Mama Monday: It’s the Mother’s Fault

So, Politico has just the story we need in the contemporary USA: a how-to for blaming everything Trump on a woman.

Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump’s behavior—as much as, or more than, any policy he’s advanced—stands as a subject of consternation, fascination and speculation. Psychology experts read and watch the news, and they have the same basic curiosity lots of people have: What makes somebody act the way he acts? None of them has evaluated Trump in an official, clinical capacity—Trump is pretty consistently anti-shrink—but they nonetheless have been assessing from afar, tracking back through his 71 years, searching for explanations for his belligerence and his impulsivity, his bottomless need for applause and his clockwork rage when he doesn’t get it, his failed marriages and his ill-tempered treatment of women who challenge him. And they always end up at the beginning. With his parents. Both of them. Trump might focus on his father, but the experts say the comparative scarcity of his discussion of his mother is itself telling.

Crafty ‘Cubi of Candy Corn! This is going to be terrible, isn’t it?

Oh, yes. Oh yes indeed.

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For Your Enjoyment: To Save the Life of the Slut

Sam Bee is at it again, chronicling the most recent house bill to abort scientific inquiring in the name of protecting unarmed fetuses everywhere. Although this bill ignores research on the neurological development of human fetuses in order to ban abortion after 20 weeks when the sense of pain is not developed until approximately 29 weeks*1 (according to some “doctor” who went to “medical school” or something), it is not as restrictive as some other legislation Republicans have proposed:

The bill makes a few token concessions to women. It allows exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the slut.

Have I mentioned how much I love Samantha Bee?

Nonetheless, there is at least one major bit of misinformation in Bee’s video. An interview by Melissa Harris-Perry of Dr. Willie Parker who gave us information on fetal neurological development includes a chyron featuring the statistic:

58% of women have abortions in their 20s.

Well, no. Of all abortions performed, 58% are performed upon women in their 20s. That’s a little different than saying that not only do 58% of women have abortions, but 58% of women had abortions just during their 20s.

If that MSNBC fail doesn’t turn you off of Samantha Bee for not doctoring the video before playing it, then you should truly enjoy her entire rant:

 

Happy Feminist Friday, everyone.


*1: for Republicans: 29 is actually a larger number than 20. That means it’s better. 99 is even larger. You’d be really manly if you banned abortion after 99 weeks. Why don’t you try that next time? I’m even sure you could find a scientist to say that kids can feel pain after 99 weeks of life. IF another Republican tries to out-man you, you could always propose banning abortion after 999 weeks – that will show them.

Racist Rape Apologists Do Good By Accident?

By racist rape apologists, we are of course including Trump, but the instigator here is Tucker Carlson acting on behalf of Trump. From RawStory:

Last night on Fox News, host Tucker Carlson called on the Department of Justice to open an investigation into “Hollywood’s culture of systematic sexual abuse” in light of mounting accusations of sexual abuse and harassment against film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Today, it appears that President Donald Trump heeded Carlson’s advice.

As the Daily Mail reports, Trump’s DOJ is opening an investigation into Weinstein amid reports that the producer may head to Europe for “sex rehab,” leading to fears that he may “pull a Roman Polanski” and flee the country to avoid prosecution for his alleged crimes.

Clearly racist lapdog Carlson is engaging in attempted deflection. Perhaps he believes that “the left” will object to a DoJ investigation of sexual abusers and sex abuse enablers? If so, he’s dramatically, dramatically wrong. If there were violations of Title 7, we should know, and if the DOJ has reason to believe that violations may have occurred, an investigation into whether those suspected violations in fact occurred may very well be warranted.

So, sure. Set this precedent, Carlson. Create a more proactive culture at the Department of Justice, a culture that feels empowered to investigate any large employer that appears as if it may have engaged in ongoing discrimination against people on the basis of sex or race or national origin or religion. I’m perfectly happy to have the DOJ root such discrimination out of Hollywood. I’m not sure, however, why you think this is such a good idea. You really think that Fox News and the Catholic Church won’t be next? And if your desire is to focus on the bad acts of people who aren’t Trump, you might want to take note that Title 7 covers the federal government – the same federal government that currently employs at least one person who has admitted multiple times to engaging in multiple different kinds of assault and harassment while serving as owner/employer of the people being targeted.

