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July 10, 2021

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I have to really apologize here, it's the last two weeks of a very fraught term. We are back to f2f but masked. I felt I got a lot of work out of my students, but a number of them have not been able to complete assignments and I've uncovered some really interesting problems in what students have submitted (was gobsmacked to discover that a handful of very bright students are using two single apostrophes to get a double apostrophe! I'm now wondering if I just missed this in previous years. Other things are popping up all over the place) So I can't participate as much as I would like.

This is obviously a subject of great interest to me, so I'll try and comment (and maybe even work up a post in August), but if something strikes you as off, please just make a note of it and I'll try to explain when I can. Way too much anger floating around lately.

Here is the Twain diatribe I was referring to

https://faculty.georgetown.edu/jod/texts/twain.german.html

And the section I was thinking of
Every noun has a gender, and there is no sense or system in the distribution; so the gender of each must be learned separately and by heart. There is no other way. To do this one has to have a memory like a memorandum-book. In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has. Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl. See how it looks in print--I translate this from a conversation in one of the best of the German Sunday-school books:

"Gretchen. Wilhelm, where is the turnip?

"Wilhelm. She has gone to the kitchen.

"Gretchen. Where is the accomplished and beautiful English maiden?

Wilhelm. It has gone to the opera."

To continue with the German genders: a tree is male, its buds are female, its leaves are neuter; horses are sexless, dogs are male, cats are female--tomcats included, of course; a person's mouth, neck, bosom, elbows, fingers, nails, feet, and body are of the male sex, and his head is male or neuter according to the word selected to signify it, and NOT according to the sex of the individual who wears it--for in Germany all the women either male heads or sexless ones; a person's nose, lips, shoulders, breast, hands, and toes are of the female sex; and his hair, ears, eyes, chin, legs, knees, heart, and conscience haven't any sex at all. The inventor of the language probably got what he knew about a conscience from hearsay.

Now, by the above dissection, the reader will see that in Germany a man may THINK he is a man, but when he comes to look into the matter closely, he is bound to have his doubts; he finds that in sober truth he is a most ridiculous mixture; and if he ends by trying to comfort himself with the thought that he can at least depend on a third of this mess as being manly and masculine, the humiliating second thought will quickly remind him that in this respect he is no better off than any woman or cow in the land.

In the German it is true that by some oversight of the inventor of the language, a Woman is a female; but a Wife (Weib) is not--which is unfortunate. A Wife, here, has no sex; she is neuter; so, according to the grammar, a fish is HE, his scales are SHE, but a fishwife is neither. To describe a wife as sexless may be called under-description; that is bad enough, but over-description is surely worse. A German speaks of an Englishman as the ENGLÄNDER; to change the sex, he adds INN, and that stands for Englishwoman-- ENGLÄNDERINN. That seems descriptive enough, but still it is not exact enough for a German; so he precedes the word with that article which indicates that the creature to follow is feminine, and writes it down thus: "die Engländerinn,"--which means "the she-Englishwoman." I consider that that person is over-described.

Well, after the student has learned the sex of a great number of nouns, he is still in a difficulty, because he finds it impossible to persuade his tongue to refer to things as "he" and "she," and "him" and "her," which it has been always accustomed to refer to it as "it." When he even frames a German sentence in his mind, with the hims and hers in the right places, and then works up his courage to the utterance-point, it is no use-- the moment he begins to speak his tongue files the track and all those labored males and females come out as "its." And even when he is reading German to himself, he always calls those things "it," where as he ought to read in this way:

TALE OF THE FISHWIFE AND ITS SAD FATE [2]

It is a bleak Day. Hear the Rain, how he pours, and the Hail, how he rattles; and see the Snow, how he drifts along, and of the Mud, how deep he is! Ah the poor Fishwife, it is stuck fast in the Mire; it has dropped its Basket of Fishes; and its Hands have been cut by the Scales as it seized some of the falling Creatures; and one Scale has even got into its Eye. and it cannot get her out. It opens its Mouth to cry for Help; but if any Sound comes out of him, alas he is drowned by the raging of the Storm. And now a Tomcat has got one of the Fishes and she will surely escape with him. No, she bites off a Fin, she holds her in her Mouth--will she swallow her? No, the Fishwife's brave Mother-dog deserts his Puppies and rescues the Fin--which he eats, himself, as his Reward. O, horror, the Lightning has struck the Fish-basket; he sets him on Fire; see the Flame, how she licks the doomed Utensil with her red and angry Tongue; now she attacks the helpless Fishwife's Foot--she burns him up, all but the big Toe, and even SHE is partly consumed; and still she spreads, still she waves her fiery Tongues; she attacks the Fishwife's Leg and destroys IT; she attacks its Hand and destroys HER also; she attacks the Fishwife's Leg and destroys HER also; she attacks its Body and consumes HIM; she wreathes herself about its Heart and IT is consumed; next about its Breast, and in a Moment SHE is a Cinder; now she reaches its Neck--He goes; now its Chin-- IT goes; now its Nose--SHE goes. In another Moment, except Help come, the Fishwife will be no more. Time presses--is there none to succor and save? Yes! Joy, joy, with flying Feet the she-Englishwoman comes! But alas, the generous she-Female is too late: where now is the fated Fishwife? It has ceased from its Sufferings, it has gone to a better Land; all that is left of it for its loved Ones to lament over, is this poor smoldering Ash-heap. Ah, woeful, woeful Ash-heap! Let us take him up tenderly, reverently, upon the lowly Shovel, and bear him to his long Rest, with the Prayer that when he rises again it will be a Realm where he will have one good square responsible Sex, and have it all to himself, instead of having a mangy lot of assorted Sexes scattered all over him in Spots.

We've had segregated bathrooms in the US for years and it has not prevented gender *conforming* rapists from raping people in those segregated spaces. Seems to me like we need a better approach

On that logic, since we had killings using guns prior to 1960 (or whatever date one prefers for the coopting of the NRA), obviously there could be no big deal to massively increase access to guns in this country since. Maybe it's just me, but that's how your statement reads.

What nous said at 8:19
(Even on this, we manage to agree on some things. ;-)

And I know, I should be working, but wheels are turning.

I attribute part of the shared attitude the nous and I have due to the fact that we are teaching at university. I'm 60, but I've been told by a lot of people I don't look it. I've suggested that the process of meeting a new group of 18-19 year olds every year is a big part of that. If I worked in a company where everyone I hung out with was the same age as me, I might either look a lot older or be desperately trying to stave it off. I suspect nous is similar, constantly dealing with college undergrads and his writing course, where he is asking them to reveal a lot of their own ideas about their place in society, has to have an effect.

I'm also often called on to counsel newcomers to Japan, and that can be quite enlightening, especially when they are choosing to recast their self identity because they are in new surroundings.

This may have the sound of me pointing to some superiority, like I am able to see what is coming and I apologize for that. But it is hard for me to imagine us going back in anyway from things what has happened. I'm sure everyone can come up with their own list. But regardless of that, our viewpoints are shaped by the people we hang out with, so that may account for some differences here.

On that logic, since we had killings using guns prior to 1960 (or whatever date one prefers for the coopting of the NRA), obviously there could be no big deal to massively increase access to guns in this country since. Maybe it's just me, but that's how your statement reads.

I'd hope it's just you misreading it, because for the argument to read like you are reading it, we'd have to assume that we cannot differentiate between trans women and rapists.

In your version, both trans women and rapists are guns.

Twain once complained that he was reading an article in a German-language newspaper and had no idea what it was about until he encountered a verb on page 3.

He tells me that his lesbian friends are accused of being transphobic for not fancying trans women. Neither of us thinks this is a good thing.

We should not ever be obliged to find anyone sexually attractive by reason of their taxonomic identity, and no one can demand that we find them attractive.

It’s hard to keep it straight in complicated human situations, but some trans people are assholes, just like some of every human group you could name are assholes. (Except the group comprised of non-assholes, of course, for the logic-minded among us.) That brush shouldn’t tar all trans people.

Also, being nitpicky, I would change nous’s formulation to this: “We should not ever be obliged to pretend to find anyone sexually attractive….” I mean, is there anyone here whose attractions can be mandated from outside?

More Twain on German.

Okay, so, a little ding goes off in my head and Google tells me that "tar with the same brush" is considered by some people to be a racist phrase. I retract it and would welcome anyone's replacement for lumping people together on the basis of a particular characteristic, when in fact on the basis of some other characteristic they aren't alike at all.

my feeble attempts
that label shouldn't be slapped on everyone?
they aren't birds of a feather?
shouldn't think they all wear the same uniform?

link
https://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-tar1.htm

The question is interesting because it seems to presume that tar and feathering was a punishment reserved for blacks by whites. However, my understanding of it is that it was directed against outsiders (most notably "carpetbaggers") and often included 'being run out of town on a rail'
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riding_a_rail

That some people may think that there was a racial component to this tells you something, though I'm not sure what that is.

lj, it seems to me to be like "niggardly."

