Notes and Comment Blog


Some of the photos were discovered in a locked safe

Jul 8th, 2019 10:45 am | By

The Epstein hearing is today.

Federal prosecutors in New York unsealed a criminal indictment Monday charging billionaire Jeffrey Epstein with having operated a sex trafficking ring in which he sexually abused dozens of underage girls, allegations that have circulated around the politically connected businessman for years.

Epstein, 66, was arrested Saturday night at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey aboard his private jet upon returning from Paris.

Later that evening, federal agents executing a search warrant of Epstein’s mansion in New York City recovered and seized a “vast trove” of lewd photographs of young-looking women or girls, prosecutors said in a bail memorandum.

Some of the photos were discovered in a locked safe along with compact discs with hand-written labels that read, “Young [Name] + [Name],” “Misc nudes 1,” and “Girl pics nude,” according to the bail memorandum.

He collected them, as one might collect stamps or wildflowers or minerals or old coins or other insensate objects. The trouble is, girls are not insensate objects. Clearly it’s very difficult for some men to grasp that simple fact, but it is nonetheless true.

The indictment also implicates some of Epstein’s employees. One person referred to as “Employee-1” called girls who had previously been lured into encounters with Epstein to arrange future visits to his New York residence, the indictment states.

When Epstein would travel by private jet from New York to Palm Beach, an employee or associate would “ensure that minor victims were available for encounters upon his arrival in Florida,” according to the indictment.

As an employee or associate might ensure that bottles of wine or baskets of fresh peaches or vats of hand-churned ice cream were available. The trouble is, girls are not food for men to devour. Clearly it’s very difficult for some men to grasp that simple fact, but it is nonetheless true.

Berman said the office would seek to keep Epstein detained pending trial, meaning prosecutors are expected to argue against giving him bail.

“We think he is a significant flight risk,” Berman said, citing Epstein’s “extreme” wealth, his two planes and the seriousness of the charges he faces.

Practically a guaranteed flight risk, I would think.

Fun fact: one of James Comey’s daughters – Maureen – is one of the prosecutors on the case.



Which twin has the view?

Jul 8th, 2019 8:46 am | By

Trans philosopher Rachel Anne Williams wrote this piece a year ago but the opening move snagged my attention.

Gender critical feminism aka “radical feminism” is the view that womanhood is best defined by reducing the category of “woman” to essential biological properties shared by cisgender aka non-trans women.

No. One, radical feminism is not a synonym for gender-critical feminism. Two, saying that woman=adult human female is not a “view,” it’s just a definition. That’s how we use the word; that’s what the word means. (Notice Williams isn’t simultaneously trying to redefine “man”? Funny, that.) That’s what the word (and its equivalent in many many other languages) means and has always meant going back as far as we can peer. A little 21st century sect wants to change that, but little sects don’t get to change the meaning of words for all of us unless we agree to it. We don’t agree to it. I think you’ll find that it’s not only gender critical feminists or even radical feminists who see it that way.

Why do they define womanhood like this? Because it effectively excludes trans women from the class of women because trans women are not biologically identical to cis women.

But it’s not “they.” Everyone defines it that way – everyone except the small sect. It’s not that we define the word in a bizarre way that requires explanation, it’s that Williams & co do. Why do Williams & co define the word in a bizarre way? Because they have decided their happiness depends on universal validation of their internal “gender identity” and that depends on universal re-definition of the category “woman.”



Language guide

Jul 7th, 2019 4:51 pm | By

It seems that Amherst issued a guide to woke language but had to withdraw it hastily because of the storm of derision. But it was preserved. It’s woke all right.

(Isn’t this where I came in? Writing a satirical version about 100 years ago.)

It’s in sections. There’s a section for -isms, starting with Ableism and Ageism. Then there’s…

CISSEXISM

The system of belief that cisgender individuals are the privileged class and are more natural, normal or acceptable than transgender, genderqueer, nonbinary and/or gender-nonconforming people. This belief manifests as the systematic denial of rights to trans and nonbinary people and their routine mistreatment.

Hmm yes very fair and impartial. Let’s tweak it a little:

REALITY

There are two sexes, and as many personalities as there are people. Sex does not determine personality, and it should not be allowed to limit or restrict it. Men can be gentle, women can be tough.

Simpler, easier to understand, and vastly less belligerent.

It’s interesting that “sexism” is shorter and comparatively perfunctory.

SEXISM

system of oppression that privileges men and masculinity; subordinates women, girls and femmes (p. 12); and devalues practices associated with women, girls and femininity.