This is what being an air-headed douchebro gets you: a TV show paying you millions so that you can inadvertently advance the liberal agenda. Good job, Carlson!

Ignorance, Dunning-Kruger, & Trans Rights

Goodness me. Areomagazine has an “article” up by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay that takes itself far more seriously than it deserves. The intro and premises can be found in the opening paragraph:

The rights and social inclusion of trans people is a heated topic right now and, as usual in our present atmosphere, the most extreme views take center stage and completely polarize the issue. On the one hand, we have extreme social conservatives and gender critical radical feminists who claim that trans identity is a delusion and that the good of society depends on opposing it at every turn. On the other, we have extreme trans activists who claim not only that trans people straightforwardly are the gender they experience themselves to be but that everyone else must be compelled to accept this, use corresponding language, and be fully inclusive of trans people in their choice of sexual partners.

What the hell?

So if you’re paying attention, the premises here are

  1. that “extreme” activists for trans* rights and “extreme” conservatives and (“extreme”?) “gender critical radical feminists” have so monopolized time and attention on trans issues that the positions of these three groups “take center stage” and as a result “completely polarize the issue”.
  2. the anti-trans* side claims “trans* identity is a delusion” and either “trans* identity” or maybe just “trans* rights” must be opposed “at every turn” (though later in the article it sounds as if the authors are being more clear that it is the ability of trans people to identify themselves that must be opposed, and not merely social acceptance and/or legal rights).
  3. the pro-trans* side claims that there must be acts of compulsion which will force acceptance of trans persons’ assertion of gender identity, further force proper use of gendered language, and finally force full inclusion “of trans people in their choice of sexual partners”.
  4. [implied] that 2 and 3 and the extreme views that are currently paving over the discursive landscape, perhaps limiting once-ubiquitous trees to tree museums.

But does the article support any of this? Well, of course not. These are premises. So the authors don’t bother to actually show that any of this occurs. They do mention a few things designed to support one or another of these points, but none of them directly address them or provide anything other than the most indirect support. Ultimately, none of these premises is established in their work. But that’s not the worst part. No, the worst part is that the premises are obviously wrong in several respects and, combined with other errors in the piece, the authors Pluckrose and Lindsay completely undermine any credibility that they might have found useful in speaking on issues of trans* oppression, trans* liberation, and/or the tactics of current trans* advocacy movements.

There’s other fun stuff in the article as well, if by “fun” one means, so wrong-headed, misleading, or just plain ignorant that it gave me a good chuckle. For instance they approvingly site the positions of Professor Jordan Peterson, who was roundly criticized for how his rhetoric impacted students at the University of Toronto, and generally for being a jerk. Words spoken about him and his situation, combined with (Canadian, if it wasn’t obvious) parliamentary consideration of a human rights bill, are presumably taken by Pluckrose and Lindsay as evidence that trans* advocates wish to “force proper use of gendered language”. However they dramatically misrepresent the situation if they believe that this is an instance in which trans advocates (“extreme” or not) are attempting to “compel” use of specific language in a manner that limits existing human freedoms. Unfortunately, we’ll have to get to this in a later post.

Here let’s first address Pluckrose and Lindsay’s fabricated notion that extreme activists have taken center stage, hogging all the attention and crowding out non-extreme thought and opinion. In case they missed it, the hosts of the popular TV show The View have discussed trans people and trans rights many times. I can guarantee the authors that these people get quite a lot of TV time, have disagreed with one another on numerous points in relation to trans* people and topics, and don’t seem to have yet been crowded out of the discussion. Nor are they alone in popular media. If you look at who gets minutes on TV to discuss trans* people, you will easily find Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, and Keith Olbermann. None of these three are trans*, none have advocated compelling pronoun use by force, and none of them have taken the position that trans* identity must be opposed at every turn. I could google famous broadcasters until my fingers were bruised and I bet that there’s not a single host of a major news program who has been on air for all of 2017 and not discussed trans* people and trans* rights on air.