You can't say that anymore either.

But we have worse problems to fret about, so I try to get my inner language nerd to take a nap.

The confusion about grammatical gender originates from the fact that most people assume that it was originally connected to sex in some logical way. But from what I have read the tripartite grammatical gender in indoeuropean languages had nothing to do with that at all and that the terms 'masculine' 'feminine' and 'neutral' were the result of a misunderstanding by grammaticians living a few thousand years after the system developed.
Those orginal half-nomads would have looked rather bewildered, if someone had tried to explain to them that weird idea that their grammar was sexual (after looking bewildered trying to understand the abstract concept of grammar in the first place).

As for the sexless German girls: In German all diminutives are neutral and 'Mädchen' (girl) is a diminutive of the feminine word 'Maid' (maiden). Btw, it is also the diminutive of 'Made' (maggot).
Another btw: If you put the neutral article 'das' before the masculine noun 'Mensch' (human) it turns into an insult aimed exclusively at women.

This article discusses the precursors to grammatical gender though it is a tough slog. This article

https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/evolution-of-grammatical-genders-why-french-has-two-genders-german-has-three-and-english-does-not-care

as a relatively easy entry to discussion.

So given that "niggardly" and "tar with the same brush" are considered racist based on mistaken derivation, does anybody here think they should be avoided?

So given that "niggardly" and "tar with the same brush" are considered racist based on mistaken derivation, does anybody here think they should be avoided?

I'm unconvinced that everyone taking offence is expressing an etymological view.

I suspect that "niggardly" has sometimes been used with the intention of bypassing the modern taboo on the n-word. If it's used in that way, it seems reasonable to me for anyone who's offended by the n-word to be similarly offended. So I would not use the word if there were any possibility of my intentions being misunderstood. I confess that this is no loss to me, since so far as I recall I've never actively used the word anyway.

Before reading this thread, I was unaware that there might be a problem with "tar with the same brush" - I understand it to refer to a punishment first documented during the crusades. But it is close in form to the plainly racist "touch of the tarbrush". I don't mind avoiding it if causes discomfort.

niggardly should be avoided because it's kind of an ugly word. My understanding was that it was giving things out in an ungenerous way, checking the dictionary it says being ungenerous with time or money. It's an adverb, with no adjectival form, so it is pretty limited in how it can be used and there are tons of ways to not say it. So I give it a pass.

Tar with the same brush, I don't have a huge reaction, though it isn't as vivid as I would like to use. I think I would prefer tossed/thrown/stuffed/bunged in the same bin. I like the britticism of those and the verbs make it clear that the phenomenon is something that requires some agency. If it didn't require agency, or I was saying it to point out that there was a categorization problem, I'd probably use something more straightforward.

Well, as long as PETA doesn't come after me for saying that "you couldn't swing a cat without hitting ", okay.

If they do, I might have to swing a cat at them.

The whole subject is fascinating.

I was told some years ago that "the nitty gritty" is a racist expression, because derived from the condition of slave ships.

I'm not sure I've ever used "tarred with the same brush", but I would I think if there were no better alternatives, since I remember tarring and feathering being used on collaborators after WW2 and it seems clear to me that it is/was not connected to "a touch of the tarbrush".

Like Pro Bono, I would be careful about the company in which I used "niggardly", but I am loth to let words fall completely out of use based on mistaken ideas. Further to which, a proud jewish man of my acquaintance once professed to find calling someone "a Jew" (although we all know it can/has been used as an insult) an offensive slur, and that one should say that they were "jewish". This giving in to misplaced, internalised sensitivity struck me as a dangerous precedent for the language, and those who love it.

And the last example I remembered was Doc Science some years ago complaining about Philip Pullman's use of the word "Gyptians" to describe a group of people who were obviously based on gypsies, or water gypsies (much as he uses "chocolatl" for chocolate, and "anbaric" for electric). She seemed to take it for granted that the word "gypsy" was racist language. Now I gather from an article in the NYT that it is widely recognised as slur in the US, and that therefore animals such as Gypsy moths are being renamed. But I find on searching that my instinct is correct: the situation here in the UK is rather more complicated, although clearly evolving:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_the_Romani_people#Use_in_English_law

A British House of Commons Committee parliamentary inquiry, as described in their report “Tackling inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities” (published 2019),[32] stated about their findings in the United Kingdom that: “We asked many members of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities how they preferred to describe themselves. While some find the term “Gypsy” to be offensive, many stakeholders and witnesses were proud to associate themselves with this term and so we have decided that it is right and proper to use it, where appropriate, throughout the report.”

I guess it will be necessary shortly, if it isn't already, to call this group Romani.

He told me that the friend plays rugby but he's not sure what pronoun the friend prefers. I asked my daughter, who said "they/them".

i'm generally a descriptivist about language - it says what we want it to say, it doesn't tell us what we can say. but the concept of personal pronouns troubles me, on a linguistic level.

the whole reason the pronouns she/he/her/him/it (and their variations) exist is to enable us avoid having to use a person's formal name for brevity, or in hypotheticals. but an explicit list personal pronouns for a person is actually a set of aliases for that person, each of which needs to be used in a specific grammatical context. that feels like a big change in the language.

what English needs is better pronouns.

"ATLANTA, GA—Calling brand new things racist—that no one would ever have thought could be racist—is fun, and everyone loves it. But as each new day people breathlessly inform us of the racist history of things like crossword puzzles and punctuality, scientists are warning of an impending catastrophe.

“At this current rate of coming up with new things that are racist,” warned racism scientist Frank Greene, “we’ll run out of new things to call racist by the end of this year.”

Anti-racism activists met this news with both fear and denial. “Running out of new things to call racist would be devastating,” said activist Brooke Snyder. “I mean, you’ll only get attention if you come up with something no one knows is racist. You can’t just say things like, ‘Ethnic slurs are racist.’ Everyone knows that.”"
Scientists Warn That Within 6 Months Humanity Will Run Out Of Things To Call Racist...

what if contrarians ran out of things to be contrary about?

the whole reason the pronouns she/he/her/him/it (and their variations) exist is to enable us avoid having to use a person's formal name for brevity, or in hypotheticals. but an explicit list personal pronouns for a person is actually a set of aliases for that person, each of which needs to be used in a specific grammatical context. that feels like a big change in the language.

It also feels like a big change to someone with an aging memory, especially for names. As you point out, the whole point of pronouns gets lost if they multiply. Thirty years ago I was appalled at the idea of using ditching he/she entirely, and just using "they." Little did I know it would turn out to be the lesser of several evils.... ;-)

Relevant article.

I like the britticism of those

I have the same fondness for them. (Although I also have a fondness for Aussie-isms.) The folks outside the US can just write this off as Americans being weird. Probably not wrong there.

As a writing teacher who deals with a lot of native Mandarin speaker, I see a lot of pronoun confusion in student writing even without all of the culture jamming. Pronouns seem pretty abstruse to those who have grown up with a single, gender neutral, third person.

And then there is Swedish, that adopted "hen" as an all-inclusive gender neutral third person pronoun (to go with the traditional han/hon binary.

I've never had problems with student pronouns in my classes. People who use non-binary pronouns or who are testing out a desire to transition tend to be pretty forgiving of any accidental gendering or misgendering if the person doing it is generally on-board. It's only ever a problem when someone either decides that it doesn't matter or makes a point of ignoring the person's self-designation.

Beyond that, I find pronouns to be a problem mostly when they are used in ways that make their referents unclear or ambiguous (which happens all the time in paragraphs with more than one noun for which the pronoun can stand in), and the avoidance of pronouns to be a problem when it messes with rhythm or distracts the reader with too frequent repetition.

While some find the term “Gypsy” to be offensive, many stakeholders and witnesses were proud to associate themselves with this term and so we have decided that it is right and proper to use it, where appropriate, throughout the report.

This is common for most minorities. There is a vocal group who reject the name of Ainu, prefering to use Utari, while another, trending younger group, prefers to use Ainu. Majority culture tends to view these instances as the minority unable to name themselves, not understanding that the purpose for taking a name that was pejorative is to throw it back in the face of the majority. You see the same thing happen with words like dyke or slut.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SlutWalk

It's a neat jiu-jitsu trick, flipping the word, and I think it gets its power from making people who might not like the word explore why they feel uncomfortable. Nous has commented eloquently about how the desire to been seen and recognized is the fundamental idea: you want to pretend that I don't exist, well, I'm going to repurpose the slur that people call me and make you say it.

Lenny Bruce had a routine (given here) where he says this

The point? That the word's suppression gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness.

