primary school. I should have preferred sticking to registered partnership, with the same practical rights as marriage but leaving the question of how equal different sexualities are to individual judgment. But the marriage argument I have well and truly lost, even by my own rules. I may think (in fact, I do think) that the arguments for gay marriage were largely disingenious and I disliked some of the shaming tactics, but it is clearly and increasingly the majority opinion that gay and straight marriages are one and the same. It is therefore right and just the society organises its institutions accordingly, and dissident minorities (which in this case happens to include me) just have to adapt.
    – Gender. We have two, with sex, gender and gender identity matching for maybe 98%+ of the population. And separate, clearly defined gender roles are such an important building block in the way most people see society – and themselves – that we cannot dispense with it. To be sure the roles can change – we are much better off now than in 1950, and there is still lots of room for improvement. There could be more than two genders, some cultures have that, but I cannot see a way to get there from here. And stable, defined genders remain indispensable. Unavoidable that leaves anyone who does not have matching sex, gender, and gender identity without a matching slot to fit into, and we need to accommodate that, somehow. The best would be to let people take the gender that they identify with (anything else would be needlessly cruel), but it can not be a free individual choice. Society is entitled to make conditions for who is allowed into this status, what is expected of them (mainly to match the dress and behaviour of the adopted gender at least well enough that the rest of can figure out which group they are supposed to belong to), and how far the gender goes. Even if you are legally a (trans) woman, there could be special rules for who have right of entry in a radfem discussion group, in the women’s Olympic team, or in a lesbian swingers party (if such things exist). Unavoidably you can never quite say that e.g. a trans woman is just a woman, without remembering the ‘trans’. Clearly that can be quit painful for people whose self-identification is not fully accepted, and even more for those who cannot fit into any of the existing slots. I would not try to minimise their hurt. but regrettably that – plus individual flexibility and courtesy – is as much as I would be willing to offer.

    There. Do with it what you want.

  46. johngreg says

    Brony, you want a link to my impression/opinion/perspective about what safe spaces are?

    Huh?

    Stop rhetorically oppressing and abusing me.

  47. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @johngreg 50
    Sarcasm and humorous redirection is not going to save you from the fact that you presented to us the that the point of safe spaces is protection from ideas and criticism. You said not one damn word about why the people need the safe space which is the motivation for the whole idea of a safe space.

    Don’t be a coward now. You’ve already stuck your nose in here. Any oppression and abuse that you might feel from here on is entirely due to your own incompetence. If you can not talk about trauma and the problems that traumatized people go through in discussing what they have gone through you are utterly useless on a human level.

    If you can not be useful to people in pain and address the idea of a safe space seriously it’s pretty obvious that you are here for other purposes. Hell, the fact that you brought up FTB, Skepchicks, and A+ with your shitty definition is already evidence of that.

  48. johngreg says

    Brony, aside from my swipe at some FTB blogs, Skepchick, A+, et al., I think the concept of safe spaces is indefensible in a society that supports free speech and the exchange of information. Knowledge is, by and large, only gained when confronted with new, unfamiliar, and often unwanted and/or unpleasant information, ideas, opinions, and so on. Babysitting is for children, not adults who wish to increase their knowledge of and understanding of the world.

    Also, I think the concept of so-called safe spaces is generally fraught with difficulties, not the least of which is that, in my opinion, it is (or should be) the responsibility of the “people in pain” (as you put it) etc., to determine whether or not a place is safe. Generally speaking; hence the “fraught with difficulties” phrase. As I say, babysitting is for children.

    My experience with people who demand and/or construct so-called safe spaces shows to me that such people and places are more often than not simply an expression of the hope to discourage if not outright disallow any criticism, and/or any other form of communication, or ideas, or concepts, or any information in general that the safe spacer simply does not like. And I think that only sometimes, but often not, does the safe space also actually directly cover “people in pain” as you put it.

  49. Bugmaster says

    @StillGjenganger #49:

    One conservative writer claimed that being conservative meant believing that there are several groups with different ideologies and interests, all legitimate, all likely to persist, and the task was for society to find a way of accommodating them.

    That’s pretty interesting. Personally, I thought that conservatives were focused on preserving past traditions as a goal in and of itself; whereas you’re saying that it’s merely an instrumental sub-goal. That said though, what do you do when two groups have directly opposing interests ? To use a crude example, gay people would (broadly speaking) like to see gayness become more accepted in society; whereas Christian fundamentalists would like to see gayness demonized (and, ideally, outlawed). These two groups have irreconcilable preferences, so how would a conservative resolve this dilemma ?

    I think you have provided a part of the answer when you described your own opposition to gay marriage, and concluded:

    It is therefore right and just the society organises its institutions accordingly, and dissident minorities (which in this case happens to include me) just have to adapt.

    But this sounds to me as a bit of a cop-out. In this case, progressives and other non-conservatives did the heavy lifting for you. They changed society, marginalizing people like yourself in the process. Now that you are part of a shrinking minority, the logical course of action is indeed to just adapt; but what does this mean in terms of your strategy for the future ? What will you do when the next potential social upheaval arrives ? If your answer is, “I’ll try to defend my point of view and steer society toward the course I prefer”, then how you are different from the progressives who are saying the exact same thing (only regarding a different course) ? On the other hand, if your answer is, “I’ll just keep my head down and wait it out”, then IMO you’re not doing much about “finding a way of accommodating different ideologies and interests”, you’re just waiting for someone else to do it for you.

    By the way, as you may or may not have noticed (heh), I am largely unsympathetic toward the people who call themselves “progressives” or “social justice activists”. As far as I can tell, their answer to the problem is to impose their desired social order with an iron fist, collateral damage be damned. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen, most people who call themselves “conservative” (excluding yourself, obviously) act pretty much the same way; the only difference is the flavor of their preferred social order. This is why I’m interested in hearing your perspective — at least it’s something different…

  50. Marduk says

    Raging Bee.

    The US supreme court and the german constitution. Nowhere else has any particular protections and in the US its just a specific application of the first amendment anyway and only applies in publicly owned institutions. The court has never actually been able to even define it independently of the 1st amendment in fact. Germany obviously has special historical circumstances but even there its a bit handwaving (you can have academic freedom so long as nobody disagrees with you, very German eh). In the UK its just a phrase people use in speeches and articles like this one.

    All that said, I’m a bit disappointed you read my post and that question was what you took from it.

  51. Jacob Schmidt says

    Brony, aside from my swipe at some FTB blogs, Skepchick, A+, et al., I think the concept of safe spaces is indefensible in a society that supports free speech and the exchange of information. Knowledge is, by and large, only gained when confronted with new, unfamiliar, and often unwanted and/or unpleasant information, ideas, opinions, and so on.

    The reductio ad absurdum of this, of course, is to declare public use of headphones a violation of free speech and exchange of free information.

    Indeed, the whining about safe spaces eventually boils down to just that: whining that people will only listen to you [general you] on their terms; that if they get sick of your shit, they might move to a space where you can’t make them listen. Being against safe spaces is fundamentally being against people having the choice to ignore and avoid you, people like you, and views you hold, utilizing exclusive spaces to do so.

    That does indeed mean that some people will be harder to reach even when they’re objectively wrong. And yeah, that can suck. It also means that LGBT people have a space to go to where being subject to sexuality based contempt is unlikely. Some really shitty and nasty beliefs thrive in the market place of ideas, for a variety of reasons. I’d like the people particularly harmed by such beliefs have a space where that can be avoided.

    At the end of the day, complaining that other people have the potential to make choices regarding what they expose themselves to; choices you might not like; is just pathetic, particularly when combined with rhetorical accusations of childishness or being babysat: there’s nothing quite the infantalization that comes with being told you aren’t allowed to make certain choices because you might make the wrong ones.

    But then, I guess “You don’t get to have this choice because I don’t like what you might do with it” sounds much less noble when phrased honestly.

    Suck it up, Johngreg. Some people just don’t like listening to your shit, sometimes strongly enough that they want a stronger guarantee of avoidance.

  52. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @StillGjenganger 49
    Wow.
    Well I did ask for opinions.

    One conservative writer claimed that being conservative meant believing that there are several groups with different ideologies and interests, all legitimate, all likely to persist, and the task was for society to find a way of accommodating them. That was when I realised that I was a conservative. It goes with that territory that the status quo has priority over changes – you need a reason to change, but not to stay as you are. And that society should fit the majority better than the minority – the greatest good for the greatest number.

    That the status quo has priority, and that the status quo is the “greatest good” means nothing. To me this is just the same as the adult version of “because I said so” (tradition), which I don’t really care about as an assumed thing, or it’s “might makes right”, which I also don’t care about (that shit is less and less acceptable as time goes on).

    Progressives seem to believe that there is one set of new ideas that is right and good, and everything else belongs on the scrapheap of history. And periodically new ideas come along to supplant yesterdays ‘right and good’. Here it is not a matter for arbitrating between different legitimate interests, but of making sure that the one right way wins over the wrong ones. This is of course better for you if you happen to be one of those groups whose interests are promoted by the new, right ideas – and worse if you are relegated to the scrapheap. The stakes are high – if you are on the right side of the divide you can trounce the others, if you are on the wrong side they can trounce you.

    If the status quo creates pain we are not in the realm of “legitimate interests”. If a system creates pain, I won’t care about the group headed for the scrapheap on the sociopolitical level. I’ll do what I can to help people I know transition. But the way you describe this matches things in history both good and bad. It’s just not a useful opinion.
    “Right and good” is more non-specific fluff. Even at the opinion level.

    Conf. transsexuals v. radfems.

    What is that? “Conference”? “Conformation”? If you are going to imply something about long replies please make use of the space.

    You seem to be quite a good example of a progressive:

    Sure why not. I’ll be a progressive today.

    If you are going to actively say or do things that touch on traumatic emotions you will accept the consequences, people like me will see to it
    […]

    Where reality contradicts opinion, I will criticize the majority vocabulary and continue to demonstrate its uselessness until the message sticks. The flow of human moral psychology will do the rest. When reality not only contradicts opinion but does so in a way that traumatizes people I will be less polite.

    I read that as saying that you know what is acceptable, you know what is ‘reality’, and you will ‘see to it’ that other people abide by your decisions, with no regard for their right to disagree or to rules of polite interaction.

