Political Compass Result Dump

Hey, guys! I was extremely bored and suffering from a bout of post-work insomnia. So I took every single pseudo-legitimate political compass test that my single Google search could muster and made a collage of the results. I’m not really a fan of any of the tests I took–I don’t tend to like the Agree/Disagree scale most often used for political compass tests, and the ones with more specific answers are oftentimes worded very oddly. That being said, a “write your political views in this box here” test wouldn’t be much of a poll, and it would royally suck to code in the answers for anything resembling an accurate result for anyone but the most stereotypical of political actors.

So, here is my collage. As you can see, I fall pretty squarely in the “liberal” category, give or take a few minor fluctuations. I decided to put this here to counter the notion that anyone who disagrees with progressives is “alt-right” by default, or even a vague Nazi. It also counters the increasingly more popular idea that people with my general political tastes are all secretly right-leaning libertarians or moderate conservatives just hiding behind a liberal label. No. I’m pretty much a liberal. If random quizzes on the internet say so, it must be definitive.

 

PolQuiz

So legit, so lefty.

What is Political Correctness: Responding to David Packman

Hey, guys! Long time no see. Over the last month, I’ve started writing a hundred different Disorderly blog posts and trashed them all. There’s just not that much I’ve wanted to respond to. Either someone else has done it better already or I have nothing new to add. But David Packman has literally just released a video that I think would be fun to respond to called The Truth About Political Correctness that is highly critical of the term and its usage. I’m subscribed to Packman–I think he makes good videos most of the time. While I wouldn’t call this video bad (it’s a topic that needed to be brought up, for sure), there are points where he delves into inaccuracy or “liberal condescension,” as it has so accurately been described.

I want to respond to it in one fell swoop, so get your coffee. It lasts a while.


Political correctness (PC) is a complicated issue, and there are serious misconceptions about it. And the term, much like ‘regressive left,’ is often used by conservatives to criticize realities that they simply do not like.

I agree. I don’t use the terms ‘regressive left’ or ‘political correctness’ all that often mostly because I think they’ve been overused by right-leaning commenters to describe anything that is vaguely liberal. A comment I received on my post about how I used to be more entrenched in SJW-culture was saddened because “I got it, but I didn’t really get it,” ie, I didn’t flat out become a conservative after leaving that scene. It’s just as condescending as the liberals who assume some kind of moral and/or intellectual deficiency in those who disagree with their talking points. I even unsubscribed from The Rebel Media largely because it’s fallen into the “everything vaguely liberal is just PC nonsense” trap.

I’m going to discuss what PC really means, and how we can make productive distinctions between overbearing PC and mere social norms that encourage us to treat each other with respect and common decency.

This is where he starts playing the part of the condescending liberal who implicitly associates his politics with basic human decency. A large part of Packman’s argument is that he questions how much empathy anti-PC folks have for other people who aren’t like them. Yet he rather blatantly makes no attempt to explicate the opinions of people who aren’t like him. He just says they are selfish and stubborn and lack basic human compassion. If you’re going to hinge the video around how important empathy for other points of view is, it would help to at least try to explain the opposing points of view, as opposed to just calling their politics on the matter bad and moving on. The original video is 15 minutes long. It’s not like he was trying to keep it brief.

The first uses of the term ‘PC’ in the US were by right-wing ideologues in the latter part of the 20th century merely to criticize the left. The concept of PC was originally just a ruse by conservatives to belittle progressive attitudes and policies. They said, “Oh, you’re just being politically correct if you support things like environmentalism, gun control, social safety nets, or if you’re anti-war or anti-death penalty.”

I have personally never operated under the delusion that political correctness is a left-wing phenomenon. While I think left-wing brand political correctness has more political clout now, I’m of the opinion that the uptick in leftist PC rhetoric should be seen as an over-corrective response to the huge amounts of right-wing PC rhetoric that dominated the discourse in the preceding decades. The left-leaning social justice warriors obsessed with -isms are nearly identical to the right-leaning pearl-clutchers obsessed with vague immorality. I have no love for either of them. Both of them are censorship-happy, dictatorial moralizers who use think-of-the-children rhetoric and offense as weapons, and who have a tendency to go after media that I like for “promoting bad morals/being problematic.” And, yes, ‘political correctness’ was originally thought up by post-McCarthyism Republicans to refer to hippies, mental health advocates, and racial integrationists. It’s questionable origin doesn’t exclude it from being a useful term, though.

It was a trick, a way of saying the mainstream media is liberal and conservatives are victims and progressives are just trying to control the conversation. The term is still used in that way today. Outlets like Fox News overuse the term to try to fool their conservative audiences to believe that the left is out to get them, that by opposing progressive ideas rather than phrases or vocabulary, they will be fighting the good fight doing a great dead.

Well, as of right now, the mainstream media is liberal, for the most part. What major news sources are right-leaning? There’s Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, and sometimes the Economist. The rest of the big, relevant news outlets are overtly left-leaning. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are–fairly unabashedly–in support of left-leaning politics and political commentary and against more conservative talking points. Packman has criticized the current state of media/social media before, so I’m not sure why he’s acting like the criticism of progressive’s having too much media influence is laughable and wholly unfounded. That being said, I do strongly dislike Fox News and its tendency to stoke its audience’s victim complex. Fox News, though, is definitely not the only news source that loves promoting inaccurate victim narratives to a biased audience obsessed with political labels.

I have to point out the irony that conservatives are just as guilty of promoting PC when it suits them, including language policing and so-called offensive speech. The War on Christmas, where Christian conservatives get ‘triggered’ when somebody says “Happy Holidays” or shows deference to the fact that not everybody celebrates Christmas, or when conservatives respond to critiques of our foreign policy or economic system by saying, “Oh, that’s anti-Capitalist or anti-American, or “You don’t support the troops.” This is the right-wing equivalent of shutting down debate by saying, “That’s offensive!”, something conservatives slam progressives for doing.

I agree. Right-wing pearl-clutching at its finest. Recent events have shown very clearly the hypocrisy in many anti-SJW individuals who love freedom of speech until the Republican party is put under the microscope. You have the Cathy Griffin incident, the controversy of a few right-wingers ruining a play they thought was problematic, the Hamilton incident where right-wingers wanted the cast punished for addressing Mike Pence, the typical evangelical aversion towards other religions being given the same pedestal as Christianity, and not to mention all of those #BoycottSomeRandomThing campaigns that both lefties and righties seem to have a mutual love for.

When people start getting confused about PC is when PC is conflated with simple decency. The idea of calling a transgender person “him” or “her,” based on what they prefer to be called, is not PC, it’s just not being a prick. If you meet someone named Timothy who prefers to be called Tim, but you continue to call him Timothy, you are now a jackass. How is it going to hurt you or hurt society if you address people how they want to be addressed, or treat them how they want to be treated, if what they’re asking is reasonable and imposes no undue burden upon you?

Yeah . . .

To get it out of the way before I get accused of not having simple decency: I have no issue with trans people. I think calling people the pronoun they want to be called is a polite, accommodating thing to do that typically isn’t too much trouble. I’ll even call someone ‘they’ if I know that that is what they prefer. Most trans people are not internet snowflakes who make no attempt to pass as the gender they want to be called, yet still expect people to get it right. Every trans person I’ve ever met has clearly presented as their preferred gender, making referring to them by their preferred gender relatively easy. I’m on his side, okay?

To provide the other POV: most of the people I’ve talked to who, as a rule, refuse to refer to trans people as their preferred pronoun do it because they believe that it legitimizes an unhealthy mental issue. If a woman has body dysmorphia that makes her obsess over how fat she is even if she’s only 110 lbs soaking wet, you wouldn’t indulge that and say, “Yeah, you’re so fat.” So there actually is an argument to be had and legitimate need for explanation to be given about why transgenderism, as an extreme sub-type of body dysmorphia, is regarded differently and treated as something that should have our support. In short, writing off critics of the preferred pronoun idea as “people who don’t empathy no good” doesn’t seem to be all that accurate seeing as how, from their perspective, they’re trying not to enable a mental illness that gives people lots of distress.

