Not My Problem

I’m really tired of the banning of words. I’m really over the passive aggressive bullshit about trigger warnings from people who use their ultra sensitivity as a club and a way of demonstrating their superiority.

Yeah I grew up poor, working class and bullied.

Yes I have been raped.  On more than one occasion I have had my life threatened by people who had weapons in hand and were quite capable of murdering me.

I have been subjected to slurs and discrimination.

When I have been knocked down I got up again.  I have grieved for my losses and celebrated my personal victories.

In Texas we call that Cowgirling up.  It means getting back on a horse after having been thrown.

Words are not the problem.  Banning words does nothing to change the reality of discrimination.

It is action with out real results.  Sort of like Occupy.

Directionless wankery.

Activist image polishing and brand building, a way of demonstrating one’s political sensitivity creds.

The following is a post that appeared on Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership:  http://jpfo.org/articles-assd04/not-my-problem.htm

By Susan Callaway, aka Mama Liberty
July 15th, 2014

Not my problem. I’m sure a lot of people would consider that a harsh thing to say, but if you’ll stay with me a bit you should easily see that it is the only real answer to the whole “politically correct” thing sweeping this country and, incidentally, the world.

“You made me mad. You didn’t make me happy. I’m offended.” You can probably add a hundred more such phrases people use to control what you do, say and even what you believe. That’s exactly what happens when a few people can choose any word or object, assign a specific (often NEW and ugly) meaning to it, and then demand that nobody use that word or object because it “makes them feel”… whatever.

Let’s look first at the premise that someone can actually “make” another person FEEL anything. How does that work, exactly? Vulcan mind meld? Is it not a fact that each person simply REACTS to outside stimulus, and the perception of sad, mad, happy, etc. is actually their own response? That response can most certainly be painful, even harmful psychologically in vulnerable people, but the person who supplies the stimulus is not, therefore, actually responsible for the feelings because he/she has no control over what another person perceives or what their response will be. The person with the feelings is actually the responsible person and, to a great extent, chooses the response based on their own beliefs and preferences. History is replete with every kind of race, tribe and ethnic conflict, but none of it can shift true responsibility from the person with the feelings to someone else.

A great many people have lost sight of that fact, and the new privileged classes have managed to politicize their hurt feelings into actual laws, criminalizing the words and actions their feelings and perceptions find objectionable. Criminalization of ordinary words and inanimate objects does not seem like a good path toward a polite and peaceful society. Recent history seems to support the more rational conclusion that attempting to force people to do and say things results in escalating resentment and even hatreds.

But of course, the shoe does not fit at all on the other foot. I think it is clear to most people how many screeds and threats come from the mouths and pens of certain “protected” persons (and those who shill for them) against anyone they perceive as not obeying their demands. Somehow, it is impossible for them to be “racist” or “hateful,” and their written and spoken threats are never seen as damaging to those they say should be caged, murdered or worse.

For some reason, the privileged one believes he/she should be able to dictate how others speak or act, yet totally rejects any limitations on their own behavior. How does that work? If mere words are seriously harmful, why doesn’t that work both ways?

I never have, and never would, deliberately say or do anything intended to harm, insult, demean or harass any other person, always seeking to be courteous and non-threatening. I simply don’t ever intend to have someone else define that for me… especially with threats and violence under color of law. I absolutely refuse to accept any false guilt for speaking my mind, especially when that false guilt is predicated on things my long dead ancestors did, or might have done.

Seems to me that responsibility for “feelings” has to be handed back to the people who actually own it.

