I get email


It’s been a great couple of days for getting angry email from people who deny social realities. Take it away, Robert!

PZ, there is a reason that the social sciences are pseudo science, fake science. I was floored by the fact that you so naively believe the utterly laughable assumptions of proponents of implicit bias. The reason you do this is not because you trust that the science is rigorous, rather because it fits your political predisposition and naturally anything that does that will be supported by you. Ellen chose Usain Bolt because he just happens to be the fastest human that has ever lived. Had that human been a blonde man from Sweden, guess whose back Ellen would have been riding. It wouldn’t have been Bolt’s. I know it’s difficult for knee jerking alarmists and SJWs like you, but please start to consider the fact that not everything that involves white and black equals racism. Certainly your kind can find any wacky social science theory to “prove” anything you want, but that’s precisely why this kind of “science” is often mocked. One example is an SJW or feminist claim that men who are not sexually attracted to overweight women are “fattists,” while at the same time other wacky social theories claim that men who are attracted to overweight women are “fetishists.” Either way, the man is bad. Similarly, SJWs like you like to be able to paint your biases with the brush of fake science theories, such as in the case of Ellen Degeneres. PZ, do us all a favor and stay in a real science lab and stop lifting the banner of pseudo science. I know that your political biases will make that impossible for you to do, that no amount of evidence would be enough to overcome your silly passions, but whatever.

Social scientists study the most complex phenomena we know of. That means there are mistakes and false starts, but they are also trying to drill down into extremely important processes for us human beings. If we’re going to accuse anyone of bias and distortions its the people who deny the existence of implicit bias. The reason I accept it — and really, I’d rather believe that I was a paragon of egalitarianism, but all the evidence says that we all do have bias — is not because of my political prejudices but because good, robust, experimental evidence has shown it.

For example, I recently had training in how to recognize implicit bias, and here are a couple of excerpts from the presentation. This is perfectly adequate scientific evidence that it exists, and that is the reason that you should not deny it.

CV Evaluation & Hiring – Assistant Professor of Psychology

“The Impact of Gender on the Review of the Curricula Vitae of Job Applicants and Tenure Candidates: A National Empirical Study,” (Steinpreis, Anders & Ritzke, Sex Roles, 1999)

• Academic psychologists rated identical CV for “Brian” and “Karen”

• Both male and female reviewers rated male applicants better in all categories and were more likely to hire male applicant

Identical Resumes & Sexual Orientation

“Pride and Prejudice: Employment Discrimination against Openly Gay Men in the United States,” (Tilcsik, American Journal of Sociology, 2011)

• Pairs of matched resumes sent for 5 different occupations in 7 states

• Overall, applicants who listed a gay campus organization had 40% fewer callbacks

• Largest difference in Ohio, Texas & Florida (compared to California, New York, Nevada and Pennsylvania)

Undergraduate Lab Manager Review

“Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students,” (Moss-Racusin, Dovidio, Brescoll, Graham & Handelsman, PNAS, 2012)

• Male & female science professors asked to review apps for lab manager position

• Both male & female professors rated male applicants more competent, more “hireable”, more suitable for mentoring, and offered males higher salaries

Job Callbacks – Identical Resumes

“Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination,” (Bertrand & Mullainathan, American Economic Review, 2004)

• “White” vs. “Black” names, 2 skill levels each

• Overall, whites had 50% more callbacks than blacks

• Highly skilled whites had 30% more callbacks, while highly skilled blacks had a much smaller increase in callbacks

These are relatively easy studies to do, because it’s not hard to keep a lot of the variables constant. Use exactly the same résumés or papers, just change the names or one little detail, and send them out and count the responses. It’s been repeated and confirmed multiple times. It is not a surprise that there exists a bias against blacks, gays, and women, yet it has been tested and demonstrated scientifically.

Let’s call it like it is: people like Robert are science denialists. I might go even further, and say he is an obvious-reality-in-front-of-your-nose denialist, no better than a flat-earther or creationist.

What about Ellen and her photoshopped image riding Usain Bolt? It may surprise Robert, but I agree that she chose to make that image because Bolt really is fast, not because he is black. She quite likely even likes and respects him, and it wasn’t made because she has a bias against him. However, what it does display is a lack of awareness of history and the treatment of black people in America. She may like Usain Bolt, but she sent a message to every black person in American that she’s ignorant of the context, and we’d all like to think better of Ellen Degeneres.