    So have you stopped beating you wife yet? Or have you gotten rid of the dead political opponents in your basement yet? Because if you are going to make suggestions about me interfering with your right to disagree when I have specifically spoken about things like criticism, shaming, and personal ostracism (and made statements indicating that I don’t want people materially abandoned) I’m going to take that as permission to start getting creative.

    All I can say in return is that the people who tried to hound Anitas Sarkeesian off the internet must have had quite similar feelings – and I would hate to be forced to join their ranks as the only alternative to joining yours.

    I also note that you finally mention the sort of thing I am interested in, but only when it suits you. That is not something an honest conversation partner does.

    Incidentally. the use of ‘-phobe’ is NOT descriptive, it is normative. It presents presupposition that certain opinions are necessarily the fruit of delusion or pathological hatred, and can not be legitimately held. That may well be your opinion, of course, but building that into your vocabulary amounts to setting agreement with you as a precondition for talking.

    Maybe you have seen examples of people using homophobe as a means of dismissing arguments. If an argument has been killed a thousand times I’m sympathetic frankly, but that seems to have nothing to do with you and me.
    Have you seen me do that? Is that actually relevant to our interaction? If you have not seen me do that here with you, you can fuck right off. Such prejudice is a good reason to get annoyed. The presupposition here seems to be all yours.

    We fear things that are disgusting. It takes fear to characterize homosexuals in terms intended to create disgust. It takes fear to create shitty fake research that tries to prove that homosexuals are diseased people that die early. It takes fear to constantly characterize them in terms of how they have sex instead of what they do non-sexually in relationships. It takes fear to pretend that because we are allowing gays to marry that in a couple of years we are going to be shoving people in prisons.
    Note: these are arguments being made and may or may not directly apply to you. They are my examples. Still, this smells like projection given the fact that I have not had an argument to use homophobia on to this point. Maybe you can explain?

    I feel more comfortable and more interested on the level of general discussion, and I think it fits better with the discussion topic. But you asked for a list of my politically incorrect opinions, if I understand you right. I am not sure why, and it feels a bit self-indulgent, but OK, I’ll give you one.
    – Circumcision. Peoples right to bring up their children in their culture should be respected unless you can prove significant harm – it is not enough to say that other people must follow your sacrosanct principles. FGM meets that threshold for banning (which is why I use the demonising term FGM), circumcision does not.

    I’m totally on board with you as far as banning circumcision is concerned.
    However, I generally don’t do general discussion when it comes to changing myself. Real examples are how we actually execute the general things we are talking about and believe in. Otherwise we are floating around in hypothetical land. Boring bullshit. If I cannot understand how you apply your general principles they don’t really mean anything to me.

    – I am not homophobic, but heteronormative. I think people should be able to live their own lives without harassment, but it does not automatically follow that society must accept everything as equally normal. Much like sadomasochists should be able to practice their sports in peace, but it does not follow that we need to teach safewords, or slave contracts, or the right use of nipple clamps in primary school. I should have preferred sticking to registered partnership, with the same practical rights as marriage but leaving the question of how equal different sexualities are to individual judgment. But the marriage argument I have well and truly lost, even by my own rules. I may think (in fact, I do think) that the arguments for gay marriage were largely disingenious and I disliked some of the shaming tactics, but it is clearly and increasingly the majority opinion that gay and straight marriages are one and the same. It is therefore right and just the society organises its institutions accordingly, and dissident minorities (which in this case happens to include me) just have to adapt.

    Heteronormaitve? You can say that you prefer to actively support heterosexual norms all you want. But if you actively get in the way of something that other human beings need to be themselves, that’s a different matter.

    If there are cases where you actively oppose the advancement of something related to LGBT issues, there is going to be an emotion behind that action. And depending on the specifics if that emotion looks like fear, and the change doesn’t do anything to hurt you, guess which word I’m use?
    But it looks like you have already done that. You seem to fear homosexuality so much that you have to attach things like safewords, and nipple clamps and combine all of that with sex education (never heard of slave contracts) even though those apply to straights too. So why should I not start using that word on you if you are willing to tie something like that to homosexuals when that is not really a homosexual issue?

    – Gender. We have two, with sex, gender and gender identity matching for maybe 98%+ of the population.

    What do you mean by gender?

    And separate, clearly defined gender roles are such an important building block in the way most people see society – and themselves – that we cannot dispense with it.

    Why? No really. We have a “lovely” history of forcing one another to stick to strictly defined roles based on various, often arbitrary characteristics, let alone something like sex. Given how strict cultural dress codes alone can be, I’m not remotely convinced.

    To be sure the roles can change – we are much better off now than in 1950, and there is still lots of room for improvement. There could be more than two genders, some cultures have that, but I cannot see a way to get there from here.

    Ignorance is not an argument. It can however be a source of fear.

    And stable, defined genders remain indispensable.

    Why? You are going to need to better than you are to convince someone like me. I’m so far over on the masculine side of things that female people like me get gender dysphoria. As far as I’m concerned society forcing everyone with a vagina or a penis to act in a particular way is a recipe to make someone have problems with their genitals.

    Unavoidable that leaves anyone who does not have matching sex, gender, and gender identity without a matching slot to fit into, and we need to accommodate that, somehow. The best would be to let people take the gender that they identify with (anything else would be needlessly cruel), but it can not be a free individual choice. Society is entitled to make conditions for who is allowed into this status, what is expected of them (mainly to match the dress and behaviour of the adopted gender at least well enough that the rest of can figure out which group they are supposed to belong to), and how far the gender goes.

    Why should it not be a free choice? You have not even told me what gender is. You do not own the mantle of society. People like me changed society on the matter of LG and gay marriage. There is good reason to think that BT and the rest will follow unless you have better than this. I am society as much as you, and it changes. I’m perfectly happy taking personal possession of that change.

    Even if you are legally a (trans) woman, there could be special rules for who have right of entry in a radfem discussion group, in the women’s Olympic team, or in a lesbian swingers party (if such things exist).

    I don’t get the impression that you are much of a spokesperson for radfems, women in the Olympics, or lesbian swingers. This one is going to need more than opinion. Especially when two of those groups would be quite able to make that decision without your opinion, and the Olympics would do just fine sorting people by ability.

    Unavoidably you can never quite say that e.g. a trans woman is just a woman, without remembering the ‘trans’. Clearly that can be quit painful for people whose self-identification is not fully accepted, and even more for those who cannot fit into any of the existing slots.

    What is a woman? Woman and female are two different words. What is woman independent of female? A female human is not good enough because we talk about things being “womanly” often. And there is really no reason why a purse has to go with a vagina. Or liking a cartoon about ponies for that matter.

    I would not try to minimise their hurt. but regrettably that – plus individual flexibility and courtesy – is as much as I would be willing to offer.

    Except for the fact that I don’t have a reason to think you are trying to hurt anyone, I can’t really agree. Actions and beliefs based on ignorance do hurt. I do not have a reason to think that your opinions are based on any knowledge.

  53. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @johngreg 53

    I think the concept of safe spaces is indefensible in a society that supports free speech and the exchange of information.

    Tough luck. It’s a concept that applies to governments.

    Knowledge is, by and large, only gained when confronted with new, unfamiliar, and often unwanted and/or unpleasant information, ideas, opinions, and so on. Babysitting is for children, not adults who wish to increase their knowledge of and understanding of the world.

    So you think people like rape victims, and people with PTSD, and LGBT used to being treated like shit, and women are children. Good to know.
    This opinion totally ignores what the people defending the use of safe-spaces actually say about why they are needed. As a white person with aggressive tendencies I have seen how these people with heightened stress responses get treated when they try to talk about their issues. It’s looks like predation. It’s why “actually it’s about ethics in X” is a meme. There is a desperation to cover up the harassment. Fuck you.

    Also, I think the concept of so-called safe spaces is generally fraught with difficulties, not the least of which is that, in my opinion, it is (or should be) the responsibility of the “people in pain” (as you put it) etc., to determine whether or not a place is safe. Generally speaking; hence the “fraught with difficulties” phrase. As I say, babysitting is for children.

    Children also tend to only shove what they think of things at mom and dad while having an complete inability to accurately describe what the other child says happened. I hear the crying of someone desperate to prevent a culture from changing. I’m just smiling now.

    My experience with people who demand and/or construct so-called safe spaces shows to me that such people and places are more often than not simply an expression of the hope to discourage if not outright disallow any criticism, and/or any other form of communication, or ideas, or concepts, or any information in general that the safe spacer simply does not like. And I think that only sometimes, but often not, does the safe space also actually directly cover “people in pain” as you put it.

    Because a what a rape victim needs is criticism. Especially when they live in a society so ready to ignore them that military rape victims of both sexes are routinely ignored or undermined, hundreds of thousands of rape kits are allowed to collect dust for over a decade, and people think that what someone was wearing or that they were drinking means something was not rape.
    (Just in case that was sarcasm)

  54. johngreg says

    Sheesh. I love it when SJW yahoos confirm the looseyJuicy. WheeHaw!

    I will respond to the incendiary juveniles (NakedJacob and BronyPony) tomorrow.

    For now: it is movie time!

  55. StillGjenganger says

    @Bugmaster 54

    I thought that conservatives were focused on preserving past traditions as a goal in and of itself; whereas you’re saying that it’s merely an instrumental sub-goal.
    […]
    Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen, most people who call themselves “conservative” (excluding yourself, obviously) act pretty much the same way; the only difference is the flavor of their preferred social order.

    Certainly not all conservatives live by what I proposed. Now, I am not a political theorist, just a newspaper reader with a good memory. I could not say whether this is really the definition of conservatism, or a side goal, or just of one strand of conservatism, or if the man I quoted has claimed something that does not belong to him and the whole thing should go under another name – like ‘tolerance’. All I can say is that this is an idea I like – and that a lot of modern progressives seem to disagree with.

    What will you do when the next potential social upheaval arrives ? If your answer is, “I’ll try to defend my point of view and steer society toward the course I prefer”, then how you are different from the progressives who are saying the exact same thing (only regarding a different course) ?