 

Regarding “Generation Wars”: some reflections upon reading the recent Jack Halberstam essay

From Whipping Girl:  http://juliaserano.blogspot.com/2014/07/regarding-generation-wars-some.html

By Julia Serano
Sunday, July 13, 2014

Jack Halberstam recently published an essay called You Are Triggering me! The Neo-Liberal Rhetoric of Harm, Danger and Trauma, and it’s been making waves on the activist internets over the last week. It felt like a bit of a “kitchen sink” article to me, in that it discussed a plethora of different matters (including Monty Python, historical debates between second- and third-wave feminisms, current controversies surrounding the word “tranny,” the recent proliferation of trigger warnings, supposed connections between expressions of trauma and neoliberalism, safe spaces, “It Gets Better” campaigns, and concerns about millennials being hypersensitive) and attempted to weave them into one nice neat coherent narrative. This narrative could be summarized as follows:

queer & trans culture and politics circa the 1990’s was strong, progressive, and fun!

whereas queer & trans culture and politics circa the 2010’s is frail, conservative, and a killjoy.

While Halberstam’s essay made a few points that are certainly worthy of further exploration and discussion, it also overreached in a number of ways, especially in its attempts to shoehorn a potpourri of recent events and trends into the aforementioned overarching narrative. Some concerns that I have about the essay have been addressed by others here and here and here and here (sorry, original posting of that response was here) and here.

I generally do not respond to every essay that I disagree with on the Internet (as that would be a full time job!). But I wanted to add a few thoughts to this discussion because, while the essay in question is uniquely “Halberstamian” in its style and themes, the overarching narrative that holds the piece together is remarkably similar to the one recently forwarded by Andrea James, and resembles recent comments made by RuPaul. Indeed, it seems as if queer and trans folks who came of age around the 1990’s (ostensibly my generation, give or take a few years) are increasingly invoking this as the “go-to” narrative to explain why a younger generation of queer and trans activists behave the way that they do. And I think that the assumptions that prop up this narrative are in dire need of unpacking.

on having to walk uphill, both ways, in a foot of snow, everyday, on your way to school, back when you used to be a kid

I think that a useful place to start is with the “four Yorkshire men” Monty Python sketch that Halberstam invokes as a metaphor for the “hardship competitions…among the triggered generation” (which is to say, how young people today are supposedly constantly complaining about how hurt and oppressed they are by relatively minor things, such as “a cultural event, a painting, a play, a speech, a casual use of slang, a characterization, a caricature and so on”).

Now personally, I always understood that Monty Python sketch as making fun of how people, as they get older, tend to glorify their own past: imagining the hardships they faced as being especially challenging or severe, thereby allowing them to self-conceptualize themselves as being especially resourceful, righteous, cunning, and perseverant for having survived despite overwhelming odds. And this human tendency has historically enabled older generations to outright dismiss younger generations as being misguided, or especially soft (because “they have it so much easier than we did”), and so on.

The notion that queer and trans people of my generation were somehow stoic and resilient, whereas the younger generation of queer and trans people are a bunch of oversensitive crybabies seems to be quite a stretch. I can attest to the fact that we too complained about how oppressed we were, and we often expressed our hurt feelings in public, and we often became outraged about particular language choices or media depictions that we found problematic. The main difference is that we (in glorifying our own past) tend to believe that the causes that we fought for were righteous and justified, whereas the younger generation’s causes and concerns may seem misguided and frivolous to us.

One blatant example of this sort of hypocrisy can be found in RuPaul, who with one hand dismisses concerns of a younger generation of activists who find the word “tranny” problematic, while with the other hand types angry Tweets at people who use the word “faggot” (which he considers to be a “derogatory slur”). The logic here is totally inconsistent. Such actions only make sense if he (and those who agree with him) privileges political stances taken by his own generational cohort over those taken by a newer generation.

Continue reading at:  http://juliaserano.blogspot.com/2014/07/regarding-generation-wars-some.htm

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Bombshell Study: America’s Wealthy Even More Obscenely Rich Than Anybody Thought

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/bombshell-study-americas-wealthy-even-more-obscenely-rich-anybody-thought

Wealth inequality in the U.S. is even more astounding than previous statistics showed.

By Lynn Stuart Parramore
July 16, 2014

Just when you think you’ve got a handle on how bad wealth inequality is in America’s Second Gilded Age, researchers find it’s even worse than you imagined.

The European Central Bank has crunched the numbers and it looks like wealth inequality in the U.S. is even more astounding than previous statistics have shown. Of the 10 rich countries the researchers analyzed, America’s wealthy have grabbed the largest portion of the country’s wealth. The most affluent 1 percent is sitting on between 35 percent and 37 percent of the nation’s wealth, according to  a working paper by ECB senior economist Philip Vermeulen. The Federal Reserve figure that has been previously cited had the 1 percent’s share at 34 percent. But actually it looks like that’s a lowball figure.

Economists studying wealth have been dealing with the fact that when you reach the stratosphere, wealth becomes a sort of dark matter. It’s got a huge gravitational pull, but it’s very hard to trace. It likes to hide, and slip over borders and between bank accounts in the blink of an eye. Vermeulen calls the billionaires whose wealth manages to evade researchers the “missing rich.”

Unfortunately for researchers, rich people don’t tend to respond to surveys that aim to study their wealth; some don’t have the time, but undoubtedly many just don’t want anyone getting their mitts on that sensitive information. So researchers have to figure out other ways to track wealth, including the popular Forbes’ billionaires list, which, while not entirely accurate (it misses a lot of people, like dictators whose money derives from the state), at least makes an attempt to shine a light on the wealth amassed by global tycoons.

Vermeulen warns that even what’s been revealed so far doesn’t give the whole picture. “The results clearly indicate that survey wealth estimates are very likely to underestimate wealth at the top.” You heard that right. Even 37 percent is probably not high enough.

In other countries Vermeulen’s report studied, the 1 percent have also been getting a bigger share of the pie, like the Netherlands, whose rich now hold 17 percent of wealth, up from 9 percent. The French and Spanish wealthy have also increased their share by a couple of points.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/bombshell-study-americas-wealthy-even-more-obscenely-rich-anybody-thought

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Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Prison

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The Rise of the Non-Working Rich

From Robert Reich:  http://robertreich.org/post/91880951615

By Robert Reich
Tuesday, July 15, 2014

In a new Pew poll, more than three quarters of self-described conservatives believe “poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything.”

In reality, most of America’s poor work hard, often in two or more jobs.

The real non-workers are the wealthy who inherit their fortunes. And their ranks are growing.

In fact, we’re on the cusp of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history.

The wealth is coming from those who over the last three decades earned huge amounts on Wall Street, in corporate boardrooms, or as high-tech entrepreneurs.

It’s going to their children, who did nothing except be born into the right family.

The “self-made” man or woman, the symbol of American meritocracy, is disappearing. Six of today’s ten wealthiest Americans are heirs to prominent fortunes. Just six Walmart heirs have more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined (up from 30 percent in 2007).

The U.S. Trust bank just released a poll of Americans with more than $3 million of investable assets.

Nearly three-quarters of those over age 69, and 61 per cent of boomers (between the ages of 50 and 68), were the first in their generation to accumulate significant wealth.

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/91880951615

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Elizabeth Warren EXPLOSIVE Floor Speech on Hobby Lobby Decision – July 16, 2014

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Author of Texas Ex-Gay Plank Tied to Sex Offender

From Bilerico:  http://www.bilerico.com/2014/07/author_of_texas_ex-gay_plank_tied_to_sex_offender.php

Jerry Reiter
July 17, 2014

A sex scandal and cover-up slipped under the radar of the national media last month. News outlets were talking about the Texas GOP voting this month in favor of gay conversion therapy, a widely discredited imitation of real therapy, called “reparative therapy” that promises to “bring out the heterosexual” in gays, but something was amiss beyond the wackiness of the claim itself. I noticed the official party plank had an anonymous author. That gave me a hint there was more to the story.

I contacted the local Dallas reporter who wrote the original story about the plank. He kept his word to the Republican delegate to not reveal the man’s name, but inadvertently he gave me a few tiny clues. And I followed them, like bread crumbs, leading me down a path that led me to something shocking. It would involve an arrest for child pornography, multiple sexual assaults, and a kind of cover-up because, if the world knew the background of the author of the reparative therapy plank and the true-crime story of the reparative therapist who “cured” him, it could destroy any shred of credibility their cause had.

