I guess there’s a reason FtB lacks a style guide

Oh, no! I just realized that Freethoughtblogs lacks a style book! We have a short guide we send out to all the new bloggers that summarizes the mechanics of writing here, and includes general suggestions, like frequent admonitions to overthrow the patriarchy and return the implements of wealth generation to the hands of the workers, but nothing about style. We just tell ’em to write what they want and how they want, and it’s a free-for-all out there. I think if we said anything about style beyond encouraging godless liberty and a worker’s paradise, we’d have a revolution.

But OK, I know a lot of places enforce a house style and even dictate the kind of content that is acceptable. Let’s see what our competition is up to.

The Daily Stormer has a prime directive.

Oh. Well. I guess I’m not surprised. Nuance and thought get in the way of hatred and violence, so of course oversimplification and reduction to crude caricature is the order of the day there.

What about tone?

This fits. I’m sure you’ve noticed how often the most abominable people use the “I was just joking” defense, or scream “Satire!” at you (the Morris North Star, for instance, publishes prominently a disingenuous disclaimer that they write satire, so that when they accuse an administrator of promoting white genocide, they can quickly disavow it). But we all know they really mean it.

I’m feeling rather nauseated. I don’t think I go on. All the other freethoughtbloggers will be relieved to know that I wouldn’t impose a style guide on them even if that were within my power to do (we have an administration style best characterized as anarchy.)

But please do remember that when an alt-right Nazi or troll from /pol/ smiles and tries to tell you that they’re just having fun, they’re not. They actually are horrible, awful, people who might be dressed up in clownface.

It’s amazing what they’ll just come out and say on YouTube

Roy Moore lost the election in Alabama, but he refuses to concede. He’s put out a video explaining why. It’s revolting.

After a brief nod to the fact that they’re still counting some military ballots (won’t make a difference to the outcome), he gets around to the real reason. It’s too important to God to allow godless sodomites to have a say in an election. We have to stop abortion, homosexuals, and men who claim to be women, and we need to have prayer in the schools, and Immorality sweeps over our land! To preserve our republic and honor the Constitution, he is going to deny the outcome of an election. Well, gosh, can we also deny the outcome of the last presidential election simply because the asshole-in-chief is an affront to morality?

I don’t think he understands the concept of a republic. Remember that next time some theocrat runs for office — their intent is to destroy that institution.

Hey, you know who else doesn’t understand anything? Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad. Benjamin really is a Nazi at heart. He did a hangout with another alt-right fuckwit, MillennialWoes, and they let it all hang out. What is he afraid of?

You’ve got diversity in everything…it’s terrifying, isn’t it?

He’s terrified because…what? Brown people and gay people and women might also get employed and share equal status with his pale right-wing brothers? This is a blatantly racist, anti-egalitarian statement — and he probably wouldn’t consider my criticism a rebuke, but something to be proud of.

He’s also afraid of SJWs, because they’re a fucking massive problem. We have a terrible great power.

…the reason thousands of young girls are getting raped is not because the police didn’t want to do something or couldn’t do something. It was because they were afraid of social justice warriors calling them racist.

That doesn’t even make sense. Say or do something racist, and someone might rightly say to you that you’re a racist, therefore the problem is…people able to point out reality? A policeman might shoot an unarmed black man to death, but that’s OK — the real horror to a Sargoonian is that someone might point to a pattern of such incidents and declare that there is clear evidence of racist oppression. Say it right out loud, in public!

So we need to silence those goddamn SJWs.

The worst case scenario for the alt-right’s success in this endeavor is less intolerable to me and my family than the SJW success. So from a tactical evaluation, I have to choose this angle. I have to try and explain to the alt-right that they can get what they want and they should take this gambit, even if it means the end of liberal democracy.

I don’t think there’s much difference between old Christian theocrats and the new Nazis at this point.

The Great White Fuckups of America finally begin to lose

Last night, I stopped paying attention to the news when I heard, early in the returns, that Doug Jones was far behind Roy Moore in the Alabama election.

The last thing I read about it was Charles Pierce’s despairing description of a Moore rally.

You grow exhausted from the effort it takes to keep mockery at bay long enough to explain that what Moore and Bannon are selling is a dangerous blend of religious extremism and McCarthyite bombast, Roy Cohn in Torquemada drag. You grow exhausted by the effort it takes, over and over again, to remind yourself that there are good people in the crowd cheering this river of sludge and nonsense.

