Guest post: When you’re an exile

Jun 28th, 2024 11:03 am | By

Originally a comment by Artymorty at Miscellany Room.

A strange side effect of SPLC calling legitimate organizations hate groups is that it has the potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. People or groups who have been wrongly smeared as agents of “hate” are liable to turn sour on any suggestion that anyone is hateful, and they might start drifting towards hardline, far-right positions, as a social effect of being ostracized by liberals and embraced by fellow-exiles, many of whom are, in fact, far-right, hateful extremists who were exiled from liberal society’s good standing for entirely legitimate reasons.

No one who’s been cast into the “hate” pile believes they deserve to be there. Everyone who’s been labelled hateful vehemently denies the charge. Everyone. Even the genuine bigots and quacks. And they all resent liberal society for discrediting them.

In the case of critics of gender ideology who’ve been “wrongly” labelled “hateful”, rather than objecting to having been mistakenly put in the hate pile, they sometimes decide to throw the whole category away, to cast distrust upon the whole edifice of disrepute accrued by legitimate hate groups. When you’re an exile, there’s a good chance you’ll end up rubbing shoulders with fellow exiles, many of whom are genuinely hateful wackadoos. And there’s a good chance your values will start to bleed into each other. Because we’re social animals and that’s just naturally what happens.

I’m watching this exact dynamic play out in real time: people and orgs in the “gender critical” camp are interacting more and more with far-right extremists, and their values are shifting as a result. As a gay rights advocate, it deeply concerns me. Support for the full gamut of gay rights (workplace and housing protections; freedom to partner with whom we choose without penalty; freedom to start families of our own without facing discrimination; freedom from abusive pseudoscience like “conversion therapy”) is eroding before my eyes in GC circles.

That’s why it’s so dangerous for the supposed arbiters of hate, groups like SPLC who peddle their little lists, to become corrupted, and why they’re such easy targets for corrupting influences with special-interest agendas.

The truth is, we’re social animals, and there’s a real need to socially reinforce that some groups are disreputable and should be ostracized from decent society. (I find myself tempted to cite SPLC sometimes when I’m trying to point out that some groups are hate groups, and I have to stop myself from doing so, and find other means to easily and quickly convey that a group trying to get back into society’s good graces is terrible and shouldn’t be given a pass.)

But all kinds of special interest groups want the ability to put their personal enemies on the hate list, to advance their own agendas. With the unwitting help of the SPLC, Muslim extremists did it to moderate, liberal Muslim advocates. And now gender extremists are doing it to us.

And the side effect of that is that the separation between reputable sources and disreputable ones — between truth and fiction, ultimately — starts to collapse.

Well done Sierra Leone

Jun 28th, 2024 10:15 am | By

A win for girls for a change:

Last week, Sierra Leone’s parliament enacted landmark legislation to ban child marriage. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill 2024, which makes marriage for anyone under 18 a criminal offense, seeks to protect girls from a harmful practice that has long violated their rights and hindered their development.

Child marriage is a serious problem in Sierra Leone, where 30 percent of girls and 4 percent of boys are married before age 18, with even higher rates in rural areas. Around 800,000 girls are currently married in Sierra Leone, half before turning 15.

Jeezus. 400 thousand girls married before turning 15.

Child marriages fuel the high adolescent pregnancy rate in Sierra Leone where, tragically, pregnancy complications are the leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19.

The new law prohibits all forms of child marriage and cohabitation with a child, including aiding and abetting, protects the best interests of children, and ensures affected girls have access to counseling and safeguarding. The law amends existing legislation, including the Child Rights and Registration of Customary Marriage Acts, to harmonize the legal framework on marriage and break the cycle of early marriage and its devastating consequences.

The law also builds on Sierra Leone’s efforts to protect young girls from marriage and tackle barriers to girls’ education. A new education law, adopted in 2023, guarantees children 13 years of free education, including one year of preprimary education as well as secondary education. 

Is there anything else Sierra Leone should do?

Now, Sierra Leone’s government should raise awareness, particularly in rural areas, about the new law and the harmful effects of child marriage. The government should also address other prevalent harmful practices linked to child marriage, such as female genital mutilation. It should collaborate with local communities, nongovernmental groups, and international organizations to publicly campaign about the harms associated with child marriage, while also providing support services for married children and children at risk of child marriage. 

The government will also need to continue focusing on keeping girls in school, while it develops sustainable economic opportunities and social programs that empower girls and their families.

That’s Human Rights Watch when it’s not obsessing over pale prosperous men who pretend to be women.