What if the photo had included a leash tied with a hangman’s knot, and Bolt was carrying a watermelon? Would that finally convince you that maybe an image can transmit an ugly message with deep connections to a terrible, evil history?

And no, us SJWs agree that “not everything that involves white and black equals racism”. But we’re also aware of shades of gray, and unlike Robert, don’t think we should totally erase the real problems with a good coat of whitewash.

That “fattist” stuff is just plain weird. I’m going to guess that Robert is an MRA, whining that those dang feminists want to make him have sex with fat girls, who are icky.

I can say with authority — an evo psych kook recently declared me King of the SJWs, and he must be right — that SJWs don’t think anything like that caricature Robert invented.

Here’s the SJW position, as near as I can make it. Everyone is different, and everyone has different sexual preferences. Despite my status as SJW royalty, I don’t get to dictate to you or anyone else what you find attractive. I think you’ll also find that social scientists can confirm for you that human beings do consider physical appearance when making mate choices. Being choosy about who you will have sex with is perfectly normal, and doesn’t make you “bad”. There are about 7 billion people I haven’t had sex with, and have no desire to have sex with, and that’s OK — I’m pretty sure they won’t take this gaudy crown away from me if I fail to have passionate intercourse with everyone on the planet.

Also, relax, Robert: no SJW, fat or thin, is going to force you to have sex with them, or call you mean names if you don’t. This is a non-problem. And because we recognize the diversity of human sexual desire, I can assure you that maybe, somewhere, there is someone who is turned on by ignorance and bigotry, and who weighs just the right amount, and you too can have a mutually fulfilling, voluntary, close personal relationship with them, and we SJWs will all be happy for you.

However, SJWs do object to something here: you don’t get to judge the humanity of someone on the basis of their BMI. You shouldn’t discriminate against people who are over- or under-weight. I’ll also suggest that you’ll have stronger relationships with other human beings if you interact a little more deeply with them — and no, asking them to hop up on the bathroom scale you haul around with you everywhere does not count as a significant interaction.

For someone who so eagerly donned the mantle of the arbiter of good science and who demands “evidence!” before he’ll abandon his bigotry, I notice that he provided none and will no doubt ignore the evidence I provided.

But that’s fair. I’m going to ignore Robert forevermore myself. I know, this is unconscionable, because how can I make that decision when I don’t even know how much Robert weighs?

P.S. Paragraphs, Robert! Look ’em up!


  1. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Funny how the social sciences are mocked and dismissed by those who appear to want to be able to discriminate in some fashion.

    In doing so, they appear to be petulant assholes who don’t want to think one iota about the feelings of others. It’s all about them.

  2. says

    I think the social sciences deserve a fair share of mockery. There’s a lot of issues with the habit of using college undergrads as subjects, and I’m not very impressed with the “enumerate attributes and slap a label on them approach” to epistemology – it’s early science and it’s an improvement on bullshittic theories that were popular wheb n I was a psych undergrad (e.g: Maslow)

    But rejecting social science doesn’t even support the guy’s claim. I can’t tell if its dishonest or stupid or maybe both.

  3. says

    Biology likewise deserves some mockery for the bad science promoted within it. Same for physics or any scientific discipline you can name.

    Mocking bad science is one to promote good science — we need filters.

    But in this case, implicit bias isn’t bad science. This is one area that’s backed up well. What’s really going on is that Robert has an an implicit bias driven by bogus ideology, and that’s the basis for his ridiculous complaint.

  4. AnatomyProf says

    I’m not sure that it makes sense to treat Bolt differently as an individual, essentially denying him the interaction with pop culture that his performance has opened up for him, because of his color. I think that assuming that Ellen’s actions appear racist is a reach. If she were riding Obama, particularly with a whip, color, or other symbol of slavery, I could see the connection being made as the context is different (though I could perhaps see her piggy backing on him on a hike to recognize either carrying us into the future in support of some of his progressive ideas, showing that he has carried us, though that might be overly dramatic given his foreign policy). This case however has clear contextual support for admiration of Bolt, or at least so it seems. No one would complain if Phelps were morphed into a dolphin like human and Ellen riding him between islands. It would be funny, or so I assume if she did it. How do we deal with the potential conflict between sensitivity to racial issues and inclusion of individuals in culture without racial bias?

