A trans review of 2017: the year of transgender moral panic

From The Conversation:  https://theconversation.com/a-trans-review-of-2017-the-year-of-transgender-moral-panic-89272

December 27, 2017

Three years ago, 2014 was hailed as “the transgender tipping point” – a year when trans people became more visible and better understood. Sadly, looking back on 2017, it seems it was the year of a transgender moral panic.

In the first half of the year, every few weeks seemed to bring another news story invoking public concern about trans issues. A documentary about the treatment of trans and gender questioning kids in Canada kicked off public debates which continued all year. Legal tussles over transgender bathroom rights in the US prompted anxiety and a return to stereotypes of trans people as perpetrators of violence, rather than more commonly victims of it.

In August,the US president, Donald Trump, attempted to ban trans people from serving in the US military – though the move was blocked by a federal judge in October. In the UK, there was furore over trans women’s identities, gender-neutral children’s clothing, the existence of non-binary people, and more. Campaign groups such as Trans Media Watch and All About Trans were constantly fire-fighting the latest wave of media myths and misinformation.

It became an even tougher time to be trans in the final few months of 2017. Since October, an anti-trans article has appeared in the UK press virtually every day – two or three on some days. Several commentators have documented this media onslaught.

In a recent gender training session for an LGBT charity, I asked attendees to come up with all the news stories about trans they could remember from the past month or so. They filled an entire sheet of flipchart paper in minutes, and still came up with more, virtually all of them negative.

Moral panic

A moral panic is the process of arousing social concern over an issue. Moral panics often involve scapegoating a particular group as the “evil” responsible for a range of societal ills.

The current storm around trans people bears all the hallmarks of a moral panic. Trans people are blamed for a number of – often contradictory – harms. In 2017, these included corrupting children, changing the English language and threatening free speech, violence against women and seeking to both dismantle and reinforce problematic gender norms.

Continue reading at:  https://theconversation.com/a-trans-review-of-2017-the-year-of-transgender-moral-panic-89272

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Evangelical Christianity Is Facing a Political Crisis: It Will Need More Than a Makeover

From Alternet:  https://www.alternet.org/belief/evangelical-christianity-facing-political-crisis-it-will-need-more-makeover

The Christian faith was the real loser in the Roy Moore campaign.

By Valerie Tarico
December 29, 2017

Ok, evangelicals do have a brand problem—but they also have a major product problem.

Bible-believing born-again Christians, aka evangelicals, have had a brand problem since Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority sold the born-again movement to the Republican party in exchange for political power a generation ago, forging the religious right.

The Republican party has been using Christianity’s good name to cover bad deeds ever since, all the while tapping evangelical media empires and churches as communications and organizing platforms to bring ordinary believers along with the merger. Having become true-believers themselves, Evangelical leaders have offered themselves up as trusted messengers for this New-and-Improved political gospel project.

And it has worked.

Born-again Christians haven’t given up their core beliefs: that the Bible is the literally perfect word of God, Jesus died for their sins, and folks who don’t accept this gift will burn forever in Hell. Rather, most white evangelicals (and a number of blacks and Hispanics) have appended parts of the Republican policy agenda and the underlying conceptual framework to this list. Religious beliefs and political beliefs have become, for many evangelicals, indistinguishable objects of devotion, beyond question. Political tribe and religious tribe now have the same boundaries.

When I outlined evangelicalism’s brand problem in early 2016, few of us had any idea how bad it could get. Now the world associates the term Evangelical with the Trump election—over 80 percent of evangelicals gave him their vote—and with the candidacy of theocrat, Roy Moore, who despite credible allegations that he pursued and pawed young teens while an assistant district attorney, received comparable support from white Alabama evangelicals.

In the aftermath of Moore’s campaign and (merciful) defeat, the minority of Evangelical Christians who found him horrifying are doing some public soul searching—well, except not really. Many recognize only the brand problem and are, more than anything, simply scrambling to get away from the term evangelical itself. “After Trump and Moore, some evangelicals are finding their own label too toxic to use,” reports the Washington Post.  “The term feels irreversibly tainted,” agrees evangelical author Jen Hatmaker.