Burnt toast at that

Jun 28th, 2024 7:44 am | By

We’re doomed. Toast. Dead in the water.

While Republican candidate Donald Trump faces criticism for the number of falsehoods he uttered, much of the attention has been focused on President Joe Biden’s poor performance.

Biden appeared to struggle in several of his answers. As a result, concerns about his age and mental fitness have only risen further. Some Democrats have even asked after the debate whether the president could be replaced as the party’s presidential candidate.


Baby Jesus invented calculus

Jun 28th, 2024 7:15 am | By

Oklahoma embraces theocracy:

Oklahoma’s top education official has ordered schools in the state to begin incorporating the Bible into lessons, in the latest US cultural flashpoint over religion in the classroom. A directive sent by Republican state Superintendent Ryan Walters said the rule was compulsory, requiring “immediate and strict compliance”.

All lessons? How can you “incorporate the Bible” into math lessons, science lessons, geography lessons? History, yes, but algebra, no.

In a statement on Thursday, Mr Walters described the Bible as “an indispensable historical and cultural touchstone”.

“Without basic knowledge of it, Oklahoma students are unable to properly contextualize the foundation of our nation, which is why Oklahoma educational standards provide for its instruction,” he added.

It’s true that it’s relevant to US (and other) history, and it’s also relevant to English. The KJV is everywhere in English-language literature, so sure, teach that. But if you mean preach from it in all classes, get out of here.

His announcement, which covers grades five to 12, drew criticism from civil rights organisations and groups that advocate for a strict separation of church and state.

“Public schools are not Sunday schools,” Rachel Laser, head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said in a statement quoted by AP news agency. “This is textbook Christian Nationalism: Walters is abusing the power of his public office to impose his religious beliefs on everyone else’s children. Not on our watch,” she added.

Unless of course he gets away with it.

Directors make choices

Jun 28th, 2024 6:00 am | By

Look closely at the direction of this short clip.

Notice the size of the man compared to the woman. That was a choice.

Notice how he comes in and positions himself right next to her.

Notice that his right hand is almost a fist.

Notice his scowl.

Those were all choices.

“Look, bitch. If a large man joins you in an elevator and practically stands on top of you, scowling and clenching his fist, you’d better just shut up and take it or we’ll shame you in public.”

Nobody showed up

Jun 27th, 2024 3:20 pm | By

Wait wait wait what happened to inclusion? What about inclusivity? Is that all of a suddenly over?

Pflag Edmonton is also on Facebook. It has strict instructions at the top of the page that this group is open only to gender-diverse, trans, two-spirit, gender non-conforming, and non-binary individuals. Hey, I could go! I’m gender non-conforming. I could go, but I’d rather be fired out of a cannon. Apparently so would everyone in Edmonton apart from two count them two people.

That’s how many have signed up. Two.

Guest post: Everything you think and write is spam

Jun 27th, 2024 2:59 pm | By

Originally a comment by Sastra on Falling for the bollox.

When I was banned from a popular atheist site I’d been frequenting for years, every single one of my comments I’d made in the past 3 months disappeared and was replaced by a notice that it was (possible? probable? ) spam. That’s how I realized I was blocked. Not only did my arguments and concerns on transgender and related issues get deleted, but absolutely everything I’d written on atheism, humanism, church/state separation, and the dangers of Trump got axed. Jokes, agreement, encouragement, and consolation were now deemed “spam.” They were unworthy of being observed, and violated the topic of the space even when they were not only obviously and clearly on topic, but supportive of whatever was in the Original Post. Multiple threads and conversations now made no sense as people were repeatedly engaging with and replying to { deleted spam.}

Apparently, I’m a bot. I thought that was an interesting tactic coming from people who were very, very concerned that people shouldn’t be “erased” by having their “humanity and existence denied.” My being deemed a bot could have been a blind result of the banning mechanism, but it could also have been a ham-handed and cringeworthy attempt at showing me how I made others feel when I brought up biological sex as a legitimate category. Or, likely, both.

Liminal trans liminalities

Jun 27th, 2024 11:31 am | By

A paper I’m not much motivated to read.

A (m)Other’s Work Is Becoming Undone: Liminal Belonging and Trans Potentialities

Aw yeah, the oh so cute English Department parentheses; that’s always a good reason to read no further.

The Abstract:

In this relational ethnography, we write as two white afab genderqueer/trans parents who often find ourselves at best pulled between spaces and parts of ourselves, and at worst pressured to choose between the false dichotomy of our “illegible” place within transness/queerness and “aparent” place within motherhood. Weaving together autoethnographic vignettes of our lived experiences with the writings of QTBIPOC thinkers and pedagogues and their anti-racist white comrades, we reflect on themes of liminality, loneliness, hope, grieving, and love in mothering, kin, and community building and theorize, as queer trans (m)othering mother-ers, about the trans potentialities of being/becoming-with-longing queerly.

