There is an overwhelming and near-undeniable temptation when presented with a social justice movement to see in it an opportunity for you to mobilize the energy and commitment of its members to accomplish one of your own goals. I remember for example, seeing a lot of passionate people during Occupy Vancouver insisting that what we should do is take all of our anger at the current political/economic system and channel it toward stopping pornography, or finding out what ‘really’ happened on September 11th, 2001*.
Now it is very much an open debate whether or not Occupy was a social justice movement per se, or whether its aims were too diffuse to qualify, or whether by largely ignoring the racial components of the system it complained about, it abrogated its claim to social ‘justice’. That’s not the substance of my argument here. What I will note, just in passing, is that Occupy Vancouver was well-attended by social justice groups, including (obviously, if you know the activism scene in Vancouver) a number of Indigenous organizations.
Which brings us around to what I do want to talk about, which is the role that settlers play in the #IdleNoMore movement; or, more specifically, roles that I want to see them (us) stop playing. First, just to establish some terminology, ‘settler’ refers to non-Indigenous inhabitants of North America (or Turtle Island), and speaks specifically to the fact that while we may live here, we are not the original inhabitants of this land. More information can be found here if you find this term troubling.
There are two general patterns of behaviour that I want to comment on, because of how often I see them and how deeply they annoy me. … Continue Reading
One of the fascinating aspects of privilege is the way in which it totally skews your perception of what ‘average’ is. I would think, for example, that things like street harassment or sexual assault or other forms of misogynistic abuse are fantastically rare. After all, I’m a guy who spends a lot of time with and around women, and I almost never see street harassment or hear stories of people getting assaulted. It wasn’t until I actually asked the women in my life about their experiences that I saw just how widespread and pervasive these behaviours are – they just don’t happen when guys like me are around to see them. My male privilege makes the ‘norm’ of a safe and fair society seem plausible, when the lived experience of my friends and family is anything but.
So when one is confronted about their privilege, or when their privilege is even simply discussed openly, an interesting thing happens. From the perspective of the privileged, the critics are attacking what is right and normal! Why on Earth would someone criticize a just world? There’s certainly no rational reason to do that. Nobody without a particular axe to grind, or maybe even an outright hatred of a particular group would level such accusations against the norm, right? And when those criticisms continue unabated, there’s only one possible way to see it: as demonization: … Continue Reading
One of the fascinating aspects of the denial of privilege is the pirouettes one must turn in order to square the denial with observed fact.
“Black people have just as many opportunities as white people!”
“Well, here’s an assload of evidence that suggests that’s not true”
“…culture of poverty! Single moms! Phrenology!”
This is the reason why I think race is a perfect subject for the skeptical movement, because we can point to the evidence and say “here’s a whole bunch of problems, and the excuses offered for them are based on stereotypes rather than facts”. This is what we do when it comes to homeopathy, UFOs, gods, whatever you like. We find ways to take human inference out of the equation, and then figure out what the truth looks like regardless of what beliefs you had before you asked the questions.
The hubris of those who discover that Obama didn’t raise their taxes, or that FOX News isn’t “fair and balanced”, or that outlawing contraception causes more abortions, is always highly amusing to watch. Well, sometimes amusing, other times depressing as they manage to find smaller and smaller loopholes of post hoc reasoning to justify the rapidly-disappearing credibility of their arguments (“he’s a secret socialist! You just wait!” “Scientists and media observers are all liberals!” “the devil lives in the uterus!”). At any rate, it’s never boring.
What’s even more amusing is when the myths of the obsessed are punctured at their own hands: … Continue Reading
Ohmygosh you guyse, I am just super excited. I was poking around in the dashboard of this site yesterday, and I noticed that I was getting a lot of hits from a Youtube video. Seeing as it is highly unusual for me to get referrals from Youtube, I clicked on through to see what was driving traffic to the site. Well wouldn’t you know, someone loves me and loves this blog enough to record a ten minute piece of fan mail! I’m so incredibly flattered. For someone to take ten whole minutes out of what I’m sure is a very busy schedule of hating the shit out of women to talk about little ol’ me? Gosh…
Well it’s the oddest piece of fan mail I’ve ever got. It doesn’t even seem like fan mail. It seems like he doesn’t like me! But that can’t be… I’m so loveable.