Jemar Tisby is president of a faith-based media company catering to black evangelicals, but he says that “It’s counterproductive to identify as evangelical. . . . What’s happened with evangelicalism is, it has become so conflated with Republican politics, that you can’t tell where Christianity ends and partisanship begins.”

At Wheaton College, my old alma mater, the executive director of the Billy Graham Center, Ed Stetzer, said, “I don’t want ‘evangelical’ to mean people who supported candidates with significant and credible accusations against them. If evangelical means that, it has serious ramifications for the work of Christians and churches.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.alternet.org/belief/evangelical-christianity-facing-political-crisis-it-will-need-more-makeover

 

 

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No Wonder Millennials Hate Capitalism

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/04/opinion/millennials-hate-capitalism.html


Dec. 4, 2017

On a Friday night last month, I moderated a debate in Manhattan about whether we should scrap capitalism. It was organized by the socialist magazine Jacobin; defending capitalism were editors from the libertarian publication Reason. Tickets for all available 450 seats sold out in a day. So Jacobin moved it to a venue that holds around twice as many. The extra tickets sold out in eight hours.

When I arrived, people were lined up for blocks; walking to the door, I felt like I was on the guest list at an underground nightclub. Most attendees appeared to be in their 20s and 30s, part of a generation that is uniquely suspicious of capitalism, a system most of their elders take for granted.

The anti-Communist Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation was alarmed to find in a recent survey that 44 percent of millennials would prefer to live in a socialist country, compared with 42 percent who want to live under capitalism. For older Americans, the collapse of Communism made it seem as though there was no possible alternative to capitalism. But given the increasingly oligarchic nature of our economy, it’s not surprising that for many young people, capitalism looks like the god that failed.

Nowhere is that clearer than in the wretched tax bill passed by the Senate in the early hours of Saturday morning, which would make the rich richer and the poor poorer. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the bill directs the largest tax cuts as a share of income to the top 5 percent of taxpayers. By 2027, taxes on the lowest earners would go up.

Millennials, a generation maligned as entitled whiners, would be particularly hard hit. As Ronald Brownstein argued in The Atlantic, the rich people who would benefit from the measures passed by the House and the Senate tend to be older (and whiter) than the population at large. Younger people would foot the bill, either through higher taxes, diminished public services or both. They stand to inherit an even more stratified society than the one they were born into.

Here’s one example. The Senate bill offers a tax break for parents whose children attend private school. But it cuts deductions for state and local taxes, which could make it harder to fund the public schools where the vast majority of millennials will send their kids.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/04/opinion/millennials-hate-capitalism.html

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Former Facebook executive criticizes social network for “destroying how society works”

From Salon: https://www.salon.com/2017/12/11/chamath-palihapitiya-facebook/

Chamath Palihapitiya warned that the social-media platform is “ripping apart the social fabric”

Matthew Rozsad
12.11.2017

A second former Facebook executive is claiming that the social-media platform presents a threat to its users and society.

Chamath Palihapitiya, who served as the vice president for user growth at the company, described feeling “tremendous guilt” for his legacy at the company during a talk at the Stanford Graduate School of Business according to CNBC.

“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” Palihapitiya commented, identifying the problem as online interactions being fueled by shallow instant gratifications suchs receiving likes, hearts and thumbs-up icons.

Palihapitiya added, “No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.” He noted that he has minimized his use of Facebook and his children “aren’t allowed to use that s**t.”

Drawing a line under what he feels are the potential threats presented by Facebook and social media in general, he drew focus to an incident in India where false reports spread over WhatsApp led to the lynching death of seven people. “That’s what we’re dealing with,” he said. “And imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want. It’s just a really, really bad state of affairs.”

After Facebook, Palihapitiya launched into a successful career as a venture capitalist in the tech sector. As well as funding multiple companies, he has commissioned studies about and led initiatives against various problems within and caused by Silicon Valley’s startup community including the resulting shortage of affordable housing in the Bay Area and the industry’s general moral failings and “anarchist cheerleading.”

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