Given that when trans* advocates are on air, they are typically placed in discussion with people hostile to them and when not are at the very least being interviewed rather than having a slot of time for them to say whatever they want, however they want, unquestioned, uninterrupted, and unopposed. A good interviewer takes up 20-50% of the time talking, so even in the lucky event of a one-on-one interview, you’re also giving the (presumably not-extreme) interviewer a significant amount of time to help frame and discuss the issue. On top of that, the trans* advocates most likely to be given interview time are those who are not extreme. It’s hard to imagine how “extreme trans activists” could be said to be “center stage”.

This beginning is a sad one for this piece by Pluckrose and Lindsay. From the very beginning one has to ask if the two are so vastly, vastly uninformed that they truly believe that more attention is paid to the extreme fringes than to other opinions. If they are, that might explain a lot: after all, it is the woefully uninformed who are easily convinced that what they have to say is a very valuable addition to the conversation.

But the alternative isn’t better: if they are aware that there is widespread attention paid to issues of trans* rights, with politicians, newscasters, sports personalities, and many, many more persons giving opinions and thoughts through newspapers, the television and the internet, then they were knowingly lying when they said that the fringe had taken center stage.

Now, they could have tried to establish their premise. Maybe they have a peculiar definition of “center stage” where one person who sends out 3000 tweets to eight followers counts more than the a debate on the floor of the North Carolina legislature where more than 50 elected officials enter testimony and express opinion, and then the thoughts and opinions of those legislators are reported on by 2900 media outlets. Maybe the 3000 “separate” tweets somehow take the center stage away from 2900 media outlets, even if each media outlet has hundreds of thousands of viewers or readers, at least according to some hypothetical conception of “center stage” used by Pluckrose and Lindsay. But if that’s somehow true, if average folk randomly (or even obsessively) tweeting to a small circle is what they meant, they’ve so thoroughly misused the phase “center stage” that anyone even passingly familiar with popular media today would find Pluckrose and Lindsay’s credibility crippled by this misrepresentation.

The truth ultimately contained in this statement isn’t that radical feminists and “extreme” trans activists crowd out the ability of others to speak on, well, any topic. The truth is what the statement indicates about Pluckrose and Lindsay: the authors are appealing to the worst, most thoughtless strain of bothsiderism. The two go out of their way to critique people who hate the idea of trans* rights, and the idea that the history of trans* victimization at the hands of non-trans folks gives license for an authoritarian removal of rights from non-trans people. According to bothsiderism, this ability to criticize two viewpoints who supposedly exist and run counter to each other is intended to imply the authors’ reasonableness and rationality, and ultimately to grant credibility to the authors.

The obvious fallaciousness of setting oneself up as credible merely because one disagrees with positions that are obviously wrong, extreme, and opposite, especially when this is well known as an informal fallacy (the Argument to Moderation in which the Golden Mean is used wrongly), would be bad enough. It of course gets worse when famous fallacies are used as the fundamental basis for an article that brags it offers a “rational” approach to a topic. But it’s even worse than that when in playing the two sides off of each other the authors can’t be bothered to note that if this topic was, in fact, dominated by the perspectives of those three groups, two of the groups still wouldn’t have their perspectives well known by the general public. Social regressives, especially but not only Republican elected officials, right-wing talk radio, and Christian priests/ministers/preachers, get far more time in the public eye than radical feminists or “extreme” trans* advocates. Because of this dynamic, many more people have heard regressive politicians and talk radio hosts rant about how permitting the existence of trans* people is a threat to civilization itself than have ever heard a single trans person argue for just about anything. In many places in the US mega-churches usher in 10,000 to 20,000 people at a time to hear, among other things, sermons on how merely tolerating the existence of trans people leads inevitably to lethal hurricanes.

In short, Pluckrose and Lindsay have dangerously mismapped the discursive landscape, making very real and sometimes even deadly hazards completely invisible to their readers.

But just as when David Brooks does it, people who think about what is actually being said realize that it’s possible to agree with neither polar opposite on a question of opinion and policy and still be badly misinformed and entirely lacking in useful things to say. We can’t assume many readers of this article will think productively about what’s being said, in part because many people feel that transness is so foreign to them that they don’t feel equipped to do critical thinking on the issue and accept what is offered by anyone they consider credible, even when they don’t need any specialized knowledge to prove it false, or at least misleading and unhelpful.