In a better world, the word would have disappeared because it would fall out of use. Unfortunately, that better world required that we actually begin dealing with systemic racism and take steps. We didn't, so that word got taken and refashioned as a weapon of a very peculiar kind: a weapon that the put upon side could use, but when used by the majority, it was taboo. It's basically a group saying 'you know what, I am your worst nightmare'. If a group does it, it means imho, no compromise. My feeling (and I'd be interested to hear reasons why this might be wrong) is that it relates to the intrasigence of the majority.

I've actually been teaching a song and video to try and encourage the use of the singular they. It's the song and video for Symphony.
lyrics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIf9GvWaxQQ
music video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aatr_2MstrI

Students are supposed to write a paragraph about the lyrics and then another paragraph about the video. The singular they makes it much easier and more elegant and students can see why they might want to use it.

that better world required that we actually begin dealing with systemic racism and take steps. We didn't

Actually, we have begun. No question we have a very long ways still to go. But I think it's counterproductive to insist that we haven't even started yet.

Why do I think it's counterproductive? Divide the (majority) world into three parts. First, those who are strongly opposed to systemic racism, and working to deal with it. Second, those who are strongly racist themselves, and fighting to keep it.

The third part, and the largest by a long ways, are those who can be persuaded that more needs to be done. But they see that some progress has already been made. So if members of the first group insist that nothing has been done, that reduces their credibility, and so makes it harder to successfully make the case for more change.

It's a tendency that I have noticed on the left** going back to the anti-Vietnam War protests when I was in college in the 1960s. A relatively small group on the radical left would run amok, thus undercutting the message of the far large number of peaceful protesters. That kept support for the war high (or, at least, support for ending it low) for far longer than it otherwise might have been. Claiming nothing has been done is analogous. And similarly counterproductive IMHO.

** Mostly on the left, because that's where the urge to change things for the better mostly lies.

A relatively small group on the radical left would run amok, thus undercutting the message of the far large number of peaceful protesters.

it is the way of all things.

there's a movement to do X. some of the most-passionate proponents get ahead of their skis with their rhetoric or the vigor of their protests. opponents seize on that in order to smear all the proponents. some proponents back off.

opponents seize on that in order to smear all the proponents. some proponents back off.

The problem, as I see it, is not that some proponents back off. It is that some persuadable, but not yet persuaded, people become significantly less so.

Unfortunately, that better world required that we actually begin dealing with systemic racism and take steps.

Just ending the war on drugs would have a more immediate and greater benefit to blacks and other minorities than spending decades squabbling over what is systemic racism and dealing with it.

Just ending the war on drugs would have a more immediate and greater benefit to blacks and other minorities than spending decades squabbling over what is systemic racism and dealing with it.

I agree, but then I think "and release all of the people who are incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes as well." And then I think about the need for some sort of restorative program to let those released reintegrate, and to give them some sort of housing and food stability while they transition back.

And then we are straight back into a debate about how to deal with systemic racism and the politics of envy and resentment.

Ending logging saves a generation of trees, but it doesn't end the effects of deforestation or restore a broken environment.

Just ending the war on drugs would have a more immediate and greater benefit to blacks and other minorities than spending decades squabbling over what is systemic racism and dealing with it.

Why can't you do both (minus the squabbling)? Even if you accept that the "white fragility" model of systemic racism is particularly problematic, there is so much really obvious systemic racism to be dealt with first.

Actually, we have begun. No question we have a very long ways still to go. But I think it's counterproductive to insist that we haven't even started yet.

I might have taken that line 5 years ago. But things happened.

Just ending the war on drugs would have a more immediate and greater benefit to blacks and other minorities than spending decades squabbling over what is systemic racism and dealing with it.

Because all those libertarian bros who wanted to legalize marjiuana were just thinking of the blacks and other minorities. I don't want to be super sarcastic, but this is the sort of roller coaster logic that you bring every time. 'If you only had listened to me, things would be perfect' But you look at every other libertarian step taken and it looks like a stalking horse for every retrograde conservative scumbag to undermine progress.

..., there is so much really obvious systemic racism to be dealt with first.

Yet people can't agree on what's obvious. Some people view any differential outcome between blacks and whites as the result of systemic racism. Not social, not cultural, or a number of other possible factors.

'If you only had listened to me, things would be perfect'

Nothing is ever going to be perfect.

Yet people can't agree on what's obvious.

And you are certainly doing your bit to help, posting funny articles implying a link to trans people and motorcyclists thinking they can participate in a bicycle race. How many Black history month menus have you passed along? Not that I don't mind a little frivolity, but I think humor should always try to punch up, not down.

Some people view any differential outcome between blacks and whites as the result of systemic racism. Not social, not cultural, or a number of other possible factors.

how is racism - systemic or otherwise - not a social and cultural phenomenon?

A relatively small group on the radical left would run amok, thus undercutting the message of the far large number of peaceful protesters. That kept support for the war high

I understand what you're saying, but I'd argue that, absent the radical element, the question of whether to support the war or not would likely not even have been on the table.

Somebody has to raise the question, and do so in a way that takes it beyond polite dinner conversation. If nobody lights a fire under anybody else's butt, in general things do not change.

I thought the offensiveness of "gypsy"was based on a sort of reverse etymology. The idea is that whatever the origin of the term, the word "gyp" was derived from "gypsy," so the latter term became newly offensive. Not so?

A similar process may be at work in GFtnC's friend attitude towards the word "Jew." It is hard for me, a Jew, to see the offense in saying, "Abraham is a Jew," though I have heard that some regard it as offensive. Is this because "jew" as a verb came to connote inappropriate bargaining over money? Oddly, the same people who might say, scornfully, "He tried to jew him down," probably have no trouble saying, admiringly, "He tried to negotiate a better price."

As so often, the bigot views negatively traits that would he would see positively in a member of an approved group.

how is racism - systemic or otherwise - not a social and cultural phenomenon?

Racism is a social and cultural phenomenon. But it is not the ONLY social and cultural phenomenon. Some differential outcomes might, in principle, have their origin in non-racist social and cultural phenomena.

So, apparently the Fox News national offices have adopted a vaccination requirement, and the news people on the air this afternoon were telling people to get jabbed, and giving out information for finding where in your area you could get jabbed. Speculation on what Tucker Carlson says tonight?

Racism is a social and cultural phenomenon. But it is not the ONLY social and cultural phenomenon. Some differential outcomes might, in principle, have their origin in non-racist social and cultural phenomena.

Yes.

But if we look at groups and at differential outcomes across groups, and those other social and cultural phenomenon cross-cut all races, then the differential outcome is correlated with race.

Otherwise it's just a way of saying that a racial group is responsible for its own lack of results due to group characteristics while avoiding the mention of race.

Intersectionality is looking at all those differential results and trying to map which factors affect which groups.

Yet people can't agree on what's obvious.

Dammit, I am so hopeless at search that I can't find what I know happened here not long ago. russell listed a bunch of ways in which black people in the US are obviously, undeniably, statistically discriminated against. Of course there will be people who DO deny that this is systemic racism. If you exclude overt and covert racists, the rest are probably people who find the idea that systemic racism is still rife extremely threatening, with its obvious corollary that things have to change, and in ways which may seem uncomfortable to people who are used to and perfectly happy with the status quo, thank you very much.

But I believe that when I said there is so much really obvious systemic racism to be dealt with first I was right, and that a majority of people would agree when presented with the stats (numbers of unarmed black men killed per year versus unarmed white men, for example, or average sentences handed down to black versus white people for the same offences). At least I hope so, although I admit that the Trump-type of phenomenon has shaken my confidence in such sanity.

byomtov, I am afraid that my friend, a Jew, did regard it as offensive. I imagine that was because (and not only when used as a verb) the word has been used pejoratively so often, at times in history when anti-semitism was so common as to be unremarkable. I am still brought up short occasionally when I encounter it used in this way in, for example, Victorian or earlier literature. But I think it is absolutely necessary to use it, properly and neutrally, because to do otherwise is to give in to the forces of ignorance. Language, and its proper use, is a priceless gift. We should not be ungrateful for it.

I am reminded of a wonderful interview I once read with the late poet William Matthews. The context about the use of language was different, they were talking about Matthews's poems about his wife's cancer. But I have never forgotten his final words on why he was determined to find words to write about it:

You can't give up to the forces of silence. They mean us harm.

In fact, rechecking that quotation, and what precedes it, strengthens my conviction. I don't want to allow niggardly to fall into disuse because of error, and to stop using the word Jew correctly because some people have allowed anti-semites to besmirch it, or to cooperate with the absurd redefinition of refute to mean deny. Language must be defended! (Always allowing for the fact that willy nilly, it will change over time.)

As so often, the bigot views negatively traits that would he would see positively in a member of an approved group.

