I’m sure the College Republicans are thrilled to have made national news

Their little hate signs have gotten attention from Newsweek. That’s all they really wanted, was to be outrageous and stupid enough that they’d get written up and win their 15 seconds of fame.

One catch: the College Republicans are eager to disavow the flyers, while speaking out in favor of what the flyers said. So maybe some aren’t so thrilled at being in the spotlight over their regressive views.

The president of UMM College Republicans, Tayler Lehmann, told the Star-Tribune newspaper that the group was not involved with the recent flyer and did not know who was responsible.

In a statement Friday, Lehmann told the paper the UMM College Republicans would “continue to take a lead role in supporting the freedom of speech on campus and fight against gender hysteria and oversensitive triggers that shut down discussion and critical analysis of opposing viewpoints.”

That’s nice. If they really care about fighting against “gender hysteria”, then they’ll shut down the College Republicans, since they’re the only ones carrying on about this. Also, no one is fooled by their use of buzzwords.

By the way, I could probably identify who is responsible, since I spotted one guy putting them up, and it was the same fellow who was tabling for the North Star in the student union the day before.

Also strange: The state College Republicans claims they are aware that the posters were put up by UMM College Republicans. All right then.

Last Thursday, the Minnesota College Republicans, the broader activist body, attempted to distance itself from the Morris posters, tweeting: “We are aware of the posters put up by UMMCRs. State CRs had no knowledge of or involvement with these posters. Further, we would like to note that this is not the type of discourse the College Republicans seek to promote on campus.”

Our more rational, consistent, tolerant students have noticed a problem.

Truckenmiller accused the faculty of failing to address the problem. “Silence makes you part of the problem,” the student wrote. “It’s an insult to students on campus to have our concerns ignored to protect a small group of harassers.

“These messages posted are meant to directly target students, to coerce them into acting out of impulse by directly targeting core parts of their identities. A student cannot learn if in the halls on the way to class a poster is attacking their gender or religion. Action needs to be taken, you need to protect your students and ensure that UMM is a place where a student can get a high quality education without being harassed in the corridors on the way to class. Silence is not an option.”

I agree. Let’s tear them down.

We are making some progress locally

We have some [SATIRE!] deplorable students on our campus, and as I mentioned before, they’ve been putting up ugly anti-trans posters all over. This seems to be their obsession this year, to mock and sneer at any students who don’t fit into their very narrow tolerance of how boys and girls (and only boys, and only girls) should look and act. Yesterday, I sighted one of our College Republicans working his way through the tunnel between the science building and the student union trying to paper every available spot with these signs:

In the trash!


Never afraid of being right… more like, never afraid of always being wrong, because none of that is correct.

Well, that’s not good news. This is.

I walked through that tunnel this morning, and everyone of those signs was gone. Torn down and not replaced. Instead, there were a lot of signs affirming gender identity. The only one I could find is the one above, which has a red date stamp, as is required for any flyers posted in the student union. Other places on campus are more of a free-for-all, but apparently whoever was taking out the trash was careful to obey the informal regulations on signage.

Good. Throw ’em all out.

Next bit of good news is that our chancellor has noticed, and sent out a message to students and faculty.

Students and colleagues,

I have heard your concerns regarding language and images being used on our campus that inflame and divide. The University of Minnesota Morris does not condone messaging that is meant to be divisive. That messaging does not support the welcoming community we seek to be.

When we say we support our students and that we value every member of this community, we mean it. While we embrace free expression, we also recognize that exercising this right comes with responsibility. Use of intentionally provocative speech impacts our campus and those targeted in the messaging, leading to individuals and student communities feeling invalidated, isolated, and unsafe. It isn’t acceptable to treat one another that way.

Let me assure you campus leaders take building an inclusive and respectful campus seriously and are taking action in this area. A group is already working on a campus climate evaluation and plan. There will be opportunities to share your thoughts on these issues throughout the year. I encourage each of you to participate.

With details about additional programming to come, we are offering opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to engage in this topic, either by reaching out to me or by contacting any of the following individuals:

For students: Adrienne Conley and Elizabeth (liz) Thomson, Equity, Diversity, and Intercultural Programs

That message came out before the Great Hate Sign Extinction, so maybe some of our students were emboldened…or better yet, some of our staff were authorized to do a clean-up. It just goes to show that leadership matters — you can either enable the worst in our community, or you can inspire the best.

They’re erasing our children’s genitals!