For those of you who didn’t/couldn’t watch all the way through, I will summarize IntegralMath’s* points: … Continue Reading
There are some things, for all our vaunted expertise and powerful scientific tools, that we can simply not seem to answer. We may never be able to figure them out. They are the mysteries of the universe. And this is one of them:
A new poll released by the charitable organization Samara suggests Canadians are less satisfied with their democracy compared to eight years ago. Last spring, researchers conducted a poll using a question identical to one used in 2004, asking respondents about their level of satisfaction “with the way democracy works in Canada.”
Seventy-five per cent of Canadians expressed at least some degree of satisfaction in 2004. But when asked again in 2012, the number expressing satisfaction dropped 20 points to 55 per cent.
It’s weird. Why would people’s confidence in the Parliamentary system decline so precipitously since 2004? What has changed since then? Anything? I certainly can’t think of an answer. … Continue Reading
Imagine you had to talk to Republicans. Every day. And pretend they weren’t idiots. How long do you think you’d last before you just snapped?
Public Policy Polling looks like its patience is wearing thin:
49% of GOP voters nationally say they think that ACORN stole the election for President Obama. Wefound that 52% of Republicans thought that ACORN stole the 2008 election for Obama, so this is a modest decline, but perhaps smaller than might have been expected given that ACORN doesn’t exist anymore [emphasis mine].
Give in to your anger, PPP. Come join us on the snark side.
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After the election, Fox News’ resident zeppelin opined:
The demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore, and there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff, they want things. And who is going to give them things? President [Barack] Obama.
He later “clarified”:
If you look at the exit polling, you’ll see that a coalition of voters put the President back into the oval office. That coalition was non-tradition, which means it veered away from things like traditional marriage, robust capitalism, and self-reliance.
Instead, each constituency that voted for the President — whether it be single women, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, whatever — had very specific reasons for doing so. […]
Traditional American voters generally want a smaller government in Washington, more local control, some oversight on abortion, and believe in American exceptionalism.
Tom the Dancing Bug (a.k.a. Ruben Bolling) sets Bill straight: … Continue Reading
Happy Monday, all! The Rev and I were at it again, this time taking on a pair of stories of political nonsense from the United States. Video and links are below the fold:
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I am irate. Look, I realise that I am in a position of privilege, and I realise that I’m not angry about this all the time because I’m male and that this is something that I have the privilege of simply not-concerning-myself-about for the vast bulk of my life.
I rationalise this as that I pay attention only insofar as harm is brought to my attention. And Ireland has ever-so-slowly been moving towards legalising abortion since 1992. Oh, that’s right, you didn’t know that abortion was illegal in Ireland. My bad. Did you know that it was actually illegal for doctors to tell patients about their abortion options in other countries? And that it was illegal for people to travel to another country for an abortion? No? Well, anyway, we were focused on my privilege, so let’s keep on topic.
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People often wonder at the success of Ayn Rand’s writings, at how otherwise intelligent people get sucked in to the Randian circle-jerk. I want to take some time to deconstruct one of her essays, on “Man’s Rights”, with two purposes in mind: 1) to demonstrate that her writing is not 100% vacuous crap, and 2) to help people combat these ideas when presented ‘in the wild’, as it were.
Have a read of her essay. Come back when you’re done. Hopefully you can get through the whole thing (yes, yes, choking down that first sentence is pretty rough, and it doesn’t get any better later).
So where to begin? First, I think it’s important to remember that pure lies don’t often take hold in the way that Rand’s writing has. A lie alloyed with truth can get a lot farther than either the lie or just the truth by themselves. So… For time constraints, I’m going to gloss over the pure bullshit (defining a ‘free society’ as capitalism, for example), and focus more on the truths that are used to sweeten the lie.
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