Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Week That Was

Because so many things have happened this week - and because I can't decide which topic I should address - this post is going to be composed of many parts. Use the links below to navigate to the section that interests you. (Note: If you're on the main page for the blog, click the title of this post first.)

A Brief Statement on Christchurch
Don't Listen to SJW's: There's No Excuse for Poor Writing
What to Do About the Dysfunctional College Admissions Process
Historical Cross-Dressers Are Not Necessarily Trans

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Toxic "Diversity" vs. Genuine Diversity: A Handy Chart

Toxic "Diversity"...
  • Scolds.
  • Rejects evidence.
  • Segregates.
  • "Cancels."
  • Encourages identity grifting.
  • Rejects criticism.
Genuine Diversity...
  • Invites.
  • Is evidence-based.
  • Integrates.
  • Rejects censorship.
  • Encourages skill development.
  • Accepts criticism.

Toxic "diversity" scolds; genuine diversity invites. Toxic "diversity" is Brie Larson contemptuously dismissing the opinions of "40-year-old white dudes" because a certain movie supposedly "wasn't made for them." Genuine diversity says, "We wanted to try something a little different, but we hope everyone will like it."

Toxic "diversity" rejects evidence; genuine diversity is evidence-based. Toxic "diversity" asserts that all disparities are the result of "the cis-hetero patriarchy" or "white supremacy." Genuine diversity understands that the causes of such disparities are most likely multivariate; further, it acknowledges indisputable progress. It is a documented fact, for example, that while women are the minority in certain hard STEM fields, they now dominate higher education at both the undergraduate and graduate level pretty much everywhere else. It is also a fact that while significant wealth gaps remain, most African Americans do not live in poverty. Genuine diversity doesn't deny that racism and sexism exist - or that certain policies need to be tweaked to allow for greater equality of opportunity - but its approach to apparent injustice is fundamentally grounded in reality.

Toxic "diversity" segregates; genuine diversity integrates. Toxic "diversity" insists, for example, that black people should write about black people, brown people should write about brown people, and white people should write about white people -- that cultural streams should never be crossed. Toxic "diversity" denies that there is a universal human nature that allows any writer, with proper research and exposure, to feel empathy for people from other times and places. Genuine diversity, on the other hand, allows anyone to write about anything at all.

Toxic "diversity" "cancels"; genuine diversity rejects censorship. If an author fails to adhere to certain strict rules, toxic "diversity" bullies him or her into silence. If genuine diversity views something to be problematic, meanwhile, it discusses the issue politely without presuming that its viewpoint is the only right viewpoint -- and it never insists that certain books be pulped for failing to be sufficiently "woke". Additionally, genuine diversity does not erase history; it engages with it, taking the good and leaving the bad.

Toxic "diversity" encourages identity grifting; genuine diversity encourages skill development. Toxic "diversity" tells the "marginalized" that they are entitled to success and teaches them to sell their gender, race, or sexuality instead of their work. Genuine diversity, in contrast, values merit and hard work. It counsels up-and-coming new writers and artists of all backgrounds to focus first and foremost on improving their craft. It seeks new voices, but it never promotes those voices before they are truly ready for prime time. It holds everyone up to the same standards and doesn't set people up for failure.

Toxic "diversity" rejects criticism; genuine diversity accepts it. If a writer or artist hails from the upper levels of the progressive stack, toxic "diversity" equates all criticism of that writer/artist to racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic/whatever-phobic harassment. But genuine diversity never makes excuses for shoddy work or contemptible behavior. If someone is clearly phoning it in - or is being an absolute wanker - genuine diversity calls them out on it no matter who they are.

Promote genuine diversity. Consign toxic "diversity" to the trash bin.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Some Tweets on CPAC

Saturday, February 23, 2019

To Brie Larson & Company: Please Stop

I love me some butch female characters.

I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with more traditionally feminine characters. As a matter of fact, I think our popular culture nowadays needs to get over its fear of girly-girls and wrench its representation of womanhood into more of a My Little Pony-style balance. But since I've always been a bit more masculine in outlook, I've always felt greater affinity for the tomboyish sorts. Thus, when I took up a passion for Star Trek in junior high, for example, I basically ignored Counselor Troi but fell insanely in love with Major Kira.