I get email from the Illinois Family Institute. You can tell from the name that this organization is a regressive defender of the patriarchy, but I haven’t gotten around to blocking them yet — they don’t spam me that often, and I get a perverse thrill reading the sordid illogic of these religious fanatics. The latest email warns me that privacy in bathrooms is going away, and to support that wild claim, they cite … The Atlantic.

The Atlantic is probably the last source I’d go to for information about gender issues, they’ve been pretty badly wobbly on the topic. I would inform The Atlantic, however, that if the IFI — a notorious anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-feminist cabal — is praising you, you’ve got a real problem.

The article cited is When the Culture War Comes for the Kids, and I didn’t pay much attention to it when it came out, but IFI helpfully highlighted quotes they wanted to cheer on. Like this one, about a school that had gender-neutral bathrooms:

Within two years, almost every bathroom in the school, from kindergarten through fifth grade, had become gender-neutral. Where signs had once said boys and girls, they now said students. Kids would be conditioned to the new norm at such a young age that they would become the first cohort in history for whom gender had nothing to do with whether they sat or stood to pee. All that biology entailed—curiosity, fear, shame, aggression, pubescence, the thing between the legs—was erased or wished away.

That’s amazing. What does gender define? Whether you sat or stood to pee. That’s a remarkable trivialization of all the cultural forces brought to bear on young people to compel them to conform. This is the first generation in human history ever to urinate in desegregated spaces! I don’t think that’s true.

But it’s that next sentence that floored me. All that biology entailed had me curious about what this writer think biology implies, and then it turns out to be…curiosity, fear, shame, aggression, pubescence, the thing between the legs. Hang on there, guy. Human nature might drive curiosity, which is perfectly healthy, but fear and shame and aggression are responses instilled in us by cultural mores. You aren’t required by biology to be ashamed or afraid of your genitals! Fear and shame is what IFI does, and apparently, The Atlantic.

Sure, puberty and the thing between the legs (what curious gender-neutral phrasing, as if he’s afraid to say it right out) are biological phenomena, but the thing is, they aren’t erased by where you go to the bathroom. The schools might wish they could eradicate all the trouble of puberty by changing a sign on a restroom, but that’s not going to happen. It’s especially not a concern of kindergarteners. I guess it might start impinging on some students in fifth grade, but it’s more of an issue in middle school.

It’s a bizarre complaint, and I’m not sure why IFI is pushing this as some fresh horror from progressives. Here’s how they summarize it.

For years, deceitful homosexual and “trans” activists sniffed under their sprouting snouts, “How will you be affected” by the “trans”-ideology and the addition of “gender identity” to anti-discrimination laws and policies? Some people provided answers to those questions. “Progressives” responded by howling “hater” back at them, and most conservatives responded with silence and blank stares. And now private spaces are being eradicated.

How are private spaces are being eradicated? Nothing in their screed supports that claim. Kids aren’t being ordered to defecate in the hallways, restrooms are still discreet places for personal functions, they’re not being turned into public showcases of children’s genitals. The only people who would like to do that are the lying prigs at places like IFI, who think it appropriate to demand specific knowledge of what is in people’s pants.

I suspect that restroom privacy is only being erased in the same place that pubescence and things between legs are — in the paranoid, obsessive nightmares of religious bigots.

Poster wars!

It’s happening again. Our local [SATIRE!] campus troglodytes and assholes, the College Republicans, are splattering corkboards with their messages of resentment. They really don’t like the fact that we’ve got students who don’t think like they do and expect to be tolerated, so they’ve been putting up argumentative, emotional posters in reaction to statements of fact. Like these two in the science building.

Uninformed Liberals?

On Your Campus?

Its More Likely Than You Think.

Your Gender Identity

and Pronouns are not real

& not Valid

Freedom of Speech

applies to both genders equally

Stand up for your fellow

Students

Even if they have differences

This Poster is Produced and Paid for by your student fees, Hey UMM, GROW UP, LIVE IN REALITY. -CR’s’

Transphobic Bigots?

On Your Campus?

It’s More Likely Than You Think.

Your Gender Identity

and Pronouns are Real

& Valid

Freedom of Speech

Not Freedom From Consequences

Stand up for your fellow

students

Respect their existence

This Poster Is Produced and Paid For By A Private Individual, And Does Not Necessarily

Express The Opinions of Any UMM Club, Organization, or the University of Minnesota

Morris. Hey UMM, Protect your Trans Students.