Take, for example, their second premise. They don’t actually quote anyone saying the things they suggest are believed by one “extreme” side. I have no doubt that they could find such quotes if they wanted, but it still would not help them because they simply and utterly fail to show any evidence that they understand why there is such a divide between people who believe that some people are deluded about their genders and others believe the first group are horribly wrong.

Consider the feminists among those who belong (as much as anyone belongs) to anti-trans* faction described by the authors. While there are those who, more or less, would describe trans*-asserted gender identities as false (very few use “delusion”) do so because they believe that gender is sex and sex is gender. To produce sperm is to be male biologically, and I don’t know of any trans* persons who would contest that. The question is whether this is all that it takes to make one a man. There are trans* advocates (yes on freethoughblogs, even) who use the word female to describe trans* women and male to describe trans* men, but this is a considered position. It’s not an inability to understand that some people are born with uteruses. It’s stressing that the social relationships are primary and, since most of the time we don’t know what someone else’s genitals look like and nearly all the time we don’t have first hand chances to examine another’s chromosomes or genome, “male” should be used in a way similar to how “men” is used. It’s a position that is in part a reaction to the victimization of trans* people by non-trans* folk, and it does flow out of reasoning that finds past definitions of male and female inadequate, but it’s not a delusion.

What is on display is a disagreement about definitions, about what words mean and what they communicate (intentionally or not). You could find the most extreme anti-trans* feminists and the most extreme pro-trans* activists and if you got them to adopt a single definition for the purposes of communicating for a day, no one in the room would have trouble actually using the definition correctly. This isn’t about how trans* people are initially perceived. It’s about how they are categorized and how the socially-constructed categories of man and woman and male and female and trans (and many others) are defined. It’s about how people think these words are best used. Frankly, I’ve met many a trans*-exclusive radical feminist who demonstrated more knowledge of these important issues than Pluckrose and Lindsay, so I’m not sure what the authors use to justify thinking they have anything to contribute if they are not more informed than at least one of the factions that they consider to be ruining the possibilities for fruitful communication.

But Dunning-Kruger, I’m sure, has come to their collective rescue on that point. Take their meager attempt to address something vaguely related to the point I made in the preceding paragraph:

Trans activists therefore would do well not to reject the science (NB: not Theory) of gender difference, which seems likely to come down in their favor in the not-too-distant future. Yet many align themselves with intersectional feminist approaches to activism, and thus have taken on cultural constructivist views of gender which deny biological gender differences in the name of gender equality.

First, intersectional does not mean social constructionist (or “cultural constructivist”). One can easily be one without the other(s). This easily displays the falsity of their assertion of causation (“many align…with intersectional feminist approaches … and thus have … cultural constructivist views”), but it also shows that they have only a limited understanding of what intersectionality and social construction actually are.

Consider that they believe that these activists with “cultural constructivist views of gender … deny biological gender differences”. No. They don’t. No one believes that all genital shafts are the same length, and no one publicly asserts that despite believing it false, and certainly no one publicly believes it false but says it publicly specifically because they believe it will aid the advancement of gender equality if they take that false and nonsensical position.

Moreover: if no biological differences existed, then no one would want sex reassignment surgery. The authors are literally assuming that trans people deny that transness could ever possibly exist or that trans medical care could ever have any point at all.

You’ve got to have a pile of ignorance and even more chutzpah to criticize trans people as denying “biological gender differences”.

But, maybe Pluckrose and Lindsay actually meant something else. In fact, if they respond to this criticism at all, I’m near certain that they will assert that obviously that’s too stupid to be what they meant, and since they aren’t stupid, they must have been something else. But what else? What could possibly account for two people (not just one, who might slip up somehow, but two, interacting, with each having a chance to catch errors in the other’s work) together writing a sentence whose only plain meaning is so badly, badly wrong in a piece that is supposed to be thoughtful and rational?

Sarcasm? There are no hints that they were wrong on purpose for comedic effect. There doesn’t appear to me to be any comedy in the piece. Maybe they simply don’t know how to proofread or maybe their editors did a massive disservice to the intent of statements included in their first draft? I’m disinclined to believe that this could all be laid at the feet of editors, since Pluckrose has been defending the piece against criticism since it’s publication and I can’t find any corrections attached to the original piece or in Pluckrose’s Twitter feed.