What I'm trying to say here is that I'm the audience for a female superhero like Captain Marvel. And yet - and yet! - I have no interest in seeing her new movie because her marketing campaign has been a trash fire of epic proportions.

First of all, there's the deeply stupid year-zero mentality. Captain Marvel, you see, is a Very Important MovieTM because it sends the message that Girls Can Be Heroes TooTM! Okay: I was born in 1979 - the deep, dark Stone Ages, I know - and I've been hearing this message my entire life. Ripley appeared in theaters for the first time in my natal year, and Sarah Connor was a bad-ass before I hit my teens. Then there are my best girls on the small screen - the aforementioned Kira, of course, but also Susan Ivanova and Delenn on Babylon 5, Aeryn Sun on Farscape, and etc. - who accompanied me through high school and beyond. The upshot? Female heroes have been around for forty-freakin'-years (at least); they are not ImportantTM, nor are they GroundbreakingTM. Do you want to see more of them? Fair enough, but don't pretend that your generation is the first to come up with this genius idea -- or that, if not for Captain Marvel, rough-and-tumble girls would be bereft of cultural role models.

Second, there are the numerous attempts to insult people until they fall in line on the praising. Some were skeptical of Benjamin Sisko at first, but I don't remember the showrunners of DS9 berating fans for their supposed racism and "white privilege". They simply asked the audience to trust them and then focused on building the very best leading man they could -- and as a consequence, Sisko is now universally beloved by Trekkies of all races. Why can't Ms. Larson and her compatriots follow the same playbook? Captain Marvel is a popcorn flick, but Schoolmarm Larson is making it sound like homework. (Yuck!) Instead of the sourpuss complaining about "white male misogynists" on the internet, why not show some genuine excitement for the movie itself? Tell us - while avoiding spoilers of course - why this movie will be a joy to watch, and try to do so without referencing Captain Marvel's naughty bits. As it stands now, the constant retreat to "you just hate wahmen" makes me suspect that you put scant effort into making Captain Marvel a quality superhero film -- that, like many SJW's before you, you are using identity politics to cover up your deep mediocrity.

Less than two years ago, Wonder Woman hit the theaters. Between the ticket sales - more than $800,000,000 worldwide - and the audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes, I think we can safely say that it was a smash hit with moviegoers and comic book fans. So no: nobody has a problem with "wahmen." The nitpicking vis-à-vis Captain Marvel is all because of Larson's scolding, non-critical hard-left politics. If she stopped tearing down "white men" and stopped marginalizing all criticism of her activism, the backlash would instantly evaporate.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The True Threat

In the geek culture wars, Peter Simeti - publisher at Alterna Comics - is a true neutral. While the rest of us have been bickering heatedly over the future direction of geekdom, Simeti has stayed out of the fray to focus on reducing the price point of his single-issue comics by over 60% compared to current industry norms. His simple business model? Use cheaper paper and be unfailingly polite to customers.

You might think such a mild-mannered guy would be the least likely target of a vicious harassment campaign -- especially since his newsprint comics are genuinely accessible to all people. Indeed, you might think that he'd be lauded for opening up a hobby to those of more modest means.

You might think that, but you're wrong. Simeti, in fact, has been defamed as an "alt-right Nazi" for months -- and a few days ago, one of his live-streams was interrupted by armed police.

To be sure, at the time I'm writing this post, we still don't know who exactly tried to swat Simeti. It could be someone utterly unconnected to the #Comicsgate spat. But personally, I think this is very unlikely. I find it difficult to imagine that Simeti has pissed off someone in his personal life. No: someone connected to one of his many detractors is probably at fault. Somebody decided to ruin this man's day because he had the unmitigated gall to establish a social media policy that forbade the use of block chains.

Let's be absolutely clear here: Simeti did not tell his creators that they couldn't block trolls. On the contrary, he encouraged his creators to seek his assistance if they truly are being abused. He simply stated that association with a disfavored hashtag - #Comicsgate or #movetheneedle - or a controversial Youtuber was not an adequate reason to block a potential customer. The monster! Clearly, the only right thing to do was to launch a Two Minutes Hate to try to ruin him.

In all likelihood, people who don't give two God damns about comics are going to read this post. But I suspect they will nonetheless recognize the themes in Simeti's story because they are being played out in virtually every corner of our society. Everywhere, people are being victimized by the radical, totalitarian social justice left for failing to be sufficiently "woke".