Why “men and masculinity” but “women, girls and femmes”? Why aren’t they parallel? Why not “men and masculinity” and “women and femininity”? Or “men, boys and butches” and “women, girls and femininity”? They don’t explain. Could it be because they unconsciously privilege men and masculinity themselves? Or even consciously, for all I know. It’s not as if the discrepancy is subtle.

In the gender section –

AFAB

An abbreviation for “assigned-female-at-birth,” a term frequently used, often by the transmasculine community, as a self-descriptor.Assigned-at-birth” serves to imply that sex is without the agency of the individual.

Yes, well, it is without the agency of the individual, isn’t it. We don’t have the kind of magic “agency” that would let us overrule our own biology. We can’t will ourselves to be insects, or people of the 16th century, or 20 feet tall. What we are born is indeed without our agency, and a list of magical words can’t change that. Sorry, AFAB, you’re a weak reed.

BINDING

method of reducing or flattening the appearance of one’chest.

Wow, that’s evasive. It’s a method of crushing female breasts.

CISGENDER

An identity term for individuals whose gender identity matches their birth-assigned sex. Cisgender people receive benefits that trans and nonbinary people don’t have.

That’s right, we collect $10,000 a week just for being cis.

I’ll stop now. Lordy this crap is pathetic.



Highlights

Jul 7th, 2019 3:19 pm | By

Time to equalize their pay, no?



Professionals within the prosecutor’s office

Jul 7th, 2019 11:27 am | By

Following up on the Alexander Acosta angle – Raul Reyes at CNN says he should resign. (The url indicates the piece dates from last March, but the headline says it’s updated, so it’s a mix of then and now.)

Until recently, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta was probably one of President Donald Trump’s least controversial Cabinet members. But now he is facing rising pressure over his handling of a sex offender case involving a well-connected billionaire.

On February 21, a federal judge ruled that Miami prosecutors, led by then-US Attorney Acosta, broke the law when they arranged a plea deal for billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in 2008 without conferring with his victims. Although Epstein was accused of trafficking children for sex, Acosta allowed him to negotiate an extremely lenient agreement that was kept secret from his victims — denying them the opportunity to affect the prosecutorial process. Now the victims might have a say: The judge gave the government 15 days to talk with the victims who sued and figure out what remedy should apply.

Not just a ludicrously lenient sentence but actually a sentence that broke the law.

At his 2017 confirmation hearing, Acosta was asked by Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia about the Epstein deal. “At the end of the day, based on the evidence, professionals within the prosecutor’s office decide that a plea that guarantees that someone goes to jail, that guarantees that someone register generally, and that guarantees other outcomes, is a good thing,” Acosta said.

In theory, that may be true; the reality was far different. Epstein served only 13 months in the private wing of the Palm Beach County jail. He was able to come and go for up to 12 hours at a time, six days a week. He was allowed to hire his own private security detail. During his subsequent year of probation under house arrest, he took numerous trips on his private jet.

*snort* That’s some house arrest!

Moreover, Acosta is on the verge of becoming a political liability for the administration. In addition to Judge Kenneth Marra finding that Acosta violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act by keeping Epstein’s deal a secret from his victims, the Justice Department has opened an investigation into his handling of Epstein’s plea deal. The White House, too, is looking into Acosta’s role in the Epstein case. And on February 22, lawmakers sent a letter to the President calling on him to demand Acosta’s resignation over Epstein’s “despicable unjust plea deal.”

And five months later we see that nothing has come of it. Justice shmustice.

There is no joy in calling for the only Latino in Trump’s Cabinet to step down. Still, Acosta’s role in crafting a sweetheart deal for a sex offender means he does not deserve to be serving at the highest level of government.

True, Acosta’s handling of Epstein’s case predates his Department of Labor tenure. Yet as we’ve learned from sexual abuse scandals involving Hollywood actresses and Olympic gymnasts, the passage of time is no excuse for avoiding a reckoning. The fact that Epstein’s plea deal was made more than a decade ago does not mean that Acosta should not bear accountability for his actions. Epstein’s victims, who are now in their 20s and 30s, are still living with the consequences of that secret agreement. Acosta deserves to do so as well.

Don’t place any large bets on it.



Call Ken Starr

Jul 7th, 2019 11:11 am | By

A little more on the dashing little-girl fancier Jeffrey Epstein:

Saturday evening, federal agents carried out a search of his townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, according to witnesses who spoke to the Miami Herald’s Julie K. Brown, who has reported extensively both on Epstein’s alleged crimes and on a deal he received from the US attorney in Miami in 2008 during an investigation involving more than 30 underage victims.

Epstein is currently being held in New York, and is expected to be arraigned on Monday at a bail hearing in federal court in Manhattan. An anonymous source told the Herald they believe the hearing could allow Epstein to escape trial: “If they grant him bail, he has enough money that he will disappear and they will never get him.”

That’s what I’ve been thinking. He’d do a Polanski. He’d do that in a heartbeat, and then no doubt all the hipsters would rush to defend him the way they did Polanski. They’d be crazy to grant him bail.

The bureau collected copious evidence, and in 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to the solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution. However, because of deal made with former US attorney (and current US secretary of labor) Alexander Acosta, Epstein did not receive a long sentence.

It’s touching the way these guys stick together.

As Vox’s Jane Coaston and Anna North reported:

The FBI had prepared a 53-page sex crimes indictment for Epstein in 2007 that could have sent him to prison for life, according to the Herald. Instead, he cut a deal with Alexander Acosta, then the US attorney in Miami, which allowed him to serve just 13 months — not in federal or state prison, but in a private wing of a Palm Beach county jail.

He was granted work release to go to a “comfortable office” for 12 hours a day, six days a week, despite the fact that the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Department prohibited work release for sex offenders.

Epstein’s deal, called a “non-prosecution agreement,” granted immunity to “any potential co-conspirators,” meaning that if any of Epstein’s powerful friends were involved in his crimes, they would face no consequences. And Acosta agreed that the deal would be kept secret from the victims, preventing them from showing up in court to try to challenge it.

I did a post about the deal some time ago, but I don’t remember the part about no consequences for his powerful friends. I think I do remember the keep it secret from the victims part. God this stuff is sickening.

In February, a federal judge ruled the non-prosecution agreement to be unconstitutional. US District Judge Kenneth A. Marra said that the deal violated the 30-plus accusers’ right to speak with prosecutors about the terms of the arrangement.

But in late June, the Department of Justice declined to invalidate that deal. Prior to this decision, accusers had hoped Marra’s ruling would lead to the case being reopened.

What DoJ was that? Oh, the one that’s at the mercy of Donald Trump. That DoJ.

Them that’s got shall get, them that’s not shall lose.

Attorneys for two of Epstein’s alleged victims said they hope that these latest charges will finally bring the financier to justice.

“It’s been a long time coming — it’s been too long coming,” attorney David Boies told the Daily Beast. “It is an important step towards getting justice for the many victims of Mr. Epstein’s sex trafficking enterprise.”

Connections. He’s got connections.

The financier met many a powerful person as an investment banker at Bear Stearns, and later as the head of his own financial firm that exclusively caters to billionaires. He once described the famous people with whom he associates as a “collection,” and his well-connected lawyers, Kenneth Starr and Alan Dershowitz, were key to his light sentencing in the 2008 federal case.

Kenneth Starr. Rich, isn’t it?



Define “upsetting” and “hateful”

Jul 7th, 2019 10:44 am | By

Opposing accounts are still opposing.

The National Theatre has denied accusations it refused to serve members of the LGBT community in its Green Room bar due to “gender or sexuality” discrimination.

No, it was due to “not flattering trans delusions” discrimination.

A group of lesbian women, straight women and men visited the bar on Friday  – the night before London’s Pride celebrations – and claim they were refused service and asked to leave by staff.

The “and men” is kind of interesting. I guess men are welcome no matter what and don’t have to fill out the form stating whether they’re gay or straight? But women do? Because _____?

The National Theatre confirmed it was investigating the claims although say it had “multiple witnesses” who could corroborate the group were asked to leave following a “series of disturbances”.

It insisted the “clothing, gender or sexuality” of the women played no part in the “reluctant” decision, which was a result of “refusal to put placards out of sight that featured messages which upset other customers” and “abusive behaviour” toward staff.

However, speaking to i, Anne refuted claims the group had taken placards into Green Room or acted in an abusive manner.

While she and a few others were served drinks upon their arrival that evening, she said friends who came shortly after were refused service.

The group were then approached by a member of the management team who asked them to leave.

Anne explained: “The duty manager came and spoke to a few of us and said that there were trans staff coming on duty at the next shift change who could find our t-shirts upsetting and could be seen as hateful.”

Well anything could be seen as hateful, especially by people who spend their entire waking lives looking for pretexts to call things hateful. But if we decide that T shirts defining what a lesbian is are hateful, then aren’t we taking a huge leap back into plain old homophobia?