So, an extended diary entry by two self-obsessed twits. That passes as scholarship?

What’s the Spanish for “terf”?

Jun 27th, 2024 11:06 am | By

Nevertheless NPR still of course has plenty of time to drivel on and on about the alphabet soup.

During Pride month, it can be easy to find books on LGBTQIA+ topics displayed prominently in libraries. But searching in Spanish for those books is difficult. That’s because Spanish search terms for relevant topics aren’t in the catalog.

Because Spanish-speakers haven’t yet caught up to the English-speakers in the business of creating new vocabulary and rules and punishments around the alphabet soup?

Cifor is working with a professor at Northeastern University in Boston to create a Spanish Homosaurus. It’s like a glossary for Spanish terms that libraries can integrate into their subject catalog. The UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center and the Arizona Queer Archives will also help with the project.

“Our hope is to allow people to find the materials they want, and need in language that feels respectful and accurately reflects the way in which they understand themselves and their identities,” Cifor said.

There’s already a Homosaurus in English that includes more than 2,500 terms. The National Endowment for the Humanities last year granted nearly $350,000 to translate it into Spanish. A group of three students at Northeastern University is doing that work right now.

Yay, more than 2,500 terms! That’s definitely a good sign and not at all a symptom of endless mission creep.

The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., has been using the English Homosaurus since 2016. Megan Metcalf is a collection specialist there. They said the Homosaurus is helping correct outdated subject headings.

“Especially for like trans and gender nonconforming folks. The terminology was often medical or psychological, often derogatory,” Metcalf said. “So it’s been really awesome to see more and more records popping up with inclusive cataloging since we’ve been using the Homosaurus.”

They said the Library of Congress will likely adopt the Spanish Homosaurus, too.

Note the “they”! Two “theys” for one Megan! Be proud and happy and excited and thrilled.

Jun 27th, 2024 10:55 am | By

Nina Totenberg can still say “woman” and NPR doesn’t even Correct her. One tiny bit of the raft to cling to. She can also say “mother”!

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, in a 6-3 opinion, temporarily allowed abortions in medical emergencies in Idaho. The opinion was erroneously posted on the court’s website on Wednesday.

The decision reinstates a lower court ruling that temporarily allowed hospitals in the state to perform emergency abortions to protect the life of the mother, and the health of the mother.

Congress passed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, known as EMTALA, in 1986 to prevent hospitals from refusing care for uninsured patients or dumping them on other hospitals. The law says that as a condition for receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds, hospital emergency departments must stabilize a patient whose life or health is at risk. And if the hospital can’t do that, is must transfer the patient to a hospital than can.

Now there, you see, “patient” is the right word because the law is about patients in general, not female patients only.

That was all well and good until the high court overturned Roe. Within weeks, the Biden administration issued guidance to hospitals on how to comply with the emergency care provision under EMTALA, and the Justice Department sued Idaho for barring abortions when a pregnant woman faces an emergency that poses a grave threat to her health, but not an immediate threat to her life.

The opinion did not permanently resolve whether Idaho acted within its rights, or whether the state law is pre-empted by EMTALA. Rather, by a 6-3 vote, the court retreated from a previous ruling that had temporarily allowed Idaho’s law to take effect, meaning that emergency abortions were illegal in the state if they were to save a mother’s health, but not her life.

Idaho is cool with not saving a mother’s health. That’s nice.

Falling for the bollox

Jun 27th, 2024 10:18 am | By

Twitter’s new trick is labeling gender-skeptical replies “probable spam” – despite the glaringly obvious lack of spamness. Like:

How is that “probable spam”? In no way. It’s not. It’s argumentative; it dissents from trans dogma; it’s not spam.

Vanishing w___n

Jun 27th, 2024 4:55 am | By

Actual CNN headline:

Mistakenly posted Supreme Court document indicates pregnant people in Idaho should have access to emergency care – for now

Actual lede:

A document that was mistakenly posted on the US Supreme Court website Wednesday indicates that the court may allow abortions in medical emergencies in Idaho, at least temporarily. The state would not be allowed to deny an emergency abortion to a pregnant person whose health is in danger, at least while the case makes its way through the courts.

Not Twitter, not Pink News, not the ACLU, but CNN. Mainstream news outlet.