I agree with David that we should call people what they’d like to be called, but where does he think the line between basic politeness and political correctness should be drawn here? That is the problem with political correctness. Packman mentions multiple times that he’s against “overbearing” political correctness, but I’m not sure what that entails. Is intentionally misgendering a trans person something that can be taken to the HR department? To the legal courts? Is it harassment? Verbal abuse? A gender-based hate crime? How about unintentionally misgendering them? Is an employer who doesn’t fire someone who misgendered one of his trans co-workers participating in institutionalized marginalization? Should someone who called a trans person ‘tranny ‘ on reddit have his real-life place of employment contacted? Is legally compelled language imposing a burden on other people? Is it politically incorrect to point out that the majority of teenagers who call themselves transgender eventually wind up dropping the label by early adulthood? I would agree that just calling a trans person what they want to be called is the nice thing to do and shouldn’t be scoffed at a political correctness, but what about everything after that?

Your rights aren’t curtailed, nor your freedom of speech restricted, if you call someone a little person instead of a midget if that’s what they want to be called. It doesn’t change any conversation. It doesn’t oppress you. These are just matters of treating someone with dignity, not a matter of manipulating discourse or controversies in an overbearing or oppressive way.

The key term here is ‘if that’s what they want to be called.’ In so many instances of political correctness, everybody but the oppressed group of the hour was offended by the use of a mean word. In so many instances, people try so fervently to “treat others with dignity” that they forget that maybe they should ask what those others actually think about something before white knighting for them. For instance, one of my co-workers was a midget who absolutely hated the term ‘little person’ and who had to be brought into the HR office one day to explain that he didn’t care if people referred to him as a ‘midget’ because some anonymous third-party overheard him get called that and decided to take offense on his behalf and run to HR. Is that political correctness, by the way?

It’s no skin off your back if you call someone Inuit instead of Eskimo, if you call someone Native American instead of Indian, if you call someone transgender instead of tranny. Do you think it’s a bad thing that we no longer say ‘colored people’ or use the n-word and instead say ‘black people’ or ‘African American?’ No reasonable person would say it’s a terrible thing that we don’t call people Negroes anymore. The fact that we don’t use that word anymore isn’t because the left is trying to control society and manipulate people’s thinking. It’s because black people don’t want to be called Negroes, and because that term and the n-word are linked to a horrifying and undeniable reality of our country’s past called slavery.

Ugh, I gritted my teeth so hard at this part. Firstly, the correct terminology is “people of color” now, ya silly racist. *sarcasm* The irony of how close that is to “colored people” has not been lost on the whole of society.

I hate identity politics. You know I do. Anyone’s who spends two seconds on this blog will have that made very clear to them. So know that I do this with the utmost reluctance: David, can you please not sit there as a white guy and lecture your viewers on what black people want to be called? Please and thank you? For a little history lesson: ‘Negro’ and ‘colored’ fell out of style as the default term for black people explicitly for political/politicized reasons. “African American” wasn’t even pushed for by the black community, it was something thought up mainly by white Democratic politicians in the 1970s to appeal to the rising popularity of Afro-culture among their black voter base, and it wound up being cemented by becoming the official racial category on the American census. There are lots of black people now, myself included, who do not identify as African American on account of having absolutely no connection to Africa. I personally really hate the term and would rather just be called an American. The same census-related racial category renaming could also be said for ‘Native American,’ many of whom prefer the term Indian. I also find it personally very annoying that David says ‘the n-word,’ like saying the word ‘nigger’ when referring to the word ‘nigger’ is gonna summon Voldemort. To paraphrase Louis CK, if you’re going to make everyone think the word, you might as well say the fucking word.

The issue of ‘politically correct’ linguistics is very interesting. Linguistics is a huge part of what I majored in while in college, by the way. I’m not just talking out of my ass here. This is how it works: The typical cycle is that a word will have an official, clinically correct usage (like ‘cripple’ or ‘idiot’), that will eventually gain a negative connotation within the field it is used in but not the wider public (medicine and psychiatry, respectively). The term will then become outdated in the official sense but be shunted into public vernacular as the commonly understood terminology, the public not aware or not concerned with the new clinical word (the new politically correct terms within the fields being ‘invalid’ or ‘retarded’). The old words will then shift to more generalized meanings independent from their original clinical definitions and eventually no longer connotative of that original clinical definition because it’s taken on a strictly vernacular connotation. ‘Idiot’ is no longer automatically indicative of someone with a cognitive disorder, it just means someone generally stupid and it loses the association with cognitive disorders. ‘Cripple’ is no longer someone with degenerative bones, it means anyone who isn’t mobile for whatever reason and bone degeneration isn’t automatically implied. The “new and improved” official terminology will then be deemed by the institutions to be too negatively connotative as well, and the process will start all over again, with the old words either fading into obscurity as archaic slang or becoming more cemented as typical vernacular English.

I bring this up to show that language is a constantly evolving thing, with that constant evolution oftentimes depending upon words falling out of usage in one context and being picked up in another, gaining new meaning and connotations. I point this out because, later on in the video, David seems to be operating under the pretense that a word like ‘gay’ or ‘retard’ still invokes it’s tier-one connotation after moving on to the stage of common vernacular, when it usually doesn’t. I understand why he and many people think that because there’s usually a generational gap between what words’ connotations are considered to be. For someone David’s or my age and older, if you don’t regularly use ‘gay’ or ‘retard’ in their current slang form, chances are you’ll still associate them with homosexuality and mental handicaps, respectively. I am against automatically labeling the use of these terms as homophobic or able-ist, however, because they’re both at that point in their linguistic evolution where it’s highly indeterminate what their default connotation is. I’m not saying that they can’t be used in a homophobic or generally insulting context, but it’s really the context that is key at this point in time. ‘Gay’ and ‘retard’ can just mean ‘stupid’ without any deeper invocations, and labeling them as inherently offensive terms no matter what kind of just ignores how language works.

There were absolutely people decades ago complaining about how America had gotten ‘too politically correct’ when this word [Negro] started going away, and those people are analogous to those today who say they’re not going to call a transgender person “him” or “her” because it doesn’t sit right with them and they don’t want to change.

Okay, I know what he’s trying to say here–they’re a bunch of old fuddyduddies behind the times–but this is not the civil right’s movement. Black Lives Matter can in no way be compared to the original civil rights movement, and they’re in the same ballpark of talking about race issues. Comparing the transgender fight to be taken seriously as a demographic in the Western world with historical race issues where people didn’t have basic freedoms is rather tasteless, in my opinion. If anything, it’s comparable to the push for gay rights in the late 20th century where they campaigned against homosexuality being seen as a sexual disorder. And yes, there were people who went against that too. I once again feel inclined to point out that many black people at the time were critical of the obvious political pandering involved in shifting away from ‘Negro’ as a term. Were they a bunch of behind-the-times grumps too?

Who really cares? Just treat people with respect. Right now, we’re at a point in society where the transgender community is getting support and acceptance for the first time, in many ways. Calling people by their preferred pronouns doesn’t stifle your speech. Allowing people to define themselves doesn’t shut down political discussion. The result is a society that is more inviting to everyone, no matter who they are. We can see these changes from generation to generation. People have become more tolerant and pluralistic–less bigoted–over time, because of so-called political correctness. It requires the most modest of efforts to give a damn about other people.

Again: What does ‘respect’ mean? Does ‘respect’ entail giving someone legal recourse to punish someone who was too mean to them? Also, David is once again conflating his politics with ‘giving a damn about other people,’ which is not helping his case. I am as liberal as the come, and even I can at least acknowledge that people who are more socially conservative *gasp* think they’re doing the right thing and aren’t just being sociopathic assholes. And this is coming from someone who agrees with him that many anti-SJW’s views on trans people are uncomfortable and, dare I say, bigoted.

I still don’t know what so-called political correctness refers to. Yes, people have generally become less dickish towards those who are different from them (though, according to Buzzfeed’s low-hanging opinion, things are pretty much the same now as they were in the 1800s). Even so, after a certain point, his ‘so-called political correctness’ just muddies the waters. Insisting that black people are ‘people of color’ now does nothing to confront racist ideas or policies. A racist who learns to use the currently correct word-of-the-year isn’t going to stop being a racist. And the language policing that has been a key aspect of political correctness since its conception–for both the left and the right–has never done anything but turn arguments about legitimate issues into spats about what words you’re supposed to say. David says that language policing is the kind of detrimental political correctness he doesn’t like, but he makes no real distinction about what ‘language policing’ entails and where that line is drawn, and doesn’t seem to have any issue with it when he brings it up in regards to ‘gay’ and ‘retard.’ So is policing stupid slang only ‘so-called PC’ behavior? Who knows?

Doing otherwise usually just presents your mere lack of understanding of what it’s like to be someone else. Many people simply cannot imagine what it’s like to be black or gay or female, whatever. Anti-PC people often advocate for social justice for their own group, but not for others.