So bodies – biological gender – obviously have differences and no one has ever seriously disputed the existence of those differences. This is a fact which even Pluckrose and Lindsay should know. So maybe they were trying (and failing) to talk about behavioral differences that fall along lines of sex (biological gender to use their term)? Possible, I suppose. But if that’s what they meant, their writing is pretty damn poor since it’s very far from what they actually said.

Still, they could have written less-than-competently while meaning something like,

Many have taken on social constructionist views of gender which deny that when behavioral tendencies  are expressed as quantities there frequently exist differences between the average value of men’s tendencies and the average value of women’s tendencies.

Of course, that would be much, much more precise than anything that Pluckrose and Lindsay manage to express, and it would still be utterly, stupidly wrong. It would miss literally the entire point of feminism. Of course quantified behavioral tendencies have different averages among men and women. That’s frequently the point of feminist complaints! If you’re too uneducated to realize that trans* advocates and feminists complain about actual gender differences in behavior (on average), then you have no business commenting on feminism or trans* advocacy.

So what could the authors have said that would at least not be so instantly, obviously wrong that merely saying it provides evidence that speakers are not competent to comment on the subject they’ve chosen? Perhaps something like:

Many have taken on social constructionist views of gender which assert that in a truly egalitarian society, nearly all gender differences in average behaviors would fall away, at least for those behaviors which matter socially.

They’ve got a prayer of quoting someone saying something like that. But that’s not at all what they asserted in the first place. Even if this (or something like it) is what they actually meant, there’s no way in fuck you can credit them with the ability to write rationally on this topic, because rational thinking about the statement that they made yields nothing like this. If nothing else, remember that they wrote

deny biological gender differences

That’s in the present fucking tense. They don’t deny the inevitability of (biological) gender differences. They don’t deny the permanence of gender differences. They deny gender differences. Full Stop. Present tense. Meaning right-the-fuck-now, not after the revolution.

Whether talking about current behavior differences, which are the actual subject of feminism as opposed to obstetrics, or current body differences, there simply is no one that denies that body differences and behavior differences exist in the here and now. No one.

It’s hard not to be upset at two people holding themselves out as “rational” on a topic, representing themselves as having something valuable to say, but who say something that so obviously has no potentially accurate interpretation that you have to wonder whether they were consciously lying or whether any two people who took hours to craft an article on the subject could possibly be so monumentally ignorant as to believe that statement true.

Shorter me: If they meant something true, they expressed themselves so completely incompetently that their ability to write intelligently and rationally on this topic is called into serious question, and if they meant what they wrote, they expressed a thing so hopelessly wrong that the fact that they even thought for a moment that was a reasonable thing to say with a reasonable chance of being correct shows conclusively that they are too uninformed to write intelligently on this topic, and too incapable of rationally thinking through their premises and assertions to catch even those errors which don’t require an education in gender to debunk.


I have more to say about this article, but I think this is enough to be getting on with. I still have 2-3 more pieces to do on the history of gun rights and I still haven’t plotted out a good progression for Feminist Friday that allows me to explain the ethical perspectives of different feminists, how that affected their work, and how those perspectives were both products of their times and products of their original thinking, and finally how those ethical perspectives did (and did not) affect later feminists and feminisms. Just selecting which feminists to highlight in different eras is tough, not least because even 200 years ago there’s a hell of a lot of what we would now call intersectionality & confluence among Black feminists and Native American, First Nations, BC Band, Aleut and indigenous feminists. Leaving those feminists til last because of their foreshadowing of modern intersectionality would be right, they had a huge impact on the feminisms of their day and deserve to be located with their contemporaries (even over and above the implications of being last which carries connotations both of less importance and of having been lifted up by the actions of past feminists). Really, the job I want to do on this is more the province of a book than a blog, which makes it even harder to plan and execute. Oy.

So, yeah. More on this later, but not necessarily instantly or even in my next post.


*1: of which I’d not heard until brought up by Trav Mamone who wrote a thoughtful piece in Splice that Trav then linked from their own FreethoughtBlogs space, Bi Any Means.

