Kavanaugh’s Nomination Should Fail, But Not Necessarily For The Reasons You Think

Just now there is a fucktonne of writing being produced about Brett Kavanaugh’s assault of Christine Blasey Ford. Here’s one on FtB. Here’s another. You can read them and the thousands of others like them if you wish. I’ve read some. I’m not going out and seeking more, because I’m not convinced that Ford’s allegation, even if proved true in every detail, is the best reason to kill Kavanaugh’s nomination.

[Read more…]

Bad Journalism 101: Perverted Motels Edition

Content Note: Child Sex Abuse

So, we here in my head are, as you might expect from the title of this blog, quite interested in both perverts and perversion. We believe that our blog name can and should be interpreted in 2 ways:

  1. Perverts deserve justice in the same way non-perverts deserve justice, and
  2. The course of justice must sometimes be perverted, that is redirected from what in the past had been considered the just outcome. After all, every major advance in justice has been denounced as a perversion of justice by someone.

But despite our interest in these topics, we never expected to have to defend motels from non-consensual obscene photography. Yet, apparently there is such a need. The following is an actual quote from Rawstory:

[Read more…]

You Are Not The Hero

While this is an unoriginal thought even though the topic is only 24 hours old, I still need to say it:

Hey, you! Author of that anonymous NYTimes editorial about how Trump is so bad but the Trump administration is so good? Yeah, you. You are not the hero.

PZ has mentioned this and gets it right, but many here remember Ed Brayton, whose writing I greatly respect, and Ed Brayton gets it wildly wrong. He says exactly the opposite:

I suspect that this kind of thing might well topple a lot of other dominoes and set off a reaction where a significant chunk of Republican politicians, advisers and thinkers decide that this is the time to take down the elephant.

And frankly, they would be heroes, and history would treat them as such.

No. When you pull out a gun on a kid playing in a park and then you put the gun back in your holster, you are not a hero. You’re Frank Freuding Garmback. You don’t get to be the hero just because you’re not Timothy Loehmann. You’re probably not a bad person, but you’re not a hero.

But for a Constitution- and Rule of Law-fetishizing author of this Op-ed to be called a hero is worse than lionizing a Frank Garmback: the editorial writer makes no effort to encourage invocation of the 25th. The editorial writer is engaged in apologia for the administration if not the President, and the anonymity, far from being a necessary capitulation to the exigencies of working for Trump, is in fact a tool to absolve every administration official and White House employee of their complicity.

Here’s the truth: the constitution gives two ways to take a madman out of the White House: impeachment and the 25th. If you recognize that governmental legitimacy and authority in the US flows from its constitution, then while you are an employee or appointee of the executive branch, you are duty bound to follow the directives of the President. To respond to dangerous incompetence for the office by subverting the authority of the sitting president rather than openly calling for the impeachment and removal of the president by congress or the invocation of the 25th and removal of the President by the Vice-President and the cabinet, you are shredding the constitution.

This author rejects, quite fully and fundamentally, the authority of the US Constitution, and defends as heroes the people who arrogate to themselves power legitimately given only to someone actually elected to executive office. These are not the actions of a hero. Nor is the use of anonymity to give cover to anyone and everyone who might possibly have written the editorial.

Quit. Invoke the 25th if you have the standing to do so. Openly advocate for the invocation of the 25th and/or the impeachment described in Article II, Section 4 and authorized in Article 1, Sections 2 & 3 (and quite possibly get fired for doing so).

Those are the ethical and effective options of someone who has put themselves in this position by seeking and accepting a job in this administration. The author chooses none of these.

And what is worse, though we don’t know the author’s identity (and, like PZ, I’m not interested in knowing it), it is most likely that anyone in a position to write such an editorial actually worked to put Trump in office. In this case, we’re not looking merely at someone who finds themselves faced with the possibility of losing a job and decides that betraying the constitution is preferable. We’re talking about someone who actively participated in the creation the very catastrophe which they want credit for partially ameliorating.