National Theatre security staff and police were called soon after the exchange, Anne said.

She added: “At no point were we abusive to staff, we were very polite and respectful.

“The NT have defamed and discriminated against us which goes against our protected characteristics as set out in the EA 2010.”

Yes but all that has been superseded by the new dispensation in which the potential conjectured possible future upset of trans staff who haven’t arrived for their shift yet is infinitely more important than the right of lesbians to sit on chairs and consume drinks. Better be safe than sorry.

In a statement, the National Theatre’s joint chief executive Lisa Burger said: “While investigations into the incident are ongoing, multiple witnesses corroborate that a group who attended the Green Room restaurant on Friday 5 July were ultimately asked to leave the premises as a result of a series of disturbances.

“These began with their refusal to put placards out of sight that featured messages which upset other customers and contravened our visiting policy, and culminated in abusive behaviour towards our staff.

“The clothing, gender or sexuality of the group was not a factor in the decision, which was reluctantly taken on the basis of the group’s behaviour and what was said. The National Theatre must be an inclusive place for everyone, and that means asking visitors to conduct themselves in a way that respects that principle.”

The National Theatre must be an inclusive place for everyone, and that means ordering lesbians to get out before the trans staff arrive for their shift.



His administration will remain self-interested

Jul 7th, 2019 9:26 am | By

In the least surprising news ever, the UK ambassador to Washington is not impressed by the Trump administration. Someone leaked his emails to the Daily Mail.

In the messages, the UK’s ambassador Sir Kim Darroch said the White House was “uniquely dysfunctional” and “divided” under Donald Trump.

“We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction-riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept,” he said.

Ya, neither do we. Also on the list of no hopes that: less ignorant, less corrupt, less nepotistic, less xenophobic, less rights-abusing, less authoritarian.

Although Sir Kim said Mr Trump was “dazzled” by his state visit to the UK in June, the ambassador warned that his administration will remain self-interested, adding: “This is still the land of America First”.

Differences between the US and the UK on climate change, media freedoms and the death penalty might come to the fore as the countries seek to improve trading relations after Brexit, the memos said.

To get through to the president, “you need to make your points simple, even blunt”, he said.

Why? Because he’s thick. Because he’s thick as ten short planks, and he has the attention span of an infant, and he doesn’t listen to other people, and he’s pig-ignorant.

The leader of the Brexit party, Nigel Farage, has criticised Sir Kim for his comments, branding the ambassador “totally unsuitable for the job” and saying the “sooner he is gone the better”.

Oh nonsense. Trump is what he is, and it would be dereliction for Sir Kim to say otherwise.



One count of sex trafficking of minors

Jul 6th, 2019 6:15 pm | By

Jeffrey Epstein’s hobby may have caught up with him at last.

Billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was arrested for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of minors in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005, and will appear in court in New York on Monday, according to three law enforcement sources. The arrest, by the FBI-NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force, comes about 12 years after the 66-year-old financier essentially got a slap on the wrist for allegedly molesting dozens of underage girls in Florida.

For more than a decade, Epstein’s alleged abuse of minors has been the subject of lawsuits brought by victims, investigations by local and federal authorities, and exposés in the press. But despite the attention cast on his alleged sex crimes, the hedge-funder has managed to avoid any meaningful jail time, let alone federal charges.

The new indictment—which, according to two sources, will be unsealed Monday in Manhattan federal court—will reportedly allege that Epstein sexually exploited dozens of underage girls in a now-familiar scheme: paying them cash for “massages” and then molesting or sexually abusing them in his Upper East Side mansion or his palatial residence in Palm Beach. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors—which could put him away for a maximum of 45 years. The case is being handled by the Public Corruption Unit of the Southern District of New York, with assistance from the district’s human-trafficking officials and the FBI.

Doesn’t sound as if they’re looking for a slap on the wrist.



His living room wasn’t tidy enough

Jul 6th, 2019 4:07 pm | By

Another “prosecute the victim” story.

One evening last summer, Mikhail Khachaturyan decided that his living room wasn’t tidy enough, so he summoned his three teenage daughters one by one and doused each with pepper spray.

There was little unusual about this evening in the Khachaturyan household, according to court records, except for one thing: The sisters decided they couldn’t take the violence and abuse anymore.

They waited until their father fell asleep in his rocking chair and attacked him with a kitchen knife and a hammer. He put up a fight, but died within minutes.