Mountains of Chutzpah, coming soon

Our own Trav Mamone has a new post up advertising an article they have published on another site, SpliceToday.

It’s a look at an article on another site, AeroMagazine.com, that with garish arrogance titles itself

AN ARGUMENT FOR A LIBERAL AND RATIONAL APPROACH TO TRANSGENDER RIGHTS AND INCLUSION

So I took a look at the original article. Trust me, when I say that Trav Mamone is being very, very generous when saying of the article,

It isn’t as bad as I thought, but still missed the mark.

So, I’ve cheerily taken a dive into a cesspool of ignorance and am swimming around it for a bit, all so that you don’t have to. I’ll soon have two -count them two- posts up thoroughly addressing important aspects of the original article, including a whole lot of wrong. Here, however, I wanted to pluck out a criticism I’ve made of something from the AeroMagazine piece both because I’ve seen it way too many times (so it deserves extra attention) but also so that you’ll have a bit of snark to carry you through until the longer pieces get here. Also, too, there will be more coming your way on gun rights, some  of it addressing a couple things about which Enlightenment Liberal is correct, but didn’t realize that I was going to say in a future post, and some things in which EL is grossly, laughably wrong. (Hint: Bell v Burson figures prominently in that last category.)

From the upcoming post further tackling Trav Mamone’s target:

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More Lynching

So I’ve made it clear that when people equate Black pride and Black Lives Matter to white pride and the KKK, the people making the comparison are failing to understand huge, important, relevant differences between the phenomenon of whiteness and the phenomenon of blackness. I’ve also spent some time making the point that not every murder is a lynching, that lynching is a crime with multiple components and the public infliction of terror is part of that. Because of this, I’ve made the case that lynching is ongoing. If lynching includes murder but is not complete until photos of smiling murderers are shared or nooses are displayed, then noose-threats are part of lynching and where we find threats that refer back to racist murders in order to create fear in a community, especially (though today arguably not only) a black community, then you have lynching occurring right here, right now.

But the actual murders have always been more rare than the terrorizing references to those murders, whether photos or other records, or less linguistic symbols such as publicly displayed nooses. This both assists some in discounting the threats inherent in those records and symbols and also helps to convince people that lynch murders no longer happen or don’t happen “here”.

This, of course, is not true. But today it’s my tragic duty to inform you of a particular racist hanging in New Hampshire. Angela Helm of The Root, relying in part on the reporting of NH1 and the Valley Newstells the story:

[A] Claremont, N.H., boy had to be flown to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center after one or more teens decided to hang him from a tree with a rope.

[The boy’s grandmother] told the Valley News that the incident was, in fact, racially motivated and “intentional.”

[She] said that she was able to recount what happened from her grandson’s 11-year-old sister and other children present (there were no adults): Her grandson and some teens were playing in a yard on Aug. 28 when the teens started calling the little boy “racial epithets” and throwing sticks and rocks at his legs.

Some or all of the teens allegedly stepped up on a picnic table and grabbed a nearby rope that had been part of a tire swing, [she] said.

“The [teenagers] said, ‘Look at this,’ supposedly putting the rope around their necks,” [she] said. “One boy said to [her grandson], ‘Let’s do this,’ and then pushed him off the picnic table and hung him.”

I risk quoting the entirety of Helm’s piece, and I do wish that you would go there to read the rest if you can, but there is one other piece of this story too vital to leave out. The local police chief is (appropriately) declining to share information on the kids who perpetrated this racist attempted murder. While withholding the name of 14-year-olds in this case is justified and may even be required by New Hampshire law, it stands in contrast with how so many black children accused of crimes are treated. That contrast was heightened by statements of the Claremont Police Chief, Mark Chase:

[Chase] would not comment on the specifics of the case, saying only that they were still investigating and that those involved are juveniles, prohibiting him from specifically making any comment. Chase also said that the kids being investigated (who knows if they’re charged?) should be “protected.”

“Mistakes they make as a young child should not have to follow them for the rest of their life,” Chase said.