    Well, everybody (myself included) think that their own ideas are really the right ones, people feel much more comfortable living in a society that reflects their personal values, and there can only really be one single set of shared norms for any group. So people will always fight about what those norms should be. But there is room for compromise rather than winner-takes-all. On gay rights I used to be for protection from discrimination and registered partnership, but against gay marriage and making the two kinds of sexuality officially equal. Now that boat has sailed, I would favour allowing a few specific opt-outs from antidiscrimination legislation, like catholic adoption agencies, who have specific philosophical objections. The point is that we are protecting the right of gay people to adopt, not the duty of the entire population to collaborate, and as long catholic agencies have only a small fraction of the ‘market’ their opt-out does not make much practical difference. Or you could look at the Church of England that (finally!) is officially in favour of woman bishops, but allows the diehard opponents a special opt-out. One advantage of this approach is that groups that are marginalised still feel accepted as part of the picture, even if the dominant ideology is against them.
    Ultimately the norms of society are simply set by the dominant group, hopefully the majority. But admitting this openly, also to yourself, might lead you to be more flexible towards those who disagree. As long as you pretend that ‘I am objectively right and everybody else is wrong!’ you have less reason to restrain yourself.

  56. StillGjenganger says

    @Brony
    This will take some thinking. But a quick answer on the easier bits.

    ‘conf. is short for ‘confer’, latin. It means something like ‘as exemplified by’ or ‘consider in this context’. Sorry if I hit a word you did not know (or misused one you did), but you struck me as the kind of person who would be familiar with most of the dictionary.

    I did notice (and appprove) that you are not using words like ‘homophobic’ to prejudge my opinions, and that you limit your tactics to ‘ criticism, shaming, and personal ostracism’, avoiding anything worse. I am not saying anything to the contrary, I am simply discussing general discussion strategies, rather than what you specifically have said. I gather we are interested in different things here, but we both need to be awake to avoid misunderstanding each other. I will say that shaming and ostracism are tools of power, quite potent tools too, and that there is quite a difference between freezing someone out until he repents, and simply saying ‘I have heard you, you are welcome to think that, but I really disagree and I do not particularly like listening to it. Now stop banging on about it and talk about something else

    As I use it (I thought that was standard), sex is an objective biological classification of our bodies, gender identity is a psychological term for which gender we identify as, and gender is a social role describing a set of attributes, expectations, rights, behaviour norms, … and also the term used to classify people as belonging to one of the available genders. Being social, gender is defined and decided by society, not by either the individual or a biologist. The term ‘woman’ tends to signify all three together (as they are in 98%? of the cases, but not always), which complicates matters, but these are different concepts and are determined separately.

  57. says

    One conservative writer claimed that being conservative meant believing that there are several groups with different ideologies and interests, all legitimate, all likely to persist, and the task was for society to find a way of accommodating them.

    That’s ONE (unnamed) writer, and he’d be loudly contradicted by almost all of the REAL conservatives I’ve heard from, who would all agree that this position is “moral relativism,” and it’s wrong because it contradicts the absolute and unchanging principles they think are right for everyone and should never be overthrown by radicals or progressives.

    Progressives seem to believe that there is one set of new ideas that is right and good, and everything else belongs on the scrapheap of history.

    Let’s see…you don’t even bother to hint at which progressives you’re talking about, or what ideas they think are best, and you don’t specify the grounds on which you base your laughably evasive “seem to believe” allegation. This is just more of the same bullshit that reactionaries pull out of their asses when they want to cry us a river about how “dogmatic” progressives are for insisting there’s an objective reality we all have to face.

    And the answer to johngreg’s question @47 is no — we all know you’re just plain lying about what “safe spaces” means. In fact, to borrow my favorite line from one of the worst TV shows in history: “We know that you know that we know that you’re lying.”

  58. proudmra says

    Having been proven wrong, both Raging Bee and Brony predictably change the subject and hope nobody notices. Feminists have no choice about being wrong, that’s inherent; but it’s their incompetence that provides the real entertainment value.

  59. johngreg says

    proudmra said:

    Having been proven wrong, both Raging Bee and Brony predictably change the subject and hope nobody notices.

    Ya. They do that a lot. Jacob too.

    And on that note, I hereby retract my intent to respond to BronyPony and Jacob Shit. Neither of them is able to comprehend the concept of differing opinions being, potentially, valid. And they are both past and present masters of misquoting, misrepresentation, and general mendacity.

    And, lastly, as past experience (my lived experience laddiebucks! Shut up and listen!) has proved, their intent is not to further discussion, nor expand knowledge, nor strive for clarification; their intent is to obfuscate, sidetrack, and mislead unto myriad endless irrelevancies.

  60. Bugmaster says

    @StillGjenganger #60:

    All I can say is that this is an idea I like – and that a lot of modern progressives seem to disagree with.

    Fair enough.

    So people will always fight about what those norms should be. But there is room for compromise rather than winner-takes-all

    This is true sometimes, but not all the time. For example, if one is the kind of person who believes that homosexuality (not just gay marriage, but homosexuality in general) is extremely immoral, then one would naturally want to see gay people ostracized, publicly shamed, and, ultimately, jailed. On the other hand, if you believe that sleeping with people of the same gender is a morally neutral action, then you’d probably think that ostracizing and jailing gay people is extremely immoral.

    So, now what ? You’ve got two groups of people, each of whom believes that the other side is promoting an extremely immoral and ultimately harmful set of behaviors. There’s no way you can say “to each his own” in this case, because both sides believe that the other side is committing a severe injustice. I know how the progressives would attempt to resolve this situation, but how about conservatives ?

    My guess is that, unfortunately, most social disagreements ultimately stem from these kinds of deep differences about core moral values, and thus situations like these would come up (and have been coming up) quite often.

  61. StillGjenganger says

    @Bugmaster 65

    This is true sometimes, but not all the time

    Absolutely

    My guess is that, unfortunately, most social disagreements ultimately stem from these kinds of deep differences about core moral values,

    Maybe, but there can still be quite a bit of room for some neutral practical arrangements – if people are willing to look for them. A lot of people who thought (better stick to past tense) that homosexuality was immoral would consider an arrangement where homosexuals were left in peace to quietly do own thing – and so go to hell in their own way, as it were. Which may not be much, but is still better than active persecution. Assisted suicide is illegal, but many people who think it should remain so (like me) quietly accept that many terminally ill people are being helped in various ways to die quicker than they otherwise would.

    There are various motivations. You might see the case for a dispensation in particularly vexatious cases even if you will not concede the moral point; you might prefer an accommodation to the damage of fighting and the risk of losing completely; there might be no realistic chance of one group winning everything; or you might think that being lenient with dissident minorities was a good thing in itself (which might benefit you too, someday).

    There are issues that leaveabsolutely no room for compromise, like torture, slavery, and abortion, but they are hardly the majority.

  62. Holms says

    #47 johngreg
    I’ve always been under the impression that so-called “safe spaces” were what most FTB blogs, Skepchicks, A+ ers, and sundry other contemporary erstaz-feminists strive to be: a location, online or meatspace, where substantive criticism of almost any form, disagreement of almost any degree, contrary ideas and opinions, and anyone who holds any belief in real-world equality between the sexes are shunned, dismissed, rejected, and ultimately, removed.

    That’s so incredibly far from the mark that I can only assume you are up to your usual rhetorical dishonesty.
    ___

    #49 StillG
    – Circumcision. Peoples right to bring up their children in their culture should be respected unless you can prove significant harm – it is not enough to say that other people must follow your sacrosanct principles. FGM meets that threshold for banning (which is why I use the demonising term FGM), circumcision does not.

    You’re looking at it from the wrong perspective. Circumcision is a matter of personal autonomy, as it is after all a form of cosmetic surgery (unless it is medically indicated, which is uncommon especially for infants). Not even parents have the right to override the consent of their child without medical reasons, and there is no reason for any particular religion or culture to be granted an exemption to such law.

    Not that that stuff is exactly on topic, but it was too glaring to pass by.
    ___

    #63 proudmra
    Having been proven wrong…

    You’ve already demonstrated that you don’t know what a direct quote is, and you haven’t preoven a damn thing.

  63. StillGjenganger says

    @Holms 67

    Not even parents have the right to override the consent of their child without medical reasons

    As I said. Those are your sacrosanct principles. I do not share them. Like, presumably, you do not share mine.

  64. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @StillGjenganger 61

    ‘conf. is short for ‘confer’, latin. It means something like ‘as exemplified by’ or ‘consider in this context’. Sorry if I hit a word you did not know (or misused one you did), but you struck me as the kind of person who would be familiar with most of the dictionary.

    One of the aspects of Tourette Syndrome with benefits and drawbacks is an overly literal nature with respect to language perception. The dictionary does not emphasize truncations or abbreviations.

    I did notice (and appprove) that you are not using words like ‘homophobic’ to prejudge my opinions, and that you limit your tactics to ‘ criticism, shaming, and personal ostracism’, avoiding anything worse.

    That is about to change as you have yet to explain your rhetorical combination of sex education with LGBT and sex-related practices known to get the general public into an in irrational frothing frenzy in the same section. There is nothing inherently wrong with those practices as far as I know, but you still chose them despite the fact that they apply to many kinds of people, and you did so in a way meant to apply disgust (a fear-based emotion) to LGBT people.

    I am not saying anything to the contrary, I am simply discussing general discussion strategies, rather than what you specifically have said.


    You said in #49,

    I read that as saying that you know what is acceptable, you know what is ‘reality’, and you will ‘see to it’ that other people abide by your decisions, with no regard for their right to disagree or to rules of polite interaction.

    This was not merely discussing general strategies, this was an assumption that I was going to be ignoring the rights of people. An implicit characterization of me and my words.

    I gather we are interested in different things here, but we both need to be awake to avoid misunderstanding each other. I will say that shaming and ostracism are tools of power, quite potent tools too, and that there is quite a difference between freezing someone out until he repents, and simply saying ‘I have heard you, you are welcome to think that, but I really disagree and I do not particularly like listening to it. Now stop banging on about it and talk about something else‘

    I agree there is a difference. I am aware of it. I knowingly choose those tools. I reject politeness when the other opinion is insulting. I’m quite awake on that one.

    Additionally, if in a specific instance a person wants to stop talking about it I’m perfectly happy to if they stop saying the insulting thing(s). If they continue I do not lose my right to continue criticism. Otherwise the situation like the one where people want to bury conversations about racist/sexist jokes in the workplace and such occur.