First, I found a fake (last) name, a connection to a “Jeremy Joel” with a website, Joel 2:25. I recognized that the title was from a bible verse, but I was shocked to see the verse was about a great locust invasion. Was he calling gay people locusts? In time I would find out it would be a better description of Jeremy’s reparative therapist, a man who is currently on probation for sexual assaults.

Jeremy could not release his real last name, Schwab, for a number of reasons, because he had been lying on video about how long he had been in reparative therapy, how long he had been living an openly gay life and a string of contradictory claims about his life, but most of all because of his own written statements in praise of a registered sex offender, Christopher Joe Austin, who had been his reparative therapist in Irving, a suburb of Dallas. Jeremy Schwab had gone to Austin weekly for five years, from 2002 to 2007, but had to stop when the reparative therapist was arrested on child porn charges and sexual assault.

Continue reading at:  http://www.bilerico.com/2014/07/author_of_texas_ex-gay_plank_tied_to_sex_offender.php

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Economic Populism at Heart of Emerging Debate Among Democrats

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/07/11-0

by Robert Borosage

Over at The Washington Post, the usually sensible Greg Sargent endorses the notion that divisions among Democrats are “mostly trumped up.” The tension between the Wall Street wing of the party and the Warren (as in Elizabeth) wing is an overblown fiction of a press corps desperate for some action.

It’s true that the prior divisions on social issues have dissipated, as liberals have swept the field. Obama’s halting attempts to wean the US from its foreign wars have garnered widespread support. And on economics, Sargent argues that Democrats “largely agree on the menu of policy responses to the economic problems faced by poor, working and middle class Americans — a higher minimum wage, universal pre-K, higher taxes on the wealthy to fund a stronger safety net, job creation and job training — whatever the broader rhetorical umbrella is being used.” Even Hillary says she agrees with Thomas Piketty that extreme inequality is a “threat” to our democracy.

There are differences on how aggressively to go after the big banks or whether to expand Social Security, Sargent admits, and a debate underway about “whether to push the Democratic Party in a more populist direction,” which he declines to define. But generally, he argues, there’s broad agreement that Hillary or any Democratic candidate will run on.

All of this is true except the conclusion. There is a broad agreement on what might be called a “populist lite” agenda — one that has been put forth repeatedly by Obama and frustrated by Republican obstruction. And the reforms — from the minimum wage to universal pre-K — are important and will make a difference.

But it strikes me as bizarre to suggest that there is no serious debate among Democrats when the National Education Association, the largest teachers union in the country and a key power in Democratic circles, has just called for the resignation of Obama’s education secretary. Democratic House and Senate leaders refuse to allow even a vote on fast-track trade authority sought by the president, and a majority of the Democratic caucus lines up against Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Progressives in both houses demand bold action on jobs, on taxing and investing that the president resists. Democrats revolt against the White House desire to trim Social Security benefits.

In fact, there is a fundamental debate brewing in the party, grounded on very different perspectives that lead in significantly different directions.

On one side are the passive voice populists, which include both Clintons and Obama. They argue that our Gilded Age inequality is the product of technology and globalization, as if these were autonomous forces like the weather. The effects — a declining middle class, stagnant wages, spreading misery — can be ameliorated by sensible policies, like the agenda Sargent ticks off. Most of all, Americans need to make certain the next generation gets better education and training so they can better compete in the global marketplace. Universal preschool is a first step to that. But the largest thrust — driven by the party’s deep pocket donors — is an assault on teacher’s unions and public schools, investment in charters, public and private, and a focus on high-stakes testing to measure teacher and school performance.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/07/11-0

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There’s a fitness tracker for vaginas. Quantifying your life has gone too far

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/14/fitness-tracker-vagina-quantified-life

Biofeedback is great … right up until you use it to get positive feedback from everyone you know


theguardian.com, Monday 14 July 2014

The other night, a friend told me that he was trying to spend more time taking cabs. This surprised me, because I happen to know this friend has a Fitbit, and that he’s rather proud of how far he’s walked under its watchful electronic eye. (I’m being polite: you never just “happen to know” that a friend has a Fitbit because they tell you on social media.)