  5. says

    I am 100% certain that there is no “social science theory” that makes any moral evaluation about the kinds of bodies men are attracted to or assigns any pejorative label to a preference. That wouldn’t even be science, or theory.

  6. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Having made a similar misunderstanding of the Ellen tweet, I feel qualified to respond.
    If A Swede outran Usain I doubt Ellen would have done a similar tweet with the Swedish steed.
    The whole point of implicit racism is that only Usain, being POC, would ever be depicted that way; even for innocent laughs.
    Implicit is kinda “osmotic” something that unconsciously soaks into the population.

  7. mythogen says


    Are you really unable to come up with a single way that a man named “Usain Bolt” who is the fastest runner in history could be complimented and included in popular culture and media without using forced-labor imagery? Not a single way?

  8. AnatomyProf says

    #7 I have a feeling that you are incorrect in this case. I think it is likely that previous familiarity with Bolt is why the image was created. I think that it may have happened with any other runner, given familiarity, and may not have happened with another runner regardless of color. I’m not sure that we have evidence to determine if either hypothesis is correct.

  9. congaboy says

    I don’t think that Ellen had any intention of depicting black people as inferior to whites. I think intent must be taken into account. There is a big difference between Ellen using a funny photoshop to essentially celebrate that Bolt is an incredible human being and Rush Limbaugh calling President Obama, “The magic negro.” But, how do we compare Ellen’s photoshop to Trevor Noah’s photoshop? Noah had a bit in which he said that the Jamaican bobsled team should just ride Bolt down the track. Then, he displayed a photoshopped photo of Bolt carrying the Jamaican bobsled team. Noah is South African and has probably experienced racism at its worst. I think that it’s time we start looking at intent. Racism is a belief that certain people are superior or inferior due to their ethnicity. Bigotry is a disdain for those who are different from us. Although every white American enjoys an inherent privilege simply for being born white in this country, we don’t have to act upon that privilege and we can treat all people as truly equal. In that vain, we should ask ourselves, “Would Celebrity-In-Question make the same “joke” depicting a white person?” In Ellen’s and Noah’s case, probably. In Limbaugh’s case, he wouldn’t.

  10. mythogen says

    @congaboy #10

    Racism is a system of oppression that elevates some people over others on the basis of race. Intent does not factor into it; impact does.

    And there’s a gigantic difference between a Black man making a joke about a Black athlete helping other Black athletes win an unlikely medal, and a joke about a white woman using a Black man as a draft animal.

  11. AnatomyProf says

    I’m suggesting that the view expressed by PZ requires that he be treated differently because of his color. I’m also suggesting that this might cause some, particularly comedians, to refrain from including people of color in their work out of fear of making something that offends some desire a lack of context and intent to do so. It isn’t that there aren’t ways to do it as much as that it isn’t always easy to determine what will be found offensive. In this case you are simply better off only including white people in your jokes, as you are unlikely to accidentally offend. Don’t think we differ on position but rather on where a line might be and what the effect on society might be if the line shifts in one direction or the other. Ellen’s history is important here. I’m not that familiar with it, but I get the impression from what I’ve seen that she doesn’t have a history of racism and that her followers, including people of color, would not generally link the image to racism given the context.

  12. mythogen says


    You should treat people with respect, which includes taking into account how was you express yourself may be hurtful to them. That goes for Bolt himself, and for her audience members as well. I agree with slithey tove that it’s unlikely a fast White runner would be portrayed that way, and even if they were, it does not have the same meaning, because of the racial history in the US. White men have never been chattel property. Black men have.

    And it’s very easy to determine what will be felt is racist by Black Americans: ask some. Maybe if Ellen had run that ‘shop by a Black writer on staff (she has Black writers on staff, right?), she’d have realized it was a bad idea before putting it on the Internet.

  13. AnatomyProf says

    Can people of color differ in their reaction to the photo? I’ve seen era emended by people of color, but the quotes don’t say how they felt about the photo itself?

  14. says

    Once again, the hot topic in a discussion about bigotry is whether it’s fair to accuse a white person of bigotry.

    I am no longer surprised.