Finally, you give up. Roy Moore is a vehicle for collecting suckers, for liberating them from their responsibility as citizens in a self-governing republic, and anybody who thinks this waterheaded theocrat belongs in the United States Senate is a dupe and a fool. Finally, you don’t care if the people behind Roy Moore, and the people in the crowd in front of him, believe you are a member of the coastal elite or an agent of Lucifer. Finally, you grow weary of the smug condescension of religious bigots. Finally, you decide to put down the twin burdens of excusing deliberate ignorance and respecting the opinions of people who want to light the world on fire to kill their imaginary enemies. And you give up and tell the truth.

These people deserve what they get.

Then I went to bed.

I woke up to howling winds rattling the house, and I peeked out the window to see a bleak cold landscape to match my soul. So I resignedly opened up the news to this, Rosie Gray’s post-election wrap up.

Everything had to break exactly right for Doug Jones to win the Senate election in deep-red Alabama, and it did. Jones ran a disciplined campaign that hinged on black turnout, and it delivered for him.

WTF? Jones won? How could that happen? Moore had Bannon and Clarke and Gohmert and Trump all backing him — he had all the racist/nationalist/dumbshit fuckwits pulling for him in Alabama. That isn’t a recipe for success anymore? And then I read how Jones won. He had the black vote. Black citizens turned out in spite of all the obstacles put in front of them, all the voter suppression, all the dirty tricks, like all the stories I read of Alabama cops pulling over black drivers on the way to the polls to make them late, the weird games with demanding that they re-register, that they were listed as ‘inactive voters’ and had to jump through extra hoops to get the ballot. The white vote strongly favored Moore. Heck, the college-educated white demographic voted for the kiddie-diddling theocratic incompetent whose wife argued that he couldn’t be a racist because one of his attorneys was a Jew. He totally won the Bubba vote. This guy.

The white people of Alabama voted for the worst candidate…because he was white. If you want to complain about “identity politics”, fine, just keep in mind that the worst perpetrators are those fine light-skinned people of European descent that the neo-Nazis want to build an “ethnostate” for — the great white fuckups of America.

Black Alabama saved us.

And then I read that the state of Texas might be in play in the near future — that Republicans are facing a lot of competition and a lot of state races are going to be contested. Why? Shifting demographics as the Hispanic vote in Texas rises.

Brown Texas is going to save us.

The Republicans are playing against time, and have gambled everything against an inevitability — the US is going to become a majority minority nation within a generation, an environment in which bigotry will no longer be a viable political position. Further, the one white demographic that opposes the Republican status quo are the young people. It’s a rising tide that’s going to destroy the current conservative dominance. The only question is whether the Republicans will succeed in wrecking the nation before we bury them.

Stuporific!

Ted Crockett fails his saving throw against intelligence and is stunned by a fact from Jake Tapper! The stunned ox look is delightful.

I was also giggling at his sad, forlorn “Merry Christmas, Jake” as the clip ends. Sorry, Ted, that was a pathetic comeback.

Unfortunately, stupid might just be a winning strategy in the Alabama election.

Toughen up, Republicans!

A Republican insider giving advice to Democrats…are you going to trust him? Bruce Bartlett thinks Democrats need to toughen up, because we shouldn’t have asked for Franken’s resignation.

I’m torn about it, too — he was a good senator. But he was also flawed, and I’m glad that the issue of sexual harassment has become an important topic within the party I best identify with (but don’t wholly agree with, by a long shot).

However, can we just tell Republicans giving such advice to simply fuck off? Until they have enough fiber to repudiate the scumbags, who are far, far worse than Franken, I don’t think any of them have the privilege to give anyone advice. When you’re strong enough to strip your support from Roy Moore, and when you’ve got the moral integrity to reject King Asshole who’s occupying the presidency, then maybe your advice will be worth listening to.

Are you happy? Or delusional?

A poll has determined where to find the good life, state by state. Do you live in a madly grinning state, or a kind of glum state?

How nice, I thought, I live in Minnesota, where we’re very pleased with ourselves. But then I noticed that Texas is also pretty smug, and how could anyone bear to live there?

These results are from a self-assessment poll, which means it probably utterly meaningless. It’s kind of telling that there is a great band running up the center of the country, the Miserable Middle, but I don’t know what it’s telling me. Midwesterners are realistic? They’re mostly self-effacing and modest? Life really sucks in Ohio? Or maybe some of the Trump states are feeling kind of embarrassed?