The Khachaturyan sisters, now aged 18, 19 and 20, were charged last month with premeditated murder, in a case that has drawn outrage and shone a light on the way the Russian justice system handles domestic violence and sexual abuse cases.

More than 200,000 people have signed an online petition urging the prosecutors to drop the murder charges, which could land the sisters in prison for up to 20 years.

Remember when Putin gave a green light to domestic abuse?

Pressured by conservative family groups, President Vladimir Putin in 2017 signed a law decriminalising some forms of domestic violence, which has no fixed definition in the Russian legislation.

Police routinely turn a blind eye to cases of domestic abuse, while preventive measures, such as restraining orders, are either lacking or not in wide use.

Court filings showed that the Khachaturyan sisters were repeatedly beaten by their father, a war veteran, and sexually abused.

He kept a bunch of guns and knives in the house. He threatened neighbors as well as his daughters with violence.

Prosecutors acknowledge the extraordinary violent circumstances that pushed the teenagers to attack and eventually kill their own father, but they insist that Maria, Angelina and Krestina should be tried for murder.

The sisters’ lawyers argue that they were acting in justified self-defence in circumstances of lasting abuse and life-threatening violence.

H/t Rob



Send the victim to prison

Jul 6th, 2019 3:12 pm | By

Male boss sexually harasses female underling. She records one of his phone calls. She is sentenced to six months in prison.

Indonesia’s top court has rejected an appeal by a woman who was sentenced to six months in prison for recording and sharing a phone conversation she had with her boss to prove that he was sexually harassing her.

The Supreme Court said Baiq Nuril Maknun was guilty of spreading “indecent” material.

Her boss reported her to the police in 2015 after the recording was circulated.

Rights groups condemned the ruling.

Nuril had complained of getting lewd phone calls from the head teacher of the school she worked at in Mataram, a city on the island of Lombok.

So she recorded one of his calls, and shared it with staff at the school and the head of an education agency. It went viral on social media. The man reported her to the police.

The Supreme Court found her guilty in November of “violating decency” under Indonesia’s electronic information and transactions law. On Thursday, it dismissed her efforts to have the verdict overturned, saying she had failed to produce new evidence.

The court also fined her 500 million rupiah (£28,200; $35,200).

The case has sparked outrage in Indonesia, with rights groups warning that the verdict sends a worrying message to victims of sexual harassment.

“We are concerned about the impact of this decision because it opens a door for perpetrators of sexual violence to criminalise victims,” Ade Wahyudin, executive director of the Legal Aid Foundation for the Press, told Reuters news agency.

H/t Soraya

 



Guest post: It’s not a myth

Jul 6th, 2019 2:41 pm | By

Guest post by Josh Slocum

Some people I know and respect have protested that academia is not in the grips of increasingly Maoist “liberal/progressive” young people. They say that it’s a right wing overreaction to isolated incidents. They then point out all that the right wing is doing to ruin the academy and strip colleges of funding.

Let me deal with the second claim first.

Yes. It’s a fact that corporatist politicians have slashed the budgets of our colleges and universities. Yes. I deplore it. Like you, I recognize it’s a huge institutional problem.

But as for “lefty madness is an isolated incident,” I part company with you. In fact, I think you’re dangerously wrong. Just wrong, not malicious. I’m not questioning your character.

But I am saying I think your emotional allegiances misguided you in this case, and that you cannot see a real emergency.

It cannot be the case that liberal-leftie outrage/infantilism, and all the pro-trans nonsense is “just isolated.” It can’t be true that “Most college experience isn’t like that.” It can’t be true that “most liberal arts colleges don’t have these problems.”

That is not believable. I know three separate undergraduate students at Smith, independent of each other. They have all told me privately that it’s dangerous there to question transgender activism. Did you know how many women at Smith are getting mastectomies? One friend noted last week by email—‘there are zero lesbians here.’

My own alma mater, Sarah Lawrence, has been entirely taken over by trans politics. And by “revolutionary” shit-head kids with money who are demanding things like free laundry soap, and taking entire academic buildings hostage while doing it.

I have classmates from SLC who will only speak about this to me in whispers privately. Some of them have lost their jobs in the arts community for being “TERFs”. I would be instantly banished from a reunion if I showed up.

And this is just my personal slice of the world. You can read the reports that are there for all of us to see and it’s obvious this is happening on campuses nationwide.

Trans-progressivism has warped the liberal arts academy beyond recognition. It’s not a myth.