I can tell that the College Republican poster is a feeble attempt at parroting the language of the tolerant students because they end up undermining their own claims. Should I let the College Republicans know that that is kind of a self-own? Do they really mean to tell a gang of indignantly cis people that their pronouns (he/him, she/her) are not real and not valid?

It’s almost amusing how pissed off the CR’s are at people who affirm their own identities, that they then have to print up posters insisting that “NO, WE KNOW YOUR IDENTITY BETTER THAN YOU DO. SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.” Except of course that these conservative clowns want to pass legislation to restrict everyone’s freedoms, and some of them are likely to express their hate with violence.

Children are to be sold quietly to billionaires, not heard

In case you were wondering what the worst reaction to Greta Thunberg might be, let’s look in on a Libertarian Communist Catholic’s (what?) opinion:

He’s not even being provocative! He just thinks girls can’t have credible opinions if raping them makes you a pedophile.

That’s probably the Catholic side of his bio speaking. Well, maybe the Libertarian side, too.

By the way, he’s quite proud of his tweet, and is bragging that Twitter didn’t see any problems with it, either.

Unbelievable

Over the past week, I’ve watched the 8-part Netflix series, Unbelievable. It’s a truly harrowing account of a serial rapist, and how one of his victims was not only disbelieved, but pressured by the police to recant her story — something to keep in mind when people try to argue that women lie and make false accusations. After seeing it, I learned that it’s based on a true story, and is remarkably faithful to that account, and has been validated by the victim, Marie. If you read that, you can skip the show, and you’ll just miss some excellent performances.

There is one thing in the written account that I didn’t see in the series.

Marie left the state, got a commercial driver’s license and took a job as a long-haul trucker. She married, and in October she and her husband had their second child. She asked that her current location not be disclosed.

Good. If you read her story or watch the series, though, I warn you: the happy ending does not salvage the horrible process.

rms resigns

For such a notoriously self-proclaimed rational guy, Richard Stallman doesn’t know how to write a proper resignation letter. His makes no sense.

A renowned MIT computer scientist resigned Monday amid outrage over his remarks describing a victim of financier and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein as seeming “entirely willing” and posts to his personal blog advocating for the legalization of pedophilia and child pornography.

In a post on his personal site, Richard Stallman, a visiting scientist at MIT and well known open source software developer, was unapologetic: “To the MIT community, I am resigning effective immediately from my position in CSAIL at MIT. I am doing this due to pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations.”

Every critic of Stallman misunderstood and mischaracterized him. He’s the victim here, according to rms.

OK, let’s grant him that. Let’s assume everyone got everything all wrong, and is falsely abusing the poor man. Then why resign? Does he think the stories and quotes (errm, “misquotes”, I guess) will end? Does his resignation resolve anything? If he were being harassed to the point that he could no longer do his work, that would be one thing; but he doesn’t say that. He’s getting some vague “pressure” due to “misunderstandings and mischaracterizations”.

Here’s what I think is going on. He’s dug himself into a deep hole with his record of saying stupid things, and he doesn’t see a way out, because ultimately he still thinks he was totally right about everything, and trying to defend himself would involve making more stupid statements. There aren’t any misunderstandings, we all understand perfectly well what he was saying, we just think he’s wrong. And he’s sort of aware that trying to change our mind about that would require reaffirming many of his previous stances, yet he’s a smart guy who knows the wind is blowing in a new direction, so he’s just going to get more dissent.

He’s dug this hole, so now he’s going to just sit in it and tell everyone they’re poopyheads who don’t understand him. That’s fine. Go right ahead. I think rms has found the right position for himself at last.


In case you’re wondering what repulsive things he said that warranted the scorn levied at him, here’s a recap.

Last week, Motherboard published the full email thread in which Stallman wrote that the “most plausible scenario” is that Epstein’s underage victims in his campaign of trafficking were “entirely willing.” Stallman also argued about the definition of “rape” and whether the term applies to the victims.

When someone else in the email thread pointed out that victim Virginia Giuffre, who was 17 when she was forced to have sex with AI pioneer Marvin Minsky, Stallman said “it is morally absurd to define ‘rape’ in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in or whether the victim was 18 years old or 17.”

Never, ever be that guy who nitpicks about whether rape might be acceptable depending on how many birthdays a woman has had.

