Tuesday, September 2, 2014

just deserts

Oh, you got robbed? Shouldn't have kept stuff in your house.

Raped? Shouldn't have been so attractive.

Pickpocketed? Why were you carrying money on your person?

Killed by a drone? Shoulda been born in a country that doesn't get bombed so often.

Get hacked? Shouldn't have put nude you in a place where people might see it if they disregard any need for your consent and pry your curtains open and film you in your shower and upload it.  

You deserved it. You did a stupid thing, a bad thing. Now suffer, scum. "Deserve" is code for "go die" (as my brain rejects the representation of you).

There's your victim blaming in a nutshell.

If there's an argument there, it's: You did X, therefore I'm personally glad to see you suffer (again, what "deserve" and the like mean). But the desire to see suffering is not an argument. A rationalization of feelings born from one's own suffering? Sounds about right.

(If it seems like I'm strawmanning, think about that word "deserve" again and its essential role in victim blaming. You can't make the case without it.) 

Friday, August 15, 2014

in light of recent events, the internet suffers, reflects, becomes human

The internet's huddled in a corner, head on knees,
rocking back and forth to some AlGoreRhythm,
decades taking a ruler
to the units, of the pleasure
synching with neurons, 
A kind of dance, perhaps, where one goes limp while the other measures.

But I swear now it's wailing.

A godawful sound, the sound of God,
pools of human misery turning to lakes, to seas,
cacaphonies. 

Fuck me, says the monster, in robotese,
look at me, this collection of travesties,
look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me, 
look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

like a death machine on steroids

The same people who think PED users defile sports have no problem sending F-16s to knife fights. Or fights with wedding parties. Or fights with sleeping kids. The difference, if I understand their thinking, is that PEDs give the user a slight but significant X% edge, which spoils the sublimated death match by removing its sacred (by the pure, righteous hand of God!) arbitration of true winners, i.e., successful killers in the divine scheme of things; whereas F-16s offer such a huge edge they make the whole thing a non-competition, so anything goes! But I kid -- they haven't thought about it at all.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

dawkins -- not just a dick, also stupid (warning: pedantic discussion of rape)

 Richard Dawkins' infamous tweets:
X is bad. Y is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of X, go away and don’t come back until you’ve learned how to think logically.

Mild pedophilia [sic] is bad. Violent pedophilia is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of mild pedophilia, go away and learn how to think.

Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think. 
I see a lot of people accepting the "logic" part and focusing on the "he's such a dickhead" part. But without the word "necessarily" in each of the above tweets before "endorsement," these aren't even reasonable statements.

Better or worse are two sides of the same coin. If X is worse than Y, then Y is better than X. If Y is date rape and X is "stranger rape at knifepoint," the comparison, insofaras as it's a comparison (the comparison qua comparison as a philosopher would say), amounts to nothing more than the statement that date rape is better than "stranger rape at knifepoint" (and vice versa).

There are two separate comparisons in the above tweets and the one that's supposed to save him is both prior to the one he's making and unexplicated. The first, mostly hidden comparison which should, if he were being "logical," frame the second is between rape and not-rape where not being raped is considered better than being raped. So if someone offers to rape you, you should say "no." The second comparison is between types of rape, with one better, the other worse. So if you have to be raped and the only two choices are "date rape" and "rape by a stranger at knifepoint," you should choose "date rape." Uh-huh. (Let me put aside, for the sake of moving on, the fact that the ability to compare evolved in the context (information ecology) of choices between A and B that improved or hurt survival chances and that science takes advantage of a weird, exapted ability to suspend valuation and tack it back on post hoc. To be clear, he's not doing science here. To be clearer, the relevant questions, scientific or otherwise, are how to make rape not happen and how to deal with it when it does happen. As we'll see, Dawkins is not concerned with these issues.)
Since the comparison has a better and a worse, and since by convention and the rules of cognition, better is good and worse is bad, absent the prior distinction clarifying that both are bad, date rape would appear to be good. Though "both are bad" (compared to not-rape) is implied, it's not the comparison he's making. At best, it's the implied background to the comparison he wants to make, not the foundation. That comparison being that date rape is better than "stranger rape at knifepoint." Only the prior distinction, that "rape is bad" (thanks dick!) can save him here, as that's the main point for anyone who cares about preventing rape. And what has he said about that? Well, he's not known for caring about that. Find me a quote, please. He's known more for comments like these, comparing one woman's experience of patriarchy to another's. Shouting down his own supposedly foundational comparison (where he'd claim that where Y is bad, X, though not as bad, is, yes, bad):
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so…
The thing that's worse, by comparison, isn't actually bad. See where the background went? It wasn't the foundation after all, it was his cover for zooming in on a comparison that has the opposite effect of saying X is bad. His entire point is that "X is not-so-bad" (i.e., is relatively good). He's also shown that he doesn't actually know where the line is. He points at it from a distance with implications, but exposes himself with comments like these.

His history on the issue of pedophilia follows the same pattern. Mild pedophilia is bad, violent pedophilia is worse, where mild pedophilia isn't actually bad.

So let me put it this way: 

When the comparison is between different types of oppression, where the distinction between oppression and non-oppression is not accepted as prior, as the frame, as the point, you are in fact saying that one type of oppression is better than the other.