The melting of that great liberatory moment

Jul 6th, 2019 12:05 pm | By

I hate it when I agree with Brendan O’Neill, but it does happen sometimes. He’s dead-on with this one.

It’s Pride Month, all month because it’s the anniversary of Stonewall, which was a fine thing.

The gains made by gay-rights warriors over the past five decades have been amazing and important.

But the melting of that great liberatory moment into today’s bland and virtually mandatory forced Pride shenanigans is depressing. It tells a broader story about the demise of radical politics. The riotous counterculturalists of the Sixties and Seventies demanded freedom. They didn’t give a damn what the ‘moral majority’ thought of them  — they just wanted the moral majority to leave them alone.

(It’s not quite that simple. They wanted the moral majority to stop doing some things – bombing Vietnam into rubble, for instance – and to stop voting for people who ordered those things.)

Fast forward to 2019, and that historic human instinct to be left alone in liberty has been replaced by a needy and therapeutic politics of recognition. Now gay-rights activists don’t demand autonomy — they want validation.

I hate agreeing with Brendan, but those two sentences are gold. A needy and therapeutic politics of recognition is exactly right, and I detest it. That long needy bleat by the gender-whoopsie paleontologist yesterday – talk about needy. Needy isn’t political, needy is the opposite of political, needy is All About Me and that’s not politics but idiocy (in the Greek sense). The National Theatre blithering about making its staff feel supported is The Politics of Needy, and if it’s not stopped it will infantilize everyone and no one will be left to plant the crops.



Now then now then

Jul 6th, 2019 11:12 am | By

This happened yesterday:

https://twitter.com/sargesalute/status/1147176523092439040

The Green Room is part of the National Theatre.

The Guardian does a Both Sides:

The National Theatre has become embroiled in a bitter war of words after a group of lesbian friends was refused service in the venue’s Green Room bar in the run-up to the Pride in London celebrations.

The women and their supporters claim their treatment at the hands of staff, who called the police, was a response to their campaigning stance on gender identity. Other witnesses in the bar have described their behaviour as disruptive.

The small group, who arrived with placards, included Anne Ruzylo, a political activist and former member of the Bexhill and Battle Labour party, and on Friday night she was one of those who complained on Twitter.

Ruzylo, who was wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Lesbian: a woman who loves other women”, tweeted that staff at the Green Room bar had “called the police to have women and lesbians removed because they don’t like the T-shirts we are wearing”.

On Friday night the National Theatre, which is to host a Pride after-party on Saturday night with the cabaret and drag pub the Glory as part of its River Stage festival, responded on social media, saying: “The NT has not and would not ever discriminate against an individual on the basis of their sexuality – or indeed because they were proudly declaring this on a T-shirt. We do, however, respect and value our trans staff, company and audience members. As such, if the behaviour of visitors impinges on their ability to feel supported and safe, we will take action.”

What a slushy mushy evasive way to claim that the women somehow made trans staff, company and audience members feel unsafe. What behavior? Sitting on chairs? Wearing shirts with words on? Existing as lesbians?

Lisa Burger, the joint chief executive of the National Theatre, said: “While investigations into the incident are ongoing, multiple witnesses corroborate that a group who attended the Green Room restaurant on Friday 5 July were ultimately asked to leave the premises as a result of a series of disturbances.

“These began with their refusal to put placards out of sight that featured messages which upset other customers and contravened our visiting policy, and culminated in abusive behaviour towards our staff.

Abusive behavior? Like, asking to be served, for instance?

I don’t believe there was any abusive behavior. I think this is the usual bullshit of translating “not repeating the dogma at every opportunity” into messages that upset people and abusive behavior.

The police arrived.



This variety of tut-tutting

Jul 6th, 2019 10:06 am | By

Which is worse – holding people captive in appalling conditions, or pointing out that people are being held captive in appalling conditions?

Adam Serwer discusses the issue:

The journalist Jonathan Katz argued in May that given the intent behind these facilities, and the conditions that migrants are being held in, they are best described as a concentration-camp system in the United States. That assessment was echoed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was promptly accused of trivializing the Holocaust. “Allegations that somehow the United States is operating in a way that is in any way a parallel to the Holocaust is just completely ludicrous,” Representative Liz Cheney wrote. Although Ocasio-Cortez did not mention the Holocaust, the association between the Shoah and concentration camps is strong, and attacking an opponent for hyperbole is easier than defending the torture of children—not that Cheney is at all opposed to torture.