    If I’ve missed something you are interested in please let me know.

    As I use it (I thought that was standard), sex is an objective biological classification of our bodies, gender identity is a psychological term for which gender we identify as, and gender is a social role describing a set of attributes, expectations, rights, behaviour norms, … and also the term used to classify people as belonging to one of the available genders. Being social, gender is defined and decided by society, not by either the individual or a biologist.

    Sex is not so objective, but that might work for our purposes.

    The term ‘woman’ tends to signify all three together (as they are in 98%? of the cases, but not always), which complicates matters, but these are different concepts and are determined separately.

    That seems to work as well.

    So based on what you said in #49 about finding stable roles for everyone can I assume that you have no problem with society allowing all male and female people to be as aggressive and dominant in behavior as men historically? Or both male and female people to have the same power to be part of the structural decision making part of society? Because this part is still concerning,

    Society is entitled to make conditions for who is allowed into this status, what is expected of them (mainly to match the dress and behaviour of the adopted gender at least well enough that the rest of can figure out which group they are supposed to belong to), and how far the gender goes.

    If you want to figure out what group someone is in, ask them. They don’t need to wear special clothing, use special symbols or engage in special behavior for you or anyone else. Attempts to maintain that as a social norm is one of those things that I have no problems criticizing.

    @proudmra 63
    Feel free to point out where and how I changed the subject.

  65. StillGjenganger says

    @Brony.

    So based on what you said in #49 about finding stable roles for everyone can I assume that you have no problem with society allowing all male and female people to be as aggressive and dominant in behavior as men historically?

    No problem, no. If women start to behave according to the male role, they should on the whole be easier for me to figure out.

    Or both male and female people to have the same power to be part of the structural decision making part of society?

    Same power, same conditions – no problem whatsoever.

    you have yet to explain your rhetorical combination of sex education with LGBT and sex-related practices known to get the general public into an in irrational frothing frenzy in the same section. There is nothing inherently wrong with those practices as far as I know, but you still chose them despite the fact that they apply to many kinds of people, and you did so in a way meant to apply disgust (a fear-based emotion) to LGBT people.

    I wanted to make the point that some practice could be perfectly allowed for people to do, but still not something that you would want to see as ‘normal’, and I brought in the schools because that is where we teach the next generation what is normal and what is not. I was not particularly trying to raise disgust of anything – maybe I could have used swinging, polygamy, or fetichism as an example instead.

    This was not merely discussing general strategies, this was an assumption that I was going to be ignoring the rights of people.

    Well, I did not mean that you were going to deny them their human rights or break the law. But as you say, if the opinion on the other side is (seen by you as) insulting, you stop being polite. As I understand the words, that means that you do not consider certain opinions (maybe even quite common opinions) legitimate to hold, which I then put as you do not recognise the right of people to hold those opinions. Personally, I try to be polite to anyone who is polite to me, whatever his opinions – and this web site does give me a fair bit of practice.

    If you want to figure out what group someone is in, ask them. They don’t need to wear special clothing, use special symbols or engage in special behavior for you or anyone else.

    Here we simply disagree. We treat people differently based on gender (just in how we normally talk etc.) and we identify gender at a glance. If you want me to treat you as a woman, say, and complain if I do not, it seems a simple courtesy to make it easy for me to figure that out. The alternative would be expecting me to ask ‘are you male of female’ of every stranger I meet, because once in a blue moon I might meet a transsexual. And that, I would say, is asking too much.

    That the status quo has priority, and that the status quo is the “greatest good” means nothing. To me this is just the same as the adult version of “because I said so” (tradition), which I don’t really care about as an assumed thing, or it’s “might makes right”, which I also don’t care about (that shit is less and less acceptable as time goes on).

    We are talking about society-wide rules appropriate behaviour – who counts as a woman, how should you behave towards her, what can you say in a public setting, publish in a newspaper, etc. People can disagree quite strongly about these things, yet there can be only one shared behaviour norm. In that situation you cannot avoid asking which group gets to set the standard. And you cannot help considering who are the majority and who are the minority when you decide. To some extent that does translate as ‘might makes right’, I quite agree, but there is no way around it. Even saying ‘this causes pain to people like me’ is not always enough to win the argument. You still have to ask how much pain and trouble the alternative causes to others – and how many of the others there are. To be a little more specific: You can be totally free to decide that you are a woman without asking anybody – but only as long as I remain totally free to refer to you as ‘he’ and expel you from the women’s loo regardless. Once your choice constrains my behaviour, I have a right at least to some input in the decision.

    I hope this brings us up to date. So if there is something where I still owe you an answer, please bring it up again.

  66. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @ StillGjenganger 70
    Let me start this by being completely honest about the frame in which I am approaching this. I revealed as much in my first comment in here but I think it bears repeating.

    There is a reason SJW was an attempt at a slur despite the failure in using general language. It’s a word that is most often used to simply dismiss social advocacy that someone does not like (I have never encountered what I hear it is supposed to mean). People don’t like the fact that other people have the right to persuade the public to change social rules. These people definitely don’t like the fact that people have the right to do that in positive and negative ways, and in direct and indirect ways.

    When I said that I see these things in terms of where the aggression and fear is I meant it. I actually became more active in this community precisely to use my knowledge of human aggression and conflict for the benefit of others. If you want to change my mind you will need to get personal, and I realize that is one of those things that creates a social symmetry that I must prepare for.
    This is ultimately about you and me when other people are watching. I use the best behavioral strategies in the right context. I want to avoid confrontation whenever I can, but I refuse to avoid one when it comes to my side of a social conflict that I care about.

    Feel free to let me know what relevant motivations that you think I should know. I want to be able to give you the responses of the kind that you are seeking even if we end up choosing conflict.

    No problem, no. If women start to behave according to the male role, they should on the whole be easier for me to figure out.

    I genuinely hope there will be no problem, but there is more than one sex and gender combination. In fact many parts of human nature have common alternate settings that appear at significant levels in the population. That technical language may have sounded rude to some people (and I apologize if it did) but I wanted you to get the intent.

    <blockquote cite="I wanted to make the point that some practice could be perfectly allowed for people to do, but still not something that you would want to see as ‘normal’, and I brought in the schools because that is where we teach the next generation what is normal and what is not. I was not particularly trying to raise disgust of anything – maybe I could have used swinging, polygamy, or fetichism as an example instead.</blockquote cite="
    I understood that you made that point, but in making that point you made specific appeals that contradict your desire to avoid the label of homophobia.

    We disagree on the point of those things being seen as abnormal. With respect to two of them I would definitely call you rude in public for suggesting they were abnormal. I don't know what you mean by "slave contract", but I can imagine implications that I would also call you rude over.

    You have to have a reason to make nipple clamps, safe words and slave contracts your analogy* in an example involving LGBT and sex education, and both LGBT and non-LGBT persons could want to engage in those things. You think that is rhetorically effective to textually put nipple clamps, safe words, and slave contracts on LGBT (houmous implications intended).

    You are painting them with disgust, and disgust is based on fear (-phobe).

    Well, I did not mean that you were going to deny them their human rights or break the law. But as you say, if the opinion on the other side is (seen by you as) insulting, you stop being polite. As I understand the words, that means that you do not consider certain opinions (maybe even quite common opinions) legitimate to hold, which I then put as you do not recognise the right of people to hold those opinions. Personally, I try to be polite to anyone who is polite to me, whatever his opinions – and this web site does give me a fair bit of practice.

    This is why “intent isn’t magic” is excellent strategic advice. You never know when you will encounter a verbal Tasmanian Devil who basically looks for the perfect moral and ethical moments to “be himself” on levels that agonize philosophers. I’m aggressive, but I know what suffering looks like. I practice empathy like it’s a muscle that you can grow.

    I like to fight. I like to do what they do in professional martial arts but with words, and I don’t like traditional debate because it’s boring and unrealistic to how political disagreement actually works. I’m a moderator on an image board and I handled the serious discussion section. I also proposed a board called /arena/, but the other moderators thought that was a bad idea. I like FTB because it gives me useful perspective on complicated social environments, and I like the people.

    We are having a social disagreement StillGjenganger. I want to change society. Why should be polite all of the time when abstaining from politeness is a legitimate piece of social strategy?
    And why should I not start getting creative about the fact that you want to say I’m not recognizing rights when this is about the persuasion of others? This is why implications from assumptions are important. You can be shredded over yours and I want people to think these things are rude. I’m just being an honest monkey.

    Here we simply disagree. We treat people differently based on gender (just in how we normally talk etc.) and we identify gender at a glance. If you want me to treat you as a woman, say, and complain if I do not, it seems a simple courtesy to make it easy for me to figure that out. The alternative would be expecting me to ask ‘are you male of female’ of every stranger I meet, because once in a blue moon I might meet a transsexual. And that, I would say, is asking too much.

    You mean you want to treat people differently.

    I want gender shattered into the number of pieces that accurately reflect what happens with people of either physical sex, and more complicated things like intersex as a matter of social custom. If you are not a woman I will not call you a woman. Applying woman to people without consent is not a characteristic of my side of the Deep Rift.

    If you don’t want to talk to people and I manage to convince society that we should rearrange gender as reality dictates, tough fucking luck if you don’t want to feel like you are being rude. If you want to go on acting like the true nature of humanity in common language is rude that is your chance to take. Live with it. I am a connoisseur of Schadenfreude, I will feel no guilt without very good evidence.

    We are talking about society-wide rules appropriate behaviour – who counts as a woman, how should you behave towards her, what can you say in a public setting, publish in a newspaper, etc. People can disagree quite strongly about these things, yet there can be only one shared behaviour norm.

    I disagree that there can only be one and think you are lazy.

    In that situation you cannot avoid asking which group gets to set the standard. And you cannot help considering who are the majority and who are the minority when you decide.

    As an innately aggressive person innately obsessed with dominance hierarchies I will predict history will judge you grossly in error. I am happy to take possession of my role in this social conflict.

    To some extent that does translate as ‘might makes right’, I quite agree, but there is no way around it. Even saying ‘this causes pain to people like me’ is not always enough to win the argument.

    No. There is always being good at arguing and being consistent with reality. It’s a legitimate weapon.

