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.


What Fascist Policing Looks Like: Harris County Edition

As I have said before (a number of times) in this series, a principle component of fascist policing is an environment where police misconduct routinely goes unpunished. This is not to say that such misconduct never goes unpunished, but that even egregious misconduct is not guaranteed to be punished when brought to light.

Harris County, Texas gives us yet another example of cops going unpunished despite egregious behavior. The fascist cops in this case are Ronaldine Pierre and William Strong. Yet I want to question the extent to which a fascist policing mentality is exclusively to blame.

All the trigger warnings, should you choose to continue.

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Right Thing, Wrong Reason

It’s not that often that one person will say that another lacks a moral compass, or has a moral compass that points in the wrong direction, on the basis of a decision on which they agree.

However the case of Afghanistan’s competitors in the FIRST Global Challenge, an international robotics expo/competition is that rare basis for calling amoral someone with whom I agree. The Afghanistan team, apparently made up entirely of girls, had been denied visas two times already on the basis of the Trump travel ban. A third, last-minute denial would have crushed their dream to meet other roboticist and participate personally in the challenge (though there was a back-up plan where organizers would agree to operate the Afghani team’s robot while the team, like any non-participant, watched a video stream of their own creation). Trump was criticized by a broad spectrum of people familiar with the event, and after several weeks or months of that criticism met with his advisers and very quickly they settled on a course of action where the girls were denied that visa for a third and final time, but given notification that they would be admitted under parole.

Parole is a long-standing procedure that is used much less routinely these days than in times past. Essentially, it allows border control agents to admit a person without a valid visa when travelling to the US on a passport from a country that does not have a no-passport agreement with the States. It is of course still used – people forget their passports, get pickpocketed in airports, or what have you. Normally people are denied entry under those circumstances, but if you know the right people and can have the right calls made on your behalf, it is sometimes possible to be admitted anyway. This procedure can also be used in cases where a person’s status as an asylum claimant is not certain, but turning the person away might result in risk or otherwise be an undesirable course of action. As I (imperfectly) understand how the system is used, it is very rare to be given notice in advance that you will be allowed entry on parole (rather than having that status be in doubt until you are physically present at a border entry point).

But Trump was in a quandary: if he issued visas, then he would be undermining his own policy, currently waiting for review by SCOTUS. How is it possible to insist that this really is a blanket, neutral policy and yet issue these visas? It seems especially dangerous if these Afghanis were described in the way that we are more used to seeing muslims attempting to enter the US described:

Amateur electronic engineers with a collection of circuits, gears, and structural and other elements that could be assembled to serve any number of purposes sought entry to the United States today despite lacking the proper visas. Officials said that they had determined these muslims taken to soldering together unknown devices were intending to travel to Washington DC where they would gather with others with similar skills at a location within walking distance of the White House, the Supreme Court, Capital Hill, and other sensitive locations.

But despite fitting this description to a T, the girls were given advance parole. Why can I not give credit to Trump for admitting the Afghani team? It’s a simple case of right decision, desperately wrong reason. Trump wishes to escape political consequences for his policies’ affects on sympathetic subjects. But if there is truly a national security need to deny entry to all Afghanis, then Trump is putting his personal political convenience before national security.

I believe we all know that there is no such national security need, but Trump defends himself and his policies by pretending one exists. It simply is not possible that Trump actually has a working moral compass and either

  1. Maintains a discriminatory policy without believing that there is a valid national security reason for that policy.
  2. Exempts certain persons on a case-by-case basis, even when they have technical skills that are frequently painted as dangerous by the administration, while believing that there is a valid national security reason to maintain their policy.

These are mutually exclusive and fully comprehensive possibilities. Either the ban is needed or it’s not. If not, the ban is immoral. If it is, then admitting persons who constitute a national security risk is immoral.

And this is all before we get to the fact that sexism likely plays a role in the Trump administration’s assessment that the team should be given entry parole.

Donald Trump is immoral. It’s nice to have it laid out so simply for all to see.

Killing Black Agency

Error Correction: It turns out that Writey McScriberson is living in Illinois. When I wrote this post, I was under the misimpression that WM was located in the UK. My bad. I have not changed the text below, but any commentary speculating on differences between the UK and the US were obviously motivated by my own misimpressions, not the actual life, experience, or writing of WM.

Shiv’s blog is such a great source of things that need discussion, it is entirely unsurprising that another of her recent posts has inspired me to write.

As I try to do when blatantly ripping off ideas from Shiv, I will be writing about something she mentions but does not explore in depth and let her main points speak for themselves, as they do so reliably and so well.

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Texas, Dear Bountiful Spheres of Meaty Goodness and Tentacles of Semolina, What Have You Done?

So, I was reading Shiv’s blog post about the NHS and abortion coverage for residents of Northern Ireland when I ran across a Guardian article while trying to get my facts straight before commenting.

While you already have the important bits from the title of this post, permit me to quote directly from the article:

…the maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate. Excluding California, where maternal mortality declined, and Texas, where it surged, the estimated number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births rose to 23.8 in 2014 from 18.8 in 2000 – or about 27%.

But the report singled out Texas for special concern, saying the doubling of mortality rates in a two-year period was hard to explain “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval”.

From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies.

No other state saw a comparable increase.

You have that right: the USA is the only urbanized country in the word where the national maternal death rate is increasing to any statistically significant degree. Moreover, in almost all urbanized countries, the maternal death rate actually fell a statistically significant degree. But Texas, dear, sweet, Texas: you are a state with resources exceeding many of those measured nations, and your maternal death rate shot up so fast that experts were left with no explanation other than a previously undetected war, natural disaster, or economic upheaval.