Guest post: The “just leave those little people over there alone” argument

Jun 26th, 2024 4:26 pm | By

Originally a comment by Artymorty on Bro can’t understand.

I despise the “just leave those little people over there alone” argument. It says that people with gender dysphoria are a tiny insignificant minority who aren’t worth examining further, which is not a model of tolerance, it’s a model of profound ignorance. It says, “I don’t care if the surgeries work or not, I just want to put those people out of my mind as much as possible. So I’ll just assume the surgeries are hunky-dory, because it’s the easiest way for me to get out of having to think about or care about those unusual genderbender people.”

“I don’t care if many of the people in the trans movement might be victims, caught up in a cult, being exploited, some of whom were targeted since early childhood, many of whom will end up severely disabled, quite a few of whom will commit suicide. It’s too incomprehensible for me to care. It’s a small number of people way off somewhere else, far from me and mine, so why do people make such a fuss?”

And with this guy, it’s worse than “I don’t care.” It’s “I can’t understand.” He can’t even fathom what unsavoury business might be going on under the shroud he’s thrown over “transgender.”

Well, of course every single crook, charlatan, and predator is going to adopt the label “transgender” if everyone else is making a big show out of how incomprehensible, mysterious, and magical the trans people are. Isn’t that what every messed up person always wanted? An invincibility shield, or an invisibility cloak?

I think all those comic book movies the culture is marinating in have gotten to everyone’s heads. They’re treating “transgender” like a superhero costume. As if trans-identifying people are special superhumans, the fucking X-Men.

And of course, super villains are taking note and dressing the part.

The virtuous virtue of the virtuous

Jun 26th, 2024 11:33 am | By

The Telegraph last September:

An investigation by the Telegraph has found examples of literary agencies making clear their preference for authors deemed under-represented or marginalised – normally meaning people of colour, disabled writers and those from the LGBTQ+ community – prompting concern that authors who do not meet the criteria are becoming “ostracised”.

Ash Literary, an agency looking “for extraordinary stories for children that reflect and celebrate the diversity of our world”, states on its submissions page: “We are not interested in stories about white able-bodied WW2 evacuees but would welcome that story from a disabled, LGBTQ+ or BIPOC [black, indigenous, and other people of colour] perspective.”

Which is absurd as well as disgusting. How many indigenous lesbian gay trans queer disabled people were WW2 evacuees? My quick back of the envelope calculation yields the approximate figure of zero.

It adds: “If your book is about an identity that is not yours, we will not be a good fit. This includes books based [sic] the experiences of family members and friends.”

By “books” they mean “novels” – it’s apparent that they’re an agency for fiction writers, not writers of all kinds. They want fiction writers but they don’t want fiction. Seems like a stumbling block.

The Good Literary Agency, which receives funding from Arts Council England’s National Portfolio 2023-26, was set up “to explicitly represent British writers from backgrounds under-represented in UK publishing.” It lists jobs that ask for applicants who understand “the issues within publishing and society more generally that have led to structural inequality and writers who are BAME, working class, disabled and LGBTQ+ being under-represented”.

So it’s not so much a literary agency as…what? A minor political party? An agenda? A campaign?

Hat pin woman found this fragrant gem for us:

I recommend playing it to get the full effect of the disdainful smug Virtue of this “literary agent.”

If we fancy operating a blast furnace

Jun 26th, 2024 9:00 am | By

More cheerfully, JKR is on fire today.

Then a compact little essay:

Gender identity “is a core part of who we know ourselves to be”. It can be “fixed or fluctuate”, absent or neutral. There is no explanation of how we’re supposed to identify our core as male, female or both, though the books’ photographs suggest that if we feel like beauty pageant winners we’ve got lady feels, and if we fancy operating a blast furnace, we have an inner bloke. I particularly enjoyed the advice to those who haven’t got the attention span to read the entire, very short book: “if you only have half an hour to spare, just read the paragraphs set in the two largest font sizes and you’ll still get a basic overview of the subject.”

Insert flames emoji here.

Bro can’t understand

Jun 26th, 2024 8:46 am | By

Then try harder.

It’s not a “between”

Jun 26th, 2024 7:45 am | By

Of course David Tennant’s pious wish for Kemi Badenoch to stop existing is being framed as “a row” between the two of them as opposed to a white man publicly wishing for a black woman to stop existing.

Rishi Sunak has intervened in a row between Kemi Badenoch and actor David Tennant, saying the Doctor Who star is “the problem”.

But it’s not “a row between” Badenoch and Tennant. It’s Tennant publicly wishing non-existence on Badenoch – publicly as in: in a public speech at a sleb event.