    You still have to ask how much pain and trouble the alternative causes to others – and how many of the others there are. To be a little more specific: You can be totally free to decide that you are a woman without asking anybody – but only as long as I remain totally free to refer to you as ‘he’ and expel you from the women’s loo regardless.

    Again, this is about you and me. I’m not only not deciding that I am a woman, I know I am very far from whatever emotions and instincts are attached to social conceptions of what a woman is. It’s not my fucking fight. I’m perfectly happy to let the range of people affected by societies conception of a woman tell us what the word means when they figure it out, with some assistance by the scientific method (the people using that method currently have some problems though). But I do listen to people who are affected by the word woman and I let their opinions shape my behavior as best as I can.

    I’m free to tell you that you are a rude asshole if you call someone “he” if they don’t want you to. We are still figuring out the social rituals when it comes to using gender on others because becoming consistent with reality can be hard. When someone specifically asks me to refer to someone in a particular way I do so. If I see someone getting referred to in a way by their friends I consider doing the same (maybe they only want friends to do that right now), but stay gender neutral otherwise.

    It’s got rules, you just don’t want to follow them. If I manage to convince society that something else is better I suspect that associated pain will look pretty sad next to what you have in mind. I’ll take a chance. I’m pretty good at spotting what fear it does to people’s words. There is a reason I am obsessed with morals and ethics on the more primal levels. They speak of demons and TS for very good reason. Are you sure you don’t want to be more informed about what kinds of humans there are?

    Once your choice constrains my behaviour, I have a right at least to some input in the decision.

    What you call “input” comes in many shapes on the social level. I love to learn about those. In a place like FTB I am free to use rules more consistent with getting society closer to words that reflect reality. And I get to learn to ethically and morally fight for fun. I fucking love society and science.

    I hope this brings us up to date. So if there is something where I still owe you an answer, please bring it up again.

    It’s all your choice from here.

    *Since I brought it up earlier I should point out that the issues involving TS and non-literal language are shaped a particular way connected to something roughly called “issues involving inhibition of personal frame of reference”. I’m really good at metaphors if they are to my personal advantage so if I have a negative impression of non-literal language I pay extra close attention.

    In this case I’m not denying that you tried to get at the idea of something not being normal, I am internally salivating over the implications that make avoiding homophobia a problem. I’m loading the word and attaching a fuse so to speak.

  67. Bugmaster says

    @StillGjenganger #66:

    A lot of people who thought (better stick to past tense) that homosexuality was immoral would consider an arrangement where homosexuals were left in peace to quietly do own thing – and so go to hell in their own way, as it were. … you might prefer an accommodation to the damage of fighting and the risk of losing completely… There are issues that leave absolutely no room for compromise, like torture, slavery, and abortion, but they are hardly the majority.

    I don’t think this depends on the issue, but rather, on the beliefs of each person. For example, if one is the kind of person who believes that gay people go to hell, then one cannot simply compromise — because, by spreading their message of tolerance and acceptance, gay people are making people think that it’s ok to be gay, which means that some people will believe them and will therefore end up in hell. I don’t think that, at this point, saying “oh well, I am just going to let all these innocent souls burn forever then, to each his own” is a morally defensible position.

    On the other hand, if one is the kind of person who merely believes that gay people are kinda icky, then yeah, reaching an accommodation is completely possible. Note that, while you list things such as “torture, slavery and abortion” as examples of issues you are not willing to compromise on, there are lots of people out there today who are perfectly willing to do so (well, maybe not about slavery, but about torture and abortion for sure).

    So, once again, your intellectual position sounds a bit weak to me (or perhaps merely confusing). It’s possible that you’re just saying, “I will go along with whatever the majority decides in every situation”, but a). if everyone thought that way, no social change would ever happen (e.g. we would still have slavery and human sacrifice), and b). it still doesn’t help you in situations where public opinion is split on some major issue.

  68. Bugmaster says

    @Brony, StillGjenganger:
    Regarding gender, I think you guys have one of those genuine deep disagreements that I was talking about.

    Consider the following two extremes. At one end, we collect everyone’s chromosomes, and we demand that everyone with XY chromosomes is addressed as “he”, everyone with XX is addressed as “she”, and everyone else is addressed as “it”. No other options are ever considered.

    At the other end, people get tho choose how they want to be addressed, and others are compelled to comply. For example, one may say that anyone addressing oneself must first spin around on one foot, kiss one’s feet, and then give one a dollar; this is considered to be a legitimate request that demands compliance.

    I think you would both agree that both of these scenarios are excessive, and that no one wants to live in either of those imaginary worlds. Thus, both of you agree that there must be some level of compromise, between universal biology-based rules on one end, and a person’s individual preferences on the other. The compromise involves a tradeoff between each person’s comfort regarding one’s own gender preferences; and the amount of effort everyone else is expected to expend on maintaining that level of comfort.

    At this point, though, you guys are IMO kind of stuck, because your thresholds of comfort vs. effort are wildly mismatched. Most likely, neither of you is going to persuade the other regarding one’s fundamental preferences. Presumably, neither of you is willing to resort to violence (at least, I hope not). But I don’t know what other solution there might be to resolving conflicts like these, without either party feeling oppressed…

  69. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    Serious replies later, but to gauge my emotions here I would basically be doing something like chant “StillGjenganger is a homophobe!”. I’m not really intense about this, I meant it when I said I enjoy it. But I also meant what I said about the implications and my desire to change things.

  70. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    Unless Ally does not mind me using the sort of language that I would use in the Thunderdome that is. I really do think that StillGjenganger would be worth calling an asshole.

  71. johngreg says

    Brony said:

    There is a reason SJW was an attempt at a slur despite the failure in using general language. It’s a word that is most often used to simply dismiss social advocacy that someone does not like (I have never encountered what I hear it is supposed to mean). People don’t like the fact that other people have the right to persuade the public to change social rules. These people definitely don’t like the fact that people have the right to do that in positive and negative ways, and in direct and indirect ways.

    That is so wrong it’s not even wrong. Social Justice Warrior (SJW) was and is directed towards people who are not, in point of fact, actual social justice advocates. They are better described as somewhat narcissistic individuals caught up in identity politics, me-first dogmas, and a range of outrageously dismissive and isolational ideologies.

    For the Urban Dictionary definition of SJW, go here (the http slash stuff removed in case of automodding): _ urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=SJW

    To read a more comnprhensive and highly accurate description / definition of what SJWs are, go here: _monsterhunternation.com/2014/11/14/why-i-dont-like-social-justice-warriors/

    For a comic look at SJW behaviour, go here: _slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=263676#p263676

    For anyone interested in a brief comparative analysis of SJWs and the Nazi party, go here: _ slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=261396#p261396

    In reality, were SJWs to gain any real and meaningful socio-political power, that would almost certainly mean the end of actual productive and constructive social justice.

  72. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @johngreg 77
    Boring. I don’t give a shit about your links. You really don’t get this social conflict stuff beyond the more primitive stuff do you?

    I don’t care what the first origin of the word was because:
    *it is very new. You can’t “take back” a racial slur and similar because of history (there is a reason we talk about systemic racism. I get to compete over this one and so I don’t give a shit about your opinion.

    *the words “social justice warrior” are very general. A warrior simply struggles for social justice. They should have gone with social justice extremist. Dead slur.

    *and I have literally never had someone show me an example of what they meant when they used the word and thought that it actually mattered.

    I literally don’t care about the word being applied to me. I use it on myself. And that is pretty much that between you and me.

  73. Bugmaster says

    In reality, were SJWs to gain any real and meaningful socio-political power, that would almost certainly mean the end of actual productive and constructive social justice.

    Personally, I believe that we here in the US are very close to this point (if not already past it).

  74. Bugmaster says

    @Brony #75:

    …but to gauge my emotions here I would basically be doing something like chant “StillGjenganger is a homophobe!”.

    I don’t think it’s ever useful to chant such things, because they all basically amount to an ad hominem attack (i.e. shouting “StillGjenganer sucks !” as loudly as you can). It’s not persuasive, it’s not informative, it makes your own position look weaker than it is, and the only useful thing it does is to cheer up people who already agree with you. And yeah, energizing your base is always useful in politics — but seeing as no one is running for office in this thread, I don’t see the point.

  75. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @Bugmaster 80
    And here we have a disagreement that I will take seriously as well.

    Go back and see what I said to StillGjenganger about homophobe and being descriptive. It’s not a slur if the description fits. Rhetorically smearing people with disgust is a fear based thing to do and I’m not going to pretend otherwise without a good argument.

    I only limited myself to “-phobe” at this point because I’m having fun. The metaphor about loading weapons is quite real. I know what the words feel like, which is why it’s important to use them when it matters.

    I don’t give a fuck about SJW, but homophobe? Yes, this if fun to me.

  76. Bugmaster says

    @Brony #81:

    It’s not a slur if the description fits. … I don’t give a fuck about SJW, but homophobe? Yes, this if fun to me.

    What exactly is your goal here ? If your goal is just to have fun at someone else’s expense, then sure, you can call them whatever slurs you want. But if your goal is to have a productive discussion, then using slurs is counterproductive, even if you believe that the slurs perfectly describe your opponent. And, unfortunately, at this point the word “homophobe” has been overused so much that it is little more than a generic slur. Personally, I am saddened by this, but no one died and made me the Language Pope, so what can I do ?

    Thus, I think you should stick to debating StillGjenganger’s actual beliefs, and not the set of labels that should apply to a person who holds these beliefs (*). Unless, of course, your objective here is just to flame people, in which case… flame away, I guess, I can’t stop you…

    (*) And FWIW, I think his beliefs (as I understand them) are fairly incoherent.

  77. Holms says

    StillG
    As I said. Those are your sacrosanct principles. I do not share them. Like, presumably, you do not share mine.

    I don’t think you and I have the same definistion of sacrosanct.

  78. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @Bugmaster 82
    My goal is in my posts to StillGjenganger.

    Quote a portion and I will explain if you can’t figure it out..

  79. johngreg says

    BronyPony said:

    Boring. I don’t give a shit about your links.

    Which translated into real-speech means: I don’ wan’ no stinking proofs; don’t feed me no truths. I need to feed deep on the blood of my delusions.

    I don’t care what the first origin of the word was …

    Which translated into real-speech means: I don’ wan’ no realities or denotative definitions to interfere wi’ ma fanaticismses and my paranoias.