Notice how he called these predators “young children,” infantilizing the white teens. Conversely, teens like Trayvon Martin are made out to be hulking, menacing adults. Chase seems to be centering the perpetrators’ feelings and futures, all but forgetting about the trauma of a little boy who had his so-called friends hang him from a tree to the point where he had to be medevaced to a hospital.

It is a fact of our current social context – one we should seek to change, but that cannot be ignored in this moment – that if the names of the perpetrators of this crime were released, they would be targeted for abuse by scattered, horrible people. Though these people are nowhere near the majority, when stories reach a wide audience only a tiny percentage need react with insults and threats to create an intolerable, life-affecting stream of abuse. I do not want even racist, violent children to be subjected to that. So I’d like us not to focus on the protection of the racist aggressors’ identities as an evil, but rather as appropriate treatment that is too often denied to other children, and which is disproportionately denied to children based on racial and racist categorizations and perceptions.

In particular, I’d like to call attention to that last bit of Chase’s statement:

Mistakes they make as a young child should not have to follow them for the rest of their life,

Yes. Yes they should. They should never forget that day and the choices that they made. What shouldn’t happen is the public shaming of a child. There is such a thing as unjust sentence inflicted after a just conviction. We can argue about what the consequences should be for children who choose, as teens, to attempt murder on an 8 year old child while shouting racial epithets at the poor kid. I won’t argue with anyone who thinks that this is something that a teen should be able to forget or leave behind at some age of majority.

But even more than that, when is this the attitude of public figures towards Black and Latino and other racialized children, especially boys? I can think of only one context, and it’s not one that gives me hope: sexual assault. Think of the Steubenville rape case. One of the rapists in that case was a Black teenager, and when convicted appeared to be included in mass-media’s public mourning on no less a basis as the white teenager convicted of the same crimes. That doesn’t make me more optimistic that the accused will be judged on the basis of their actions and not on the basis of their identities. Rather, it merely shows that at least in the context of sexual assault, it’s possible for gendered classifications to be more important than racial classifications in determining the treatment of the accused. Judging by the Steubenville and Claremont examples, however, both are still more important than the actual behaviors involved.

If there are any more ways a lynching can break your heart, I cannot think of them.


Sorry for the inability to get much written lately, folks.

Also, I’ve redacted the grandmother’s name. It’s all over those other stories, and if you have a reason to need to know it, I’m not preventing anyone from finding it, but enough has happened to this child and I’m not at all interested in spreading his identity even more widely. Though the other posts and articles on this lynching omitted the name of the boy, printing the names of family members makes their efforts ineffective. Thus I’m opting not to print those names more widely even though the story itself is important.

However, some redaction has been performed at those other sites, mainly of the names of children. Confusingly, then, when you see “[she]” in reference to the grandmother of the boy who was lynched, that is my redaction. While “[teenagers]” and “[her grandson]” are redactions made in the original article at The Root.

Feminist Friday: Feminism’s Forgotten Name

Maxine Hong Kingston is one of many feminists engaged in what we would today call intersectional theorizing, though she was writing in that mode at least two decades before Crenshaw would give activists the term intersectionality. Her book of fables and thought, The Woman Warrior (1976), has gone on to be a university staple in many different disciplines. The Woman Warrior is taught so widely, in fact, that the Washington Post includes in a piece about the book and its prominence:

It gained a following that seems, if anything, to have increased over the years.

Thus, for example, Bill Moyers has reported that “The Woman Warrior” and Kingston’s second memoir, “China Men” (1980), are the most widely taught books by a living American author on college campuses today, which echoes a claim made by the Modern Language Association. This rather astonishing information no doubt reflects the various categories of political and cultural opinion to which Kingston’s work appeals, but it also means that “The Woman Warrior” is probably one of the most influential books now in print in this country — and certainly one of the most influential books with a valid claim to literary recognition.

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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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Happy 169th Birthday

Declaration of Sentiments

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these rights, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

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Was There Ever Such A Dreadful Revolt?

One hundred sixty-nine years ago today, after a lengthy planning period totaling ten days, a group mostly consisting of Quakers (including the visiting Lucretia Mott and a number of Seneca County locals) held a convention to discuss the state of women’s political and social rights in the United States. They were largely inspired by a local non-Quaker Elizabeth Cady Stanton who was an important part of the organizing team and the lead-off speaker.

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