  15. mythogen says


    “I’ve seen her defended by people of color” doesn’t mean “that wasn’t racist”, even if that’s literally what those particular people of color said. Not all people of color agree on what is or isn’t racist; Ben Carson thinks Donald Trump is not racist, and Ben Carson is definitely Black. Ben Carson is also wrong, objectively, and is disagreed with by the vast majority of Black people if the polling is any judge. Sometimes Black people are wrong about what is and isn’t racism, generally in the same direction that general culture is, that is they think something is not racist when it actually is. Black people can even be racist against Black people (see Ben Carson again).

    Let me lay out why this is racist so you can evaluate for yourself: Ellen Degeneres is a White woman, a member of a group that has historically enslaved Black people for use as manual laborers. Usain Bolt is a Black man, a member of a group that has historically been enslaved by White people for use as manual laborers. Ellen Degeneres made a joke portraying herself as riding a very fast Black man as an effective form of transportation, which is a form of manual labor. Ellen is saying implicitly that the fastest human in the world is still just there for a White person to use to do what the White person needs to do, and the joke is that he’s REALLY GOOD at performing the manual labor to help the White woman.

    An alternative joke that is not racist (I don’t think; someone will let me know if I’ve missed something) but uses the same elements would be to compare how quickly Bolt is able to run errands with how quickly Degeneres is able to run errands. Or, the racialized-forced-labor imagery could be subverted by making a joke about how he must be tired, and so SHE will carry HIM to complete his errands. There are a huge multitude of inoffensive ways to joke about a fast Black person who just won an Olympic medal. That the joke involving forced-labor so easily comes to mind is literally an example of implicit bias.

  16. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    I was floored by the fact that you so naively believe the utterly laughable assumptions of proponents of implicit bias.

    The laughable assumption that human minds contain assumptions built around the common attitudes of the societies in which they develop? Erm. So what’s laughable about that assumption, exactly?

    Ellen chose Usain Bolt because he just happens to be the fastest human that has ever lived.

    So I don’t want to downplay Bolt’s amazing speed, which is amazing, but, [citation needed]. Fastest human ever timed, certainly. Bloody fast human. Damned impressive. Fastest human that ever lived seems like the sort of claim that requires evidence we can’t possibly have access to, though.

    I will say, though, that I do believe that Ellen chose Bolt because he just happens to be the fastest human that has ever been timed in our records, though. Not for a moment do I believe she sat down with her team and said, “hey, guys, you know what’d be super racist? Let’s do it!” Not for a single heartbeat do I imagine that she had anything but the purest intentions. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have occurred to someone – such as Ellen herself, or someone, anyone, on her staff – that it was kind of a dodgy and insensitive message to put out, though.

    Had that human been a blonde man from Sweden, guess whose back Ellen would have been riding. It wouldn’t have been Bolt’s.

    I agree! Didn’t David Smalley say this himself? I absolutely agree. And there likely wouldn’t have been a problem with that. I’m pretty sure PZ said this part. Because there isn’t a skin-crawlingly racist history there. If there was a history of Americans kidnapping Swedes, enslaving them, and riding them around, I think maybe there would be a problem with that, though.

    I know it’s difficult for knee jerking alarmists and SJWs like you, but please start to consider the fact that not everything that involves white and black equals racism.

    Speaking as a knee-jerking alarmist and SJW, I believe this. Just yesterday, in the library, a black man gave me, a white non binary person, three apples – apparently he had too many, so he offered them to me. I said yes please, and thanks, he gave me the apples. I don’t think that equals racism, even though it involved black and white people. I actually thought it was very nice, and they were tasty. (I am willing to face the SJW firing squad if it turns out that I’m wrong about that, but I feel fairly safe in admitting that I accepted an offer of a few apples from a man with a darker skin tone than mine.)

    One example is an SJW or feminist claim that men who are not sexually attracted to overweight women are “fattists,” while at the same time other wacky social theories claim that men who are attracted to overweight women are “fetishists.” Either way, the man is bad.