Pity for Nathan Robinson

He read an article in the NY Times that praised Ben Shapiro as a “conservative intellectual” and “the cool kid’s philosopher, dissecting arguments with a lawyer’s skill and references to Aristotle.”, so what did he feel compelled to do? He read a whole lot of Shapiro’s writings. I’ve read a few bits and pieces of Shapiro’s spew, and then had to turn away to cope with the gagging and retching, so I’ve never taken the trouble to read it at length and figure out what rotting carcass of conservative thought he’s pawing over now — he was invited to speak on our campus by our College Republicans last year, which isn’t a good sign. They like to invite provocative idiots, so I skipped it entirely.

But now Robinson has clearly immersed himself in the Shapiro oeuvre, and produced a thorough shaming of the man’s shallowness and inhumanity. You’ll discover how Shapiro deals with the race issue…dishonestly.

What dispirited me about Shapiro’s approach is that he’s clearly not actually very interested in Facts at all. The role that race plays in American life is a serious sociological question, one that isn’t answered easily. But Shapiro plucks only the statistics that suggest race doesn’t matter, and pretends the statistics that suggest it does matter don’t exist. Nobody can trust him, because if he comes across a finding showing that incarceration rates more closely follow crime rates than racial demographics, you can bet it will appear in his next speech. But if someone shows that a white man with a criminal record is far more likely to receive a job callback than a black man without a criminal record, you’ll never hear it mentioned.

And then there’s Shapiro’s racism. He’s got to be aware of it, because every talk of his I’ve heard includes a pre-emptive salvo in which he claims that being called a racist is the worst slur in America, because it shuts down rational conversation (he’s very big on “rational conversation”, while not bothering with any himself), so pointing out that what he says is racist is inherently irrational.

My initial impressions were also soured by Shapiro’s casual bigotry. That may not be the wisest observation to lead with: I’m sure Shapiro would be very pleased with himself to hear me call him a racist. (Though Shapiro always looks somewhat pleased with himself.) Nothing could better prove his point: the left has no arguments, so they resort to calling people they dislike “racists.” And since he explicitly says that he isn’t a racist, what am I doing if not using the classic left-wing “bullying” tactic of dismissing your opponent as a nasty, bigoted individual?

But, well, I don’t know what else to call a statement like this: “Israelis like to build. Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage.” (Shapiro followed it with the hashtag #SettlementsRock.) Arabs like to bomb crap and live in sewage. Perhaps I’m crazy. Perhaps there’s a definition of the word “racism” that wouldn’t include a statement like that. But since the statements “Black people are violent and want to live in sewage” or “Jews are violent and want to live in sewage” would both sound… somewhat racist, I don’t see how the conclusion can be avoided. What do you call a crass pejorative generalization about an entire ethnic group?

So not-racist Ben Shapiro can advocate a not-racist solution to the Middle East problem by condemning an entire ethnic group as evil, which is not-racist because you don’t get to call him racist.

Usually conservatives are careful to draw a distinction: they are not condemning an ethnicity, but rather adherents to an ideology, namely Islamism. Not so with Shapiro: for him, the problem is not Islamism or even Islam writ large. It’s Arabs: “The Arab-Israeli conflict may be accurately described as a war between darkness and light. Those who argue against Israeli settlements—outposts of light in a dark territory—argue for the continued victory of night.” Arabs “value murder” while Israelis “value life,” and “where light fails, darkness engulfs.” Arabs are therefore, as an undifferentiated unit, a people of darkness. Palestinian Arabs are the worst of all: they are a “population rotten to the core… Palestinian Arabs must be fought on their own terms: as a people dedicated to an evil cause.” The “Arab Palestinian populace… by and large constitutes the most evil population on the face of the planet.”

His solution, by the way, is mass deportation of all Palestinians to somewhere else.

And then there are his arguments that transgender people don’t exist, but if they do, they ought to be confined to an asylum.

Shapiro’s position on transgender people is very simple then. He rejects “the pseudo-scientific nonsense that a man can magically turn into a woman,” because it is no different than thinking an undergraduate can turn into a moose. Shapiro says that “individuals who believe they are a different sex than that of their biology are psychologically ill—self-evidently so” and has compared the idea of being transgender to his schizophrenic grandfather who thought the curtains were speaking to him.

But for a man who loves Logical Argumentation and would never “mischaracterize his opponents’ positions,” Shapiro doesn’t actually seem to grasp what the left argument about gender actually is, or what it is he’s actually supposed to be disproving.

That’s not enough? There’s a hodge-podge of odious nonsense that is quickly surveyed.