^this^

When this happens, I'd argue that there is an underlying impulse towards irrational prejudice. Assertiveness, anger, those are pretty common, but I've seen it with cracking a joke or a cheerful disposition (oh, they don't take it seriously), almost any trait can be taken as good by your in group but bad by the group you don't like.

Speculation on what Tucker Carlson says tonight?

1. Accuses Fox management of being fascists. (Low probability)
2. Totally ignores the fact that his employer requires vaccinations. (High probability)

Also unsurprising if he has a rant about some other company requiring vaccinations, and how horrible that is.

This LGM post has a description with how Carlson has be dealing with being questioned about his vaccination status, i.e. not well
Time via
https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2021/07/the-anti-vaxx-style-in-republican-politics

Near the end of our call, I asked Carlson if he’d been vaccinated against COVID-19. He paused. “Because I’m a polite person, I’m not going to ask you any supervulgar personal questions like that.”

I told him he was welcome to ask me whatever he wanted.

“That’s like saying, ‘Do you have HIV?’” he said. “How about ‘None of your business’?” He broke into a cackle, like a hyena let loose in Brooks Brothers. “I mean, are you serious? What’s your favorite sexual position and when did you last engage in it?” (This has apparently become his go-to line when asked whether he’s been vaccinated; Carlson offered the same retort to Ben Smith of the New York Times.)

whatta pos

“That’s like saying, ‘Do you have HIV?’” he said. “How about ‘None of your business’?” He broke into a cackle, like a hyena let loose in Brooks Brothers. “I mean, are you serious? What’s your favorite sexual position and when did you last engage in it?”

In other words, "yes."

As the saying goes - if you have the facts on your side, pound the facts; if you have the law on your side, pound the law; if you have neither the facts nor the law, pound the table.

Carlson is a professional table pounder.

I'll copy here what I added to the the comments on that LGM thread, because I like it so very much:

"What’s your favorite sexual position and when did you last engage in it?”

"Snapping a MAGAt's neck, and about 15 seconds after I get my hands on you."

Canada has announced that they will open the border to fully vaccinated Americans from August 9.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/07/19/canada-us-border-open/
Of course, you need documentation that you are fully vaccinated. "Vaccine passports", anyone?

When US officials were asked about reciprocal opening for Canadians to travel to the US

They . . . suggested that a full reopening of the border to tourism wouldn’t happen until at least 75 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated.
Lucky Canada, they are already at 70%. As opposed to the US, where we're down around 50%.

"Carlson is a professional table pounder."

That's about as good as saying Carlson is the maitre d'hotel at the Bergen-Belson Bed and Breakfast and our luggage will be along shortly.

He's a fucking killer He's a national security menace, as is the entire FOX complex. My government has every right to protect me by executing him and IT.

Carlson is merely one of the millions of the murderous, racist vermin faces of the genocidal republican conservative movement.

We will have America OR we will have the diseased, death-dealing, pandemic-spreading Republican Party.

Both, together, is out of the question. The latter must must be wiped off the face of the Earth, or the former most certainly will be consumed in fire and will deserve it.

A savage, violent, killing fury is coming for the subhuman conservative movement.

The fascist, racist state of subhuman republican Texas is about to declare it illegal o teach or utter Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech in their "schools".

Mentioning womens' sufferage in a school would be an indictable offense.

Time for students and teachers to bring automatic weapons into the schools and give the Texas fascist conservatives their bullet-riddled birthright.

"I don't want to allow niggardly to fall into disuse because of error, and to stop using the word Jew correctly because some people have allowed anti-semites to besmirch it, or to cooperate with the absurd redefinition of refute to mean deny."

I endorse this view, but it's too late in the many-centuried history of conservative subhuman hate and murder of humans and language.

The apostle Paul declared that Jews were "the enemies of the whole human race."

Edmund Burke said the French Revolution was unlike others because it was led by "Jew brokers contending with each other who could best remedy the fraudulent circulation and depreciation paper and wretchedness and ruin brought on by their degenerate councils.

Conservative Karl Marx (he certainly wasn't a liberal, and neither are conservative filth Putin, Xi Jinping, and Netanyahu) declared money to be the God of Israel.

They ruined "niggardly" for everyone.

It never fucking stops, until it is stopped.

Since Herbert Hoover was mentioned in threadpast, he and fellow racist conservatives Coolidge and Harding and Democratic Party racist conservative Woodrow Wilson held the black race to be less than human and not worthy of the rights of citizenship.

Neither did the Founders.

Their antisemitism was right alongside step by step, like Ginger alongside Fred.

It never fucking stops, until it is stopped. All of them should have been shot in their heads.

Instead, the racist right wing in 2021 is flourishing and re-embracing white nationalism and racism.

They assert their right to do so in plain English.

They are fucking dead.

"Vaccine passports", anyone?"

Murdoch's FOX is providing all of their employees, including murderers Carlson, Hannity, and the Frau with just such documentation.

The Canadian government should demand political affiliation papers at the border and shoot American republicans on sight.

russell listed a bunch of ways in which black people in the US are obviously, undeniably, statistically discriminated against.

I think that was cleek.

Yes, it's true that pure and simple racism is not the sole reason that black people experience differential outcomes.

Many of the other reasons, however, find their origins, in turn, in centuries - centuries - of systematic, ubiquitous, explicit racism.

I understand why people would prefer to just put all of that behind us. The problem is, it's not behind us.

Anybody who looks at the situation of black people in this country - now, today - and doesn't see that racism is still a factor just doesn't want to see it. For whatever reason.

Things are better than they were. That's good. Sadly, it's such a low bar that it doesn't come close to addressing the issue as a whole.

Racism is a deep part of American culture. It will probably take as many years and generations to get past it as it took to bake it in.

If your response to this is "but I'm not a racist!" you have lost the plot. IMVHO.

Best line of the day:

Roughly half of those who reject the vaccine believe the U.S. government is using the vaccine to microchip the population. (Hey, that would at least explain the global chip shortage.)
But then, perhaps I'm easily amused.

Many of the other reasons, however, find their origins, in turn, in centuries - centuries - of systematic, ubiquitous, explicit racism.

There are more immediate things going on than just historical factors. Leading up to the civil rights era, in spite of Jim Crow and other racist conditions, blacks were making a greater rate of social and economic progress, though from a much lower level, than were whites. Blacks had a marginally higher marriage rate than whites. Black teenagers had a higher employment rate than white teenagers.

I guess you could argue that whites had greater economic leeway to be unmarried adults and unemployed teenagers.

But, some years after the civil rights era, progress for blacks started to flatten, diverging from that of whites.

But, some years after the civil rights era, progress for blacks started to flatten, diverging from that of whites.

As we all know, correlation does not mean causation. So what, in your opinion, was the cause.

What's your point, Charles?

As we all know, correlation does not mean causation. So what, in your opinion, was the cause.

A number of black intellectuals and scholars argue that a form of white paternalism and various public policies have contributed to blacks not making as much progress as was hoped for and expected.

There's a book by Jason Riley. The book is a bit accusatory and may not be as explanatory as the author would like. But I think he makes some valid arguments.

"In Please Stop Helping Us, Jason L. Riley examines how well-intentioned welfare programs are in fact holding black Americans back. Minimum-wage laws may lift earnings for people who are already employed, but they price a disproportionate number of blacks out of the labor force. Affirmative action in higher education is intended to address past discrimination, but the result is fewer black college graduates than would otherwise exist. And so it goes with everything from soft-on-crime laws, which make black neighborhoods more dangerous, to policies that limit school choice out of a mistaken belief that charter schools and voucher programs harm the traditional public schools that most low-income students attend.

In theory, these efforts are intended to help the poor—and poor minorities in particular. In practice, they become massive barriers to moving forward.

Please Stop Helping Us lays bare these counterproductive results. People of goodwill want to see more black socioeconomic advancement, but in too many instances the current methods and approaches aren’t working. Acknowledging this is an important first step."
Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed

the author's blurb, from Charles' link:

Jason L. Riley is an editorial board member of the Wall Street Journal, where he has worked since 1994, and a Fox News contributor.

not quoting that to discount everything the guy says, it's just an indicator of the intellectual stance he's speaking from.

There are indeed a number of black intellectuals and scholars who would prefer that white people stop trying to help black people. Clarence Thomas is among them. He basically doesn't believe there is any likelihood of white people ever accepting black people as full equals, and expects racial division to be a permanent fact in American life.

So his solution is for black people to seek self-sufficiency, personally and as a group. Do not rely on white people, whatever needs doing, do it for yourself.

It's a reasonable position. And it's a profoundly pessimistic one.

I can't speak for what black people should and shouldn't do. I'm not black.

I know what white people should do. White people should treat people who aren't white with the same respect they show themselves.

A physical remains and a reminder of racism.

"DETROIT — When they started building the wall behind Margaret Watson’s house in northwest Detroit, she knew the reason without having to ask.

As a child in the late 1930s, Watson had seen the new streets laid down like a tic-tac-toe board in the open fields where her father once planted a garden the size of a city block.

She’d roller-skated down those newly paved lanes at speeds that would have been impossible on the dirt roads that ran in front of her house.

She knew the new streets had to be for white families — not Black ones like hers — so she wasn’t particularly surprised when, in the spring of 1941, a 6-foot-high, 4-inch-thick, half-mile-long concrete fortification suddenly appeared in her backyard.

If white people were moving in, she reasoned, they’d need a way to keep her out.

“I don’t remember feeling any way about it except it was the same old, same old,” said Watson, now 93, who still lives in that house and recalled being excluded from certain restaurants and stores growing up.

“I mean, I lived in Detroit all my life,” Watson said. “Detroit has been segregated all my life.”"
Built to keep Black from white: Eighty years after a segregation wall rose in Detroit, America remains divided. That's not an accident.

Does Riley interrogate why it is that white people get the same welfare programs and minimum wages as blacks, but somehow only blacks suffer the crippling ill effects of those problems and the culture of entitlement that they purportedly engender, at least in terms of effects on the group and their economic progress?

This is precisely the sort of issues I was thinking of earlier when I pointed out the cross-cutting thing. And without a deep interrogation of the cross-cutting, it's hard to determine if those premises are anything other than confirmation bias.

Here's an alternative premise: the combined effect of hyperglobalism and the weakening of organized labor affected urban black communities more than rural white communities. A huge chunk of that economic progress for blacks was built upon good factory jobs that got outsourced.

Clarence Thomas is among them. He basically doesn't believe there is any likelihood of white people ever accepting black people as full equals,

Gotta wonder if that includes his wife. Who, last I heard, is white.

What's your point, Charles?

So liberal paternalism is what is holding African Americans back? I'm assuming that you are getting your arguments for Riley's book

Leading up to the civil rights era, in spite of Jim Crow and other racist conditions, blacks were making a greater rate of social and economic progress, though from a much lower level, than were whites. Blacks had a marginally higher marriage rate than whites. Black teenagers had a higher employment rate than white teenagers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulsa_race_massacre
https://www.history.com/news/tulsa-massacre-black-wall-street-before-and-after-photos

This was the first time air dropped munitions were used on American soil, until the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia
https://www.newyorker.com/news/essay/saying-her-name

And when they approached economic self sufficiency, they had it taken away.

And I would very much like to see Reilly (or your) data that supports black economic progress.

https://news.yahoo.com/hunger-hurt-bad-robert-kennedy-learned-poverty-boy-delta-090025735.html

Glancing over the kids, who were filthy and dressed in tattered, ill-fitting hand-me-downs, Kennedy had a somber air about him. He spoke quietly, asking Dillard why he wasn’t in school. The child explained that he wasn’t enrolled. Looking distressed, Kennedy asked the boy what he had eaten that day. “Molasses,” Dillard replied.

As Dillard walked up the wooden steps of the house to go inside and tell his grandmother about their visitors, Kennedy and his entourage followed. Inside the house, the senator questioned the woman about what she had fed the kids that day. Just bread and syrup, she replied. And they wouldn’t eat again until the evening because there just wasn’t enough food. The cupboards were empty. “I can’t hardly feed ’em but twice a day,” the woman told Kennedy, who could not conceal his shock.

Gotta wonder if that includes his wife. Who, last I heard, is white.

One of life’s puzzles. Gotta wonder a lot of things when it comes to Thomas. My guess is the man has a high tolerance for cognitive dissonance.

So liberal paternalism is what is holding African Americans back

Haven’t read Riley’s book, but I think you need to do some serious grooming of the data to come up with “blacks were doing so much better until civil rights legislation was passed”.

amusingly, Riley is also the author of "Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders"

Do you think Mr. Bigglesworth was scared during re-entry?

For anybody still interested in the trans issue, and the views of gender-critical feminists, I thought this review of two recent books was interesting. I much preferred the sound of Kathleen Stock's (an analytical philosopher who describes herself as "a gender non-conforming lesbian), although as I have mentioned I do not agree with what she is here described as doing:

she generally uses preferred pronouns for individuals but repeatedly describes trans women as men or males

However, the debate continues.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/jul/18/trans-by-helen-joyce-material-girls-by-kathleen-stock-reviews

In the part about Stock's book, I particularly liked this:

The most intriguing chapter deals with what Stock calls “immersive fiction”, or the supposed capacity to feel, think and act as if it was true that trans women are women without considering this literally true. Like a legal fiction, an elegant device for reconciling opposing concepts in law, she argues it may allow two conflicting ideas to be comfortably held in mind. It’s a perceptive description of how many people probably do think, and perhaps even the glimmerings of a way forward, which might lie in accepting that people are who they say they are but that doesn’t preclude the need for safeguards and fine judgments in some circumstances. Where she will divide the room is by arguing that trans people too are immersed in their own fiction, requiring them to deny biological facts and insist others follow suit.

I hope it is the glimmering of a way forward.

I'll shut up in a minute. But wow, this Kathleen Stock (of whom I had never heard before) is interesting. This is from an interview with her, which I also link below for anyone sufficiently interested:

GG: Some other academics, like Jane Claire Jones for example, have argued about the dualism involved in gender ideology. There’s this idea that you have a gendered brain, or soul, that’s separate from the body. I wonder if that kind of splitting has something to do with the way that we interact with technology these days.

KS: Yes, Jane talks about the idea of a gendered soul. There’s something really archetypal about the way that this discourse proceeds in terms of this thing inside you which is really you and can be detached from your bodily constitution. But in terms of relation to technology, when a male decides that he’s a woman or a female decides she’s a man, they’re immersed in a fiction. It becomes important not to mention that you’re immersed in a fiction because that would basically break the fourth wall and show that it was a fiction. And you don’t want anyone else to draw attention to the fact that it’s not real. That’s true of all fictions, like being in the theater and not wanting people’s mobile phones to go off. You don’t want to lose your remote, imaginative, emotion in what you’re fantasizing.

There’s a big connection to technology because we’re increasingly behind screens and it’s increasingly easy to construct and curate a persona for ourselves. This goes for all of us. We show the world only what we want to show and get no kind of real time feedback from others. You can see how many avatars are being used by kids who are into trans activism online. You can see the influence of Tumblr, for instance, and memes that capture what the person really wishes was the case about them, or representing what they really would like the world to see. That’s a big part of the story and it’s to be tied in with academia and journalism, along with wider trends, like the rise of the smartphone, the rise of self-harm in women and girls and other sociological trends. This is not a simplified story but when you think about it in terms of this gender identity bursting out of you innately, then it becomes a very simple story and there’s no need to try and connect it up.

GG: The whole phenomenon has the effect of silencing critical thought in general, right? Because if you can’t question this, then you can’t question the impact of the media on shaping identity.

KS: Everything’s become about an individual’s hero’s journey. It’s simple, Disneyfied archetypal stuff: the hero expresses themselves against the trends of society to become who they were destined to be. It really does cut out an awful lot of critical thought.

https://www.feministcurrent.com/2021/07/09/interview-dr-kathleen-stock-on-why-we-need-to-discuss-gender-identity-in-philosophy/

Some other academics, like Jane Claire Jones for example, have argued about the dualism involved in gender ideology. [Emphasis added]

I think that the interviewer may have, however inadvertently, hit on part of the problem around this issue. For some (on both sides), it isn't a matter of acceptance, or good manners, etc. It's ideology. Which precludes any real discussion involving them about what makes sense and what doesn't, and in which circumstances.

There’s this idea that you have a gendered brain, or soul, that’s separate from the body. I wonder if that kind of splitting has something to do with the way that we interact with technology these days.

Hmm, splitting is much earlier than that. Hartmut could probably add more detail, but there was Plato's theory about male and female 'halves' (he's actually putting it in Aristophanes' mouth, so it's hard to say what he thinks) Oftentimes it is reduced to male and female halves rolling around (cause their forms were circular) but the actual story is a bit more complicated.

https://allthatsinteresting.com/plato-symposium

Here's a translation of the section.

https://www.laphamsquarterly.org/eros/platos-other-half

Diving into the literary criticism pool, it is amazing that we talk (and balk) about the surgery that people who transition have done on themselves (and I think that is a main source of anxiety for this, the thought of the body as a pristine container that shouldn't be bent, spindled or mutilated, and possibly the idea that if someone was willing to do that to themselves, they would somehow want to do it to others. To draw a line, John Dower in War without Mercy
It is true that Japanese commanders and ideologues attempted with considerable success to make a cult out of dying, as seen in the frenzied banzai charges of imperial land forces in certain battles and the creation of special suicide squads such as the kamikaze in the final year of the war. But Westerners also glorified those who fought to the bitter end, and in several instances Allied leaders at the highest level, including Winston Churchill and Douglas MacArthur, actually ordered their commanders never to surrender. Even as Americans were belittling Japanese who fought to the last man, treating them as virtually another species of being, they were cherishing their own epics of defeat such as the Alamo and the Little Bighorn. On the eve of Pearl Harbor one of Hollywood’s most popular offerings was They Died with Their Boots On, an Errol Flynn movie commemorating Custer’s last stand.
In the heat of war, such points of common ground were lost sight of and the behavior of the enemy was seen as unique and peculiarly odious, with the issue of atrocities playing an exceptionally large role in each side’s perception of the other. Savage Japanese behavior in China and throughout SouthEast Asia, as well as in the treatment of Allied prisoners, was offered as proof of the inherent barbarity of the enemy. In a similar way, the Japanese stimulated hatred of the Allies by publicizing grisly battlefield practices such as the collection of Japanese skulls and bones, and responded with profound self-righteousness to the terror bombing of Japanese civilians. It is conventional wisdom that in times of life-and-death struggle, ill-grounded rumors of enemy atrocities invariably flourish and arouse a feverish hatred against the foe. This is misleading, however, for in fact atrocities follow war as the jackal follows a wounded beast. The propagandistic deception often lies, not in the false claims of enemy atrocities, but in the pious depiction of such behavior as peculiar to the other side.
)

But here in the excerpt, it talks about the process of creating gender as cutting and reshaping

“So saying, he cut those human beings in two, the way people cut sorb apples before they dry them or the way they cut eggs with hairs. As he cut each one, he commanded Apollo to turn its face and half its neck toward the wound, so that each person would see that he’d been cut and keep better order. Then Zeus commanded Apollo to heal the rest of the wound, and Apollo did turn the face around, and he drew skin from all sides over what is now called the stomach; and there he made one mouth, as in a pouch with a drawstring, and fastened it at the center of the stomach. This is now called the navel. Then he smoothed out the other wrinkles, of which there were many, and he shaped the breasts, using some such tool as shoemakers have for smoothing wrinkles out of leather on the form. But he left a few wrinkles around the stomach and the navel, to be a reminder of what happened long ago.

But in terms of relation to technology, when a male decides that he’s a woman or a female decides she’s a man, they’re immersed in a fiction.

I have my issues with the way some trans activists ... act ... and have no better idea what to do about some of the thornier conflicts than anyone else. But this is mind-bogglingly condescending. It assumes the conclusion and is framed as if the speaker's beliefs are simply an obvious truth.

What lj said.

While technology might have enabled a sharing of personal stories in a less judgmental manner than happened in the past, it's quite clear (for example, from searches of British newspaper archives and court records) that something along the lines of what we now term transgender identity has likely never been uncommon.

This might give some idea:
https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=11kJTkIGsT15X3rc7MIc7VLg6okyPIr0H&ll=45.561532792717244%2C-5.549605700000017&z=4

A little something especially for Charles.

We are once again seeing, here in California, wildfires caused by the equipment of out electricity provider (PG&E).
https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2021/07/19/editorial-pge-must-come-clean-about-cause-of-dixie-fire/

The PUC on April 15 put PG&E into an “enhanced oversight and enforcement process” because the company failed to prioritize clearing hazardous vegetation on its highest-risk power lines as part of its 2020 wildfire mitigation work. Instead, according to a scathing February audit report, PG&E had focused on lower-risk power lines — exactly the opposite of what it was supposed to do.

In February 2020, U.S. District Judge William Alsup blasted PG&E for violating its probation for falling behind on efforts to trim trees near power lines. The federal judge is charged with overseeing the utility’s criminal probation following its conviction for safety violations in the 2010 San Bruno explosion, which killed eight people and destroyed a neighborhood.

As a condition for the utility’s emergence from bankruptcy in 2020, PG&E and Gov. Gavin Newsom agreed to a set of goals designed to ensure that it prioritized safety over profits. If PG&E fails to meet those goals, the PUC can revoke its license and force a state takeover.

Not only not operating in a safe manner, but failing to meet the conditions that they agreed to after causing previous disasters. (Note the reference to criminal probation.) To the point that we are looking at a state takeover of the utility. For which there will be nobody to blame but the company itself.

this is mind-bogglingly condescending. It assumes the conclusion

It does indeed. I have my own views on what accommodations should and should not be made when it comes to transgender individuals. But assuming that their condition is a fiction is ridiculous. (Even if one could point to a few cases where it was a deliberate fraud. As distinct from a fiction.)

when a male decides that he’s a woman or a female decides she’s a man, they’re immersed in a fiction.

My reaction to this is similar to Janie's.

I am, once again, reluctant to speak for people whose experience is vastly different from, and far more fraught than, my own. But I'm not sure it's accurate to characterize the relationship of trans people to the identity they embrace as a "decision". I think, were you to ask them, they would say it's a matter of their internal experience.

I.e., they didn't wake up one morning and "decide" to live as - to be - a different gender than the one assigned to them at birth. I don't think they experience it as a matter of choice.

Why they experience themselves as a gender different from the one assigned to them at birth, i.e. the one corresponding to their genitalia, is probably not something anybody is going to be able to explain. I'm not sure there is a lot of value in trying to explain it, it appears to be an existential fact of their existence, and IMO should be acknowledged as such.

I do understand that people who have a penis wanting to participate in life as a woman - including having access to places that are intended to exclusively be for women - is problematic. I also understand that some women may have a variety of thoughts and feelings about it all, even apart from considerations of safety. Some may feel their identity as women is being co-opted in some way by people who do not have female bodies.

It's a complicated situation.

But I'm not sure it's helpful to characterize trans people as being "immersed in fiction". Clearly, they are experiencing something, and are expressing that. I'm not sure you can call that something they made up or invented.

I don't think we understand the relationship between consciousness and our bodies and biology, and how all of that affects how we see ourselves, well enough to judge other folks' experience. IMO we all need to take each other at face value. Certainly as the starting point.

The review GftNC linked to, with its familiar litany of bad things that have happened because of trans people, or bad actions carried out by trans people, made me see a parallel that I hadn't seen before.

With both homeschooling and same-sex marriage, opponents were constantly bringing up bad things that might happen if homeschooling and same-sex marraige were permitted. I don't know how many op-eds and letters to the editor I ended up writing, the main theme of which: on what basis is it justified to hold homeschooling families and same-sex couples up to a higher, and impossible, standard than that to which other families and couples are held?

You can get married if you're a murderer, a rapist, a pedophile. You can get married no matter how abusive you are, or whether you're a drug addict or not, or ... almost anything. And yet: same-sex couples were to be banned from getting married because all sorts of bad things *might* happen, or basically because we had to require every same-sex couple to be inhumanly perfect before we could possibly risk it.

Similarly with homeschooling. Kids might escape the safety net ... as if they never escape the safety net when they're in school. As if the safety net even works. The recent history of child deaths in Maine, including some under the supervision of the authorities, is tragic. And unrelated to homeschooling.

PS I'm sure the safety net works sometimes. It's very frayed in Maine right now. I'd like to say more but I'm headed out for a brief trip so ... maybe later.

Thank you, JanieM.

At the heart of that condescension is the insistence on fixing identity in the physical body as genetic hardware and treating issues of identity and self-image as software glitches. You can see that in their descriptions of what they see as problematic trends in trans-activism, helpfully summarized for us by GftNC:

And some of them are arguing that the recent astronomical increase in teenage and pre-teen girls (many of them on the autistic spectrum) identifying as trans might well be (at least partly) because of the increasing prevalence of certain types of misogyny in the culture (e.g. the increasing normalisation of violence and humiliation towards women in mainstream pornography), and/or the increasing pressures on girls (with selfie culture etc) to conform to the more extreme norms of acceptable "femininity".

I don't necessarily disagree with the idea of trans as being primarily an issue of personal narrative. I think "fiction" is the wrong term, though, because it implies that the trans person's self-determination is based in a counterfactual, where I think of it more as them existing in a superposition of conflicting statuses.

What I disagree strongly with is the dismissive way that the gender critical feminists attempt to overwrite the trans person's self-determination in order to preserve a hardware binary view that they find superior for those with no hardware/software conflicts.

We do need to protect women from sexual violence, and yes, sometimes, rarely, that violence comes from people who self-identify as trans people. But I believe that the judgments we make need to be made based on their behavior, not by calling into question the identity of an entire class of people and casting suspicion on that class.

Same reason that I always oppose the phrase "Radical Islamic Terrorism" and the insistence that Islam is an ideology inimical to modern cosmopolitan society.

Also, hardware/software is meant as a way of conceptualizing the conflict without prioritizing form over narrative. The sex/gender conflict could well be one of hardware/hardware that we do not yet understand, but I think the hardware/software idea better captures the sense of the experience as it has been explained to me by my non-binary friends.

The gender issue is one that increasingly of interest to me.

I've mentioned that one of my niece's kids is a trans boy. He began living as a boy, and insisting on living as a boy, when he was about 5 years old. Made up a new name for himself, got a short hair cut, would only wear boys' clothes.

Trans, as an identity, is very visible now, and his mom has been a very strong advocate for him. Some of us in the family, including myself, worry that she may be imposing her own understanding on what might otherwise be plain old gender dysphoria, which is actually not at all uncommon.

The boy is 10 now, which means the biological body changes of adolescence are just around the corner, and those will almost certainly raise a whole new set of issues.

Should he go on meds to delay adolescence? Will he eventually want gender re-assignment surgery? I have no idea how it is going to play out.

Gender re-assignment surgery, in particular, concerns the hell out of me. Because it's fairly major surgery, and makes permanent changes to your body. I don't have the same concerns about, for instance, surgery to correct birth defects, but it's harder for me to see intact and unflawed genitalia as a birth defect. Without wanting to sacralize the body, there is something about it that disturbs me.

My problem, not his. I mostly just hope that he is completely clear about what he wants before committing to something like that.

I also have a good, long-time friend who has come to understand himself as queer. He's straight, married, presents himself as a male. But he has always enjoyed things that are considered more or less girly. So he's begun thinking of himself as coloring more or less outside the gender lines.

I wish it wasn't necessary for him to even feel like he needs a label for his experience. He's just being himself. But, for whatever set of reasons, it's useful to him to have a name for his experience.

My wife and I also know a generous handful of young people - kids of friends - who have adopted gender-neutral ways of identifying themselves. All young women, as it turns out. They've taken on a gender-neutral name, or a name of the opposite gender, and begun using 'them/their' instead of 'she/her'.

Maybe just a rite of passage for them, a way to explore their own sense of self. Probably different reasons for each kid. But a (to me) surprising number of young people seem to want to blur or elide the gender line.

This is going to be a drive by because I'm slammed, but:

1. I don't think dysphoria is a fiction. When I was very young, there was a boy down the street named Eddie who only wanted to wear girl's clothes and play with dolls. He was 5. So, it happens.

2. Straight women (I don't use "cis"--it's a made-up word that I never got to vote on) and lesbians have very definite views about penises on men who they are not in a relationship with or penises in general, respectively. For the male intersectional enforcers here at ObWi and elsewhere, here's a head's up: they really don't want to be in the same room with an exposed penis unless it's in private with a man they want to be with. But, if the new rule is: you have a choice about your body and your environment but only when we say so, then let's just put that out there for a vote.

3. A trans-woman--if she was dysphorically a *woman*--would know this and would absolutely not put the vast majority of women in a position of being exposed to this trans-woman's penis.

4. An intact below-the-belt trans-woman is a fully intact biological male. Even with surgery, she remains a woman encased in a biological male's body. Plastic surgery and hormones are cosmetic.

5. Trans-women have no place in biological women's sports. To make this otherwise obvious point crystal clear, just imagine a half dozen or so male MMA fighters declaring themselves trans-women *sometimes* under intersectional rules of gender fluidity and beating the living shit out of biological female MMA fighters. Sound like fun? Impossible? No. See No. 6 below.

6. My wife is a competitive tennis player. One of the competing ladies' tennis leagues was threatened with litigation by a trans-woman, so they let her in. She hits the ball much harder than biological women and hits directly at her opponents. She's a male bully passing as a woman. However, there is a fix for this: the women assigned to play against her simply default to her so she has the empty victory of no one wanting to play against her. As an aside, there is another trans-woman in the league who fits right in and isn't a particularly great athlete so no one notices or cares. The sport remains fair and competitive.

7. The simple solution is to have a third competition category: trans/non-binary.

8. The idea that male sexual predators will not take full advantage of the very loose rules of intersectionality and invade women's private places is, in actually, foolish and ignorant of an unfortunately large subset of male sexual behavior.

9. You can't, OTOH, complain about patriarchy and rape culture and then turn around and mandate that all biological women must surrender their private spaces to biological males claiming to be women, particularly when the intersectional rules of gender say that once someone makes a declaration, they cannot be questioned as to authenticity.

10. I wonder if biological women complaining of trans-women inappropriate behavior will be given the same credence as women complaining of inappropriate male behavior. I'm betting the "believe all women" mantra (already selectively applied) will fall by the wayside in the latter instance.

11. The Intersectional Police are making a lot of liberal women into moderates and even moderate conservatives.

You can't, OTOH, complain about patriarchy and rape culture and then turn around and mandate that all biological women must surrender their private spaces to biological males claiming to be women

i can't even.


The Intersectional Police are making a lot of liberal women into moderates and even moderate conservatives.

nonsense.

When I was very young, there was a boy down the street named Eddie who only wanted to wear girl's clothes and play with dolls.

On my street, Bobby.

I don't use "cis"--it's a made-up word that I never got to vote on

'cis' is actually a legitimate prefix, whose meaning is the opposite of 'trans'. 'cis' is basically 'this side of X', 'trans' is 'the other side of X', e.g., 'cisalpine' vs 'transalpine'.

'cisgender' is just extending that usage to gender.

so, a neologism, but not made up from whole cloth. it's an efficient way to say 'someone whose gender identity matches the genitalia they were born with'.

its use is not obligatory, but it does save typing. ;)

I don't have a good solution for the conflict between trans women who want to go places where only women go, and non-trans women who wish they would not.

I'm not a sports guy, so I have no strong opinions about the sports issue.

The Intersectional Police are making a lot of liberal women into moderates and even moderate conservatives.

nonsense.

Not really. It's simply reality that people's views can be shifted in one direction by those on the other side being radical. It may be wrong in this case (although I wouldn't bet on it), but it's not nonsense.

So the women in McKinney's wife's tennis league have no problem competing against trans women who are not assholes, but he insists that we must segregate all trans women because assholes.

Also, notice how his non-problematic trans woman "isn't a particularly great athlete." Talk about damning all women athletes with faint praise. That particular line of thinking points to the deep problems with how Title IX plays with the idea of women's equality from that first set of articles to which I linked.

And now we can add bully to rapist and cheat as the crosses which all trans people should bear for the sake of the assholes among them.

It may be wrong in this case (although I wouldn't bet on it), but it's not nonsense.

i'm gonna bet that exactly zero actual liberal women (or men) are turned off by this. rather, it looks like the GOP is just alienating actual liberals.

Too big for right now, or probably ever, but partly as the parent of someone with apparently undiagnosable, drastically limiting chronic pain issues, who gets constant variations on "it's all in your head," I object to the whole hardware/software distinction from the word go.

There was a time when MS was considered to be all in people's heads. I think i just read somewhere this morning that there was something similar with TB. Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue are on somewhere along a path toward recognition as real conditions, but a lot of doctors still pooh-pooh the possibility that they have a physical basis.

All our "software" has a physical basis. Our bodies are among the most unfathomably complex conglomerations of atoms in the universe. (As far as we know, and that's far enough.) That there are many, and complicated, ways of being human, and of thinking about ourselves as living human beings (thinking itself being rooted in our physical being) should surprise no one.

I said it was too big, and I've got to stop. But part of my point is that our physical bodies are so unimaginably more complicated that just the two types that some people seem to think are all that really matters. The convenient fiction is that "male and female" is mostly all there is, and simple.

You can't, OTOH, complain about patriarchy and rape culture and then turn around and mandate that all biological women must surrender their private spaces to biological males claiming to be women, particularly when the intersectional rules of gender say that once someone makes a declaration, they cannot be questioned as to authenticity….

On the contrary, it appears that there is an attempt to deny spaces which advertise their willingness to make accommodation with trans individuals.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jul/18/dozens-arrested-in-los-angeles-as-anti-trans-protest-outside-spa-turns-violent

Your objection, JanieM, is why I said that it may well be a sex-hardware/gender-hardware issue at its heart. Mostly I was trying to point to the sense of having a body we inhabit (or with which we are co-extensive) and about which we often feel a degree of conscious separation. Anyone who lives with any sort of body-image wobbliness or with depression or anxiety knows this from experience.

Feel free to rework that form vs. experience paradox however you wish if hardware/software feels too much like gaslighting. I'm working to preserve space for trans experience in the conversation, not undermine it.

So the women in McKinney's wife's tennis league have no problem competing against trans women who are not assholes, but he insists that we must segregate all trans women because assholes.

The woman in question may indeed be an asshole, but that's not really the point. She could be the nicest person in the world, and still be much bigger and stronger than even the top other players in the league. And are we sure she's an asshole? After all, it's a game. The idea is to try to win, and short of cheating I'm not sure why doing that ought to be considered inappropriate.