When you set a fire that burns a house and kills two people, you aren’t a hero because after the fire consumed the staircase you got two people out of a bedroom on the main floor. Yours in the blame for the deaths, not the credit for the rescue.

You are not the hero.

 


ETA: As is so often the case, someone else has written a pithier version of what I perseverate upon. In this case, it’s chrislawson over at PZ’s thread on this topic. Nice work, Chris. Very well done.

Edited: Enlightenment Liberal made me realize that this comes across as saying that one cannot ethically stay and subvert an administration. Rereading the post, I realized that what I was thinking at the time was not as clear in my writing as I would like: If you want to be a hero, you must stand in vocal opposition. There can be many reasons to stay in your job, keep your paycheck, and do your best to limit the harms of a Trump. But these are not the actions of a hero. So I edited the 1st sentence of the paragraph immediately following the paragraph with the Frank Garmback reference.

Originally that sentence began like so:

And the situation with the anonymous editorial writer is worse

The new sentence begins like so:

But for a Constitution- and Rule of Law-fetishizing author of this Op-ed to be called a hero is worse than lionizing a Frank Garmback

The “situation” is now spelled out as lionizing someone who came to power through participation in a rule-of-law and Constitution fetishizing party for publicly seeking praise for their rule-of-law and Constitution-subverting acts.

Hopefully the new sentence will communicate the background facts (about fetishization) that weren’t in the original post at all as well as highlighting (again) that the issue is about being a hero. Continuing to collect your paycheck and doing your best to subvert bad things might be ethically justifiable, depending on what you do and how you do it it might even be ethically praiseworthy to some minimal extent, but it doesn’t make you a hero.

First Amendment Issues are NOT (necessarily) Free Speech Issues

All freaky, kinky, queer women are human beings.

Not all human beings are freaky, kinky, queer women (more’s the pity).

So how is that related to the first amendment? The First Amendment (FA) protects more than just speech. It protects a total of 5 separate rights. Let’s take a look at the full text and then break it down:

[Read more…]

It has happened

I’ve been analyzing and critiquing conceptions of free expression since the 1990s when anti-domestic violence shelters started asking me about how it might be possible to construct policies that support trans* participants in shelter programs without punishing non-trans* participants for the everyday anti-trans hostility that most weren’t equipped to recognize. I’ve done it from multiple perspectives – activist, ethicist, and law student – and from a US focus to a Canadian focus to an international comparative frame. So I’ve seen this one coming for a while now. We’ve been close before, but now we’re there. Not just an enemy of the state, but the biggest, most threatening enemy of the state is freedom of expression, especially expression that is distributed through the power of the press.

Donald John Trump tweeted this this morning:

So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN. They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea. 500 days ago they would have “begged” for this deal-looked like war would break out. Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!

Expect the US based Peterson and Harris fanboys and other general Freeze Peaches to celebrate or ignore this statement. For people that care about our rights and freedoms, however, this is the second worst statement the president could issue. For now, he identifies “our country’s biggest enemy” in the context of a call for mockery. The step from there to identifying “our country’s biggest enemy” in the context of a call for punishment is so dangerously small, I think few will recognize it when it happens.

 

Unclear on the Concept: No-Platforming at Stanford and the Right Wing

Some time back clinically-diagnosed dumbfuck Charles Murray was invited to participate in a media program at Stanford known as Cardinal Conversations. Lefty folks, mostly students, at Stanford organized a “Take Back the Mic” rally with counter-programming.

Naturally, Niall Fergusson, a member of Stanford’s Hoover Institute, prominent Republican and eminent jerkface, and a small group of conservative students responded with the typical concern for free speech that anyone might have when their preferred speaker is getting campus support for their speech while others say different stuff nearby. The Stanford Daily has the low-down on all this, including this particularly freedom-loving quote:

[Read more…]

Pat Davis: Fuck the NRA

A city councilor running in 3rd place in the New Mexico first congressional district has created a commercial that actually sounds like someone upset about the extravagant gun violence in the United States. The first words Pat Davis speaks in his new ad?

Fuck the NRA.

