Banning Plastic Straws is Ableist

Since I just wrote a series on ableism, I guess that makes me an expert now, even though I’m not disabled… right?

Obviously not. That’d be absurd. The experts are all the people who’s articles I linked to and quoted from. And I wish to do that again, because there’s a new movement going around that has some very ableist consequences that a lot of people just straight up aren’t considering or don’t seem to care about. That movement is the one to ban plastic straws.

First let’s start off with the fact that I’m an environmentalist. I’m not perfect… I’m still an omnivore, and I drive a 2008 Scion rather than a hybrid or fully electric car (because I can’t afford either of the latter ones, even though I want one)… but I try to reduce my carbon footprint where I can by driving less, following the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle), and so on. So you’d think I’d be the first one to support a ban on plastic straws.

There is a serious issue, here, however. Plastic straws (and, indeed, a lot of plastic stuff) are extremely useful to the disabled community. Plastic straws are more flexible and more sanitary (from a use perspective) than any of the reusable options. They are also sturdier than paper straws, which are not all that waterproof and can dissolve and thus break in liquid. People with mobility issues, or muscle control issues, need those plastic straws.

Now let’s talk about why…

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Turns Out Pixar’s Toxic

Note: Trigger Warning for discussions of sexual harassment and assault, especially for Cassandra Smolcic’s article linked below, which I am going to quote from. I will quote the less triggering stuff, but even still, the warning applies. And if you do choose to read Cassandra’s entire article, this Trigger Warning applies even more, as she discusses what happened to her before she got to Pixar, and it’s…. disturbing. That said, I do recommend reading Cassandra’s article; just keep this Trigger Warning in mind if you do.

Earlier this month, John Lasseter left Pixar and Disney amid “vague” accusations of sexual misconduct (note: I don’t think they’re so “vague”, personally… and I believe them).

John Lasseter, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ chief creative officer, will leave both companies by the end of 2018, following revelations last year that he sexually harassed employees, according to The New York Times. Lasseter has been on a leave of absence from the studio since November, when he first acknowledged what he worded as “missteps” that left his employees feeling “disrespected and uncomfortable.” In the months since, media organizations and entertainment industry critics widely speculated on whether he could return to Pixar, or whether Disney would force him to resign.

“I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me. It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them,” Lasseter wrote employees in a memo in November, when he started his six-month leave of absence. Not coincidentally, the memo and Lasseter’s decision coincided with the publication of numerous misconduct allegations by The Hollywood Reporter, which published its story on Lasseter as part of dozens of others accounts of harassment and assault that came to light during the beginning of the #MeToo movement last fall.

Cassandra Smolcic, a former Pixar employee, published a tell-all in Medium’s Be Yourself on June 27, highlighting the frankly disturbing reality of what it was really like working there as a woman…

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Let’s Talk About Ableism and Intelligence – Part 3 – A Challenge

Content Note: This series discusses ableist slurs. Many of them will be used in full. You are also allowed to use them in the comments only if it’s for the purposes of illustration and discussion. That is, you may use the words to talk about them. You may not use them as slurs in the comments. This note will be repeated on every post in this series.

So I think I’ve done a pretty decent job of laying out my argument. I strongly believe that “stupid” and it’s associated terms, as well as “crazy”, “insane”, etc are quite ableist, and that we should consider dropping them from our vocabulary.

What I thought would be fun is to offer a challenge to all of you. It’s based off of Ania’s own challenge she proposed back on her blog in 2015…

I have a challenge for all of my blogger friends. I want you to try and go one month without using the list of words below. For one month, in your blog posts and public opinions, I want you to not use these words. I will explain why. I will give you a reason, and regardless of whether you agree with me or not, I want you to try. For me.

I want to bring that challenge forward again, and extend it to everyone reading this, as well. Read Ania’s post. Read my last two posts. And, at the very least, consider giving it a try. For one whole month, drop every ableist slur from your vocabulary. Find other ways to say what you mean without resorting to these easy, lazy slurs. Then get back to me.

Why does it matter?

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Let’s Talk About Ableism and Intelligence – Part 2

Content Note: This series discusses ableist slurs. Many of them will be used in full. You are also allowed to use them in the comments only if it’s for the purposes of illustration and discussion. That is, you may use the words to talk about them. You may not use them as slurs in the comments. This note will be repeated on every post in this series.

So, the last post in this series was basically about the history of intelligence and the IQ test, and began the argument for why “stupid” is, indeed, an ableist slur. I want to continue that argument here. There is a very strong (in my opinion, anyways) case to be made for dropping “stupid” entirely from our vocabularies.

But before I do that, I want to say this:

I cannot tell you what to do. I can’t police your language and I have no interest in doing so. I am simply putting forth an argument for why I have dropped words like “stupid”, “dumb”, “deaf”, “blind”, “crazy”, “idiot”, “moron”, etc from my vocabulary as slurs against people. I will even put forth an argument for why using “stupid” as a slur against actions or ideas is… well… iffy at best. It’s up to you to decide whether I’ve put forth a good argument, or at least my sources put forth good arguments.

