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:

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Racial differences in average g are not known to be genetic. Or even known to be. Seriously.

On my recent post on the genetics of g – really the genetics of group differences (and especially racial group differences) in mean g – colnago80 raised in a comment some work on Panda’s Thumb summarizing certain research about intelligence, intelligence testing, g, and genetics. You should certainly read it if you have a mind to do so, and you can find it here. It was written recently, published yesterday, and intended to be a contribution to the current debates closely related to the discussion Murray and Sam Harris had on Harris’ podcast: do liberals irrationally reject a genetic contribution to g? For Panda’s Thumb, the current version of this discussion began with a post there 3 weeks ago that was based on research by PhD candidate Emily Willoughby.

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Destabilizing The Genetics Of g

There is yet another discussion of intelligence raging across the internet just now, sparked by Sam Harris’ interview of Charles Murray and a Vox article critical of that interview. (h/t to PZ) I have been critical of the uses of IQ testing for quite some time now, dating back to 8th grade or so. There is nothing per se wrong with intelligence testing. Nor is it inherently bad to make use of intelligence testing. As part of a job application where one is being asked to perform particular tasks in a particular environment, it’s entirely conceivable that a particular intelligence test or set of such tests might well predict success in that job. However, for many if not the vast majority of public policy purposes, IQ and other intelligence testing will function badly, misleadingly, or both. This is even more true if we make assumptions about how much of a particular test result is due to intraracial genetic factors (factors shared within one race, but not between people of different races).

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Megyn Kelly Solves Cops’ Racism and Corruption

Oh dear FSM: Megyn Kelly has decided to do “Hopeful Holidays” stories, and what has she decided to cover? White officers framing Black community members for crimes those persons did not commit.

As her guests she invited 2 men, one a white former cop who corruptly invented evidence when asking courts for search and arrest warrants and then turned that fraudulent evidence over to prosecutors to use to incarcerate innocent people. The other man is a Black man who was convicted and sentenced to 10 years incarceration (though only 4 would typically be served inside, the rest on parole) for possessing drugs that never existed.

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Hold My Beer: Tucker Carlson Comes to John Kelly’s Rescue

Well, we’ve covered John Kelly enough. Though I am, as I said, relieved that the media world is piling on the ignorant, racist man for his statements, the time has come to set aside stupid, racist statements from famous people and …

…wait. Hold on. The teletype is clacking away as we speak, more info in a moment.

Oh My Freuding Freud. Tucker Carlson, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?

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Does the Entire Media World Think John Kelly is Stupid and/or Racist? Spoiler: Yes!

It really is as if Kelly’s discourse on intercultural communication and compromise before the civil war has drawn the attention of every single person with a brain and access to a media outlet – and a few without brains as well. But let’s focus on the BRAAAAAIIIIIIIIINNNNNNZZZZZZ for a minute, as it is Halloween.

MSNBC’s talking head Roland Martin let Kelly have it:

I’m not going to allow four stars stuck on stupid to simply go on.

Snap!

Martin also had some substance to add:

First of all, historic fact number one. The Civil War was fought over slavery. 11 southern states left the United States in 1860 and 1861 in order to protect the institution of slavery following the election of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was an avowed opponent of the expansion of slavery that said he would not interfere with it where it already existed.

It is not yet confirmed whether Martin continued:

Well, alright. Hey I was diggin’ on John Kelly for awhile
Sounds like he got a three on him though, to me.

Maybe I’m reporting on this entirely too much, but people have been getting away with this for so long that earlier this year I had to go absolutely off the deep end when Jack Kingston insisted that advocating slavery doesn’t mean a (white) man isn’t working for peace.

It is so good to see some piling-on take place. If the people who spread this malicious, racist disinformation routinely got trashed when they did so, we might see less disinformation out there. Honestly, when Kingston’s comment passed by without notice from the members of the panel with whom he was talking about Andrew Jackson, I thought I’d never ever live in a land where the war mongering, the racist statements, or the rape apology of the elite would ever be seriously challenged. But with Weinstein, #metoo, Spacey, and John Kelly, I’m starting to think I’m living in once upon a time called Now!

I like this new media environment: strongly against rape-apology, refusing to hear gayness equated with pedophilia, calling out racism. Great Calliope’s Capybara, Batman! This is how mass media should be: chocolate covered and freakin’ habit forming.

Ta-Nehisi Coates Knows More Than Me, John Kelly, So Watch Out

When things fall into my particular area of expertise, being a non-entity as far as the national (or even local) media is concerned can be crushingly disheartening. Watching people with next-to-no knowledge on a topic have their opinions broadcast to millions while your demonstrated mastery and expertise in a field make it plain to you that everyone involved in an important national conversation is missing out on some very, very important basics is horribly frustrating, as anyone who has ever studied any of the fields on which an Important Political Consultant pontificates can attest. Imagine if you will, that in the aftermath of some horrible tragedy involving vaccines produced by in vivo exposure of embryonic zebra fish to a virus Our Hero PZ Myers is forced to listen to David Brooks pontificate

Well, of course if you give this vaccine to farmed salmon you’re going to see a higher incidence of anadromous autism, the evolution of the zebra fish practically guarantees it. Then that autism is inevitably going to cause a collapse in fish stocks because if you’re autistic you won’t breed, and these sick farmed salmon are eventually going to pass that trait on to the wild salmon through genetic mixing of farmed and wild fish, which ends up hurting the livelihoods of fishermen in the Pacific NorthWest and leading directly to the tragedy we saw this week.