That horse you came in on to save me is a real beaut, David. Thanks.

You want to talk some more about how my skin tone and what’s in between my legs makes me such an alien creature that no other human could possibly understand me? News flash–everyone has a lack of understanding of what it’s like to be someone else, because other people are not them. Most people don’t even understand themselves. I am a black woman. I don’t know what it’s like walking around in the shoes of other black women, because our mutual melanin and vagina doesn’t make us interchangeable people with no significant differences. I’m no more difficult for you to understand than anyone else who isn’t you. Does David have a perfect understanding of the psyche and mental life of every other white guy there is because they’re oh-so-similar? This is what I fucking hate about liberals.

To get away from that rant, I agree that plenty of anti-PC people on the internet are hypocrites who deride identity politics, collective group rights, and privileges unless it’s their group benefiting from it. The rising tide of white nationalists who (rightly) hate white people being collectively stereotyped and homogenized by left-wing rhetoric but (wrongly) readily do that with other races is a good example.

People who spend all of their time talking about political correctness also often get confused about the idea of free speech. Many of them invoke the First Amendment in situations where it just doesn’t apply. The Amendment protects Americans against censorship by the government. A private citizen asking you to speak a certain way doesn’t violate your First Amendment rights.

Once again, I agree that there are plenty of MAGA hats running around shouting “FREE SPEECH!!!” every time they say something that gets them in social hot water. If you really want to push it you can say it violates their right to religious practice, if they’re so inclined to be against transgenderism for religious reasons. I haven’t heard that argument anywhere, though.

Even so, I’m getting a bit worn out with this “define the First Amendment” argument because it so often smacks of hypocrisy. Maybe not in David’s case, but in many others. To deviate from pronouns for a moment, the free speech issue is often brought up with social media ‘censorship’ and people being shouted down from their given platforms. All the people saying, “Well, it’s not technically a violation of First Amendment freedom of speech because it’s not the government doing it” would likely be singing a different tune much more concerned with the principle of the matter if it was a bunch of leftists Twitter accounts and college speakers being no-platformed by obviously right-leaning media figures and social networks. You would not hear the end about how their opinions were being censored and silenced and marginalized by their political opponents. But when it’s anything that doesn’t toe a very particular left-leaning line, “Oh, well there’s technically no censorship going on here.”

But even if you use a broader definition of censorship or free speech, like when it comes to censorship by non-government institutions, corporations, colleges, other administrative bodies . . . that sort of censorship can sometimes be overbearing too. But there is a difference between censorship and PC. The consequences of violating censorship are institutional and official. The consequences of violating PC are social. If you say “That’s so gay!” or “What a retard!” people may judge you and give you funny looks, but that is not censorship, that’s a social expectation about civility and empathy.

Does someone who says “What a retard!” in a private conversation outside of the workplace deserve to lose their job after someone overhears and calls their boss about it? Should a man who makes a stupid dick joke privately to one of his friends get fired from his job after a woman overhears them and gets offended? Should a 65-year-old woman who says some insensitive comments about the blacks in a Wal-Mart grocer line be dragged through the mud by millions of people and socially blacklisted and deplored as everything wrong with this country after multiple major networks decide to report on the video footage as ‘news’? Should a high schooler who got accepted into Harvard get that acceptance revoked because someone found out about a private joke between him and his friends? Should a college fraternity shut down and made to write an apology for promoting rape culture all because they have a pin-up calendar hung up in their frat house? Should a scientist be brought to tears on national television for wearing a shirt someone thought was insensitive? Should a video game developer have all press for his game taken away because years ago he tweeted that he wasn’t a feminist? I’m just wondering if these examples fall under people “getting funny looks” and being subjected to the totally acceptable social expectation of civility and empathy.

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of that speech.

Who decides what consequences are measured and proportionate? Who? This line has been beaten into people’s heads over and over again, but almost no one who has parroted it has brought up the situation of the consequences not being warranted.

And there are gray areas. We can have a conversation about the ‘ze’ and ‘zir’ pronouns and Canadian laws regarding speech and transgender issues there. I see the controversy there. There are some institutional, civic implications with regards to free speech, compelled, speech, with the government telling people what to say and what not to say. I understand why people have a problem with that, and I wouldn’t call someone bigoted for wanted to explore those issues.

Good.

But too much so-called PC, that isn’t by institutions and is just between individuals, arises organically and has been a natural part of our social history, just out of simple courtesy to others and their feelings.

What about offensive things that are just said between individuals? I hate to bring up the list again, but if the senile old lady talking about how she isn’t used to being around black people in a store said that in a one-on-one conversation between individuals, why is it the rest of the fucking world’s business to get offended by it and give her “funny looks?”

We’ve stopped using offensive terms to refer to minorities, women, and mentally disabled people. I have to question your basic capability to empathize with other human beings if you say those changes are censorship and are inhibiting your ability to speak freely. It isn’t thought policing. We’re talking about natural changes of lexicon and speaking habits.

Calling them “offensive terms” is a misnomer in the overwhelming majority of cases. ‘Negro’ wasn’t an offensive term for black people until it stopped being the term for black people. ‘Retarded’ wasn’t an offensive world for mentally handicapped people until someone decided to swap it out with another word. ‘Queer’ wasn’t an offensive word for gay people until people decided that they liked ‘gay’ better. David’s acting like these terms are inherently offensive and have always held the same connotation even when they were in popular usage. No, they’re only ‘offensive’ in retrospect, and it’s unwise to look back to the times when the terminology was commonly accepted and act like it was being used in an offensive context because now we’re smart enough to know not to say things like anymore.

There are people within those oh-so-alien marginalized groups who are also resistant to changes in language and the new ‘acceptable’ terms. When ‘post traumatic stress disorder’ became the new accepted nomenclature, the war veterans still called it ‘shell shock.’ There was an entire campaign in the early 2000s of people on the autistic spectrum telling everyone to stop caring so much about how mean the word ‘retarded’ was and start supporting organizations that helped mentally disabled people find jobs. There’s a video out right now of a bunch of gay 20-somethings scratching their heads over what LGBTQIA+ means. For someone so concerned with empathizing with people, he seems oddly oblivious to the idea that he’s ignoring the people that he’s derided other people for ignoring.

Once again, dude, stop implying that the people who don’t use the words you’d like them to use are sociopaths. Being slow to change and not being up-to-date on the constantly changing linguistics of personal identity rhetoric isn’t automatically indicative of someone just not giving a fuck about other humans.

Here is the fundamental question to explore with those who are endlessly up in arms about the so-called disastrous impact of PC: What is it that you truly want to say that you’re not able to say, because of PC?

“Black people commit more crime than other races.” “I don’t agree with feminism.” “Islam is causing some problems.” “Men are also victims of sexism sometimes.” “I don’t think race-based affirmative action should still exist.” “I don’t think diversity is important.”

Granted, I have the ability to say those things. But if I wanted to work in the video game or film industry, I sure as shit better not get caught on record saying any of them. Even in non-leftist circles, bringing up sexism faced by men gets you laughed out of the room or given dirty looks, and just try saying either of those comments about race to your typical black person. One who has never been on a college campus a day in their life would slap the shit out of you and call you an Uncle Tom. And on a college campus (at least the one I went to) all of these talking points are bound to get you labeled as the local alt-righter and have nothing you say be taken seriously ever again. So political correctness isn’t physically stopping me from saying those things, but it does stop me from being able to get a word in after I say them and even potentially ruins my chances at employment or recognition if the industry I want to get into catches wind of me not toeing the line.

And to appease the need for fairness: I can’t say that I’m an atheist whenever I’m back home. Because my home is the South, and I’ve lost friends and made people gasp in shock and been kicked out of houses for being offensive or being a “bad influence” just based off of saying that one sentence out loud.

There are still ways of speaking and not speaking that are just inherently growing out of our improving tolerance towards groups that have been marginalized historically. I also don’t understand why there are people who call themselves liberal and spend 99% of their time complaining about PC on the internet. Even if their complaints about PC are sometimes justified, it’s low-hanging fruit. Yeah, PC is sometimes a problem, and it’s sometimes used to warp debates or stop them all together. But, in of itself, it’s not the paramount issue that some make it out to be, and ‘solving’ PC, whatever that even means, is not going to improve the rights of Americans or other people of the world as much as tackling other issues would.