The reaction to Ocasio-Cortez is unsurprising. Whatever the merits of her criticism, when those in power are caught abusing that power in ways that are morally indefensible and politically unpopular, they will always seek to turn an argument about oppression into a dispute about manners. The conversation then shifts from the responsibility of the state for the human lives it is destroying to whether those who object to that destruction have exhibited proper etiquette. If congressional Republicans—or, for that matter, their constituents—had expressed a fraction as much outrage over the treatment of migrant children in American detention facilities as they did in response to Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks, she would never have had cause to make them in the first place.

This variety of tut-tutting is irresistible to many ostensibly objective journalists, who by convention are barred from expressing opinions on policy but are welcome to lecture on tone, and take nearly every opportunity to remind the rabble of their obligation to be polite to their rulers. But to express outrage at the criticism of nefarious conduct while treating that conduct as a typical political conflict in which there are two equally valid positions is to take a side.

I wrote about it in The Freethinker last week.



This kind of flagrant disregard for our community

Jul 5th, 2019 5:34 pm | By

Here we go again.

Brian Leiter points out an item:

Wollongong Undergraduate Students’ Association… (UPDATED)

is a disgrace.  How can the Australasian Association of Philosophy permit such an event?  (And if the AAP isn’t hosting this event, why are they permitting the use of the AAP logo?)

What’s it done?

Scheduled an event for a conference on Monday with the thoughtful title “F**k off Holly Lawford-Smith”.

Under “Details” we get:

A well known TERF has been invited to speak at the Australasian Association of Philosophers conference at UoW. She has been overtly transphobic and is a huge supporter of the fake academic theories created by so called “gender critical” academics who use outdated terminology and ideas such as Blanchard’s theory on gender to discriminate against some of the most marginalised people in our society.

This is disgusting, this is unacceptable and this is coming from a university who supposedly supports queer students while allowing hate speech to be propogated on campus.

We at the Allsorts Queer Collective and the Wollongong Undergraduate Student Association find it outrageous that the university and AAP has allowed an explicit TERF to give a talk about exclusionary rights within women’s spaces.

She is not welcome to spew her disgusting discriminatory and exclusionary hate speech at our university. We must stand against this and send not only a message to Holly Lawford-Smith but to UoW that we will not stand for this kind of flagrant disregard for our community at our uni.

Four legs good, two legs bad. Washington’s army took over the airports. It’s all the same thing – mindless yelling, refusal to think, refusal to learn, pig-headed belligerence, brainless tribalism. It has no business in government and it has no business in universities.

Brian did a follow-up post.

I characterized the AAP response as “tepid,” but philosopher John Schwenkler (Florida State) wrote me with a more critical take, which he kindly gave permission to share:

It is not “tepid” — rather it’s effectively a slander of our colleague. The first paragraph begins by indicating that she wasn’t important enough to have been invited by the society, and ends by implying that her positions “conflict with [the AAP’s] commitment to support diversity in philosophy”. And then in the second paragraph there’s a clear suggestion that allowing someone like Holly to speak freely “conflict[s] with the aim of creating a space where everyone is able to participate”. Both of the latter claims are ludicrous.

I’m glad I don’t have to go to university with those “students.”



Two for one

Jul 5th, 2019 3:36 pm | By

From Josephine Raap on Facebook:

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, outdoor



Continually having to explain yourself

Jul 5th, 2019 3:12 pm | By

You’ve always wondered what it’s like to be transgender and non-binary in paleontology, right? Right? Well now you get to find out.

Riley Black, who came out as transgender and non-binary this year, describes the challenges of cultivating diversity in a discipline with an ‘Indiana Jones’ image.

I’m all agog. Here I thought paleontology had to do with studying fossils, but that must have been completely wrong.

I’ve found a ubiquitous part of the trans experience is continually having to explain yourself to the world at large. Why change? Why now? What’s going to happen? At times it feels like the best solution would be to write a frequently-asked-questions pamphlet, kept readily at hand for the next Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting. Even when questions are meant well, the persistent queries can turn into an endless grind: I wind up feeling like I’m being asked to justify my existence.

Maybe so, but the reality is we live in the world as it is, not in a different world where humans have no sex or gender and so the subject just never comes up. People who say they have a special bespoke sex [“gender”] can’t reasonably expect no one to wonder why and what that means and how the rest of us are supposed to act.

Even if not actively hostile, palaeontology presents queer people with terrain as challenging as any fossil-flecked desert. It’s easy to feel invisible. Although queer people in palaeontology are raising their voices and supporting each other, the fact is that the field might as well be frozen in the nineteenth century when it comes to representing and honouring the diversity that already exists in it.