As I've noted many, many times, I'm not one of Trump's enthusiastic cheerleaders. I think he's doing some things that are right and some things that deserve to be criticized. (This week's emergency declaration on the border wall, for example, is something on which I have doubts.) But even when he's doing something unwise, I've never been afraid of the president. Quite frankly, I think it's a mark of mass hysteria to be afraid of him.

I'm also not afraid of the alt-right. Yes, they put on quite a display in Charlottesville, but their numbers are vanishingly small, and they have zero - zero - sympathizers in the mainstream press. Nor am I afraid of the liberal left; though I may haggle with them over the value of tradition or the appropriate size and function of the government, I know they and I still share roughly the same goals.

What I fear is the aforementioned radical, totalitarian social justice left. These people are already exercising their power in academia, the media, and corporate America to threaten everything I value -- and their rhetoric makes it perfectly clear that they want me and mine silenced, broken, jailed, or dead.

I don't think I'm panicking. I don't think I'm being absurd. How else am I supposed to interpret, for example, the concerted campaigns to block our income streams and/or render us jobless? How else am I supposed to interpret the widespread enthusiasm for violence against us? It's heroic to punch a Nazi -- and oh, by the way, I get to define what a Nazi is, and you, my dear classical liberal, fall into that category.

Social justice warriors are thoroughly convinced of their self-righteousness, and that makes them especially dangerous. As C.S. Lewis rightly observed, "...those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." As time has worn on, it has become increasingly clear that the SJW program, if implemented without opposition, would destroy absolutely everything:
  • It would destroy meritocracy and consequently halt technological and scientific progress. The race is already on in some quarters to dumb down STEM programs in the name of "equity." But your skin color or genitalia won't make you a good brain surgeon or rocket scientist; a rigorous, knowledge-focused science education will -- an education that will be within reach for motivated folks of all backgrounds if we work to improve preparation in the primary and secondary grades.
  • It would destroy art and creativity. Actually, in many ways, it has already destroyed such things. Movies and books have been canceled or substantially reworked to satisfy SJW activists, whose requirements have become ever more minute and multitudinous. Meanwhile, whatever has not been outright censored has been rendered anodyne by fear of these harpies. No one - aside from my scrappy indie friends - feels free to be honest or to push boundaries. Hell, we're not even allowed to tell a story about a racist who gradually changes her mind! (See also: the attacks on author Laurie Forest and her book The Black Witch.)
  • It would destroy our ability to relate to each other as human beings. SJW's want to control how we banter with each other, how we show affection, how we flirt -- virtually everything that makes our lives in society enjoyable. I don't know if they're just pretending or if they're genuinely brain-damaged in some way, but these leftists act like they find context and non-verbal social cues completely incomprehensible. "N-word passes", for example, are a meme and clearly a joke - especially when distributed by a mixed-race group of students - but that doesn't stop SJW's from screeching as if someone just got lynched. Don't get me wrong: you're allowed to find jokes like that offensive. But the proportionate response is to say, "Dude, that's not funny" -- not to howl that these jokesters are terrible racists who need immediate correction. The upshot? The SJW's approach to humor is joyless and oppressive -- and her approach to sex is frankly inhuman. There's surely a better, less rigid way to negotiate the line between "fun" and "completely unacceptable".
  • It would destroy trust. We can interact and do business with each other because we assume - usually correctly - that the guy across the way has essentially agreed to the same basic social rules. The SJW program attacks this trust in three ways. First, it claims that people are routinely dishonest about their intentions -- that we should search endlessly for "dog whistles" instead of accepting the plain meaning of people's words. Second, it openly teaches that truth is contingent and not universal. Third, it tells certain favored groups that the rules shouldn't apply to them -- that they are allowed to lie, cheat, or otherwise misbehave to right some cosmic scale.
  • It would destroy norms of justice and mercy. Up until about five minutes ago, our culturally Judeo-Christian society embraced the possibility of redemption. Sure, among religious Christians, there was and is a belief that certain choices lead to ever-lasting hellfire in the afterlife, but that same religious tradition - at least in its orthodox forms - offers a pretty easy escape from such a fate. The Catholic Church in particular has murderer saints, for Christ's sake! But the SJW program has no Sacrament of Reconciliation. Make one mistake and you're done, no matter how much you apologize or attempt to make amends. This is just as inhuman as "affirmative consent," and if it's allowed to progress to its logical conclusion, the next thing we'll see is bodies stacked up like cordwood. 