I don’t spend 99% of my time whinging about political correctness. The thing about it, though, is that when your criticize left-leaning politics, that is often what it comes back around to. You can’t talk about Islam, something I’m sure David agrees is a big issue, without talking about political correctness. You can’t talk about poverty in America without eventually having to discuss the political correctness it is steeped in regarded what needs to be done to fix inner-city ghettos and whether or not people should give a fuck about rural poverty at all. You can’t talk about domestic violence without eventually bringing up political correctness. You can’t talk about mental illness without eventually bringing up political correctness. You can’t talk about how to fix America’s broken two-party political system without bringing up how each party utilizes political correctness. You can’t talk about America’s education system without talking about the politically correct politics that go into school curriculum and affect teaching methods. You can’t talk about America’s skewed and untrustworthy media outlets without talking about how their stories are often shaped by, you guessed it, political correctness. I’m with David. I don’t want to talk about this shit anymore either, but it keeps popping up as a relevant facet that effects every “real problem” I feel like addressing–unless education, mental health advocacy, domestic abuse, wanting representative politics, the effects of poverty, terrorism, and media bias are all a bunch of non-issues now.

How about a little personal, anecdotal story to show David why I personally think political correctness is harmful? I just graduated from college, and I’m looking for jobs and the process gives me genuine anxiety attacks. Applying for colleges did too, for the same reason: I am a perfectionist with an absolute fear of failure and incompetency–I acknowledge those flaws about myself–and that insecurity is stoked to the nth degree whenever I apply to anything because I have the constant fear that I only get hired/accepted/recognized “because diversity.” If I get accepted into a program or am given a job interview or awarded a grant, there’s always a part of my brain that tells me, “You didn’t really earn this. You’re not really good enough. You don’t meet their high standards. You’re not as competent as everyone else they accepted. You’re the diversity hire. You’re the one they bring on board so they can tell all two people who care that they’ve got a black woman now.” That is what I think every single fucking time I achieve anything impressive. And it’s all thanks to a bunch of well-meaning, politically correct leftists insisting that I, as a black woman, probably wasn’t going to achieve anything of note unless affirmative action pushed me through the door. So I’m sorry for being so overly talkative about the thing that fucked me up mentally. I’ll try to talk about other things.

 

We also have to discuss the smokescreen of hiding behind the title of ‘classical liberal,’ and no I’m not calling out Dave Rubin here. Some so-called classical liberals have the idea that they’re the ‘real, original liberal.’ They bastardize the term ‘classical liberal’ and use it as an excuse to rant endlessly about PC and identity politics without seriously dealing with other issues. I also suspect that many of these people are just closeted right-wing libertarians and conservatives who want to hang out to their Liberal membership card and mask their social conservatism behind a word that sounds good like ‘classical liberal.’ Classical liberalism means free market capitalism, free trade, individual liberty–the ideas of John Locke, Adam Smith, and Thomas Jefferson. Classical liberalism does not directly translate to “Feminism is dumb, and I’ll call transgender women ‘he.'”

I don’t call myself a classical liberal. I’m sick of political labels at this point–I will call myself a liberal for expediency, but that’s about it. Something tells me that David had one Twitter run-in with a particularly vitriolic anti-SJW who didn’t want to use trans people’s preferred pronouns, calling David “a PC cuck” when David argued with him, and he decided to make this entire video in response. I also have no idea who he’s talking about or criticizing here, so I can’t really comment. He seems to be talking about particular people who are secretly conservative but just won’t admit to it, but I wouldn’t know who.

Domineering political correctness and identity politics are problems. I’ve talked about them. No doubt. But we have to understand what domineering PC is. PC Cultural creates a problem when it prevents us from having honest conversations about . . . Islam and terrorism for example. It creates an atmosphere where people are afraid to talk about the realities of things like martyrdom and religious dogma. That slows down human progress. It becomes counterproductive.

I agree.

However, letting people use whatever bathroom they want does not limit your individual liberty. Calling a person in a wheelchair disabled instead of a cripple does not repress intellectual freedom. Just like refraining from using ethnic slurs doesn’t either. Claiming that you’re a victim of the PC Police doesn’t exonerate you from being an ignoramus.

What is with this idea that people who decry political correctness are secretly just chomping at the bit, just foaming spittle and blood from the mouth, desperately wanting to hurl around racial slurs?

Refering to everything as PC makes the term lose its meaning like so many other terms already have so that it doesn’t have any power whenever its use is truly warranted.

I agree. That’s generally why I refrain from using that exact term unless it’s absolutely warranted.

Even more important, ridicule and demean people who abuse power, corrupt politicians, people who deserve it, not people who are just less fortunate or in a marginalized group.

Is the black woman who got a man fired for making a dick joke that she happened to overhear someone who counts as a “less fortunate, marginalized person?” The problem with this is that anyone can say that you’ve ridiculed and demeaned them, with it being very unclear as to when that statement should be taken as a serious offense against human decency and when it should be deemed actual political correctness. Unless David suddenly agrees that Muslims complaining about criticisms of Islam as being hateful are totally in the right and the person being labeled as an Islamophobe is just experiencing the justified consequences of free speech. The Muslims are a bunch of marginalized brown people, doncha know? Stop punching down, David. You’re a good liberal. You should know better.

Cultural Appropriation, TexMex Edition

皆さん、こんにちは!    今日に、文化的歳出について書きますね。楽しい事実で, cultural appropriationのたまに, 良い翻訳がないと思います。だからその言葉を英語で書いたのです。面白いですね。文化的歳出とは何ですか。さて、私は皆さんに見せてあげます。行きましょう!

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So, why did I just write an intro in a language that’s only spoken by 125 million people on the other side of the world? Besides the fact that my language skills have been floundering ever since I left campus and I’m desperate to make sure I maintain at least a middle-school level of literacy, I did it to make a point.

I am a twenty-two year old biracial chick from bumfuck nowhere South who up and decided to learn the Japanese language because “why not.” To make Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles had to travel to another country for months to learn about musical instruments that you can now sample in Garage Band for free. Post-WWII, Julia Child became famous for bringing French cuisine to American culinary tastes–French cuisine you can now learn about on the internet after a quick Google search. In the 1960s, black American kung fu stars had to travel to and live in China in order to learn martial arts. Fast forward to the present day when having a dojo in your local mini-mall has become a cliche. One of the best places to get Thai food in the US is a place in Nashville, Tennessee right across from a BBQ restaurant and a Greek diner. If you watch one K-Pop music video on YouTube, your recommended videos will be flooded with K-drama clips and BIGBANG interviews for days.

The point that I’m trying to get across is that it’s far easier now than it has ever been to take part in the products of other cultures. The geographical divide that used to keep vastly different cultures relatively separate has been bridged by technology and accessible travel options. And with that cultural bridge comes the inevitable cultural mixing. That’s how you get things like pineapple pizza and Latin jazz and Bollywood superhero movies and kick-ass cartoons written by a Russian guy about a Japanese samurai voiced by a black man fighting an evil demon overlord and a scatting robot based off of Sammy Davis Jr.. Watch Samurai Jack–it’s an awesome show.

It’s not like all cultural mixing is a good thing–the forced introduction of hierarchy-based religions into previously polytheistic or animistic societies lead to new forms of religiously-justified social inequalities that weren’t there previously, for example. But the good thing about modern-day culture mixing, with its roots in voluntary tourism and internet culture, is that it tends to only care about the cool parts–the aesthetically appealing, the interesting, the fun. No one’s going over to Japan and saying, “You know what’s awesome? A work culture so intense it breeds alcoholism, social isolation, and suicide. Let’s bring that shit over here!” But maybe they’ll be inspired to go back home and start a karaoke bar (karaoke is a Japanese invention, you know), or put a rock garden in their backyard, or take up ink painting (which in of itself is a Chinese invention that the Japanese just added a few more techniques to).

According to Jagger Blaec from the Portland Mercury, doing any of the above things would be awful because cultural appropriation *insert the Indiana Jones clip of people’s faces melting off here.* Her article is entitled “This Week in Appropriation: Kooks Burritos and Williamette Week,” and it is just . . . I don’t want to say it’s the worst thing ever, but I would rather wake up at 7am to go stand in line at the DMV than read it again. So, a couple of hipster-douche white girls went to Mexico, decided that they really liked tortilla-making, and opened a food truck making tortilla-based foods in Portland, Oregon. This is apparently worse than the Holocaust.

I’m actually not going to go through her article point-by-point because I have discussed cultural appropriation before multiple times and would just be rehashing myself. I’ve made plenty of points in the three articles linked above that I will not bother re-stating here. I’m just going to be responding to some select excerpts to try to say something new on this ridiculous, ridiculous subject. To start off, I’m going to compile a few instances of this totally-not-racist writer being totally-not-racist.