    I have to wonder if these “wacky” ideas are ideas that came out of social science in particular, or if this guy just doesn’t realise there’s a difference between the social science he so clearly hates and the feminism he so clearly hates?
    Bearing in mind that MRAs dishonestly or ignorantly complain that being against street harassment equates to saying that simply being attracted to a woman is sexist, I’m willing to make a few relatively safe assumptions here. Such as that, “men who are not sexually attracted to overweight women,” means, “men who make a big deal out of their lack of attraction to women who meet their definition of overweight, and explicitly harass women who fall into that definition,” or that, “men who are attracted to overweight women,” means, “men who specifically look for women who meet their definition of overweight for whatever reason.”
    Since this section ends with, “either way, the man is bad,” I’ll assume that they intend this to be a binary option, and point out that plenty of people aren’t really all that concerned about the weight or body shape of their potential partners – some of us just meet people we like, and enjoy spending time and talking with, and occasionally end up in relationships with them, without spending too much time worrying about their body fat ratio. Even ignoring the falseness of that dichotomy, it’s simple enough to actively find any attribute attractive or unattractive without being accused of prejudice or fetishisation because of it. The trick is to not take time out of your day to denigrate those people who have features you find unattractive, and not treat those who posses those features you find attractive as if that feature is the only thing about them that matters.

  17. Rowan vet-tech says


    This is a case where intent does not matter because of the history. I will share now a story of one of my most horrific accidental racism episodes. This happened just a few months ago.

    I was doing triages with a coworker who happens to be black, which was just the ‘icing’ on this cake. We were discussing the various cats and noting that most of the cats in that ward were black and how it sucks that black cats are the last to be adopted. I was saying how the torties always go quick, as well as the orangies. Even the tabbies go faster. I’m sure you can see where this is going.

    Yes. I said, out loud, “People just don’t like the blackies.” And the moment that sentence was out of my mouth I turned to my coworker and said “I’m so sorry. That was accidentally horrifically racist.” She forgave me and spent a good amount of time laughing at my horrified expression. Things are okay. She understood that I wasn’t talking about people, and that I had no intention of it being a racist statement. But she also acknowledged that yeah, that sounded REALLY BAD.

    It doesn’t matter though that she forgave me and understood, because that is a racist phrase and I should not have used it even to refer to cats. And it’s important that I, as someone who is white, acknowledge that history and work to never do it again.

  18. mythogen says

    An alternative interpretation of the joke that I can see some reading is that the punchline is that Usain Bolt is far too important to just be Ellen Degeneres’s ride to the grocery store (rather than that he is really good at being her ride to the grocery store, as I stated in #17). This interpretation might actually work, if it the image were of two White people. Because it isn’t, and because in the minds of many many many White people and in historical fact Black people are NOT “too important to just be Ellen Degeneres’s ride to the grocery store”, and in fact are perfectly suited to be pack animals for White people, this is an incorrect interpretation of the joke as it was made by Ellen.

  19. mythogen says

    This may be piling on, but…

    “Ellen using a funny photoshop to essentially celebrate that Bolt is an incredible human being”

    Incredible human beings, those are the ones that we routinely use to accomplish unpaid manual labor for us, right? That’s why everybody already made jokes about how fast Michael Phelps could clean their swimming pool. They did do that, right?

  20. mythogen says

    Ellen: “I hold you in such high regard that I think you would make a great horse-substitute.”

  21. says

    Hi! I’m new here, but I feel I can contribute to the topic.
    The criticism leveled at Ellen reminds me of what happened when “Vogue” put out that LeBron James/Giselle Bündchen cover. I taught a class on the global history of photography at a German university at the time and opened with this, in order to get the students discussing and prime them for the topics of the course as well as the way we interpret photographs. There was a divide similar to the discussion here, but that attitude changed during the course.

    I would argue that it’s not intent, but historical and social context that matters in media. I have a great example for this, from African history. There was a photographer in the Belgian Congo, Casimir Zagourski, who had a studio in Léopoldville, but in the 1920s and ’30s started to travel in the colony to photograph the people living in the Hinterland. He produced a collection of images that are hugely important for anthropologists even today, because they document architecture, lifestyles, arts and rituals that have changed enormously since then. His pictures, however, developed a life of their own in three different contexts: first, they were actually commissioned by the Congolese and Rwandese kings and chiefs he visited. They used the photos for representation (towards their own subjects as well as the colonial administration). Secondly, he produced postcard series that he sold in his studio, which were bought by travellers to send home and add to the growing collections many Europeans had of exoticising and racially charged postcards – they bore witness to the greatness of the colonial project, the primitivity of colonised peoples, and the exotic places that could be brought into the (mostly bourgeois) homes. Third, in the 1950s, he produced a photobook called “Lost Africa”, which depicted these lifestyles as a melancholic look at a grand history of African tribes lost forever in the process of modernisation. So: the same pictures, presented through three very different media, in three very different contexts, can mean very different things. Zagourski knew enough about these contexts to produce the medium that was most likely to sell.