Thank God many people on the liberal left see the same threat I see.  But we all need to intensify the pushback. If somebody felt justified trying to murder the Cuddly Puppy of Comics, that means there's still work to do to pull us back from the brink.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Apologies for the Lack of a Post Today!

We are experiencing technical issues with our internet provider. 
Hopefully, they'll be resolved by next week!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Three Miscellaneous Stories: Abortion, Northam's Yearbook, & Amelie Zhao

Let's launch this weekly post with some guest commentary from my BF regarding the proposed changes to Virginia's abortion laws (which fortunately failed to pass):

"Yes, Abortion is Murder. Thank You for Admitting as Much.

"First off, the disclaimer: This post is not about the abortion law in New York. I have yet to read the thing. No, this is a post about the law recently proposed in Virginia by Democrat Kathy Tran. (Ed. As it turns out, the New York law is even more extreme. And the celebration of its passage was absolutely vomit-inducing.) This, as we shall see, is proof that not only have supporters of abortion rights been lying to us since the days when states made their own rules about abortions, but this never was about a 'right to privacy,' it was never about 'healthcare,' and it was never about 'regulating women's bodies.' No, the argument in support of abortion rights is, and always has been, about avoiding responsibility. It is murder with the intent to remove an economic and physical requirement for raising another human being.

"Virginia governor Ralph Northam has stated that the bill would allow abortions while a woman was in labor and dilating. (Ed. Actually, Tran said this under questioning. Not that Northam's defense of the bill was any less reprehensible.) Here's the thing: There is no difference in the effect on a woman's body between delivering and aborting a baby at that point. Seriously. None.

"I'm not ignorant of the possible negative effects of pregnancy. I am aware that it hasn't been all that long since death due to complications of childbirth was the most common cause of death for women in this country. In my personal life, I watched my ex-wife (we were married at the time) hospitalized for pre-eclampsia after the birth of my daughter Cecilia. I saw how panicked the doctor was when she resisted getting treatment. I know what's at stake here.

"But when you're talking about aborting a viable baby at the point of birth you're not talking about healthcare. It would have done my ex no good if they had murdered my daughter before delivering her. The effects on her body would have been precisely the same. No, what you're talking about is a blatant dodge of parental responsibility.

"Barack Obama said it best: 'If one of my daughters made a mistake, I wouldn't want them punished with a baby.'

"He wasn't speaking of the cost to his daughters and their bodies. He wasn't talking about their health. He was talking about them avoiding the consequences of their actions.

"And that's what this really is. There is no difference between killing a child whose mother is in the process of delivering them and leaving that same child in a plastic bag in the hospital dumpster a day later. None.

"Here's my other favorite argument in favor of abortion:

"'Well, if I have my child, you don't want to give me welfare to raise it, or pay for its college, or..'

"And the other variant: 'It's cheaper for society to pay for an abortion than it is to pay for welfare to raise the child.'

"Once again, what you're talking about is not healthcare. They're not referencing a woman's right to her own body. They're talking about how they shouldn't have to pay for their own offspring and shouldn't be forced to raise the kids they created. That's what this really is.

"Under these circumstances, there is no difference between a mother getting an abortion and Rae Carruth's murder of his pregnant girlfriend. He killed her because he didn't want to pay child support. That is what these women are doing. They're murdering people over money. The fact that they're willing to abort children at the point of birth proves it. They've already carried the child to term. The incisions necessary to abort a child and perform a C-section are identical. The effect on the woman's body is identical.

"Are there reasons for a woman to avoid birth other than economic? Sure. I know a woman (who shall remain nameless) who is white. She was married to a white man. She got a black boyfriend and got pregnant with his child. There was not going to be a way to hide the fact that it was not her husband's child. She sought an abortion because she didn't want her husband to know what she had done. Ultimately, she did the right thing and had the child. I'm proud of her for doing the right thing and walking out of the clinic under the effects of the drugs they had given her before they were going to give her anesthesia.  For the record, she had a ride home. Someone had gone with her. That's a good thing too.