    I have literally never had someone show me an example of what they meant when they used the word and thought that it actually mattered.

    HAHAHAHA. That’s probably because you spend so much time burrowing down into your vaunted ostrichian “safe spaces” that you are free from experiencing the real world.

    Brony, I honestly don’t know if you’re just a loony, or if you’re simply some deeply mendacious troll or poe; I really don’t know. Brony, you and people like you, people so deeply invested in paranoiac and woefully psychotic fears as so perfectly described in Orwell’s two masterpieces, are a very serious threat to the rational world. You scare the beejesus out of me.

    Bugmaster said:

    Personally, I believe that we here in the US are very close to this point (if not already past it).

    Ya, I think you might be right. People like Brony, or Holms, or Jacob, while seemingly small in quantity, have somehow derived an amazingly strong, and deeply frightening, power base. Real Orwellian stuff.

  80. StillGjemganger says

    @Bugmaster

    I don’t think this depends on the issue, but rather, on the beliefs of each person. For example, if one is the kind of person who believes that gay people go to hell, then one cannot simply compromise

    OK, you got me there. People can choose to be fanatical about anything, so I was wrong to talk about ‘issues that leave room for compromise’. And it remains a lamentable fact that if people’s moral principles are quite different, there is no way they can argue each other around. No shared assumptions, no shared conclusions.

    Thus, both of you agree that there must be some level of compromise, between universal biology-based rules on one end, and a person’s individual preferences on the other. The compromise involves a tradeoff between each person’s comfort regarding one’s own gender preferences; and the amount of effort everyone else is expected to expend on maintaining that level of comfort.

    I agree wholeheartedly, but I suspect that many on the other side would not. The answers I would expect are ‘No one would ever do that, so it does not matter‘ and ‘It is offensive to even make that comparison‘ and ‘I have a right to be treated according to my real sex, and that is that. Your transphobic feelings are neither here not there‘. In fact, all I really hope for (and argue for) is to get to exactly the point you describe: where everybody accepts that there are two conflicting points of view, that both have legitimate interests that should be considered in looking for a solution. If no trade-off is remotely acceptable to both sides you are indeed stuck, and it becomes a matter of who has the power to impose his will on the other. But I think that it becomes easier to find solutions once people accept that all positions including their own are susceptible to trade-offs with that of others, and that this is not a fight about who is right and who is wrong, but a debate about how to organise a society full of diverse and disagreeing groups.

    BTW, I would not ‘just go along with what the majority decides in every situation’. I might help to change society (if I felt like it) or I might go against them when I think they are wrong. But I do accept that society has a legitimate collective right to set norms for public behaviour. So if I insist on walking naked from Land’s End to John O’Groats, or having sex on a public beach in Bahrain, it is not a breach of my inalienable rights if I end up in jail for it.

  81. StillGjemganger says

    @StillGjenanger 86

    once people accept that all positions including their own are susceptible to trade-offs with that of others, and that this is not a fight about who is right and who is wrong, but a debate about how to organise a society full of diverse and disagreeing groups.

    OK, I should say (before anyone else does) that this may not always be possible or reasonable (slavery springs to mind). But even here I suspect it was a lot easier to abolish slavery because the original demand was only for freedom, not for full social equality between the races.

  82. StillGjemganger says

    @Brony,
    You are both honest and interesting, but sometimes a little hard to follow. I shall answer the bits I get.

    Why should be polite all of the time when abstaining from politeness is a legitimate piece of social strategy?

    Depends on what you want. If you want to persuade people, it works better to stay polite and at least pretend that you think they are decent persons and you just have a problem with their opinions. (Which is what you seem to be doing in this discussion, by the way. No complaints.) If you hope to push them out and bully them into silence, shouting and insults work better. Either way people are likely to respond in kind.

    As for me being motivated by homophobia (an irrational fear of homosexuals), I think that is a false statement of fact, but seeing that you are not using it to delegitimate my opinions or make argument impossible, I have no particular problem with it.

    As for having more than one behaviour norm, well, different groups can have different norms. But if they share a platform they either come up with a shared one, or keep fighting.

    You mean you want to treat people differently.

    No. Social roles are conventions about what to expect from and how you should treat people. Saying ‘I am a woman’ means (also) ‘you must treat me according to the female gender role’. And as a current fact we do not have a gender-neutral social role we can use.

    I want gender shattered into the number of pieces that accurately reflect what happens with people of either physical sex, and more complicated things like intersex as a matter of social custom.

    Which do you mean:
    – That you want there to be only one gender role, so we always use the same pronouns and the same behaviour and do not distinguish men and women as different groups?
    – That we should have more (maybe half a dozen) genders, each with well defined expectations, appropriate behaviour, pronouns, … so that people can chose between six fixed groups and six predetemined roles instead of just two?
    – That each person gets to determine his own personal, custom social role so that everybody has a duty to learn and use the forms of behaviour and address that each individual comes up with?

  83. Holms says

    #85 johngreg
    BronyPony said:

    “Boring. I don’t give a shit about your links.”

    Which translated into real-speech means: I don’ wan’ no stinking proofs; don’t feed me no truths. I need to feed deep on the blood of my delusions.

    Say rather that your links are dismissable at first glance as they include the weak at best tactic of argument by dictionary definition, but infinitely more hilarious due to your use of urbandictionary.com. Any other reasonable space would roll their eyes at such a ‘resource’ but then, you also uncritically reference the slymepit, which explains everything.

    ___

    “I don’t care what the first origin of the word was …”

    Which translated into real-speech means: I don’ wan’ no realities or denotative definitions to interfere wi’ ma fanaticismses and my paranoias.

    No, it’s actually because the argument by definition tactic is weak enough already, but is rendered useless when the function is no longer a match to its original use. Essentially, the (urban, teehee) dictionary definition needs to be updated.

    ___

    Ya, I think you might be right. People like Brony, or Holms, or Jacob, while seemingly small in quantity, have somehow derived an amazingly strong, and deeply frightening, power base. Real Orwellian stuff.

    I am happy to have earned the enmity of a proven liar. Happier still that he is silly enough to regard urbandictionary.com as an informative resource; Voltaire’s “O Lord, make our enemies quite ridiculous!” comes to mind.

  84. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    Serious replies now.

    First, until he explains himself I’m just fine assuming that StillGjenganger is a homophobe. You don’t go attaching something to LGBT people that society has an irrational paranoia about unless you believe it is rhetorically effective. They are either attaching it because they assume that two things they are disgusted by belong together in an act of stereotyping, or they are willing to present a false connection to make a rhetorical point (which would also make them a liar).

    Either way paranoia about LGBT in sex-education itself is also based on fear, so they would be a homophobe to me based on that alone.

    I’m willing to hear why I am wrong, but not without substance.

    @Bugmaster 74
    I’m going to be more direct and blunt about this one because last night you were also being quite the lazy fuck. You were going on about conversations between me and another person that you did not even bother to read. I recommend that you stop doing that shit.
    1) In #80 you came to a conclusion about my use of homophobia without displaying any evidence that you actually read why I thought it fit.
    2) You asked me what my goals were with respect to my conversation with StillGjenganger when I included my goals in my conversation.
    And the fact that you think that “homophobia is played out” is just icing on the cake. The events in Indiana and other states desperate to give people the ability to keep the “gay cooties” away is plenty of evidence that it’s still very relevant. I just see you making an excuse to save your companion from that stigma.

    Additionally you also don’t seem to know how a social conflict works. StillGjenganger and I (and you in all probability) are not merely “stuck”. Two people who disagree in a social conflict are not “stuck”, they are confronting one another with an audience in mind. If they are saying things I find offensive I’m damn well going to take all advantage of that in a social context.

    That’s what you do in a social conflict. My goal is to point out the harmful and wrong beliefs and ideas of others, and whatever else is needed to change the culture on matters of importance to me. I’m going to make people who are wrong look bad and feel bad if I must. The fact that I enjoy an internet argument is just a plus. It’s your job to show my motivations are a problem, or anything else like dishonesty.

    @johngreg 85
    You’re just so adorable when you have to literally replace the words of another with lies. That is what it is when you take what you feel about someone’s words and replace it with what they said. Here’s why you are wrong in two words.

    Language evolves.

    Given your past and current behavior, I’m glad you are afraid. Being ignorant of what language and culture does will let people like me take it right out from under you.

  85. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @StillGjemganger 88

    You are both honest and interesting, but sometimes a little hard to follow.

    Please feel free to ask me to rephrase something if I have been confusing. Having chaos in your language from a kind of constant “fight or flight” makes things a little unpredictable even if it does have some long term benefits. Honesty creates stability.
    If I can be clearer and I was confusing I would like to provide an explanation.

    Depends on what you want. If you want to persuade people, it works better to stay polite and at least pretend that you think they are decent persons and you just have a problem with their opinions. (Which is what you seem to be doing in this discussion, by the way. No complaints.) If you hope to push them out and bully them into silence, shouting and insults work better. Either way people are likely to respond in kind.

    I want to persuade society, and I make choices individually. That at the very least requires being prepared for people who are wrong, ignorant of the fact, and willing to publicly challenge you (this should be obvious if you know about creationists or many religious people). I try to start out nicer but there is a point where the audience my priority. Tough luck for the person that just went from conversation partner to opponent.

    And you have another problem here. Insults and insulting characterizations often feel the same, but are different. Criticism and bullying are different too. When I criticize and make insulting characterizations I am prepared with my reasons why.
    There will be a point where I will choose to no longer care about your feelings if you continue in behavior that I believe harms others or contributes to their suffering. Criticizing someone harming another might feel like bullying, but it is not.

    As for me being motivated by homophobia (an irrational fear of homosexuals), I think that is a false statement of fact, but seeing that you are not using it to delegitimate my opinions or make argument impossible, I have no particular problem with it.

    That is what I strive to do a personal skill. To be able rationally and logically appraise something I perceive as wrong no matter how it offends me, and still denounce it with every advantage society allows. A skill that I can rationally and logically control in different social contexts.
    You are a homophobe based on my previous arguments. Seeing as a put actual effort into demonstrating the connection I’m happy just leaving that there until you address it.

    As for having more than one behaviour norm, well, different groups can have different norms. But if they share a platform they either come up with a shared one, or keep fighting.