Molly Ivins would tell you herself to flush your health policies into the Gulf of Mexico (after extensive detoxifying treatment, of course), but she’s not here, so I have to do it.

Texas: Your health policies suck. Your legislative actions and inactions suck. Your religious rationalizations for medical malpractice suck. And, well, I’m having a hard time coming up with any reason not to say that as a state your entire corporate entity sucks.


Texas, you suck.

The Lamentations of the Women

While PZ focuses on Roger Ailes’ death and the resignation of a truly partisan hypocrite (but I repeat myself), Jason Chaffetz, I have been reading about the end of another career.

The Daily Beast is reporting that

Representative Robert Fisher, the Republican who was recently unmasked as the creator and chief moderator of The Red Pill, one of the internet’s most notorious forums for misogyny, resigned on Wednesday [H/T WHTM]

To be clear: he wasn’t resigning from The Red Pill, he was resigning from his position as a state Representative in the New Hampshire House.

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What a Witch Hunt Looks Like

We were talking about witch hunts in the comments to my recent post on lynching and the use of the language of lynching. I said that it’s important that witch hunts threaten more than one’s reputation and that witch hunters use evidence or tests that are not logically connected to the supposed conclusion of witchcraft (among other criteria). To illustrate what we’re actually talking about, I thought we should not stay abstract about witch hunts any more than we were abstract about lynching: and if you haven’t read that post, it’s not abstract at all. That post cannot be more disturbing because of All The Racism, and this one is potentially less disturbing only because of the lack of pictures.

That said, in a world that includes witch hunting, it is important to discuss it honestly, to understand what a witch hunt actually does, what witch hunters actually do. It is every bit as important to understand witch hunting as it is to understand lynching. So, if you’re ready, I give you two short illustrations of witch hunting from the perspective of a victim and from the perspective of a perpetrator.

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Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes Girls’ Night

So, I didn’t pick the title, that was a Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes forum user named JynErso42. But she has a post up on the Galaxy of Heroes forum that resulted from a conversation that mainly took place between the two of us.

If you’re not familiar with SW:GoH, it’s a tablet/smart phone game that’s a bit Magic the Gathering- or Pokemon-esque. The narrative sets you up as a player of a combat game at the HoloTables in a Cantina in some unspecified portion of the Star Wars galaxy. As you play your battles, you earn pieces of equipment (or pieces of pieces of equipment) that you use to equip your characters. You also earn “shards”. These shards enable you to “unlock” heroes you don’t yet have or to promote characters that you do. You also earn experience points. As you level up as a player, you can also level your characters up to the limit of your player level.

While naturally, there’s some fun to be had in actually playing out the battles, in “winning”, a great deal of the fun is simply in collecting the different characters and experimenting with them. JynErso42 – far more knowledgeable on the SW story-verse than I – noted a distinct lack of women or female characters. She posted to the boards noting that at the time of her message there were 91 male, masculine, or gender-unspecified-droid characters and 19 female or femininely-gendered characters. This seemed particularly odd to her since this ratio is, in her opinion, even more skewed than the source material from which SW:GoH draws. Apparently the books and even past games have been more gender-diverse.

EA/Capital Games – the programmers of SW:GoH – aren’t entirely unaware of this. They ran a brief event last year focusing on women characters. However there is nothing to indicate ongoing attention to the disparity or even to the many great women characters of the SW galaxy. JynErso42 wants to do something about that.

The suggestion won’t make any sense to those who don’t play the game, so I won’t discuss it here, but if you do play this fairly fun and greatly popular game, you might want to head over to the official game forums and lend your voice to a suggestion to move EA/CG towards greater emphasis on both its existing female/femininely-gendered characters as well as the many great characters in the SW source material that have yet to be translated into collectible toons.

I haven’t pushed for the portrayal of trans*, non-binary and/or complex genders because all the characters that have shown up in the game have existed in some form or other in the movies, books, TV series, and previous role-playing games, so I believe we’d have to get those portrayals into the books, movies & TV series first, but if you like you should feel free to push for those portrayals and I’ll back you up. It may ultimately be more productive, however, if you focus that effort on Disney itself.

Front page of the EA forums for SW:GoH is here.

I haven’t been able to figure out exactly where to send feedback on the Star Wars source material.

Hold My Beer: United Airlines, Part Duh

We’re all familiar with the fact that United repeatedly sells more tickets for their flights than they have room for passengers. They hope that among a hundred or more passengers, at least a couple will miss a connecting flight, get sick, or otherwise fail to make the gate. Lots of times this is true and the money United gives out to compensate travelers for voluntarily bumping themselves to a later flight is less than the money United takes in by selling the same seat twice. Occasionally, however, the fact that United sold the same seat to two or more different people creates an awkward problem for them. No volunteers? Well, for failing to aid United in committing fraud by selling a product that does not, in fact, exist, you can be dragged off the plane by police officers, beaten, and seriously injured.

Yep. That’s bad.

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Keep It Up, Assholes


Just a shout out to Jessica Valenti for this wonderful (though three years old) response to Twits:

To People on Twitter calling me a whore:

Being called a ‘slut’ as a young person is part of the reason I became an activist. So keep it up, assholes: every time you call a girl a whore, a feminist gets her wings.

Of course, that only happens if a wing producing-allele is present in a girl’s local population, so let’s keep spreading feathery, free-flying thoughts, shall we?