    We know the intent behind the pictures: they were commissioned by chiefs who wanted a representation of their power (Zagourski has documented the extent to which chiefs would exert control over framing, positioning, clothing and other aspects of the picture). This is certainly not a racist intent. But as soon as they circulated as postcards in colonial societies, medium and context radically changed the meaning of these images.

    Similarly, how important is the intent of Ellen/the producers/the writers, who probably just wanted to make an ultimately harmless joke, if the picture can easily be incorporated into a long history of racist depictions of black men as work animals? I think ignorance is not an excuse when we’re dealing with an editing room and writers who, even in an entertainment show, we can expect to have enough journalistic experience and sensibility towards media effects to think they should know better.

  22. mythogen says


    Yes, it is similar. Context is very different though; there is no history of White people being exploited in that way. That context is important.

  23. AnatomyProf says

    @PZ #16
    I think you know that is a straw man. I know that isn’t what I’m arguing about. I can’t speak for conga boy, but I didn’t get that impression. If you want to characterize my discussion it would perhaps be fair to generalize it from, “Is this instance racist” to, “Is everything that is perceived as racist actually racist” or, “Does context matter”. I think the idea has already been floated that intent is unimportant and that only perception determines if something is racist. I think I understand that perspective, and have partially accepted it, but I worry about the consequences of that perspective. I think that it relates to the University of Chicago statement that I also don’t fully agree with but again, I worry about the consequences of accepting some of the principles that are addressed in it. If offense is a perception crime and not an intent crime, it will likely act as a cultural restraint on the free exchange of ideas. I’m not sure I want to assume that addressing the desire to avoid offense will be a simple task to accomplish. I think we are in danger of oversimplifying the culture shift we are undertaking. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t attempt the shift, but rather that would should carefully match our mechanisms to our goals.

  24. mythogen says

    There are important differences in content too. The Phelps meme is about saving your life, the Bolt meme is about menial errands. The Phelps meme implies that he is so singleminded that he would carry you to safety, the Bolt meme says that for no obvious reason Bolt should carry Degeneres on her errands. These, too, support the implicit racism thesis of PZ, myself, and others in this thread.

  25. AnatomyProf says

    How about this one? http://www.toonsonline.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/4c6d7939a62365bf1de6b5f9cbee4e22.jpg
    I don’t think this could be interpreted as racist.
    I’m kind of willing to accept the idea that you can’t be racist against whites through stereotyping because of privilege.
    I think we can generally recognize racist stereotyping in cartoons.
    My worry is that the same picture here would be viewed as racist if the swimmer were a person of color. Perhaps I’m wrong, but it is this generalizing that is my concern, not whether its fair to accuse a white person of racism (it is, and sometimes those accusations will be true and easily determined with multiple pieces of evidence).
    I also want to like discussing things like this so I can learn other people’s perspectives and I appreciate your patience and rational responses (even though I like Chris Clarke’s Civility Pledge and realize that some could use that as a bludgeon in this instance rather than engaging).
    For my part, I want to engage in, and challenge, my perspective as well as others as this issue and the University of Chicago issue affect my role as a college instructor. It is beneficial to have a space where I can address the boundaries of these issues so that I do not incidentally do so in a classroom where the purpose is not to do so.

  26. congaboy says

    I just want to say that I am not saying and did not say that we cannot call white people racist. I thout that was clear by my using Rush Limbaugh as an example. I admit that I am blind to many things, due to having been born and raised a white male in this country. I try very hard to shed light into my blind spots, but sometimes I’m slow to fully understand and empathize, because I have been fortunate enough to have never experienced the horrific treatment that women and non-white ethnic groups have had to endure at the hands of white males, myself included. We cannot escape our history and it is important that we never forget it. I personally don’t think that Ellen intended to be racist or hurtful in her “joke,” but it is understandable that many people would find it offensive. I don’t think she should be demonized for it. But, it’s important for her to recognize and acknowledge how such jokes can impact others even though she never intended to hurt anyone. As I’ve read through the many responses here, I think that there is more to racism than mere intent. As in criminal law, one can still commit a crime knowingly, recklessly, or negligently; even though that person did not intentionally commit the crime. I want to be a better ally to others and that’s why I read blogs like this and read the comments; it helps me shed light into my blind spots.