  • “This week in ‘white nonsense’.”
  • The existence of a list of blacklisted restaurants, blacklisted because they’re “ethnic” restaurants owned and operated by white people.
  • Openly celebrating the fact that the women got their new business shut down.

It’s good to see the social hierarchy in social justice circles make itself clear. Brown people are at least a few rungs above women when it comes to who is the most oppressed. Those two young, entrepreneurial women starting their own business in the male-dominated sphere of restauranteering must be stopped! Fighting the patriarchy isn’t as important as fighting white supremacy, guys. Remember that.

I will now compile the instances of this writer conflating two women opening a taco truck to violence, murder, and general malicious intent:

  • ‘they colonized this style of food’
  • ‘The “they” she was referring to were probably the Mexican “abuelitas” these two women preyed upon in order to appropriate the secrets of their livelihood.’
  • ‘This is where things go from quirky to predatory.’
  • ‘These two white women went to Mexico, ate tacos, and then decided they would just take what the locals clearly didn’t want to give them. If that wasn’t bad enough, they decided to pack up all their stolen intellectual property and repackage it.’
  • ‘Week after week people of color in Portland bear witness to the hijacking of their cultures.’
  • ‘. . . birthed as a result of curious white people going to a foreign country, or an international venture, and poaching as many trade secrets, customs, recipes as possible, and then coming back to Portland to claim it as their own and score a tidy profit.’

How two women opening a food truck in a city across the fucking globe ruins the livelihoods of a bunch of old women in Mexico is truly a riddle for the ages. As many people have pointed out, tortillas are a culinary staple–they’re a simple recipe with a simple cooking technique, owned by no one. Tortillas are not intellectual property. The girls themselves overtly said that they had to come up with their own recipes and techniques since they only learned the basics while they were in Mexico. This is how food sharing works.

When something is poached or preyed upon, as you so hyperbolically put it, it is dead: The elephant that gets poached for its ivory doesn’t have tusks anymore once those poachers are done with it. The owl that preys upon chipmunks eats them alive. The grifter that prays upon people’s stupidity takes something from them, leaving them worse for wear at the end of the encounter.

No one was hurt by what these women did. Their food truck in Portland, Oregon didn’t put those women in Mexico out of work. Those women in Mexico aren’t losing money because a food truck opened across the world selling what they also make. Those women in Mexico didn’t lose the resources and ability to make tortillas because two white girls are doing it now. If anything, they were momentarily annoyed by two tourists who wanted to be taught how to make a certain kind of food even though they didn’t have time to teach them.

You know who did leave this situation having lost something? Having been overtly targeted by people trying to take away their chance at a livelihood? The two girls who had their business shut down because someone on the internet decided that they were too pale to be making the food they wanted to make. You are accusing these random hipsters of doing something that you yourself are perpetrating. You and people like you, with your blacklists and your internet hate-mobs forcing people to quit, actually are “preying upon” businesses that you don’t think have the right to exist. And you don’t even see the fucking irony. The projection is astounding.

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This is ridiculous, and, to super-liberal Portland’s credit, almost all of the comments on the original article are very straightforward about that. All hope is not lost. People are starting to get fed up with this mentality, and it’s starting to show, slowly but surely. The funniest part is that the writer, after overtly applauding the fact that someone’s business was forced to close, has the gall to say that “cultures are meant to be shared.”

The hilarious thing about this entire situation is that it is made extremely evident to anyone who has half a fucking idea what they’re talking about that Miss Jagger Blaec and the people getting up-in-arms with her are nothing but armchair activists. They are getting mad about the “cultural appropriation” perpetuated by the creation of a burrito stand.

Burritos . . . an American food. It’s called Tex-Mex for a reason–burritos are a Southwestern American food item. So are tacos and nachos. Burritos weren’t even a named, recognizable thing until the mid-twentieth century, for crying out loud. If you go to Mexico, the only burrito stands you’ll find are ones for tourists. They’re not a Mexican food. These people are getting pissed off about two American women opening a food truck selling American food. This is even funnier than SJWs getting mad about college Cinco de Mayo parties, totally ignoring the fact that Mexico considers Cinco de Mayo nothing but a corporatized holiday not even worth taking the whole day off for, only celebrated at all because the Corona beer company thought that it’d be a good marketing gimmick to make a drink for specific days. What are you going to complain about next? Are you going to bitch and moan about how fortune cookies aren’t authentically Chinese?

If you ever find yourself in Japan, Ms. Blaec, do not go to a Sushi Roll restaurant. The horrible, horrible sushi-based abominations in that place would make your head explode. That is a company in Japan, owned by Japanese people, and it appropriates everyone with its culinary creations: from its East Asian neighbors, to ASEAN, to Europe, to Australia, to the US. Have you ever had fish n’ chips sushi? How about bacon and scrambled eggs sushi? Kimchi sushi? Fried rice sushi? Orange chicken sushi? I have, all thanks to Sushi Roll. Are you gonna get up in arms about that? Japan did try to colonize China, Korea, and parts of South East Asia, after all. The existence of kimchi sushi should just be considered culinary poaching and theft, am I right?

Hell, what about this one burger place I went to all the time when I lived in Japan–owned and operated by some Japanese hipster dude with dreadlocks and a fedora, making dirty profit off of American food in a country where Americans are an oppressed minority making up less than 1% of the population. Yes, Westerners actually are oppressed by the usual social justice standard–they are tokenized and hindered from being able to advance in the workplace. Western English teachers are often just their for show, unable to promote any actual English-learning. Housing discrimination against anyone non-Japanese is prevalent, and places, especially restaurants, sometimes charge Westerners more by default. Just check the differences between the prices on the Japanese and English menus in tourist cities. With that background of exploitation and erasure, how dare he ask Americans for burger recipes from their home-states?! He stole our food, and now he’s exploiting us even further by making us active participants in that theft?

Holy shit, I just remembered that when I was in Krakow I went to a pizza shop owned by a bunch of Arabs who made “Polish pizzas” with things like potatoes and blood sausage on them. With Poland’s history of being taken over and colonized by outside forces ten ways to Sunday, I gotta call appropriation on that too.

Seriously, guys. Travel the world. It’s the best cure for the cultural separatism and solipsism being promoted by Ms. Blaec and her friends.

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The thing about cultural appropriation is that is assumes that culture is a sacred thing that can only be engaged in one “good” way.  I don’t think that people understand just how dangerous that idea is. That intellectual hard-lining about “doing things the right way” is how you get the Westboro Baptist Church and its lamentation that other Christians have become too weak and “worldly” to promote God’s true will. This conflation of culture with ethnicity and skin tone is how you get white nationalists who insist that a brown person can never truly be “part of their culture” simply because only white people can have “white culture.” The leftist idea of cultural appropriation sounds exactly like the white nationalist idea about how whites need to “protect their culture from outside invaders who want to steal it.” Good to see those on the left finally extending a hand across the aisle and breaking bread with new types of people. It’s very open-minded of them.

So, Jagger Blaec and her friends can live in their boring-ass world where cultures are irreparably separated by skin tone if they want to. While they’re off making a manifesto about the morals of fusion cuisine, I’ll be off caring about actual problems and enjoying the aspects and facets of cultures that are good and beautiful and worth taking part in and ignoring the bad parts.

Mental Health, Thought Disorders, and Advocacy: Does the Left Defend Pedophilia?

Hey, guys! I’m back, and I’m officially graduated and back home and desperately looking for a job so I can pay for graduate school next year! For the moment, though, I have nothing better to do than blog. What better way to celebrate my new status as part of the American intelligentsia than to talk about the light, fun, happy subject of . . . pedophilia. Yep. Skip to the end if you only want me to talk about the left, but I would greatly appreciate if you’d stick around for the other stuff too.

This is a pretty heavy subject that elicits viscerally negative reactions from most everyone (even from actual pedophiles, which I will get into). Unrepentant murderers and rapists in prison will shiv people to death if it’s found out that they are in jail for child molestation. People don’t like it, to put it lightly, and for totally understandable reasons that are so obvious they don’t need to be elaborated on.

That being said *caveat, caveat, caveat* what you typically see when discussing the subject of pedophilia is a total lack of desire to understand what it is and very conditional concern that leans towards the stereotypical. That’s a double-pronged criticism that requires further explanation. The two issues are inherently interwoven with each other: the existence of very salient stereotypes goes a long way towards fueling the unresponsiveness. It’s kind of like internet feminists and the topic of rape–they only want to hear that it’s bad and disgusting and that rapists are evil, and there’s apparently no further conversation to be had on the matter.