He goes on to criticize the anti-regulation/anti-legislation position of the NRA on gun ownership, possession and use as being one cause of “dead children”.

Pro-lifers have always been odd to me. On the one hand, I find it difficult to believe that they see medical abortion as anything remotely comparable to murder or even euthanasia. After all, think about what that would really mean. Wouldn’t the people who believe that shun birthdays as points for celebration in favor of conception days? Wouldn’t they have funerals after miscarriages? Why do they put off naming a child until it’s born? And yet we don’t see that – or at least we don’t see that from even 10% of the people who claim they’re pro-life.

On the other hand, if they aren’t parroting something that only vaguely represents a tribal position rather than a genuine and specific personal belief, then the consistent thing to do really is to chain oneself to the doors of clinics, to hold die-ins at the Capitol Building, and generally use every non-violent means possible to preserve life. Do they do that? No. The extremists of the “pro-life” movement bomb clinics, throw acid, and commit murder. While I can understand the rationale behind killing one to save two (or more), it’s not a rationale that holds all life to be sacred, as they claim to do.

But as hard as it is to come to grips with the behavior of the self-named “pro-life movement”, the gun control movement is equally weird. I do believe the laxity of US gun laws results in deaths that would not otherwise have occurred. So why am I not doing everything I can to stop gun sales? Part of it is explained by relevant differences between the situation: if you believe abortion is murder, then you know where and when murders are going to be carried out. That’s not the same as gun control advocates who believe that lax gun laws are legislative negligence destined to result in deaths at various unknown times in various unknown places. But it’s still a little weird that there seems to be so little urgency in the rhetoric of proponents of stricter monitoring of guns sold and stricter regulation of what guns can be sold and to whom.

That’s why I welcome this ad. Yes, it may have taken a 3rd place primary candidate to make the ad, but the ad is positively drenched in an honest embrace of what it means to say that legislative gun control negligence is causing death.

Watch it for yourself, and remember to vote, wherever you live.

 

Postmodernism Ain’t Say That

So someone from the UK asked me a question about postmodernism’s relationship to metaethics. I probed a little more deeply, and the question ultimately turned on the assertion that postmodernism denies the existence of truth, including moral truth. When that was probed, it turned out that this person had been listening to reporting people had been doing lately on Aleksandr Dugin.

[Read more…]

Rewatching To Catch A Predator: Rape Culture Makes Accurate Predictions

One of the less appreciated aspects of rape culture is how rapists are demonized, literally portrayed as animals, violently and obviously deranged, or otherwise clearly outside the human norm.

Part of this is addressed through push back against the “stranger in the bushes” myth. But even where we have been successful in raising awareness that

  1. a large amount of rape is perpetrated against children or vulnerable adults who know and are being supervised by their rapists and
  2. another large chunk of rape is perpetrated against people who first accept a date with someone who eventually rapes them

there is still a lingering myth that these rapists are somehow disguised demons, but demonic nonetheless. There is massive resistance to the idea that there’s a continuum of violation, instead insisting that, for instance, when Rebecca Watson asked repeatedly during a conference – even during her plenary address – not to be propositioned as she wasn’t at the conference for sex, someone ignoring that “no” and propositioning her anyway is completely and utterly different from someone who ignores a “no” to sex.

[Read more…]

Accuse Everybody

Content note: brutally racist and anti-semitic language

In a recent Pharyngula thread, it was suggested by billyjoe that, “We can’t go about accusing people,” so long as some people accused incur disproportionate or otherwise unjust consequences.

On that thread, I made it clear that it is not the accusation that is the problem.

Paxoll then chimed in to support this statement, simultaneously saying that others can’t know whether or not an accusation is true and that billyjoe was only speaking of false accusations (despite being unable to tell them apart … and despite billyjoe doing nothing to mention truth or falsity as  important in deciding whether or not we actually can go about accusing people).

Although I replied to Paxoll in that thread, I thought the concept might need its own post here even before I finished up my comments and opened up RawStory to find this headline:

[Read more…]