Well, I’ve felt something like that a time or two, as have many actual experts in their fields, I’m sure. What doesn’t typically happen, however, is having your idiocy immediately challenged by someone who is both an actual expert in the field and a writer of special magnificence. So even though John Kelly was clearly spouting idiocy (and evil) in the interview I’ve already critiqued, I did not realize what was coming: a thorough and complete trashing by someone with very practiced communication skills, strong connections throughout the national media, and legitimate expertise in the US Civil War. Oh, John Kelly, what have you done? You’re a general, you’re not supposed to be ignorant enough to walk blithely into a big gun’s field of fire. Pissing me off is one thing, but pissing off someone who actually knows the history of slavery? I hesitate to continue. It’s over, Kelly. Ta-Nehisi Coates has the high ground:

Yes. A few things. Go read Coates’ tweets, and prepare for what I expect will be a devastating long-form piece in the near future. In the meantime, it is, of course, worse for Kelly than just that. He’s actually walked into overlapping fields of fire, and I don’t think it’s going to help him much that his allies are going to say some of these blazing guns sound a bit shrill:

 

Yeah, I think racist is the least of the criticism Kelly has (deservedly) coming his way.

Hold My Beer: His Name is Isaac

While it’s not exactly news to say that there are racists in Utah, this particular story captured my eye (h/t RawStory). It’s not so much that it’s got a Halloween slant, though I like Halloween. It’s not so much that his slogan “Purge and Purify” is inevitably terrifying to many Jews, even people like me with no direct connection to the Holocaust. It’s not anything new, unique, or different about this racist jerk at all. Instead it’s what the man said that isn’t new or unique at all when he attempted to preserve his public image against charges of racism. I mean, when you use a white sheet to cover your entire garage door with huge painted letters saying “Make America Great Again, Purge and Purify,” you wouldn’t think it could get much worse. But area racist Kade Rogers took up the challenge and passed his beer to a good friend before speaking in front of local news cameras, saying

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Fascist Policing: Caddo Parish Edition

In a story in The Advocate (no, not that one, I’m talking about the one that is slightly less gay & writes primarily about mardi gras and other spectacular events in New Orleans … okay, maybe it’s just as gay), a Louisiana Sheriff discusses the effects of criminal justice reform (a collection of 10 new Louisiana laws collectively titled, “the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Package”) that permits earlier release from prison than was possible under previous parole conditions. Because of the transition to new criteria for reducing time spent behind bars*1 and the way the law come into effect, a larger than usual number of people will be paroled on a single day. 1,400 people will likely be released on November 1st, all of them people who have been without violence or other significant incidents while in prison and most of which*2 were convicted for non-violent behavior. Many of them are people who were jailed as victims of the Drug War.

However Republican Sheriff of Caddo Parish Steve Prator is not excited that he can save taxpayer money by running a smaller jail. No. The Advocate notes that he frets that every single person eligible for parole will actually be granted parole, including particularly one person “arrested 52 times” including for a charge of manslaughter… curiously, the Sheriff didn’t say whether or not the person was actually convicted of manslaughter.

While The Advocate includes all this in its coverage, what is more interesting is what The Advocate leaves out: Prator is unhappy with the new law and its somewhat-earlier release of people who carry around the leaves of plants that grow like weeds just about anywhere in the US because it’s the best prisoners that will be released early, and he counts on being able to force those prisoners to work:

I don’t want state prisons. They are a necessary evil to keep a few, or to keep some [people] out there. And that’s the ones that you can work, that’s the ones that can pick up trash, the work release programs — but guess what? Those are the ones that they’re releasing! In addition to the [cough]. In addition to the bad ones [waves some manilla folders, presumably holding details of people like the current prisoner who has been arrested 52 times] – and I’m calling these bad – In addition to them, they’re releasing some good ones that we use every day to, to wash cars, to change the oil in our cars, to cook in the kitchen, to do all that where we save money … well, they’re going to let them out!*3

That’s right. No efficiencies of private enterprise, please. The Sheriffs have a good thing going where they can force people to work, and the better you are at doing that work, the more they want to keep you locked down. If you’re uncooperative, you’re a bad prisoner and need to be held longer. If you’re cooperative? Well, then you’re a good worker, and you need to be held longer.

This isn’t a law enforcement official concerned about good law enforcement policy. This is a fucking white man mourning the loss of his slaves.

Speaking or which: Fuck you, Steve Prator.

But the truly terrible thing, is that this was Prator in a public press conference. The Advocate didn’t report Prator as advocating slavery and immediately call for his resignation. Prator clearly believed, and the terrible reporting of The Advocate tends to support his belief, that publicly praising the value of slavery was good way to endear him to the majority of the local populace.

To which I can only say: Fuck you, majority of the local populace.

Fuck the ever-loving fuck.


*1: the total sentence is typically not reduced, but more of it is spent under supervision in the community participating in programs and, the state hopes, working at regular jobs)

*2: Possibly all, I haven’t read the text of these 10 related laws yet.

*3: Transcription of Prator’s remarks by me, from a video of Prator’s press conference on the subject. The video was released (and possibly originally made) by journalist Shaun King. Video taken from King’s twitter feed and embedded here for your convenience: