Yet another example of why “pro-life” politicans aren’t pro-life at all February 25, 2009Posted by Evil Bender in Morality, reproductive rights, wingnuts.
Democrats were outraged Wednesday morning when Republican state Sen. Dave Schultheis said he planned to vote against a bill to require HIV tests for pregnant women because the disease “stems from sexual promiscuity” and he didn’t think the Legislature should “remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior.” The Colorado Springs lawmaker then proceeded to cast the lone vote against SB-179, which passed 32-1 and moves on to the House.
It’s nice that Schultheis is eager to punish a fetus for promiscuity, and since he’s all “pro-life” he’ll no doubt be happy to tell the baby with HIV that they deserve it because mom was a slut.
I really don’t like to wish harm on others, but, seriously, where’s a case of crippling penis rot when you need one?
[Unrelated: real life is very busy around here these days. Expect things to pick back up again after the next couple of weeks, assuming I survive them with some of my sanity intact.]
Where Comic Books meet “Conservative Film Criticism” February 17, 2009Posted by Evil Bender in arts and culture, Comics, Film, Humor, wingnuts.
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Watchmen SPOILERS below the fold.
This comment at Yglesias’ place just Won The Internet:
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Over at UD (I’m still not linking to that thoroughly dishonest blog) the latest post is by Walter ReMine, entitled “Message Theory–Testable Alternative to Darwinism–Part 1.” He’s been promoted by ID supporters before, but his (self-published) popular, never peer-reviewed book that’s more than 15 years old still hasn’t received the critical attention he would like, so he’s back and making waves about how evolutionists won’t take his work seriously.
For those of you in the know, creationists describe “Message Theory” as proposing that “Life was reasonably designed for survival and for communicating a message that tells where life came from. The biotic message says, ‘Life is the product of a single designer – life was intentionally designed to resist all other explanations’.”
And it probably won’t surprise you to find that ReMine doesn’t have any real background in biology, but rather is an engineer (why are so many engineers cranks, anyway?).
Neither will it surprise you that, after spending 12 paragraphs talking about how great and testable “Message Theory” is, ReMine neglects to explain anything about it, instead promising that in a future post.
And that is why I feel bad for UD: they just accidentally admitted the whole arc of creationist “thought”! The pattern is:
1) publish a “theory” without peer review;
2) pout that no one takes your easily refuted crackpot theory seriously;
3) promise a serious, testable alternative to “Darwinism” and/or a serious research-based program;
4) GOTO 2.
In extreme cases, this should be readjusted to GOTO 1. I wonder how many times ReMine has completed this grand pattern. Probably about as many consecutive years as we’ve seen promises like these from the creationist camp.
How to redefinine anything as “Conservative”: Movies edition February 15, 2009Posted by Evil Bender in Uncategorized.
So the National Review Online, in it’s ultimate quest to never be taken seriously, has released its list of “The 25 Best Conservative Movies of the Last 25 Years.” You might expect thaet it is every bit as thoughtful and serious as their previous classic of wingnuttery, the Best Conservative Rock Songs list. The difference is that, unlike Rock and Roll, which always wants to be seen as rebellious even when it is the establishment, it’s not at all common to see genuinely conservative (and, often, reactionary) films come out of that evil “liberal” Hollywood.
I’ll leave it to my readers to identify their favorites from the list. Rather than pick on their poor choices, I’m going to do NRO a favor and help identify the template they use for this piece to help them save time in the future. As you will see, you can just plug anything into it and make it conservative! The recipe for this particular brand of wingnut silliness goes as follows:
Wait, I thought Republicans were FOR local control. February 12, 2009Posted by Evil Bender in evolution, News and politics, wingnuts.
I’m lying, of course: as anyone who takes a peek at the Constitutional violations and skyrocketing federal spending of Republican Administrations knows, Republicans only claim to want to minimize controls over individual lives and local issues. In practice, they behave like this:
Upset House Republicans are mounting a campaign to purge Georgia’s higher education system of professors with an expertise in racy sexuality topics as the state grapples with a $2.2 billion shortfall.
State Rep. Charlice Byrd, R-Woodstock, took the House well on Friday to announce a “grassroots” effort to oust professors with expertise in subjects like male prostitution, oral sex and “queer theory.”
“This is not considered higher education,” Byrd said. “If legislators are going to dole out the dollars, we should have a say-so in where they go.”
Byrd and her supporters, including state Rep. Calvin Hill, R-Canton, said they will team with the Christian Coalition and other religious groups to pressure fellow lawmakers and the University System Board of Regents to eliminate the jobs.
“Our job is to educate our people in sciences, business, math,” said Hill, a vice chairman of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee. He said professors aren’t going to meet those needs “by teaching a class in queer theory.”
Naturally, who knows more about what should be taught at a University than idiotic Republicans urged on by Bible-thumping anti-knowledge bigots?
I’m particularly impressed to see Hill and Byrd be so confident that they know better what is worth teaching than those who have spent years developing expertise in their subjects , and that Byrd and Hill are so eager to bypass and/or pressure those who make decisions about University classes to teach only what they think is worthwhile. I’m predicting that soon we’ll see these elected idiots making a stink about how biology classes teach Evilution, comparative religion classes don’t assume the absolute truth of the Bible, and how TEH SHAKESPEARE ISN’T BEING TAUGHT NO MORES!!!1!!eleventy!
And yet I’ll be accused of hyperbole is I point out that politicians dictating what can and cannot be taught in a University is what happens in under Tyrannical governments, not democracies. So instead I’ll stick with an observation: since Georgia’s Republicans clearly think that being knowledgeable on a subject means one has engaged in it and endorses it, and since Rep. Byrd obviously thinks she’s an expert on abortion, I can only assume she’s running down once a month to her local “Abortion Industry Practitioner” to have a fetus removed.
Either that or these people are just batshit insane hypocrites who get their jollies by trying to control the lives of other people. Take your pick.
(To be fair I should point out that wingnuts have good reason to be afraid of higher education: once wingnuts start to critically examine their assumptions, they either convert from wingnuttery, engage in massive cognitive dissonance for the rest of their lives (by far the most common choice), or incinerate due to Spontaneous Worldview Collapse.)
My thoughts on feminism, privilege, and the days of our lives February 10, 2009Posted by Evil Bender in Uncategorized.
Today I’ve been following with a lot of interest (and a good bit of personal concern, as I’ll address later), the discussion of privilege that sprung up around Courtney’s post about a day in her life. The discussion about the role of privilege in the feminist blogosphere was, I think, healthy. My goal in this post is to make some general observations about how privilege can be addressed both by those who have it and those who don’t. I’m going to focus on the former, because I have loads of privilege and, aside from one observation and one request, I’ll let the less privileged speak for themselves (indeed, I sincerely hope I will always encourage, rather than silence by speaking for, those who are less privileged than I am; these ideas are my own, and I don’t mean them to speak for anyone but myself). Then I’ll address my own personal interactions with privilege, in the interest of walking as I talk.
So first, I think it’s important to note both that Courtney’s post described a life that is, in many ways, privileged and that Courtney should be applauded, I think, for owning up to that in the comments and for making certain she didn’t try to speak for anyone’s life but her own. She didn’t claim that she spoke for anyone but herself, and just posted about her own experience. She could have done a better job of addressing her privilege in the post itself, but owning up to one’s privilege is extremely important.
Lauren was right in return to point out some of the ways that Courtney might not have been aware of the extent of her privilege on the subject. I speak from lots of personal experience when I say how much I value being alerted to my privilege. Those of us with privilege benefit greatly from being constantly reminded to be aware of that privilege and of how we can compensate for its influence on our thinking.
Note that I say I value those reminders, not that I demand them. I’m hesitate even to say what I have, because I absolutely do not believe it is anyone’s obligation to babysit my acknowledgment of privilege. I respectfully ask for such reminders because I’m sincere in my desire to be a feminist ally–and indeed an ally of those who lack privilege in any other way. I want to be aware of those who are less privileged than me socially, economically, racially, ethnically, in terms of gender identity, in terms of one’s body and mind, in terms of location, religion, and all the other axises of privilege that I’ve left out (possibly due to my own lack of awareness of privilege).
I sincerely hope those who care about me will keep me aware of those areas where I lack awareness.* For my part, I will strive to be receptive to such criticism, and to change my views and behaviors as appropriate. I won’t always succeed, but I will always make a good faith effort to be an ally and a friend, as someone who takes these power differentials seriously. I can’t change the fact that I’m privileged, but I can–and will–do everything in my power to align myself with those who are not.
Which brings me to my one piece of advice for those who would (rightly) critique privilege. Things like this comment are unhelpful:
Gee Courtney, I’m so glad that you get to go to your yoga class, eat that so-overpriced sushi, and start work at twelve, and the worst thing for you is that you get oh so much e-mail.
Lessee…I lost my job in November. I have had to put small 700 sq ft condo — which I could barely afford before losing my job — up for sale, and it is sitting on the market and continuing to bleed me money from mortgage and condo fees, and I will be lucky if I get back 60% of what I paid for it, and most of that will go towards paying off the mortgage. In the meantime, me and another person are renting rooms from a woman who is convinced that we are poisoning her pets, and I’m now looking for an apartment that I can’t afford, and good luck with me getting one being unemployed.
I’m staring having to move in with my father in the face — pretty pathetic that a 50-yo woman has to think of that — and raiding my 401K for money to live off of.
Yeah, me, (formerly) lower-middle-class and quickly heading for poverty. I have no sympathy or interest in your kind of feminism. Your privilege is hanging out the wazoo. Howzabout you think of eating ham-and-cheese sandwiches instead of sushi and doing yoga in your home, and donating that money to your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen. [emphasis added]
To be clear, I sympathize with this commenter in a number of ways: first, I’m not too far removed from being unemployed and not being sure I could even make rent any more. It’s also completely fair to point out that Courtney’s post has, at best, a poor choice of tone in an economy where so many people are hurting so bad.** All those parts of the comment are fair, and are echoed by others who have responded.
What isn’t fair or helpful is to say one has “no sympathy or interest in your kind of feminism,” which shifts the discussion from whether what Courtney said was ill-advised and makes it into a personal attack roughly equivalent to “because of your privilege I reject as irrelevant your feminism.” As increasing numbers of women of color became involved in the feminist movement, they spoke out about the weaknesses and problems with a feminist ideology that was too closely identified with the white upper middle class, and particularly academic elements thereof. They pointed out how much of what feminists were saying did not apply to their lives (as Ann pointed out in her post title); they did not write off feminism as useless. They addressed the ignorance of privilege, rather than negating as a waste of time white middle class feminists themselves.
There is a huge difference between saying “Courtney, I think your post reflects unexamined privilege,” which others pointed out, and which led to productive discussion, and saying “Courtney, because of your unexamined privilege, I have decided to negate your experience as relevant.” Courtney probably erred in not making it clearer that she was not speaking for other feminists in describing her life; in my view she certainly erred in not acknowledging the massive number of people who are unemployed or otherwise providing more context for her post (I suspect the post itself is missing a lot of the thinking that lead Courtney to post it–and I’m glad she posted it!). But if Courtney erred in seeming to negate other feminist experiences, then it is certainly an error to negate her experience: much better, as so many people did, to discuss why it is a problematic concept.
Likewise, I’m not particularly pleased with Amanda Marcotte’s response to Lauren:
There’s kind of no way to write about your life if you’re lucky in any way without becoming a lightening rod for envy on the blogs, though. I can see your point, but I also worry about the way women have been socialized to compete with each other on whose life sucks the most. It’s a lot like the, “You’re not fat, I’m fat!” game. Women aren’t permitted to be happy with themselves, and so writing something that insinuates that you are pretty happy with yourself automatically generates bad reactions. I can see how Courtney is trying to fight against that.
In other comments, she is rightly called out for suggesting (inadvertently, perhaps) that naming privilege is equivalent to envy. It isn’t productive to respond to a claim of unexamined privilege with what will surely be interpreted as a personal attack.
The discussion of how privilege effects our discourses and interactions is, I think, essential to the health of our communities. I hope we can continue to keep discussions civil and productive.
Deep breath. In the interest of dialogue (though I’m honestly not sure this is of interest to any of my readers) I want to make a few observations about privilege in my own life. Please feel free to skip this if you aren’t interested!
Absolutely Horrifying February 10, 2009Posted by Evil Bender in bigotry, Things I Hate, wingnuts.
Of late, I’ve been increasingly convinced that snark is a far better weapon for dealing with the wingnuttiest of the wingnuts than anything else: like their Republican overlords who want the economy to collapse in order to help their electoral chances, wingnuts rarely argue in good faith, and responding to crazy people on their own intellectual terms accomplishes little aside from providing a false legitimacy to their counter-factual and odious positions.
So, while I’ll happily have a serious discussion with a thoughtful conservatives, wingnuts are usually best responded to by mocking. Usually.
But then one comes across something like this:
While we must equip both our sons and our daughters to be strong lights in a dark age, our sons are likely to be called to lead and provide for their families, while our daughters are likely to be called to be helpers. Even if they’re never called to marriage, our hope is that our daughters will feel content as a helper in our home (or a relative, if we die) – or even in the church. If God were to never bring them husbands and we were to die (the grand “what-if” question we’re asked), and nobody was willing to take them into their own family, then we are perfectly confident in God’s provision.
Our daughters are much more capable of taking care of themselves than I was at their age and I still managed to find a very good job (without having attended college) when I had to. College and being groomed for independent living isn’t the magic pill so many people think it is. Sometimes it can even make one less equipped for life’s trials. Talk to women who were raped while living alone; indoctrinated by feminist, atheist professors; or duped into putting off marriage or children (for the sake of a degree or a career) until it was too late.
Unfortunately, I’ve known people who think this way–though fortunately they put their beliefs in to actual practice much less than the above family does. Leaving aside the rampant misogyny and what almost certainly amounts to abuse (since, even if one wants to argue their right to raise their children as they see fit, they have no right to pressure an adult child to stay under their “protection”), it is truly terrifying to see this mother admit she has no interest in helping their daughters prepare to survive in the event of their deaths.
And they do it all in the name of protecting their daughters. It’s truly sickening.
Honestly, snark is an inadequate weapon for dealing with evil of this magnitude.
Swing and a Miss February 9, 2009Posted by Evil Bender in Atheism, Poetry, Religion, Science.
I take a time out from grading to highlight for you the incredible ignorance on display in this piece by Tom Frame:
I find the materialist atheism of some rational sceptics harder to accept than theistic belief, and cannot make sense of my life in this world without believing in God and providence. Crudely naturalistic science leaves no room for poetic truth, refuses to honour any spiritual element in physical things and cannot accept the existence of a human soul.
Two points: first, it’s telling that Frame uses “accept.” Clearly it is his view of the implications of atheism that is the problem, not atheism itself. He doesn’t say “I believe there is strong evidence for a God*” but rather settles for the tamer “I don’t like to believe there is not a God.” It’s lazy thinking at best.
Second, it’s clear that Frame doesn’t have the foggiest idea what “science” leaves room for. Anyone who looks at methodological naturalism (or even philosophical naturalism) and decrees that it leaves no room for artistic insight into the human condition is a fool.
As difficult as it might be for Frame to believe, my appreciation for poetry hasn’t lessened since I rejected theism. Maybe he isn’t familiar with that classic atheistic poem, Dover Beach? You know, the one that finds poetic truth in light of science’s erosion of the need to evoke God as an explanation.
I wouldn’t have believed one could get so much wrong about both art and science in one paragraph. It’s quite an achievement in ineptitude, really.
*The best he can do is convergence. Seriously.
The Economy: DOOMED. February 6, 2009Posted by Evil Bender in economics, News and politics, wingnuts.
Homer Simpson once said that alcohol was “the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” While I won’t attest to that, I will point out that is considerably more sophisticated than the Republican Party’s nihilistic view that tax cuts are the solution to all society’s problem.
But it’s nice that they’re dancing to Rush Limbaugh’s tune while this nation collapses into the nastiest economic times since the Great Depression.
Every time I think I’ve read the dumbed Denyse O’Leary argument February 6, 2009Posted by Evil Bender in evolution, Science, wingnuts.
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she manages to outdue herself. In her latest bit of drivel at Uncommon Descent (I’m still not linking to the Blog O Disappearing Posts):
Barry Arrington notes that FAQ2 addresses the claim that No Real Scientists Take Intelligent Design Seriously
Well, there is a big scandal going on right now in my home province of Ontario, involving accusations of cheating in lotteries. As explained by the inimitable Toronto Star,
Previous estimates suggested that lottery vendors and their employees and families have taken home $106 million in prizes over the past 13 years. The new audit says the actual figure is $198 million, a figure that Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin characterized yesterday as “astronomical.” In fact, it is almost certainly an underestimate of what insiders have been pocketing.
Winners’ names are only recorded for larger prizes – about one-third of the $14 billion in total winnings distributed since 1995. The rest of Ontario’s lottery jackpot is distributed directly by stores in the form of small cash prizes.
It is very likely, then, that these prizes are even more vulnerable to cheating.
“Astronomical is news speak for “These numbers are way too high to be the result of chance (as in “game of chance, or lots = lottery”) and therefore must be due to design.”
That’s right, folks, O’Leary’s decided a dreadful argument by analogy is proof of the validity of the argument from design. Among the legions of problems with this, probably the biggest is that discovering fraud from human agents with discernable methods and aims is not the same as looking at every unanswered question in science and shouting “A Magic Man supernatural agent JESSSUS unidentified designer did it.” If the investigators had decided that events unexplainable by chance were the result not of fraud but of God’s mysterious handiwork, they would rightly lose their jobs, as their conclusion offers absolutely nothing of merit.
O’Leary doesn’t stop there, though:
Of course that proposal won’t work. These days it would produce nothing but a huge raft of lawsuits and human rights commission hearings over what constitutes “family.”
Nice to know her political thought is as sophisticated as her faux-scientific analysis.
There is good news, though: it looks like the new management at UD has apparently shut down O’Leary’s linkfarm for the time being.