And if you don't agree with me, go away and learn how to agree with me.

what reggie jackson taught us about cartoonish right-wing supervillains

The right-wing notion of villainy is Reggie Jackson walking in from the outfield to kill the queen in Naked Gun. Making Reggie do it is an evildoer whose motives we can assume are essentially that he likes causing suffering and is aware that he's evil and enjoys being evil (end of explanation), via some kind of mind control (was it a computer chip?). At the height of the Cold War many Washington insiders, especially in the war-focused departments, worried the Soviets were mastering the science of brainwashing people, reorganizing brains to make them evil. Why were they doing this? Because they were evil. If pressed, they'd have said communist ideology is evil, inherently or something. Now it's Islam that's inherently evil. The Koran as the mastermind. It's all nonsense with no scientific support whatsoever, of course. Give me an effed up quote from the Koran and I'll give you one just as bad from the Bible. It's also the Nazis' portrait of the Jew. Mindless hordes and that. Zombies. If you're gonna try to justify genocide, this is your go-to villain. 

The only way to stop the cartoonish right-wing supervillain is to kill him. You can't change him or appease him because he doesn't have any motives that function according to natural laws. His mind is inaccessible, inhuman. And he has superpowers, even in the absence of actual relative power, like a terrifying cockroach, or like the Soviets (who were never half as powerful as the U.S.), or like Hamas (which isn't 1% as militarily capable as Israel). He's hellbent on destruction. Kill or be killed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

imperialism is justice is god getting what he wants and damn any kids who get in the way

Native Americans shouldn't have defended themselves. They should have said, "here's the land, we'll just get out of your way, now." And as the Europeans pushed west, they should have said, "well, yes of course it's your land. You are superior. Your religion and your technological skill are just wow. You deserve it. And your willingness to push people off their land with your technological skill and justify it with your religion are superwow." So when the indigenous people, now and then, raided a European settlement built on land they'd claimed long before, well, let's just acknowledge that they were acting against the interests of God. They were the terrorists of their day. Europeans were entitled to the Americas, by God himself, on account of their demonstrably fine character, which they demonstrated, specifically, by never killing people or taking their land, or the opposite of that, or whatever, it doesn't matter, because they pulled the whole thing out of their collective arse.

Africans should have gladly offered themselves up as slaves when the Europeans came with ships. And when the Europeans came back for Africa's resources, the Africans should have joyfully helped in the wealth transfer. Because not-Europe was Shel Silverstein's "giving tree" and Europe was the boy who demanded it all, down to the stump. Resistance to God's will is evil. God will take all, and damn you if you get angry or resist. Ask Job. God will take all and you will like it. You will not resist. You will not defend yourself or your children or your right to hold onto anything at all. If you do, you're a terrorist.

The Nazis came and put the Jews, and many other unblessed ones, in death camps, among other acts of justice. And damn those Jews that resisted. That is not cool. The Germans were a unique race, better than all the rest, and their unique virtuousness was demonstrated by their superior technology and superior intellects, which were capable of justifying any possible action they might take. The Germans -- the white-looking, hetero, dickheaded ones anyway -- deserved everything and the Jews needed to move aside and let them have it. The Jews that resisted didn't value life the way Germans did. They spit in the face of God, those terrorists.

The Zionists came and took some of the Palestinians' land. Now they're taking more, and they deserve it, because they're superior, as you can tell from their actions. Their ability to combine force with its justification is spectacular as long as the application of force is going well, and it is, thanks.  And damn those who resist. The ones who fight back are the worst. They spit in the face of God, who is good, and can do anything he wants at any time. He can command you to kill your own son, as he did with Abraham, but because he's such a cool guy, as long as you obey him absolutely (but you really must do this first), he won't make you do it. Maybe. Depends on his mood, really. All who resist the will of God are terrorists. Do not fight back. Do not protect your family, unless God gives you permission, which he would totally do if he were the God you happened to pull out of your arse, but this is the God pulled out of theirs talking, so no, it's a no-go. You do not have permission. You may not keep weapons at a military facility because God will destroy it. You may not keep weapons within miles of any house, or any school. You may not have weapons, because that is resistance. And if you have weapons, God will destroy them. And God will destroy your houses and your schools. And fuck your kids if they happen to be there, in their own house, or in the school they were sent to for their safety. There's a term for having weapons in a densely populated open-air prison in defiance of God's will: human shields. You want to protect yourselves against God's wrath? How dare you, terrorists! It's your fault God had to do this to you. Why do you make him kill your children?

invitation to a war party

War Party B is enthusiastic about funding the massacre of civilians in Gaza. That War Party B is not War Party A is no argument in its favor. That would be a non sequitur. It only matters where you're forced to choose. You are not. Judge War Party B on its own merits.

War Party B is enthusiastic about funding the massacre of civilians in Gaza. That includes Nobel peace hero Obama, of course. You know how power (the boss) gives the orders and the person down the line does the thing? War Party B is power. They aren't the only ones responsible, but they're as responsible as anyone. They're not being pushed around by mean Rethuglicans, gosh I wish they had some backbone, or whatever. No one's dragging them from their mansions to their jobs in their fancy cars against their will. They have backbone, and they're using it to enthusiastically fund the massacre of civilians in Gaza.

If War Party A disappeared tomorrow, War Party B would splinter into two new factions, War Party C and War Party D, and one of them would be painted as effeminate cowards, and would respond that their rivals are always invading and killing the wrong non-life-valuing heathens for their own good at the wrong times, that they need to be smarter and less crass about the whole thing. And then a whole bunch of well-meaning (I use the term loosely) fools from Krugman to Chomsky will throw their weight, perhaps with reservations, behind one War Party or the other, and they'll push you to do the same.