Oh come now. The trans cult didn’t get going in 1900. People who take female and male for granted aren’t throwbacks to the 19th century.

This discipline, like many others, is still struggling even to find equity between cisgendered men and women.

Indeed, and the heavy breathing about special bespoke genders is only getting in the way of that…but he’s a male so he doesn’t need to worry about gender equity. Can we please talk about him from now on?

A lack of inclusion, and understanding, has real consequences. For transgender palaeontologists, maintaining mental and physical health is absolutely essential. Being trans is different for everyone, but therapy, hormone replacement and surgery are common parts of transitioning and as important to our health as are annual check-ups and other essential medical procedures. University hiring committees and researchers taking on graduate students, among others, need to know these facts.

So that they can decide not to take them on? Extra health needs are not an inducement, you know. If the hiring committees are wondering if young Angeldrawers is always going to be taking a week off for more essential medical procedures, why wouldn’t they move on to the next candidate?

None of this is frivolous. Looking in the mirror and not being quite pleased with who you see is a common experience, but imagine living in that space — feeling that your body isn’t right, not representative of who you are — every day.

It may or may not be frivolous, but what about the possibility that it’s self-absorbed and unrealistic? Any chance of that at all? I think lots of people, maybe most people, don’t feel that their outward appearance is “representative of who they are” – but they also know it’s kind of an adolescent thing to spend too much time on, so they shelve it and think about more important things.

And everything our author has said so far has led me to think he is in fact self-absorbed and unrealistic. This whole thing is as if designed for people like that. They get to talk about themselves! Endlessly! They get to make demands on the rest of the world, and be applauded for it! It’s a gift to narcissists. Our author talks like a narcissist. Maybe he isn’t one, maybe that’s just how this brand of activism is, but…I doubt it. Having a bespoke gender isn’t particularly appealing to non-narcissists. It’s embarrassing to demand all that extra attention, and reasonable people don’t want to do it.

In reaction to my first piece under my chosen name, which was critical of macho palaeontological tropes, I was accused of having an axe to grind against cisgendered men because I’m different. But the entire point of this transition is that I no longer want to be defined by other people’s expectations. Piece by piece, I’ve been removing the overburden of my past and digging into my true self. It’s a process carried out through therapy, prescriptions and introspection rather than through hammers and plaster, but the end result is much the same. I want to uncover the nature of myself as much as that of any dinosaur.

Yep. Still sounds like narcissism.



The teleprompter did it

Jul 5th, 2019 11:16 am | By

Trump says the teleprompter fell over right at that place and that’s why he said the sojers took over the airports in 1775. Totally the teleprompter’s fault.

President Donald Trump — who used to mock predecessor Barack Obama for using the devices during speeches — said Friday that technical problems with the teleprompter during his “Salute to America” led to his head-scratching remarks about the Continental Army securing not-yet existent “airports” during the Revolutionary War.

How does that work exactly?

Trump, speaking to reporters on the White House lawn en route to his property in Bedminster, New Jersey, acknowledged Friday he had some technical problems because of the soggy conditions during his speech.

“We had a lot of rain. I stood in the rain. The teleprompter went out,” he said in response to a question from NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell. “It kept going on, and then at the end, it just went out. It went kaput!”

One of those moments was in the passage about 1775, he said.

“Actually right in the middle of that sentence, it went out. And that’s not a good feeling. You’re standing in front of millions of millions of people on television and I don’t know what the final count was but that (the crowd) went all the way back to the Washington Monument.”

Ok, but how do you get from that to airports in 1775? I mean, I don’t believe him anyway, I don’t believe the teleprompter did go out. He went right on reading from it, for one thing. But even if I did, how does that take him to “Our Army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rocket’s red glare it had nothing but victory”?

The teleprompter screen had been “hard to look at anyway cause it was raining all over it.”

But Trump said he wasn’t letting the rain dampen his spirits about the event.

“I do the speech very well, so I was able to do it without a teleprompter, but the teleprompter did go out,” he said.

He do the speech very well.

No he do not do the speech very well. Not at all. He do the speech like a barely literate airhead from another planet. He do the speech like a robot. He do the speech like someone unaccustomed to words and thinking. He do the speech like a golf club with a blond wig on top.



Damage control

Jul 5th, 2019 10:26 am | By

The mother of a “Drag Kid” is shocked, shocked, that anyone would sexualize her son.

What could possibly cause anyone to sexualize a Drag Kid? How is sex even relevant?

CBC? Any thoughts?