"The point of telling that story, though, is this: She was still trying to avoid the consequences of her actions. She knew what would happen if her husband found out she had been cheating. She did it anyway and then thought to hide evidence. Mob bosses order the murder of witnesses to crimes all the time. There is no difference.

"So honestly, thank you, abortion advocates. Now that you have openly admitted that abortion is about neither healthcare or a woman's right to her own body, we can have an open and honest discussion in this country. We can finally talk about the truth: It's all about the money, baby. It's all about a life free from consequences. Abortion isn't about Women's Rights or healthcare. It's about murdering children because they cost too much. Thank you for finally revealing your true though processes. You've been very helpful.

"And know this: There are those of who are not surprised by this. We always knew what it was about. And understand what I am about to tell you:

"I am the implacable enemy of all abortion advocates. I am the implacable enemy of all who commit abortions. I see your murders for what they are. I do not seek compromise or consensus. I seek the abolition of legalized murder in the United States. And no, I'm not interested in helping women who would get illegal abortions avoid the consequences of their actions either.  Stop murdering people. And stop lying about your motivations. We're not dumb enough to believe you." - Jim

(Ed. And to those who object to the sentiments above and insist that the proposed changes to Virginia's laws wouldn't allow abortion on demand at any time for any reason, changing the language from "the continuation of the pregnancy is likely to result in the death of the woman or substantially and irredeemably impair the mental or physical health of the woman" to "likely to result in the death of the woman or impair the mental or physical health of the woman" leaves the door wide open for just that very thing. Removing "substantially and irredeemably" means just about anything can justify even a third trimester abortion so long as one doctor - ONE - agrees to sign off on the procedure. If this had passed, it would've definitely been abused by the unscrupulous.)


Now Let's Talk About Governor Northam's Yearbook Photo

I actually don't believe in torching a political career over an offensive photo taken more than thirty years ago. I hate this Culture of No Forgiveness - birthed by the Twitter Mob - in which all violators of the new social mores receive the same brutal punishment with no sense of proportion, no statute of limitations, and no possibility for parole (so to speak). I hate it, first of all, because I'm Christian and therefore believe everyone should be provided an avenue to redemption. But I also hate it because it flies in the face of our entire legal tradition. Does it make sense to give petty thieves and grand larcenists the same sentences? No? Then the guy who once, decades ago, stupidly donned blackface or a Klan hood to be edgy shouldn't be treated the same as the guy who's consistently expressed racist sentiments over many years up to and including the present day. In the former case, an apology is sufficient penance.

Of course, I don't have a lot of sympathy for Northam -- especially since he's now walking back his apology and denying that he's actually in that photo. And given that he's embraced the rhetoric of SJW "anti-racist" activism in the past, I must admit to enjoying a little schadenfreude watching him suffer the consequences of his own ideas. Definitely a banner story for Glenn Reynolds' "Annals of Leftwing Autophagy"!


Meanwhile, in the World of Publishing...

… we have the unfortunate story of Amelie Zhao, who pulled her debut YA fantasy novel from her publisher's schedule after she was attacked by SJW's for her supposed "anti-black racism".

Obviously, I have not read Zhao's book - I'm not one of those YA "influencers" who gets access to ARC's - but based on her own explanations, it sounds like her intention was to portray slavery in Asia, not the Americas. No matter: the totalitarians went after her anyway because she didn't tackle slavery the "right" way.

According to the SJW Mean Girls, you see, a YA author should look like she stepped out of an advertisement for the United Colors of Benetton -- but she must think like everyone else. No going off the script. No bucking the strictures of the industry's "sensitivity" hucksters. No going out on a limb to tell an honest story that hasn't been filtered through dozens of political sieves until it has all the flavor of purified water. You will write the one novel the provincial radical left wants you to write or you will be declared one of the untermenschen.

Obviously, this whole affair pisses me off. As a matter of fact, Larry Correia's characteristically pungent post on the subject captures my feelings precisely. How dare these witches bully this poor author into abandoning her dream -- and how dare they keep this book from the rest of us! I say we let the publisher know that we won't stand for this censorship-through-intimidation. The pre-order page for Zhao's book is still up; go and make her a best-seller.