Now maybe people of all genders shouldn't, as a matter of sportsmanship, play in leagues where they clearly outclass the other participants. I once signed up for a tennis tournament divided by self-assigned skill levels - I assigned myself to the "does well not to fall down" group - and was quite annoyed when I had to play against a guy who obviously should have been in a much higher category.

Better classifications might solve some of the problem.

I'm working to preserve space for trans experience in the conversation, not undermine it.

I know, nous. I went off on one of my own hobbyhorses, not at all aimed at you, but sort of back to the beginning, at Stock's fiction of a fiction, which is based on the reduction of a great complexity to a simplistic binary.

She could be the nicest person in the world, and still be much bigger and stronger than even the top other players in the league.

Which has always been true of all sports. Bigger, faster, more coordinated, etc. (as appropriate to the sport) bodies have a competitive advantage. We call that fair when both bodies have male plumbing and are not supplementing their default biochemistry with anything it doesn't produce on its own. Unless it is boxing or wrestling, where the competition gets divided by weight class because we consider too big a mismatch to be bullying, and bullies to be assholes.

Which is why your statement about better classifications points the way, IMO to potentially make sports better for all participants, if what we choose to value is competitive balance and the will to better oneself.

The convenient fiction is that "male and female" is mostly all there is, and simple.

this seems accurate, to me. FWIW.

the sports thing:

in some music schools, and given enough students, there are multiple ensembles of the same type, graded by proficiency, and students audition to see which ensemble is appropriate for them.

just starting out? you go to the musical equivalent of JV orchestra.

strong player? you go to the more proficient ensemble.

I can't imagine that it would be that hard to do something similar with sports. at least some sports, maybe most sports. basically, the kind of thing that Bernie talks about at 4:20.

if you can run the 400m sprint in less than 50 seconds, great, you run in that class. if you run between 50 and 60, great, you run in that class. and so on.

you compete with people with whom you are comparable, and anatomical plumbing is irrelevant.

I'm sure there are million reasons why That Would Never Work, but it makes sense to me.

but I'm not a sports guy.

Well, I appreciate you labelling it a drive by, and the others have pointed the flaws out, so I'll pull in my claws. I'll just add a small personal experience that I hope will make sense. This may not go in the direction you are expecting so please bear with me.

I have a friend, one of my best, who I roomed with in undergraduate and graduate school. Our lives intertwined in several ways. He came out and came out to me in undergrad and when we roomed togeter in grad school, he was able to make me aware of the countless ways things are set up to assume heteronormativity. When you have someone like that, who can point out where you made an assumption who is your friend and is not trying to one up you, but just wanting to make you aware, it can be quite powerful.

For far longer than I care to admit, I drew from on my stock of experiences with him. More often than not, I would label them 'Well a friend of mine who is [xxx]' I'm not sure how I realized it, but it suddenly became clear that I was doing the opposite of what my friend had taught me, rather than using his experiences to enrich and challenge my opinions, I was using them in a way to make my argument seem unassailable.

I don't want to claim that we shouldn't use anecdotes, just that it doesn't have to be that way. One of the things that I marvel at Russell's writing is how he is able to weave in anecdotes in a way that is actually trying to move to more understanding. It may be that I'm closer to Russell's viewpoint, so when he tells me about someone he knows and it supports my framework, I am giving him a pass, but when McT presents his anecdotes, like the black judge he knows or his tennis club, because I obviously disagree with his viewpoint, I give him shit for his anecdotes. But to me, the way he wields them and Russell uses them seems quite different. We've talked about that lawerly bent, where the argumentation takes center stage.

I appreciate McT rules out the bathroom rapist fears. But I'm disappointed that he then goes to the well and tosses out patriarchy and intersectionality when he's not even tried to engage in all the time he's been here on what that entails. I used the word patriarchy in my comment, but I tried to frame it as referring to a much larger set of conditions that, if enumerated, would make my comment turn into War and Peace.

People exist to varying degrees of comfort in the society they live in. If they are lucky, the society matches their tendencies. One of the great problems of Western society is to assume that it is the sine qua non and anyone other way of organizing society is stupid. Like this example
https://stevenwakabayashi.medium.com/my-culture-is-not-your-toy-a-gay-japanese-mans-perspective-on-queer-eye-japan-7bb8420660c5

There is a lot more to say, but I'll have to leave it at that.

I had to go after my rash of posts, so I'm only just catching up now. Variously:

1. I am pretty uncomfortable with the use of the word "fiction". Whatever trans people's concept of their gender construction, it seems to me unnecessarily dismissive and cruel to characterise it this way. And, as I have said, I am absolutely unwilling to call genuine trans-people by the sex they were assigned at birth and have suffered to escape.

2. I'm not even that comfortable about using gender dysphoria to characterise genuine trans people, because this seems to me to unnecessarily pathologise their situation.

3. We do need to protect women from sexual violence, and yes, sometimes, rarely, that violence comes from people who self-identify as trans people. But I believe that the judgments we make need to be made based on their behavior, not by calling into question the identity of an entire class of people and casting suspicion on that class.

Speaking for myself, I am not that concerned about what may be rare occasions of violent genuine trans people attacking women (although it would be absurd to neglect to mention that there are a tremendous number of threats of violence and rape by trans activists towards gender critical feminists). What I am concerned about, and think many compassionate, benevolent people underestimate, is the danger that self-ID laws enable fake trans people to be violent to women, under cover of self-ID. I guess this is what nous means by "cheats". As a woman of almost 66 who has never been raped or abused, I have nonetheless learnt a great deal I did not know when I first read The Female Eunuch and was astounded and horrified by Germaine Greer's famous comment. I can do no better than quote Bidisha from a reexamination of what that book meant to women:

In The Female Eunuch, Greer said what women had previously been too polite, too nice, too deferential (and basically too afraid) to say, even though it was obvious: that the vast and overwhelming majority of all of the abuse of women is perpetrated by men, and that this abuse is common and not rare, endemic and not exceptional, excused and condoned rather than condemned and abhorred. And that it comes from hate, not fear. It was crystallised in the famous line from that groundbreaking book: "Women have very little idea of how much men hate them."

This is not my experience of men, and nor do I share all Germaine Greer's attitudes to the trans issue, but it would be stupid to ignore the experience of so many, many women.

Two women a week are killed by their current or former partner in England and Wales alone. The Femicide Index compiles stats on women killed by men (although as I have said elsewhere some violent crime is now being recorded as being committed by women, when the perpetrators were trans women, with no way to know whether they were true trans women or fake):

https://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/femicide-census-reveals-half-of-uk-women-killed-by-men-die-at-hands-of-partner-or-ex/

By contrast, the number of trans women killed in the whole UK (i.e. including Scotland, unlike the Femicide stats) per year over the last 13 years is <1. Even allowing for the difficulty (which Trans Respect describe) of making sure you have captured all the figures, the difference is stark.

https://transrespect.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/TvT_TMM_TDoR2020_Tables.pdf

So my main concern is about how to determine who is genuinely trans, and who is pretending in order to predate, or even just to taunt and make uncomfortable. In other words, I am not worried about dangers posed by trans people, but by dangers posed by fake trans people. I do see nous's point about how difficult the determination would be from the point of view of the trans person (almost always a trans woman), but nonetheless some sort of solution must be found. As I have said before, genuine trans women are unlikely to flaunt male genitals in female-only spaces, let alone pressure lesbians to (sorry all) "s*ck my chickdi*ck".

4. I don't care about sports, but I see the point made by female athletes about fairness, and I believe therefore a solution to this must also be found.

5. I believe that women who object to the erasure of the words "women" "girls" "mothers" etc from public discourse should be listened to. Misogyny takes many forms, and women have learnt the hard way to be on the lookout.

Anyway, that's enough for now. None of this is easy or comfortable, for any of us (except probably the RWNJs, who are rejoicing at the easy ammo they have been handed).

So, I find myself in online arguments today about Bezos's flight this morning. I say that 100 km straight up, then fall straight down far enough for parachutes to be effective, is a lovely billionaire's toy but says nothing about whether he's ready to play with the big boys. Musk seems to be putting a Falcon 9 into orbit every couple of weeks, on average. (And a Falcon Heavy is scheduled for October.) In the past year, Bezos didn't win a contract to launch national security packages on the Blue Glenn, didn't win a contract to build a lunar lander, and delivered a BE-4 engine to the United Launch Alliance that is the subject of a problematic GAO report. (Note: the ULA has largely bet their future in the national security heavy payload business on the BE-4.)

I assert that unless the ULA launch of the Boeing capsule on an Atlas V (with a Russian engine) on the 30th is perfect, they are in deep, deep trouble.

First-ever manned suborbital flight with an all-civilian crew.

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