    Or society can discover how many different kinds of people there are and actually act like they all exist. This is why I am honest not only about who I am, but what I am.
    Let me be clear here StillGjemganger because this kind of honesty is at the core of what I am doing. We need to know how many kinds of people there are and any solution to societies problems must take that into account. Everyone of us tells us more about what the “human character sheet” looks like. To make that argument I offer myself up as an example because it’s effective. I can cite anything in here, and I’m the kind of person that anyone in a conflict at least want situational awareness of.

    Despite the chaos I have learned that there are savant skills associated with Tourette Syndrome. I have a list of papers that discuss places where we have cognitive advantages. The motherfucking dictionary was changed forever by a person like me so I can demonstrate more control of language, not less (look up Dr. Samuel Johnson if you are interested). The chaos is annoying but superficial.

    My OCDs are violence, aggression, sex, and social rules and I have slaved those intrusive thoughts into a kind of simulation of reality where I literally do military strategy on my social situations all the time. I go out of my way to learn about all the kinds of ways that people can hurt one another on a social level out of a self-preservation instinct. It’s a genuine morbid fascination. And I have more. I know what I am, I believe it to be perfectly normal human instinct that can be used well, and I am willing to use it for others that need it.

    But in addition to fear-based reasons for people to want to know about me there are others. Every example of human cognitive and instinctual difference tells us about variables we can individually learn to harness. 20% of people have a “mental health” diagnosis and those characteristics from those cognitive archetypes spread out into normal. We are in the process of defining “normal”, and it is not what you think. Normal is cognitive diversity which includes different sex and gender combinations, and people like me that are basically friendly and care about people but able to use intense emotion and instincts like a skill. I’m pretty sure even you want to know how your meat computer works for your own advantage. You are going to lose this fight.

    No. Social roles are conventions about what to expect from and how you should treat people. Saying ‘I am a woman’ means (also) ‘you must treat me according to the female gender role’. And as a current fact we do not have a gender-neutral social role we can use.

    Stop being lazy. You can learn to talk to people and treat them as individuals. Sex and gender simply do not come out in two categories. I refuse to treat female and woman the same, and I refuse to treat male and man the same. If you want to talk about our common gender that would be the relevant place for an argument. The fact that you keep wanting to talk about what woman is smells like more fear. We need to talk about what a man is because that is where it seems our experience lies.

    Society evolves and you can stamp your feet over my work in changing it all you want. We can create gender neutral rituals and designations. When we figure out how male/man, female/women shatter we can do the same with those. Words are only proxies for concepts and they are born and die all of the time. I choose to actively participate in that process.

    I want gender shattered into the number of pieces that accurately reflect what happens with people of either physical sex, and more complicated things like intersex as a matter of social custom.

    Which do you mean:
    – That you want there to be only one gender role, so we always use the same pronouns and the same behaviour and do not distinguish men and women as different groups?
    – That we should have more (maybe half a dozen) genders, each with well defined expectations, appropriate behaviour, pronouns, … so that people can chose between six fixed groups and six predetemined roles instead of just two?
    – That each person gets to determine his own personal, custom social role so that everybody has a duty to learn and use the forms of behaviour and address that each individual comes up with?

    I want reality reflected by our customs. That will functionally occur by arriving at your second category via the third category (that first category is not realistic and I reject it).
    What that means is as each group effected by the different gender roles and words figures out what it means and how many ways we are different, we let the number of categories naturally fall out of that. That was why I said that the argument over what a woman was is not my fight. I’m not a woman.

    Customs should not be slavery, and I will resist the efforts of people to force it on others. We let each category of people decide for themselves. We respect the fact that culture also evolves and within those categories of people they will be expressing themselves in different ways because culture is supposed to be fun, creative, and dynamic. Not a tool controls and hides what we are.

  86. Jacob Schmidt says

    They do that a lot. Jacob too.

    Personally, I believe that we here in the US are very close to this point (if not already past it).

    Ya, I think you might be right. People like Brony, or Holms, or Jacob, while seemingly small in quantity, have somehow derived an amazingly strong, and deeply frightening, power base.

    Dragging me in when I’m not involved to insult me is pretty blatant shit stirring.

    (Seriously, I’m not even american.)

    Jesus wept.

    ‘s probably for the best.

  87. Holms says

    #92 johngreg
    Jesus wept.

    I interpret this to mean ‘I will just register the fact that I disagree with them without explaining shit, because I was challenged on virtually all points but have no counter argument to offer.’

  88. StillGjemganger says

    @Brony 51
    The second possibility could actually work, at least for trans people. A couple of things follow: We cannot realistically have parallel sets of prononuns, colleges, loos, and well-known behaviour norms for all these new genders, so, at least at the beginning, trans men (and women) would simply share the existing arrangements of cis men (and women).It would follow that words like ‘woman’ and ‘female’ would be ambiguous between the sex and the gender depending on context, much like ‘English’ and ‘Russian’ are ambiguous between the entire nation, and the dominant nationality/ethnicity within it. A trans woman wold be a ‘woman’ (in most contexts) but her penis (if she had one) would not be a ‘female’ sex organ even so. Crucially, cis and trans women would be different genders, so that a group that could exclude men, could with the same right exclude trans women.

    People who could not accept (more or less)one of the existing gender roles would be much harder to accommodate. Here you would need entirely new arrangements from pronouns to loos, and people would need to learn and accept an entirely new gender role. Which is a lot of work to do for people you rarely get to meet.

    On the other hand possibility three, each person sets his/her own personal gender role, could never work, not even as a transition arrangement. Dealing with an unlimited number of unknown social roles is a LOT of work – basically you would need to check with each individual up front what the right mode of address etc. was. You cannot get around that simply by calling people lazy. And once it was accepted that each person had the right to design his personal social role which everybody else had to follow, how could you possibly settle down to a set of well-defined roles? Why would anybody give up that power? The system of predefined genders has a pretty clear disadvantage for trans people, in that it classifies e.g. trans women as different from cis women, and permits the groups to be treated differently. The right to say ‘I am in all ways identical to a cis woman’, including conclusions like ‘my penis is a female organ’, ‘I am a viable sex partner for lesbians’ etc. would hardly be renounced willingly, once you had it.

    On another point, ‘normal’ is obviously a loaded word. But the point is that there is a certain range of behaviours that anyone should routinely be prepared to meet – and if you are not ready it is your fault. Outside that range, you will of course try to be flexible and accommodating, but it is up to the other person to be ready for a certain amount of incomprehension, and not everything may be possible. It may be true that 20% of people have a ‘mental health’ diagnosis at some point in their lives, but the odds are that much much more than 80% of those you meet fall within a rather narrower range of ‘normality’. It does not follow that I have a duty to be prepared up front for whatever particular actions might be appropriate for interacting with somebody with e.g. Tourettes, when AFAIK I have got well into middle age without ever having the need to practice those skills.

  89. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @StillGjemganger 95
    Ally had you pegged early on. You have a very absolutist view of things, and it’s a weakness I love to take advantage of in people online. If you think and act inconsistent with reality you will be unable to properly summon reality to aid you. It’s a good reason why you will fail in the end. You MUST know all of the human possibilities in order to properly interact with humanity. Anything else is playing pretend, a strategic flaw.

    The second possibility could actually work, at least for trans people. A couple of things follow: We cannot realistically have parallel sets of prononuns, colleges, loos, and well-known behaviour norms for all these new genders, so, at least at the beginning, trans men (and women) would simply share the existing arrangements of cis men (and women).

    I’ve heard this one before. “You cannot have morality without religion!”, “You cannot allow gay marriage or it will destroy America!” (or your nation). Why are your “cannot’s” any more convincing? Go back 25 years and people would speak the same as you on the matter of gay marriage. This is just completely useless and vacuous. I at least have some biology and personal stories to refer to.
    Many languages have gender neutral pronouns, and when the nature of gender is figured out there is no reason that I can see why we can’t have some more (see below on the issue of how many).

    It would follow that words like ‘woman’ and ‘female’ would be ambiguous between the sex and the gender depending on context, much like ‘English’ and ‘Russian’ are ambiguous between the entire nation, and the dominant nationality/ethnicity within it.

    Why is this a problem? No really.

    A trans woman wold be a ‘woman’ (in most contexts) but her penis (if she had one) would not be a ‘female’ sex organ even so. Crucially, cis and trans women would be different genders, so that a group that could exclude men, could with the same right exclude trans women.

    Here we go again. Why are you having so much of a problem with the fact that sex and gender do not come together? What the hell do you think is at risk if we separate them? What is the threat from a group including a non-traditional sex/gender combination? Your paranoia is puzzling by its lack of substance.

    People who could not accept (more or less)one of the existing gender roles would be much harder to accommodate. Here you would need entirely new arrangements from pronouns to loos, and people would need to learn and accept an entirely new gender role. Which is a lot of work to do for people you rarely get to meet.

    And society was once ignorant of the fact that attraction to the same gender was an option. Why do you fear new categories?
    And the bathrooms. What would be the problem with everyone using one damn room? I’m serious.

    On the other hand possibility three, each person sets his/her own personal gender role, could never work, not even as a transition arrangement. Dealing with an unlimited number of unknown social roles is a LOT of work – basically you would need to check with each individual up front what the right mode of address etc. was. You cannot get around that simply by calling people lazy.

    Did you even pay attention to what I typed? “Unlimited number of unknown social roles” is so far off of what I put up there that I’m wondering how much is me and how much is your reading comprehension. I said,

    …each group effected by the different gender roles and words figures out what it means and how many ways we are different, we let the number of categories naturally fall out of that.

    You are going to change that “unlimited” bullshit now. There is no reason to think that the number is unlimited, especially since you have yet to name a single characteristic of a gender and I set up a couple of opportunities for us to discuss our gender. This is biology, there will be characteristics even if we can’t quite describe them well now. It’s telling that you have to pretend that the problem is one of overwhelming numbers for you to face.
    Otherwise I really don’t give a fuck how much work it is for you when your approach utterly neglects people, and you are so willfully ignorant (that simply must have a price). I will spend the time it takes to know them, you will not and I will have an advantage when it comes to being able to deal with humanity on its own terms. I will use that advantage. You seem to NEED people to primarily fall into two categories. I enjoy this sort of advantage. Unreality is a weakness.
    You are utterly fucking lazy and I will make use of that. I described how there were rules up there, you had nothing to say. Nothing about how my approach was wrong because of X. I see no reason to think that you even thought about it a little.