Biology is always more complicated than you expect

The first sign of a biased dilettante is when they try to reduce biological phenomena to a single parameter that exhibits a straightforward linear effect. It’s true of IQ, and it’s also true of testosterone. This is an excellent video that discusses the complex relationship of testosterone levels to athletic performance.

Why, it’s almost as if there are a thousand parameters, each nudging performance this way or that, and acting in a combinatorial fashion!

In case you’re wondering how Kavanaugh got on the Supreme Court…

It’s because toxic masculinity is so ingrained in the culture that the staid ol’ NY Times can publicly say that “Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun”, and think that’s a good lead to a story about new testimony that confirms the accusations made against Kavanaugh.

I’ve never experienced that (I guess I attended the wrong kind of dorm party), but I’m a guy, I’d just find it inappropriate and disgusting. I can see how a woman would find it intimidating and insulting.

Biased sources, motivated reasoning, and blithe assumptions: the TERF story

This is quite possibly one of the more horrifying sentences I’ve read online lately.

Since my recent lunch with my friend Graham Linehan, I have been learning more about the issues of biological sex and socially-constructed gender.

Graham Linehan is, of course, a notorious TERF with an infamous reputation in the trans community. He is precisely the wrong person to give you an introduction to trans issues, and he doesn’t have any particular qualifications in either biology or sociology.

Now to compound the horror: the author if this ominous sentence is Michael Nugent, who proceeds to spew out thousands of words of centrist rubbish that ultimately all comes down on the side the TERFs. There ought to be segregated bathrooms for “biological women”, sports ought to be segregated for “biological women”, the “idea of socially constructed gender…reinforces false and harmful social stereotypes about sex”, etc., and he concludes with flattering words of praise for his personal friend, Graham Linehan, who is most definitely not a bigot.

I am not going to address most of it, because I think the perspective most needed here would be that of actual trans people, not another cis het man. It is intrinsically offensive that a couple of guys would meet for lunch and decide what should be done about the LGBTQs, and another guy chiming in doesn’t help matters. I will say that I, as a biologist, categorically reject his blatherings about “biological sex” and reinforcement of the binary myth.

Here’s the problem: yes, you can identify single parameters that allow one to sort of, roughly, split people into two boxes of your definition, male and female. You can declare that possession of a penis makes one male, and lack of one, female. Fine; we can sweep the rare intersexes under the rug (sorry, intersex individuals, I’m just saying where this approach leads us). Or we can say it’s the possession of a Y chromosome; you either have one or you don’t, therefore, we triumphantly crow, sex is clearly binary! (again, ignoring any complicating genetics). Or it’s testosterone levels. Or it’s thickness of the skull bones. Or it’s muscularity. Or it’s testicles. Or it’s subcutaneous fat distribution. Or it’s laryngeal cartilages. Or digit length. Or it’s…you get the idea. Sexual characters are complicated and diverse, and you can only maintain the illusion of a gender binary if you have tightly focused tunnel vision and demand that your two categories are defined by a single parameter. As you add more, as you recognize intermediate states, it all becomes a continuum, a regular smear where every individual has a different combination of attributes.

You can either recognize that every individual is unique and doesn’t neatly fit into your binary assumptions, or you can go reactionary and insist that your two boxes are real and everyone must go into one or the other, ignoring the fact that you’ve already got a heck of a lot of boxes and insisting that there are only two is delusional.

Here’s a good thread by @transadvocate that discusses the continuum — and the fact that feminists have been saying that this is the reality of sex and gender for a long time (the book mentioned looks very interesting, but they don’t give a specific citation — anyone know it?)

I know what “biological sex” is. If I go into the lab and want experimental animals to produce embryos for my research, I will identify a male with the capacity to produce sperm and a female with the capacity to produce eggs, and put them together and hope they procreate (they don’t always do so, because even animals vary in these primitive functions). This is the only sense in which “biological sex” is meaningful. In our fellow human beings, though, and also in our experimental animals if truth be told, “sex” is far more varied and complicated in its meanings, and insisting that people must fit into one reproductive role or another is crudely reductionist and grossly inappropriate. When you announce that I am a “biological male”, you are defining me by a biological function that I performed only three times in my entire life, and I think maybe I’ve done a few other things in my 62 years. So has everyone. Many people live their entire productive, happy, interesting lives without ever reproducing biologically. I guess if the TERFs have their way, that would mean they are biologically sexless.

Here’s another quote from the TERF conflicts in the 1970s, posted by @transadvocate. I like it.

You are not the box a repressive society wants to put you in. Biology is not destiny. Be free.