In regards to pedophilia, the very salient stereotype is a creepy-looking guy with rapist glasses and a rapist comb-over and a rapist face, someone who is just an obvious embodiment of unwanted, sadistic, deviant sexual desires. Just picture the bad guy from The Lovely Bones, and that is what people typically think of when they picture a pedophile, for better or for worse: an obviously and knowingly evil person, with evil desires and evil motives, who does evil things to innocent children–the worst thing you could possibly do.

The issue with this is not the knee-jerk revulsion towards the idea of hurting a child. The issue is that this appropriate knee-jerk revulsion and the images it brings with it aren’t overly accurate to the reality of the situation, for many reasons that I’ll get into. To address the issue of the immediate, stereotypical image of a pedophile that is conjured up to everybody who hears the word: 1.) This makes it more difficult to find and convict actual child molesters because “suspicious subjects” being reported by the public tend to just “have that look” without actually having done anything, which sometimes leads to tragic consequences when people who have committed no crime are still convicted by the court of public opinion. 2.) The disgust it elicits is very conditional–female pedophiles aren’t looked on with nearly as much knee-jerk societal disgust. They aren’t shanked in prison for being child molesters, and a woman isn’t deemed automatically suspicious for hanging around a playground, is all I’m saying. The adherence to the idea that a pedophile is just some evil creep doesn’t do much to actually deal with the issue at hand.

This very salient idea of a pedophile as just some evil creep also totally ignores the reality of what pedophilia is, in the overwhelming majority of cases. That’s why I feel the need to actually detail what pedophilia is and what it does and does not entail before addressing the question that the title of this post is asking.

Pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder. More specifically, it’s a kind of paraphilia. Being attracted to non-human or inanimate objects is a kind of paraphilia. Extreme forms of sexual sadism/masochism is a kind of paraphilia. The sub-section of rapists who are actually in it for sexual pleasure and not just as a from of control and dominance are paraphiliacs, etc, etc. The term essentially covers all types of people who are attracted to things and behaviors that it isn’t normal or healthy to be attracted to. Pedophilia is a fairly specific term refering to attraction to prepubescent children, distinguishing it from the often conflated hebephilia (attraction to adolescent children on the younger end of the scale) and ephebophilia (attraction to late adolescents).

Before I go into further explanations, I should note that there is a difference between pedophilia and pederasty. I’d be willing to bet that most adults who took part in pederasty weren’t actually pedophiles , as pederasty was a socially accepted form of mentorship and more of a social institution than a sexual thing, for the most part. The line is also blurred when it comes to child marriages, which are, once again, something with an acceptability level that varies from society to society and therefore may or may not actually entail any pedophilic desires. Note: this is not me saying that pederasty and child marriages are fine “because culture,” this is me pointing out that it’s questionable whether or not instances of them would be considered pedophilia in the diagnosisable sense. Moving on.

The most important thing to point out when it comes to addressing misconceptions is that the overwhelming majority of known pedophiles are known not because they molested a child and went to prison, but because they have not yet committed any crimes, acknowledge their paraphlia, and are seeking psychiatric help for it. That’s what I mentioned in the beginning of this post: Pedophiles tend to be just as disgusted by pedophilia as everyone else. While acts of pedophilia can be sadistic in nature, of course, the psychiatric disorder itself is distinguished from the sadistic sub-types of paraphilia by virtue of being characterized largely by intrusive thoughts, which something like sexual sadism does not typically have.

Intrusive thoughts are not unique to psychiatric disorders. Everybody has them. Imagining punching someone in the face for no real reason, thinking to yourself that it’d be totally easy to bite off one of your fingers if you wanted to, or being in a high place and wondering what your body would look like if you jumped off are all examples of intrusive thoughts. Being disturbing is not what makes them signs of a mental disorder. The thing that makes them hit mental disorder-level is when they are so intrusive and so frequent and so vivid that they make it difficult to function normally in society.

I once heard of a case of OCD where a woman had such frequent intrusive thoughts about stabbing herself and those around her that she had her husband remove all the sharp objects from their house because she was afraid that she was going to act on those thoughts. I’ve heard of a woman with GAD (anxiety disorder) who was essentially mentally torturing herself because she had constant intrusive thoughts about how her husband hated her and was cheating on her and was going to leave her and how she needed to stalk him to catch him in the act. There was a schizophrenia patient who had frequent thoughts of driving up on the sidewalk and running down pedestrians, to the point where he never drove for fear of hurting people. There was another case of OCD where a woman had frequent intrusive thoughts about performing oral sex on her two year old child. She was suicidal over how ashamed she was for thinking something like that. But it wasn’t something she could help. None of the people I listed above ever committed any crimes, by the way, not the ones they fantasized about or any others. They never hurt anyone or did anything that would put those around them in danger. They were just mentally ill.

The research and evidence on the subject would suggest that the typical case of pedophilia works in much the same way–people having disturbing, intrusive thoughts that don’t go away about having sex with children, whether they want to have those thoughts or not. And, as is the case with all other types of intrusive thoughts in psychiatric disorders, trying to repress them only serves to make them worse, not better. It leads to safety and coping measures that overcompensate for the thought they’re trying to act against.

The woman who was afraid of her husband leaving her dealt with those thoughts by obsessively calling him every five minutes to definitely prove to herself that he wasn’t out cheating, for example. In the worst case scenario of a pedophile trying to act against their intrusive thoughts, they would watch child porn as a means of stopping themselves from physically harming a child in real life. As I’m sure you know already, however, child porn is not exactly a safe industry known for improving the welfare of the children involved, so watching it in an attempt not to hurt children is very counterproductive, to say the least. Then you, of course, have the cases where they act on or try to act on their urges irl, which inarguably makes them an abuser and a criminal, and traumatizes kids, and is rightfully punished with the full force of the law.

So where does that leave us in the discussion on pedophilia?

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Now it’s time to actually address the question: Does the left defend pedophilia?

As I said before, most of the recorded cases of pedophilia in the US are cases where the pedophile in question has never touched a child and is disgusted and ashamed at themselves for wanting to. In short–they’ve done nothing wrong and don’t want to do anything wrong. It’s a matter of if and when. If depends heavily on whether or not they get psychiatric treatment, with those who don’t receive treatment being far more likely to lapse into genuinely criminal behavior than those who do receive it. That sounds like a good thing, “Oh, just go to therapy, and that’ll keep you in line.”

The problem, though, is that many people avoid seeking treatment because being treated for paraphilia means being given the label as someone with paraphilic tendencies. In the case of pedophiles, that essentially means that people who haven’t necessarily done anything wrong and who want help with dealing with disturbing thoughts must first be given a label that, as far as the rest of society is concerned, marks them as an evil bastard who loves traumatizing kids. If it is regarded with psychiatric care, they’re not likely to hurt anyone–just like a schizophrenic with violent fantasies of stabbing people is ultimately unlikely to actually hurt anyone. I highly doubt anyone would look at that schizophrenic and think that they were some inherently evil monster that should be raped and murdered in prison as the only truly just way to deal with them. That schizophrenic is acknowledged as mentally disturbed.

On the other hand, there is a huge societal stigma saying that anyone with pedophilic thoughts is inherently evil and a monster and loves hurting kids and is definitely going to hurt kids and probably already has hurt kids in the past because they are evil and a monster and that is just what evil monsters do. “The only good pedophile is a dead one,” as the internet says. And that doesn’t help. It’s not even accurate to the reality of the disorder in the majority of cases. And ironically, that zero-tolerance is making things worse: Pedophilia is a potentially harmful disorder whose harm is mitigated by treatment. And treatment is increasingly difficult to come by because people are either afraid of committing social suicide by officially seeking help for it, or, in extreme cases, the psychiatrists themselves are pressured into not offering treatment for it because that apparently “legitimizes sexual deviancy.” There was a psychiatrist who tried to use child-like robots as a means of treating pedophilia through exposure therapy, and that research was shut down essentially because people who knew nothing about psychology caught wind of it and thought it was too icky. The disorder that requires treatment to lessen the chances of it being dangerous isn’t given treatment because people think it’s dangerous. Welcome to the world!