What I’m not doing, here, is demanding changes to laws that would violate anyone’s free speech. I’m not saying that these words should be illegal. I’m asking that you really think about what I have to say. I do strongly believe that these words are ableist, and as such I strongly believe it’s a good idea to try not to use them. But I can only speak for myself.

And so…

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Let’s Talk About Ableism and Intelligence – Part 1

Content Note: This series discusses ableist slurs. Many of them will be used in full. You are also allowed to use them in the comments only if it’s for the purposes of illustration and discussion. That is, you may use the words to talk about them. You may not use them as slurs in the comments. This note will be repeated on every post in this series.

There’s a few slurs most people agree shouldn’t be said. For example… it’s largely agreed that white people don’t use the n-word, just as it’s largely agreed that straight people don’t use the f-word (not “fuck”). And the r-word is largely considered inappropriate for polite company as well, now, although its use is still ubiquitous in some places (like YouTube comments, for example). Some slurs are a bit more controversial, such as gendered slurs, although I’ve no doubt my readers will largely agree that female-gendered slurs are bad, at least when used by dudes. But there are certain slurs that are so ubiquitous, even the most social-justice-minded of us will defend their use, insisting that they aren’t slurs at all.

I was like this, as well, for the longest time. The slurs in question were slurs that I used all the time. It took me a long time to consider how the entire idea of intelligence, and associated slurs like “stupid”, “idiot”, “moron”, “dumb”, “dumbass”, etc were extremely ableist. In fact, when I first set up my blog at its old home, one of my statements was “I love making fun of stupid people”. This got a response in a comment on a post I put up called An Open Letter to the Secular Community and its “Leaders”

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Defending Star Wars and Cinematic Universes

I did not grow up with the original Star Wars trilogy. I grew up with the much-maligned Prequels. And you know something… I maligned them, too. Hell… I maligned them not very long ago, twice, on this very blog. But I went back and watched them recently and… you know what? They aren’t actually as bad as I remember them. Hayden Christensen is still whiny, Jar Jar Binks is still annoying (he would have been such a better character if he had turned out to be a Sith Lord), Count Dooku came out of nowhere (likely to make up for the fact that Jar Jar was no longer a Sith Lord), and some of the CGI was bad even for the time it came out…

But Jake Lloyd actually did a pretty decent job with young Anakin, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi were awesome, Yoda was amazing, the turn of Palpatine into Sidious was incredible, Darth Maul was phenomenal, Queen Amidala was actually a good character and Natalie Portman played her really well, Mace Windu was just plain cool, and the story was really, really good over all.

Yes, I’ve seen the original trilogy, of course, but I simply don’t have the connection to Luke Skywalker that so many have. However, I am a Star Wars fan. Not a big enough fan to have read and collected the lore or seen the maligned Christmas special and that stuff, but a big enough fan to have watched (and enjoyed) both the Clone Wars and Rebels animated TV shows, and a big enough fan to have been excited by Force Awakens, Rogue One, Last Jedi, and Solo. And as I sit here today, people are still fighting over whether or not Last Jedi and Solo were good films.

You want to know what I think?

Both Last Jedi and Solo (and Rogue One and Force Awakens) were amazing films.

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Basic White People Are Racist… Part II

Mary Poppins rolling her eyes in disappointment

Mary Poppins rolling her eyes in disappointment

I honestly don’t know what to do with my fellow white people. We… I… we’re really just doing the most, aren’t we? Are we like… determined to be seen as literally the worst?

I’ve already done this once, back in March, but clearly we white people want to make this a series. I should have been paying more attention, honestly, because I know I missed a lot, and, in fact, I’m starting off with something that happened a little ways back in the past, in April, when Starbucks got caught out…

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Maybe #MeToo Has Gone too Far, But That’s a *Good* Thing

Trigger Warning: Discussion of accusations of sexual harassment, assault, rape, #MeToo, #TimesUp, #TheEmptyChair, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Larry Nassar, and the social consequences of all of this.

There’s a lot of talk lately about whether the #MeToo movement has gone too far, especially after the accusations about Aziz Ansari came out. And honestly? It’s a good question to ask. Society is experiencing a massive shift, and people who once got away with horrid behavior are now, finally, being held accountable for it. Often, that means being held accountable for mis-judged comments or creepy behavior. Many times, it means getting in trouble for violating consent. And it also means being held accountable for assault and/or rape.

I think that, in a way, it has gone too far. But the twist?

I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact, I’m glad it’s going too far, and I think it can go further.

And here’s why…

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Some Stream-of-Consciousness About Nazis

I haven’t posted about Nazi invasion and terrorist attack in Charlottesville because I’m feeling… well…

You can easily see my thoughts and things on Facebook, where I let loose a tad with the re-posts…

But anyways…

I don’t really have much to say, to be honest. I’m grappling with my feelings, because, at the moment, I have to deal with the fact that I genuinely feel fine seeing these Nazis killed… and I’m not okay with that. That does not make me comfortable or happy. It seems like a betrayal of my ethics, considering I’m against the death penalty.

But these are also Nazis. I don’t think there’s another group in modern history that can be considered as evil as Nazis. And now they’re here, in the United States, in 2017, marching in our streets and killing citizens.

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