The Fitbit – if you’ve somehow managed to avoid this – is a little dingus that records how many steps you take in a day and allows you to compete with your friends for the most steps or to post the results to social media. Aficionados will happily march aimlessly up and down the hallway if it means narrowly edging out the next competitor on their leaderboard.

So why was a step-counting devotee actively trying to walk less? “Look,” he told me, “not all my shoes are comfortable. Some of them are really nice. If I walk too far in nice shoes, my feet hurt. So, I’m trying to take cabs.”

It might be the first time I’ve heard a Fitbit user say something akin to “I’m not going to walk more right now, because I don’t want to.”

The Fitbit may have been the first tracker of its kind to go really big – though pedometers have been around for a while – but it has certainly many cousins. There are devices to track your sleep patterns (though Fitbits will do this as well), to keep an eye on your posture, to monitor your dog’s activity levels, to analyze the fuel efficiency of your car or tweet your weight.

Perhaps emboldened by this profusion of interest in data, last month a company called Mark One launched the Vessyl, a cup that analyzes the nutritional content of anything you put in it and tracks your sugar, caffeine, and water consumption. And the KGoal, touted as a “Fitbit for your vagina”, is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter. The latter device looks like a silicone hand grenade and is designed to record your progress as you do kegels, the exercise for pelvic floor muscles that women do to improve childbirth, continence and – most importantly, in my opinion – sexual pleasure. To emphasize that benefit, the KGoal even vibrates when you’re doing your exercises right.

Like the Fitbit, these newest health trackers don’t come cheap; the Vessyl has a $99 promotional price and you can preorder a KGoal for $125, though the projected retail prices are $199 and $175, respectively. But, hey, how much is too much to spend to know that you’re drinking a soda or clenching your vag?

This stuff all sounds a bit silly, but I’m not enough of a curmudgeon to truly bemoan our national data fixation. It’s often easier to understand what to do with data than to evaluate how you feel, and devices that can quantify your walking or blood pressure or vaginal strength let you take advantage of that. If spending $199 on a cup or $175 on a vagina grenade is the shortcut you need to generate and pay attention to your caloric intake and pelvic floor muscles, for instance, then godspeed.

Plus, human brains respond directly to feedback about bodily functions: watching your heartbeat tracked on a monitor, for instance, gives you the ability to consciously slow them down with uncanny ease, through which you can eventually develop into a coping strategy for anxiety attacks and manage anger.

Having access to biofeedback – real-time data about your body’s functioning – has been shown to help people manage migraines, high blood pressure and even epileptic seizures. It is a powerful enough phenomenon that L Ron Hubbard essentially based a whole religion on it: Scientology’s e-meter is a biofeedback device. And, in the 1940s, Dr Arnold Kegel invented a biofeedback device to help woman improve their pelvic floor muscle exercises and manage urinary control – an obvious precursor to the kGoal, and the very origin of the term “kegels”.

But the pitfall of data devices – and the external sharing of information that they encourage or require – is that they hijack your reward pathways. Instead of walking because it makes you feel good, or because it gets you out in the air or (my personal favorite reason) because sometimes there is bonkers stuff to see in between point A and point B, you walk in order to improve your stats. This sometimes means you walk even if it’s a bad idea – if your shoes hurt, if you’re not feeling well, if it’s dangerously hot, if you’re running late – because doing otherwise will mean a black mark on your record. Your stats will slide, and your stats (and the ability to brag about them on social media) are your reward.

One friend tells me that, when her office did a step-counting competition, she was initially distressed because she couldn’t adjust the pedometer’s minimum “success” condition below 10,000 steps: she has fibromyalgia and isn’t always up for that much walking every day. But, chastened by her colleagues’ successes, she ended up trying valiantly to make the daily minimum – and subsequently spent at least one day per weekend asleep for most of the day, and had to take extra medication for pain in her legs and feet.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/14/fitness-tracker-vagina-quantified-life

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