This is why I understand why those on the left seem more sympathetic to pedophiles than what many people think is right or acceptable. A pedophile, in the end of the day, is someone with a psychiatric disorder who may or may not do something wrong, but who is treated like they’ve already committed a heinous crime even if they haven’t. That is not fair. It’s not conducive toward helping them. And if you don’t give any fucks about helping them, it also doesn’t make them less of a danger to society, which you probably do care about. This is not me saying that every pedophile is a victim of circumstance and biology–there are unrepentant, psychopathic assholes of every type, child molesters among them. The point that I’m trying to impress, though, is that the unrepentant creep from a Law and Order episode who laughs about molesting little girls is not the typical example of what a pedophile is, and that stereotype is making the very necessary treatment of pedophilia more difficult than it needs to be and only contributing to the harm it does.

* * *

That being said, the left has really dropped the ball when it comes to mental health advocacy in general. The case with pedophilia and trying to impress upon people that it is not automatically equivalent to being a lecherous child molester is just one of very many points that the left has fumbled beyond all reason.

You have the “neuro-divergency” movement, a branch of leftist activism that either a.) insists that mental disorders aren’t even a thing and that it’s just society trying to medicate people who are different into conforming to evil Western cultural norms, or b.) doesn’t like how mental disorders are called “disorders” because no human being is broken, man. Fuck those people, by the way. Try telling the woman who tried killing herself because she had so many disturbing intrusive thoughts that it’s just society tricking her or that there’s totally nothing wrong with her thought processes.

You have the people who deplore the idea of finding a cure for autism because these people on the high functioning end of the spectrum are insulted that you think something is wrong with them. Just ignore the fact that their brain doesn’t adequately process human faces and language, to the point where a 10-year-old child with middle-of-the-road autistic traits has the same language learning abilities as a 5-year-old. There’s no cognitive deficit here, folks!

You have the people who glorify needing therapy like requiring psychological help is cool and something to be proud of as opposed to something indulged in for the sake of achieving previously unattainable mental stability. And this is in a country where there’s a borderline epidemic of need unmet (people who need help not getting it) and met unneed (people who don’t need help taking up all of the time and resources) in mental health spheres.

You have the people who advocate for safe spaces and trigger warnings even though those are, at best, psychologically unhelpful and, at worst, psychological safety behaviors that do nothing but perpetuate pre-existing negative cognitive patterns by behaviorally reinforcing them.

And, getting back to the subject of pedophilia, you have the people who defend pedophiles all in the name of “tolerance.” They compare pedophiles to LGBT people and different sexual orientations on occasion, which I would find incredibly insulting if I were gay. What is this, the 1920s? Homosexuality isn’t considered a kind of paraphilia anymore, and grouping in pedophilia as being just another sexual preference on the non-heteronormative spectrum should be incredibly questionable to anyone who considers themself progressive. Pro tip: If your super-normal and perfectly acceptable sexual orientation is one that could logically never be consensually engaged in, it’s probably not normal and acceptable.

I understand not wanting to lynch people in the street for the crime of having a mental disorder that hasn’t hurt anyone else, but you start crossing the line into “unacceptable” when you don’t even condemn people’s actions after they act on that disorder. The vagina-obsessed Lena Dunham writing about how she molested her younger sister was the first of multiple controversies where people inexplicably defended leftists figures who engaged in questionable activities with children. You also have the overlap with the leftist idea of multiculturalism where pedophilic behavior is apparently okay when when a religion/culture other than Christianity engages in it.

So do I think that the left defends pedophiles? Yes and no. I get what they’re trying to do–the left typically cares more about issues of mental health than those on the conservative side of things. And I’m on their side when it comes to actually wanting to have a conversation about how to view and contend with pedophilia, as opposed to just writing it off as something evil and disgusting and leaving it at that. Even so, they are not the people who should be fronting that conversation at all. It’s just been one big, poorly handled clusterfuck where, instead of focusing on the issues of mental health and demonization and crime prevention through psychiatry, the loudest activists decided to go the neuro-divergent route, co-opting the rhetoric of the LGBT movement and insisting that we shouldn’t be mean to people who are different. Even if “being different” means that you’ve actually committed a serious crime.

I don’t know why I even spent so much time writing this. I look forward to the flood of people who don’t read to the end and automatically assume I’m disgusting trash!

What Happened to the Kids Today?

Time for a change of speed, huh? As stupid as Buzzfeed-brand left wing social politics can be, Fox News-brand right wing social politics can be equally–if not more–ridiculous. I critique the lefties more on this blog because I still somewhat associate myself with them and thereby have to constantly point out the wrong things they do to save myself the second-hand shame and embarrassment. That doesn’t mean I don’t have just as much snark reserved for the folks on the other side of the horseshoe. I make fun of everybody equally.

So, random Fox News opinions columnist, why do you think the younger generations are less religious?

* * *

First things first, the author of this column is Dr. Alex McFarland, the Director for Christian Worldview and Apologetics at North Greenville University. I didn’t know you could be the director for a religious worldview. What does that mean? Is he like a college chaplain? Does he pray over stressed out engineering majors in their first week of finals, reminding them that suicide is a sin? What do you do, Dr. McFarland? Seeing as how NGU is heavily associated with apologetic Southern Baptists and its mascot is The Crusader, I can only assume that it’s one of those Christian colleges you send your daughter to when you don’t want those evil yank liberals turning her into a slut. All I’m saying is that I’m not banking on this being an unbiased assessment of social trends, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this opinions piece came with a poorly filmed, hip Christian rap to appeal to the kids. But, hey, who said you had to be unbiased? I’m clearly not.

College-aged millennials today are far more likely than the general population to be religiously unaffiliated. This is true when they are compared to previous generations as well.

In fact, the Pew Research Center documents that millennials are the least outwardly religious American generation, where “one in four are unaffiliated with any religion, far more than the share of older adults when they were ages 18 to 29.”

Here’s a link to the Pew Poll in question, with the most recent stats being from 2014. The overtly Christian sects are dropping in popularity (though they are, by far, still the most prevalent). Non-Christian faiths are getting a bit more popular, but they’re so minuscule in representation that it doesn’t have much of an impact. And “unaffiliated” is on a significant rise, with the most popular iteration of religious affiliation being “nothing in particular.”

How very millennial of us. Our religious beliefs can be summed up as eeeeeeeeeehhhhhh *exaggerated shoulder shrug*

To be fair, Pew researchers have also found that millennials are just as “spiritual” as other generations even though they’re not as religious. I take that with a grain of salt, though, because Pew–like the rest of the world–doesn’t clearly define what “spiritual” means, and the things it does count as “spiritual” seem really questionable to me personally. I think the universe is interesting, I don’t count myself as being spiritual at all. But Pew counts it, so whatever. The point that I’m trying to make is that being “unaffiliated” can mean lots of things, especially since atheist/agnostic are separate sub-categories, meaning that “nothing in particular” says, well, nothing in particular, about what their spiritual beliefs are.

Just over 60 percent of millennials say that Christianity is “judgmental,” and 64 percent say that “anti-gay” best describes most churches today.

I’m not going to be an angry internet atheist and claim that every single church and every single facet of Christianity is judgmental and weirdly concerned with people’s sex lives. But it’s definitely out there. Hey, not every church in America is going to be a wishy-washy Unitarian Univeralist one, what can I say.

In ministry circles, it has long been reported that of youth raised in homes that were to some degree “Christian,” roughly three-quarters will jettison that faith after high school. Just under half of this number will return to some level of church involvement in their late 20s or early 30s.

It’s almost like forcing a religion on a teenager makes them not like it or something. Did the “ministry circles” really have to tell you that? Now I’m getting the image of some overly elaborate, James Bond-esque meeting room where holograms of ministers from around the world sit around a table and talk about how they don’t know what’s happened to the kids today.

Why is this? Our most recent research, which includes dozens of interviews with teens, twentysomethings, professed ex-Christians, and religion and culture experts, points to factors like these:

Gonna be honest, Dr. McFarland, I’d be far more interested in reading/watching those actual interviews than I would be with reading your second-hand account of what the crux of those interviews was.

1.Mindset of “digital natives” is very much separate from other generations. Millennials are eclectic on all fronts—economically, spiritually, artistically. There is little or no “brand loyalty” in most areas of life.

. . . What? I honestly don’t know what this means. Since when did being eclectic mean that no one latches onto individual, specific things? Millennials are perfectly capable of finding one thing they like and sticking to it. Hell, my generation has been very heavily criticized for having too much “brand loyalty” to certain groups or ideas even after latching onto them stops making sense. It’s not the Baby Boomers keeping Apple and pseudo-religious mindfulness seminars in business.