    And once it was accepted that each person had the right to design his personal social role which everybody else had to follow, how could you possibly settle down to a set of well-defined roles? Why would anybody give up that power?

    I already addressed the “own personal role” nonsense. But why “power”? Why are you thinking of this in terms of power?

    The system of predefined genders has a pretty clear disadvantage for trans people, in that it classifies e.g. trans women as different from cis women, and permits the groups to be treated differently. The right to say ‘I am in all ways identical to a cis woman’, including conclusions like ‘my penis is a female organ’, ‘I am a viable sex partner for lesbians’ etc. would hardly be renounced willingly, once you had it.

    Wait what?
    So far every trans person I have ever talked to was pretty aware of the fact that their sex organ was not the one they felt they should have. No “identical” bullshit. So without some kind of link I’m just going to dismiss that bullshit right out of hand.
    I can imagine reasons why some trans persons might want people to talk like it was (it has to do with how language and emotions likely work based on what I have read in brain science), but I think I want to see your link first.

    On another point, ‘normal’ is obviously a loaded word. But the point is that there is a certain range of behaviours that anyone should routinely be prepared to meet – and if you are not ready it is your fault. Outside that range, you will of course try to be flexible and accommodating, but it is up to the other person to be ready for a certain amount of incomprehension, and not everything may be possible.

    And if you are not ready it’s your fault. I’m proof of that. I can keep this up for weeks and I have the links to prove it. If I can dissect your words beyond your ability to keep up with you have to live with it. If I can convince the world that you are a rude asshole worth avoiding you have to live with it. It will be your fault.
    If reality is not what you think it is and it gets more popular, you are screwed. I have the advantage of reality here. Human kind has discarded far more than we can possibly remember and you should think carefully about what things might look like 500 years from now. The things you are claiming are important are totally undefended as far as I can see. This is a different world now and your ways may be totally useless beyond tradition (the thing we have discarded more than we remember).

    It may be true that 20% of people have a ‘mental health’ diagnosis at some point in their lives, but the odds are that much much more than 80% of those you meet fall within a rather narrower range of ‘normality’. It does not follow that I have a duty to be prepared up front for whatever particular actions might be appropriate for interacting with somebody with e.g. Tourettes, when AFAIK I have got well into middle age without ever having the need to practice those skills.

    So many stupid things have been said when referring to duty. Don’t worry your head about a duty. I don’t expect you to have a duty to do anything. I don’t normally tell people why I can dissect what they say into subject an predicate with an analysis and keep doing it day after day after day. It just happened to be useful here.
    But you will increasingly have to practice those skills whether you like it or not. As we farther define what normal is we will get an idea about what benefits, drawbacks, excesses and flaws exist for each group. Just look at ADHD for example. It’s at least 5% of the population and many other things are being defined all of the time. Every part of “normal” will want public attention. You might as well start now because it will get harder the older you get. At some point I may have to treat you specially as the “old and hard to teach new things to” group. I will struggle to feel sorry for you.

  90. StillGjemganger says

    @Brony

    If I can dissect your words beyond your ability to keep up with you have to live with it. If I can convince the world that you are a rude asshole worth avoiding you have to live with it. It will be your fault.

    I am willing to risk it. But seriously, this is not getting us anywhere.

  91. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    @Misophonia 97
    I think I’m getting somewhere, it’s just not necessarily with you.

    If you do not think you are getting anywhere then the one who looks bad by continuing is you. You should probably just stop.

  92. Brony, Social Justice Cenobite says

    That was a copy/paste error in #98. It was supposed to be addressed to StillGjemganger and not an imaginary sentient sound sensitivity.

  93. Holms says

    #95
    @Brony 51
    The second possibility could actually work, at least for trans people. A couple of things follow: We cannot realistically have parallel sets of prononuns, colleges, loos, and well-known behaviour norms for all these new genders, so, at least at the beginning, trans men (and women) would simply share the existing arrangements of cis men (and women).It would follow that words like ‘woman’ and ‘female’ would be ambiguous between the sex and the gender depending on context, much like ‘English’ and ‘Russian’ are ambiguous between the entire nation, and the dominant nationality/ethnicity within it. A trans woman wold be a ‘woman’ (in most contexts) but her penis (if she had one) would not be a ‘female’ sex organ even so. Crucially, cis and trans women would be different genders, so that a group that could exclude men, could with the same right exclude trans women.

    Why are these things even problems? We don’t need different sets of pronouns for every naunce of non-cis gender. Simply assume someone is male if they look male or female if they look female – a reasonable default assumption simply because cis- heavily trans-gender – and accept a correction if you happen across someone that describes themselves differently. Which as you note, is incredibly uncommon depending on your usual social circles. Also, feel free to lean on gender neutral words as I have in this very paragraph – ‘they’ works just fine most of the time. Definitely don’t use ‘it’ though.

    As for the rest of your list… are you high? No one has suggested gender-specific colleges for the various non-cis divisions, or I’d love to see a link if you have seen one. All that is required is a campus culture that is aware of differences between people and things will work just fine with no need for special colleges for each division. Unisex toilets take care of the next item, and they have the added bonus of already existing.

    The next one is the simplest. By far. A human is not like an ant, belonging to a specific caste due to some innate characteristic, so why even bother having gender based expectations of people?

    And with that, the bulk of your post goes away.

  94. SillGjenganger says

    @Holms 100
    I must be bad at expressing myself. None of the things in that list are problems. In fact I rather like them, they are the reason why I think this might work (“The second possibility could actually work“). I just wanted to be sure that we all agree about the consequences.

    why even bother having gender based expectations of people

    Does that not contradict what you just said: “Simply assume someone is male if they look male or female if they look female“. Anyway, my answer would be ‘because people do, and if gender makes no difference to your expectations, you might as well not have any at all’. As they say ” A difference is not a difference unless it makes a difference.” But I do not think it is time to re-start that discussion.

  95. Holms says

    #102 StillG
    I must be bad at expressing myself. None of the things in that list are problems. In fact I rather like them, they are the reason why I think this might work (“The second possibility could actually work“). I just wanted to be sure that we all agree about the consequences.

    And I criticised those problems consequences as being ridiculous.

    Does that not contradict what you just said: “Simply assume someone is male if they look male or female if they look female“.

    No. For clarity, try this rewording of the text you quoted: “why even bother having behavioral expectations of people?”

  96. StillGjenganger says

    @Holms 104
    Sorry, but I am just a bear of very little brain. I can see gender working in two ways: It divides people into two groups with somewhat different nature (or nurture) on the average, in which case it does make some difference for how you expect them to dress, behave, etc. Or it is an irrelevant fact that makes no difference and that nobody cares about, much like star signs or hair colours. You may have a third alternative in mind, but it would take a very long debate for us to explain to each other what we do in fact mean. And seeing that you think I am ridiculous, and I think you are either wilfully obtuse or genuinely unable to conceive of anything outside your own particular ideology, well, I do not think it is really worth the effort.

  97. Bugmaster says

    @StillGjenganger, Holms, Brony:

    And seeing that you think I am ridiculous…

    Don’t sell yourself short; I am reasonably sure that all three of you guys are ridiculous 🙂

    Seriously, I am having trouble figuring out what you guys are even arguing about. From what I can tell, you mostly agree with each other, except regarding “loos and pronouns”. Are pronouns really that critical ? If I see someone who looks female, and address that person as such — then is it really the end of the world if I end up using “she” instead of that person’s preferred “he” or even “xe” ? Presumably, he/xe would correct me, and we’d move on to the next point in the conversation.

    Other than pronouns, what is the main point of disagreement between you guys ? I understand that StillGjenganger would prefer to see women acting in ways consistent with the traditional feminine archetype, and men acting consistently with the masculine archetype. But StillGjenganger also explicitly disavowed any kind of coercion. So, if a woman wants to wear pants, smoke a cigar, and teach engineering, then he will do absolutely nothing to stop her. Thus, his preferences are hardly prescriptive, and not really a threat to anyone else, so what’s the problem ?

  98. StillGjenganger says

    @Bugmaster 106
    I suspect you are right. There is a lot the three of us could agree about, and some things we could not. Ideally we should tease out what those things are. That is my favourite kind of discussion, you learn from it, and you can even get to changing your mind sometimes. But by now we are over 100 posts and have got pretty much nowhere. Without getting into whose fault that is, I do not think arguing further with Brony and Holms is a productive use of my time.

  99. johngreg says

    Unless you are in full agreement with them, and are a card carrying SJW, trying for any sort of balanced discussion, let alone a productive use of time via argument, is utterly impossible with Holms and Brony. Utterly.

  100. Holms says

    #107 Bugmaster
    Other than pronouns, what is the main point of disagreement between you guys ? I understand that StillGjenganger would prefer to see women acting in ways consistent with the traditional feminine archetype, and men acting consistently with the masculine archetype. But StillGjenganger also explicitly disavowed any kind of coercion. So, if a woman wants to wear pants, smoke a cigar, and teach engineering, then he will do absolutely nothing to stop her. Thus, his preferences are hardly prescriptive, and not really a threat to anyone else, so what’s the problem ?

    The difference has certainly has proven fiddly to get to, but I think we are at it now. Beyond the basic differences of anatomy and the consequences they have for reproduction, it seems to me that any further difference is perhaps entirely cultural, or close to it. Meaning, just about every difference in behavior, ranging from small stuff like clothing and colour preferences to the big stuff like jobs and lifestyles need not be determined by gender in the slightest. The fact that boys and girls grow up surrounded by cultural cues toward different things is what leads to the statistical differences in adulthood, but if change the cues,you change the statistics.

    My impression is that StillG doesn’t attribute the differences so heavily to culture, but considers physiology to play a larger role than what I credit. Which I think explains the difference in our respective attitudes to having gender based expectations of people: with physiology playing a role, it is more reasonable to expect certain trends when looking at e.g. job statistics.

    ___

    #108
    Unless you are in full agreement with them, and are a card carrying SJW, trying for any sort of balanced discussion, let alone a productive use of time via argument, is utterly impossible with Holms and Brony. Utterly.

    Yappy little thing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *