A Demonstrated Talent For The Job

Public Relations is the art of using mass communication to change how people feel about politicians, celebrities, products, and especially entire corporations. One Spanish woman, Carla Forcada, felt she had the capacity to do this work quite well. The company where she applied to work, Impulsa Comunicación, had other thoughts on the matter. Ever mindful of the benefits of Public Relations, Forcada screen cap’d their message to her and aided them in making it reach further than they ever imagined:

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The Nature of Reality Denial

PZ has an excellent post up, which I hope you’ve seen already, regarding the hatred of the Catholic bishops. I want to call out a small piece of that larger statement here:

Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can “change” their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults.

If you read this as the bishops obviously intend you to read it, this portion of their statement says:

You can’t actually change your sex, so telling this to children is bad. Also, it’s even worse when you change the sex of another human being, particularly a child.

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Men and Women

The CBC’s The Current had a story on #metoo and sexual violence/harassment prevention this morning. One guest was carefully talking about the tradeoffs between eradication strategies and harm reduction strategies. The other was firmly ensconced within the loving, anti-feminist embrace of Chill Girl tradition, raging against the demonization of men, portraying all women as fragile victims, and the conflation of bosses non-consensually massaging their employees and strangers kidnapping women to rape and kill them in an isolated farmhouse. Predictably, CG denigrated the tone of the people speaking out on #metoo and the public presence of actual outrage.

Now, I could critique the segment in general. The Feminist Guest certainly made a couple statements with which I could quibble (though in general I thought FG was very good), but the Chill Girl delivered so much wrong it would be easy to make another Crip Dyke-Patented, Lengthy, Ranting Post™ dissecting the conversation and especially CG’s contributions. But this isn’t that post.

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Goatfucker Decries Sustained Criticism of Goatfucking

You probably don’t remember (I didn’t) that Erick Erickson expressed his relief that Jusice David Souter was retiring from SCOTUS with a tweet calling Souter “the only goat fucking child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court”.  But Wonkette remembers.

The Wonkette piece in question appropriately picks up on Erickson’s blog post*1 bemoaning the fact that Megan Kelly isn’t well liked on the US political Left and using the fact of this lack of love, and sometimes open dislike, as proof of the failings of the US Left. As is Wonkette’s wont, they didn’t bother to quote a lot of the post. Stupidly, I thought that meant that there was some significant amount of content they omitted. Thus I clicked through to read the thing. There really isn’t much there, but I’ll quote some lines here so that fewer people will feel the need to give page views to Erickson’s drivel:

I have read several of the reviews of Megyn Kelly’s new part of Today at NBC. Some of them raise some substantive points of criticism and things that could be improved. I thought it was just fine and kept with the tone of Today. But I understand the criticism.

Unfortunately, most of the criticisms really highlight just how broken our country is. The criticism amounts to “she was at Fox so we don’t like her.”

The coolest thing about the United States has always been that people need not be defined by their pasts. People can reinvent themselves, they can do new things, and they do not have to be bound to just one thing. But there is a growing tendency in the United States that we are all to be defined by that one thing others like least about us.

The left dislikes Megyn Kelly because she worked at Fox. Therefore, she can only work at Fox and she can only do that thing she was known for at Fox.

Note that this is from the top. Erickson doesn’t begin by quoting anything outrageous or problematic, doesn’t cite any specific criticism (preferring instead to summarize the criticism as “[t]he left dislikes Megyn Kelly because she worked at Fox” or “she was at Fox so we don’t like her”) or linking to a specific editorial, piece of media criticism, blog post, or even a random internet commenter’s random internet comment.

He doesn’t add any specifics later, either. The closest he gets to anything specific is citing a presumably specific incident he describes this way:

Debra Messing of Will & Grace appeared on Megyn Kelly’s part of Today. She got criticized by a fan for daring to appear with Kelly and then apologized. Why? Because it was Megyn Kelly. That’s it.

So I did a google search, because I love you, my regular reader, and didn’t want you to have white folks stare at you slowly practicing your Google-fu in a local park come sunrise tomorrow. Not unless that’s your thing, of course. So, here’s the search: debra messing “megyn kelly” criticism. To my literal, actual surprise what came up at the top was a series of articles describing Kelly’s first week on the Today show as pretty bad – a “train wreck” in one case. So it immediately seemed as though when Erickson said, “That’s it,” tending to indicate there were no other or at least no substantive other criticisms on offer besides “you sat next to someone with Fox-cooties” that the Erickson in question, who is paid to have things of value to say to other people and then say them, might have been failing in his job. A bit.

But there was a piece in Fortune that seemed to mention all this, so I clicked through and found something rather different than Messing being shocked – Shocked! – that Megyn Kelly was present.

In an Instagram post, Messing, star of the recently-revived hit Will & Grace, said she regrets going on Kelly’s show and said she was “dismayed” by some of Kelly’s comments.

Messing, who appeared on Kelly’s debut episode alongside her Will & Grace co-stars, was referring to a remark Kelly made to a fan of the sitcom that broke ground during its initial run by featuring openly gay characters.

When Kelly invited the audience member on stage to meet the Will & Grace cast, she made what was perhaps an awkward attempt at a joke.

“Is it true that you became a lawyer—and you became gay—because of Will?” Kelly asked.


Not that Messing wasn’t surprised by Megyn Kelly’s presence, according to Fortune her post also explained:

“[H]onestly didn’t know it was [Megyn Kelly’s show] until that morning,” Messing wrote in response to the question. “The itinerary just said Today Showappearance. Regret going on. Dismayed by her comments.”

This wouldn’t be understandable for me, I’m never on national TV and don’t have a publicist or someone managing my large number of public appearances. It wouldn’t be understandable for most folks. But I can accept that it’s possible for someone like Messing to trust appearance details to others and, given Kelly’s recent addition to the Today Show lineup there’s no reason Messing would automatically know a Today Show interview would be handled by someone not even on that show the week before. It’s entirely possible (I know this is shocking, but I believe it is true) that Messing doesn’t even keep track of Kelly’s changing job responsibilities or which people are currently working on screen for which morning news shows.

But here’s the thing. Although she mentions that she didn’t know Kelly was [host? co-host?] of part of the Today Show*2, she doesn’t actually use that as the explanation for why she regretted the appearance. Instead, her explanation invoked Kelly’s comments on that show, on that day.

Kelly wasn’t being tarred forever for some act or association found only in the distant past and remembered only by nasty, vile, little snark mobs as found at Wonkette. Kelly was being criticized for what she said that day on that program while Messing was appearing, and it is that behavior during the interview that caused Kelly to regret making the appearance.

So the premise of Erickson’s piece (that Kelly is being unfairly subjected to long-held grudges for petty crimes of association that should long-since have faded into insignificance) is contradicted by his use of this example. And since this is literally the only remotely specific example Erickson provides, one can only conclude that there never was any basis for this pity party in the first place.

Why-oh-why, then, would Erickson even bother to publish such worthless, content-free strings of words? (I won’t call them thoughts or musings.)

Well, wouldn’t you know it, there is something in there that glisters like a motive, but only when his writing turns more personal:

Back in 2009, I said something terrible about outgoing Justice David Souter. All these years later it still comes up from people who dislike me as a reason no one should listen to me or take me seriously. They are entitled to do that, but the lack of grace being shown is spreading. Kids are learning that if they screw up once, that screw up haunts them forever. Adults are learning that it is game over the moment the social media mob turns on them. And as that spreads, more people will learn to just be their worst self every day and never even strive to improve. Why should they? They’ll just get attacked for that which they once did.

So a while ago Erickson started calling public figures he doesn’t even know personally “goat-fucking child molesters” simply because he disagrees with their expert opinions on subjects he knows little about. Ever since he hasn’t been able to get any hugs from Keith Olbermann, and that’s horrible because now no one in the US wants to better themselves?

Okay. I get it now. The point of this whole essay is just to set up the punchline, “but you rhetorically fuck one goat …” This isn’t a pity party. It never was a pity party. This post is a self-pity party.

Grow up, Erickson. So Wonkette is snide and Olbermann thinks you’re a jerk. That’s not exactly the worst thing you could have hanging over your head for a mistake.

If you honestly believed that people should be able to start fresh at least every few years and not judged forever on the basis of one or a few bad acts, then perhaps you should focus on restoring voting rights to those convicted of felonies and allowing persons currently incarcerated to vote?

I get that as a goatfucker*3 you’d really like all this criticism of goatfucking to stop, but you’re directing your criticism in the wrong place:

Megyn Kelly is doing a show that does not focus on politics and she is a gracious host to each of her guests. She is modeling the behavior we should all be showing to each other. We don’t have to like each other. We don’t have to agree with each other. But we should at least be civil to each other.

She’s gracious even though she makes her guests uncomfortable with her comments? She’s modeling good behavior by making “watching TV turned you gay” jokes?

And that person who is keeping up the criticism about insufficient civility from people who are being uncivil?That’s you, doofus.

One faction in US public discourse makes efforts to encourage respect. In the process they suggest  words that ought not to be commonly used, with certain exceptions for quotes important to discuss or other special contexts. They also engage in extended analysis of certain statements because those statements are (in their eyes) disrespectful or even bigoted, citing the specific language used and the context and using argument from history and analogy to help convince others that such statements reflect undesirable attitudes or constitute undesirable actions and as such should be condemned.

For this, they are frequently derided as “politically correct” (intended to mean unthinkingly autocratic in ways that disadvantage pitiable, underprivileged straight white guys who have TV shows and want to say hateful things on them).

Another faction repeatedly says it wants a “return to civility”. In the process they cite past time periods in the US, times fraught with many problems, and argue that since the US was “better back then” civility should be judged by the standards of civility of that previous era. They argue this without asking how the US was better or whether some things that were, in fact, worse back then might become worse today if we look only backwards in judging behaviors today.

Along the way they draw gunsights over pictures of political opponents, call Mexican immigrants “rapists”, and harp on about those women who just keep on persisting or whatever it is they do because of their uncontrollable hormones when speaking from the Senate floor.

For this, they are frequently derided as not caring if the bigotries of yesterday are replicated today, and more and more often derided as actually caring whether the bigotries are repeated but answering the wrong fucking way. Not only this, but for the money they pour into media that persists in treating opponents in an uncivil way, they are derided as far more the problem with public discourse than any other faction and, by the by, quite the fucking hypocrites.

So at long last, Erick Erickson, do you have no idea who has the problem crafting a positive discourse? At long last?  (BIG HINT: calling a SCTOUS justice a “goat-fucking child molester” is uncivil in most circumstances.)

Jesus goat-fucking christ.


*1: I won’t call it criticism, it’s not nearly so specific or thought out as a criticism.


*2: Apparently the Today Show is more than one hour long, with one-hour segments having (or at least sometimes having) different hosts/co-hosts. So an appearance listed as “Today Show” wouldn’t even tell you whether Kelly was going to appear on screen in the same hour, much less perform the interview, unless you also knew the hourly schedule of the show and where your interview fell.

*3: My spellcheck changed “goatfucker” to “goatsucker”. Really, auto-correct? Goatsucker is some word that a programmer just had to make sure was in the dictionary, but goatfucker wasn’t? How did that line get drawn?


Another Misused Phrase

Readers of this blog, both of you, know how I feel about the misuse of the phrases witch hunt and lynch mob, and more generally about all the variations of the word lynch. I’d like to discuss another phrase without the same level of history but with vital importance to understanding the self-serving faux-martyrdom of those in our society who are actually the most powerful ad privileged. It’s used in this NY Times piece on Mueller’s investigative tactics:

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How to Critique Infantilism, Special Snowflakes, Manospherians, and the larger Alt-Right in 140 Characters or Less

David Futrelle has been listing tweets he finds interesting, amusing or, in a few cases, actually important. I won’t repeat all of them here, but I have posted one or two before, and this one seems particularly relevant for the FtB crowds (can’t find the original tweet, posting the text). It is from author/artist Scott Westerfeld, the creator of a few graphic novels that I’ve not yet read:

Scott Westerfeld

Common Excuses for Fascism
Germany: Bread costs wheelbarrows of cash
Japan: Obeying emperor god-king
USA: A feminist critiqued my video game

1:37 PM – Aug 18, 2017

yeah, gonna have to try out some of his novels now.


Every Other Trans Person Is Wrong

I’ve struggled over the last four weeks with a post bashing around inside my skull. It seems unable to escape but also unable to calm down. I’ve wanted to write a rather lengthy post about language and the problems that I see with certain tendencies in trans* advocacy these days around language. But every time I go long-form, there’s so much that I can’t find a place to stop. So then I tried to go short-form, but that didn’t convey the real difficulty of the topic I wanted to engage. So now I’m going in a completely different direction, with a seemingly unrelated introduction and then, probably, a short-form take on the topic itself, allowing you all to take from it what you will, given the context provided by the introduction/preface.

So a good, long time ago, the internationally celebrated center of learning that is UMM ran into a spot of difficulty: apparently some right wing jerks were being right wing jerks. Whodathunkit. Usernames are Smart, a longtime commenter whose work and thoughts I remember as generally respectable and valuable*1, disagreed with PZ Myers suggestion that Morris residents treat as trash any scattered copies of the Young Republican rag “The North Star”. (Yes, they deliberately stole the name from the abolitionist newspaper of Frederick Douglas, which famously included one of the only ads promoting the Seneca Falls “convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman” to run outside of the State of New York).

I disagreed with Usernames’ disagreement, and said so. The crux was that while I agree that white people should be accountable to people of color when attempting to address racism in the US, I disagreed that suggesting actions (like trashing any “scattered” copies of The North Star that weren’t in their designated paper-piles) was the same as telling people from other groups what experiences define their groups. I also disagreed that waiting for people of color to plan a response is the right course of action when a white person is confronted with racism in that person’s presence. This doesn’t mean that white folk should be praise for anything they do, just for taking action. No, this is merely the natural consequence of refusing to put people of color on the spot, to make people of color responsible for ending racism.

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Spam: Game of Thrones Edition

Every so often it amuses and/or shocks me to see the spam left on a particular post. Usually this is because of the horrible incongruity between the content of the post and the content of the spam. About two weeks ago, I wrote a piece about rape on college campuses, including a bit about how rape at religious colleges is often covered in the media as a separate issue from rape at secular private colleges and rape at public universities. Of note, I concluded that studying the cultures of particular educational environments is fine if you want to understand those culture (especially if you want to use that understanding to tailor a message to be more effective at creating positive change around issues including but not limited to institutional responses to rape and sexual assault), but that the biggest institutional barriers to creating safe campuses appear to be shared across the religious/ secular/ state divides. In particular, schools seem to use criminal court systems as a model for determining whether one student is a danger to others, and the criminal court treats each charge as entirely separate, thus schools tend not to allow a history of credible and/or fully established charges against a student to affect how likely it is that a student’s latest denial is credible.

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Not For Your Enjoyment: I perform a PZ Myers imitation

No, you will not see my pseudonymous face or hear my pseudonymous voice on Pervert Justice today. However, my knowledge of biology, greatly enhanced by reading PZ Myers and articles linked by PZ Myers over the last 8ish years, led me to geek-rage on a paragraph in a story that would not have caused any negative reaction in the Crip Dyke of 10 years ago.

The paragraph in question comes from an article on the pop-sci site New Atlas which describes recent evolutionary changes in insular populations of geckos:

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