Tennant suggested at the British LGBT Awards last week that he wanted a world where the equalities minister “doesn’t exist any more”, and said she should “shut up”.

No he didn’t “suggest” that. He said it. They just can’t help themselves, can they. There is footage of him saying it, which we can all see, so there can’t be any legal motive for avoiding saying he said it. He can’t sue them for saying he said it, but they use the weaker verb anyway. Crap dishonest cowardly journalism.

If that’s a more conciliatory note…

Jun 26th, 2024 7:20 am | By

Labour v women chapter 7 thousand:

Labour has “a lot of work to do to earn the trust” of women in the wake of rows about transgender rights, the shadow health secretary has said. Wes Streeting said it had taken the party “a while to navigate what has been a pretty complicated and at times toxic debate”, saying it was now time to “show some humility” for the hurt caused.

Oh [Bronx cheer]. Try rage instead of hurt. We don’t need the not so subtle reminder that you fools see women as the whiny sex, the sex that gets “hurt” if you give all its rights away, the sex that doesn’t do rage because it’s not ladylike.

Gender-coded language is so irritating. Would the Telegraph blither about Labour’s “hurt” or Wes Streeting’s “hurt” over political divisions? I don’t think so. But when it’s women then it becomes hurt feefees and whining and all the rest of it. Fark off.

Sir Keir Starmer – who had previously criticised a fellow Labour MP for saying only women have a cervix – insisted he was “very proud” of his party’s record on women. His shadow health secretary now strikes a more conciliatory note, saying Labour is “finally in a good place” when it comes to protecting women and listening to their voices.

“I think it’s taken us a while to navigate what has been a pretty complicated and at times toxic debate. And I think that JK Rowling’s comments over the weekend reflect that there’s a lot of work to do to earn trust on this issue, and that clearly there’s been a lot of hurt,” he said.

Oh that’s where they got it. Listen up, Wes Streeting: there’s a lot of anger and fury and frustration and bitterness. There’s a lot of profound alienation now that we’ve been made aware how little women matter to the political parties. Kissing the booboo is not going to make it all better.

Labour has also come under fire for plans to make it easier for people to change gender. Mr Streeting said simplifying the process by which people can legally change their gender would make it less “degrading” and “torturous”. 

Of course making it ever easier for men to pretend to be women is degrading and torturous for women, but Mr Streeting doesn’t care about that.

The [Labour] party has said it would keep the requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria but that this could now be provided by a single clinician. Under the plans there is no requirement for people to have either had gender reassignment surgery or be planning to do so, to legally change their gender.

Kemi Badenoch, the Women and Equalities minister, said the changes would create a “predator’s charter”.

And a charter for men who want to win women’s prizes and all the rest of the list.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Mr Streeting said that Labour had been “honest about the fact there are some tensions and there are some thorny issues to work through” and was “approaching those issues with the humility, the care and respect that this discussion deserves”.

No it isn’t.

He has no clue, and he has no clue that he has no clue.

Our loss

Jun 25th, 2024 5:35 pm | By

News I’ve been dreading for some years:

Frederick Crews, Withering Critic of Freud’s Legacy, Dies at 91

A literary critic, essayist and author, he was a leading voice among revisionist skeptics who saw Freud as a charlatan and psychoanalysis as a pseudoscience.

Mr. Crews, a professor emeritus of English at the University of California, Berkeley, was the author of more than a dozen books. Most recently, he wrote “Freud: The Making of an Illusion,” a deeply researched evisceration of Freud’s reputation and therapeutic insights that drew wide critical attention when it came out in 2017.

He was a longtime contributor to The New York Review of Books, where his essays and reviews explored the works Melville, Twain and Flannery O’Connor, among other authors. He also examined broader subjects like recovered memory therapy, the Rorschach test, alien abduction cases and, particularly, psychoanalysis, which he considered a pseudoscience, as well as the scourge of what he called Freudolatry.

I can tell you someone else he saw through: Judith Butler. He was good at seeing through and at not falling for idolatries.

A process

Jun 25th, 2024 5:18 pm | By

Thick thick thick. Thick as a whole load of planks.

The shadow secretary of education thinks that men who “go through a process” should be using the women’s toilets. What “process”? There is no “process” that turns men into women, just as there’s no “process” that turns stallions into mares or bulls into cows.

I suppose the idea is – whether they know it or not – that if men are willing to go to all that trouble then we owe it to them to let them take what belongs to women. They’re sincere, they made an effort, they jumped through hoops, they really really want to. Sorry, wimz, you lose.