  27. A. Noyd says

    As I commented on Martin Hughes’ blog a month ago:

    That’s like the worst heresy imaginable to anti-SJs: suggesting that they can absorb culture without intending to. They subscribe to all manner of bogus theories about genetic determinism, but how dare you suggest they might act or think a certain way because some aspect of their surrounding culture wormed its way into their psyche without their explicit permission. They imagine themselves so ultimately rational that they are immune to cultural influence.

    And to add to it: I’m white and I find examples of unconscious bias in myself all the time—moreso the more I read about how racism works in the real world. For instance, when I was in high school, I invented a fantasy world where I made many fantastical races and characters dark-skinned, including my self-insert main character. I did that because I saw whiteness was normalized and glorified in mainstream fantasy and wanted to do better.

    But I didn’t give any of the dark-skinned characters/races or anyone at all Afro-textured hair—in fact, I made it a part of the world that no one had hair like that—because, at the time, I thought it wasn’t as attractive as wavy or straight, glossy hair.

    Nowadays, having read a lot more about the politics of hair types within cultures like mine, I can see that I wasn’t just expressing my own preference. I was externalizing an element of anti-blackness instilled in me by a culture that holds Afro-textured hair inferior to hair types typical of white people.

    The fact is, despite making a deliberate attempt to be non-racist with my creation, I still managed to work in some anti-blackness. But knowing that now, I can avoid repeating the same mistake. I can also retrain my brain to get rid of those learned negative associations, or at least reflexively question why I feel a particular way. It’s neither comfortable nor ever a finished process, but it’s necessary because, however pleasant the delusion might be, no one is immune to cultural influence.

  28. says

    I’ve grown to like the term “SJW” being used as a curse word. It’s like talking to someone with a swastika tattoo or being Roy Comfort. You know who to ignore.

  29. says

    One example is an SJW or feminist claim that men who are not sexually attracted to overweight women are “fattists,” while at the same time other wacky social theories claim that men who are attracted to overweight women are “fetishists.”

    1. Apparently, despite the fact that there are actually more overweight and obese men than women, there are apparently no fat men.*
    2. Humankind apparently sprung up in Paradise with a surplus of food, the only condition under which a preference for very thin people can develop. It’s like those people have never been to an Art Gallery and looked at the depictions of women. They’d call most of them “fatties” while most of our ancestors would call their preferred body type “too thin”.
    3. None of this actually means much except that preferences are a cultural thing. Doesn’t have anything to do with people of different body types or any moral meaning of those bodies-

  30. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Also, relax, Robert: no SJW, fat or thin, is going to force you to have sex with them, or call you mean names if you don’t.

    No person who genuinely believes in social justice is going to call [general] you mean names if you aren’t interested in having sex with a particular person.

    On the other hand, they may well if you announce that NO ONE could reasonably be interested in having sex with that particular person or anyone with similar physical features, and that it is wrongful or shameful of that person to ever imagine otherwise or take any action that could conceivably be construed as implying that they imagined otherwise.

    If you’re too shit-fucking-stupid to tell the difference, well…

  31. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says


    I would also add the people who might not go into wider declarations that NO ONE could possibly have sexual or romantic interest in a person with specific physical features, but express their personal preferences as not being interested in [insert nasty language against fat or people ugly by prevalent standars].

  32. anym says

    #33, williamgeorge

    I’ve grown to like the term “SJW” being used as a curse word. It’s like talking to someone with a swastika tattoo or being Roy Comfort. You know who to ignore.

    As someone who knows almost nothing about immunology, it seemed a little like antigen presentation to me. There’s something nasty on the inside, and they just can’t help but show it to everyone around them. Hoping that someone spouting off about how the term mansplaining is inherently sexist again men and how it doesn’t really exist anyway is going to get lysed is probably inappropriate though.