There are plenty of other points at which Shapiro has showed that his command of Logic may not be terribly strong. He loves Facts, but will make statements like “monitoring mosques is the simplest and most effective way of preventing terrorist attacks” and cite “simple common sense” as his source. He will look back fondly on the era of the Hays Code, in which movies that did not portray correct moral messages were censored, and state that it is “no coincidence” that many great films were made during this time. (Someone ought to introduce Shapiro to the idea that just because two things occur at the same time does not mean that one of them was responsible for the other.) The ACLU’s attempt to bring Abu Ghraib photos to light was “designed as a direct attack on American soldiers abroad.” (Again, there’s no argument here, he just says it.) Hip hop is “not music,” people only say it is because of “cultural sensitivity,” and it is the product of a “disgusting” culture; again, one presumes these are just Facts, not Feelings. (No, he didn’t like Hamilton either, and spent part of a radio show playing Hamilton and West Side Story side by side, like a cool kid, in order to show that Hamilton has “forced rhymes that aren’t actually rhymes” and has “no harmony, no melody, just rhythm, and this is my problem with rap generally.”) The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act was literally worse than Plessy v. Ferguson and the case that allowed mentally ill people to be sterilized. (Shapiro believes the decision “said that the federal government can force you to do anything” because it can “tax nonbehavior,” though since there is zero practical difference between providing “a tax penalty for not doing something” and “a tax credit for doing something,” this framework means every tax credit is a form of totalitarianism.) Some of his arguments just make no damn sense at all: witness his contention that capitalism doesn’t mean the greedy pursuit of self-interest, corporatism does, while capitalism just means… I’m not sure. (Try to reconcile his statement that capitalism isn’t about economic self-interest with his statement that capitalism values people by their economic usefulness.) Or his case that socialism is racism because in capitalism people are valued entirely in accordance with their market worth, irrespective of race. (Shapiro has argued that shop owners who discriminate among customers would go out of business, which might be true if there wasn’t a huge racial wealth gap and no consumers ever preferred to patronize racially segregated establishments.)

Keep all that in mind if you ever have to deal with a “conservative intellectual” like Ben Shapiro. Those two words contradict each other.

I guess I just didn’t love my children enough

The callow young gentleman in the middle of this line of celebrities (I guess, I don’t know who any of them are) recently celebrated his 18th birthday.

His daddy gave him a nice present.

The party came to a total of about $4 million. And for his birthday gifts? The birthday boy received a full loaded blue Ferrari, an IWC Portugieser Tourbillion watch and a custom-made painting from Alec Monopoly.

Whoa. I betcha Donald Trump is giving the whole family a great big tax break, too.

Welcome to the world of wealth inequity!

A lose-lose situation

Franken is out.

His resignation is a big loss for liberals. He was a good senator, he was a sharp critic of Republican sleaze, he was hard-working and attentive to his constituents. I would have happily kept electing him for term after term. I liked him personally.

However, it would also be a loss if he hadn’t resigned. How effective could he be at criticizing sleaze with this black mark hanging over his head? How well could he continue to do his job while under a pointless investigation that the Republicans, as is their wont, would never allow to come to a conclusion? His offenses were real offenses that needed to be addressed, even if they weren’t as severe as those of Borris Miles (a Democrat in the Texas Legislature), or nowhere near the repellent behavior of Roy Moore or Donald Trump. It’s all got to be cleaned up and out.

There is one way to turn this into a positive gain, though. The Democrats have to wake up and walk the walk, and be strong in demanding ethical, responsible behavior from their representatives. Not only would it make for better government, but it would be a pragmatic step toward strengthening their electoral coalition. Let the Republicans have the bigots and racists and Nazis; Democrats should do right by women. I know who I’d rather have on my side.

And while they’re at it, take pride in being the party of minorities and immigrants and the oppressed. Build a platform for the emerging demographics in this country.

And while I’m dreaming, could the Democrats be the party of labor again? If we want to improve the economy, having a party that actually supported unions would be a phenomenal development. This would build an unstoppable base.

Nah, these are the Democrats. They’ll find a way to fuck it up, probably by continuing to pander to the elite donor class, just like the Republicans.

If we’re screwed, we’re gonna set the world on fire and drag everyone down with us

Here we go: arbitrary provocation.

President Donald Trump has announced that the US formally recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will begin the process of moving its embassy to the city, breaking with decades of US policy.

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said in a televised speech on Wednesday.