2.Breakdown of the family. It has long been recognized that experience with an earthly father deeply informs the perspective about the heavenly father. In “How the West Really Lost God, sociologist Mary Eberstadt correctly asserts, “The fortunes of religion rise or fall with the state of the family.”

This kind of just doesn’t make sense. In the same Pew Poll you quoted before, you can click on over a few pages and find out that the people most likely to be overtly religious (in regards to Christianity, anyway) are the same groups that are plagued by poverty, “broken family” being a subsection of “poverty.”

Yeah, I don’t have a father, and I’m an atheist. But I have six younger brothers with a burnout dad who might as well be as nonexistent as mine is, and three of them are extremely religious. One of them wants to be a preacher when he gets older. My mom overtly sends to them church every Sunday and Wednesday for the express purpose of getting them around other father-figures to help guide them through life. The idea that broken homes don’t invite religious sentiments is rather laughable.

That sociologist is contributing to the increasingly more apparent notion that sociology is a hack field. Yeah, I know, it’s not just the social justice warriors ruining it–how odd. She’s making a causative statement when, at best, there is only a correlation. First day of Intro Stat: “Correlation =/= Causation.” Nothing you’ve said has made it clear what the relationship between religion and traditional family ties is and what impact they have on each other; you’ve just asserted that non-traditional family structures are rising at the same time that rates of religion are going down. That is true, but that’s not enough information to make any “X caused Y” claims. Like with most social changes, there’s likely an unmentioned third element (like education or income) that is the actual causal factor behind those other statistics, but I guess we’re just not going to get into that here.

3.Militant secularism: Embraced by media and enforced in schools, secular education approaches learning through the lens of “methodological naturalism.” It is presupposed that all faith claims are merely expressions of subjective preference. The only “true” truths are claims that are divorced from any supernatural context and impose no moral obligations on human behavior. People today are subjected to an enforced secularism.

You mean separation of church and state? I bet you’re just balling your fists up and cursing the heavens because sophomore biology isn’t teaching kids about the theories of reincarnation, karma, and Nirvana and how they relate to the human life cycle. Or were you just referring to Christianity in your little freak out about how public schools don’t teach the “truths” espoused by religion? Pssssst. Psssst. This is why people are getting a bit sick of you.

Also, ethics are taught in secular science courses, so the idea that schools are raising our kids to be amoral because we can’t teach them about God is just inaccurate.

4. Lack of spiritual authenticity among adults. Many youth have had no — or very limited — exposure to adult role models who know what they believe, why they believe it, and are committed to consistently living it out.

I knew I should have been sent to a nunnery when I was younger. That would’ve straightened me out for sure. Also, I was exposed to very fervently religious people as a child–both of the “churchy” type and the “personally devoted to God” type. I talked to my grandmother about God a lot as a kid. The two of us would stay up into the wee hours of the morning talking about God. Didn’t stop the whole “me being an atheist” thing.

5. The church’s cultural influence has diminished. The little neighborhood church is often assumed to be irrelevant, and there is no cultural guilt anymore for those who abandon involvement.

This one’s pretty accurate. Sunday is my sleep-in-and-watch-anime day, bro. It’s also rather amazing how you manage to sound disappointed through text that people aren’t guilted into going to church anymore. I tutor kids on Wednesdays. Can that replace being bored in church for two hours as my obligatory moral do-gooding of the week?

6. Pervasive cultural abandonment of morality. The idea of objective moral truth—ethical norms that really are binding on all people—is unknown to most and is rejected by the rest.

I’m more lenient on the idea of objective morality. I don’t think there are any universally agreed-upon things that are considered objectively good or bad. But if you want to argue that some objectively good or bad things exist independent of human perception, it’s still an argument to be had about where you draw the line between individuals’ subjective opinions and their objective impact on the world and try to establish an objective morality that way.

That being said, you worded this as “pervasive cultural abandonment of morality,” as though not believing in objective morality just means you are a sociopath who has abandoned morals. So excuse me for assuming that the above conversation would not be one you’d be willing to have. This knee-jerk moral condemnation of people who don’t subscribe to your belief system is, once again, why people are starting to get sick of you.

The obvious implication here is that Christianity is the source of the One True Morality. I’m sorry, but that’s not a very good leg to stand on when you’re trying to convince people that your belief system is the fount of all moral truths. Your religion has done, said, and justified some fucked up things, so claiming that you have the monopoly on morality and that you know the true way to being a good person doesn’t sell very well. That, and lots of the “moral rules” the Bible lays out are pretty stupid. “Murder is bad” is a good moral lesson, but then there’s lots of stuff about dietary constrictions and what fabric you should wear and oddly specific rules about what sexual interests are “good” or “bad.” Excuse me for thinking that Objective Morality doesn’t seem all that connected to whether or not a dude finishes when he jerks off.

This is the problem that all religions that claim to be the bringer of objective morality have. What if someone believes in objective morality through the teachings of Hinduism? Are they okay in your book, or is their religiously determined objective morality wrong because it’s not your religiously determined objective morality?

7. Intellectual skepticism. College students are encouraged to accept platitudes like “life is about asking questions, not about dogmatic answers.” Is that the answer? That there are no answers? Claiming to have answers is viewed as “impolite.” On life’s ultimate questions, it is much more socially acceptable to “suspend judgment.”

. . . What? I was nonreligious a decade before I went to college, so there’s that. I don’t doubt that plenty of people decide that they’re an atheist after freshmen year at university, but it depends on the individual as to how “legitimate” that label change is. College is typically the place where you try to figure out what you think about things. Ping-ponging between different worldviews before finding one that’s actually accurate to yourself and not just one you’re fleetingly interested in because you read a chapter of a book in Intro Philosophy is pretty par for the course. I see nothing wrong with that as long as people can articulate their mental experience well.

I went on that tangent because WTF, dude? “Being curious and skeptical of people who say they have all the answers in life is bad!” What? Claiming to have answers for life’s ultimate questions isn’t “impolite,” it’s just inaccurate. 100% of the time. Claiming to know the answers to all the complexities and intricacies of life and all of it’s confusing, difficult parts is inaccurate when a hack motivational speaker does it. It’s inaccurate when a cult does it. It’s inaccurate when pharmaceutical companies do it. It’s inaccurate when social justice warriors do it. And it’s inaccurate when you do it. Feeling put upon because people aren’t accepting your dogmatic answers without question makes you look like an idiot, not them. I even agree with you that “life’s about asking questions” is just a platitude, but it’s sure as hell a better platitude than “life’s about not questioning what people tell you as long as they claim it comes from God first.”

8. The rise of a fad called “atheism.” Full of self-congratulatory swagger and blasphemous bravado, pop-level atheists such as the late Christopher Hitchens (whom I interviewed twice) made it cool to be a non-believer. Many millennials, though mostly 20-something Caucasian males, are enamored by books and blogs run by God-hating “thinkers.”

Bitter much? Chris Hitchens was awesome, but he was and still is a very divisive figure. There are plenty of people who think he was an asshole. I like the guy, and I can give them that point. To say he “made atheism cool” seems to be oversimplifying the impact he had. I will even concede to you, as I did above, that there are plenty of real-world people giving themselves the “atheism” label the same way Marvel making popular blockbuster movies magically made everybody “a comic book nerd.”

That being said, I don’t think the rise in areligiosity can just be boiled down to a fad. You pointed out yourself that this steady decline in religious sentiments has been happening generation-by-generation. Atheism isn’t like 80s hair. It didn’t just pop up one day because the social and consumer conditions were good and then fade away. We’ve been building up to this 1/4 nonreligious statistic for quite a while.

Also, “angry YouTube atheism” has really died down as a topic. It was popular in the early-mid 2000s, but now the “internet atheists” have largely moved on to other topics, the remaining Four Horseman don’t talk about atheism specifically anymore, there are no modern popular irreverent atheist stand-up routines like there were back in the day, and things like Atheism+ have been declining in popularity since their conception. If this was 2005, I’d buy into this more, but I’m having a very difficult time believing that atheism is “the new hip thing” in 2017.

9.  Our new God: Tolerance be Thy name. “Tolerance” today essentially means, “Because my truth is, well, my truth, no one may ever question any behavior or belief I hold.” This “standard” has become so ingrained that it is now impossible to rationally critique any belief or behavior without a backlash of criticism.

I’d be inclined to agree that millennials use “tolerance” as a crutch in far too many situations and that the obsession when “being tolerant” of different people has been brought to ridiculous extremes. That being said, I’m not sure how this has led to a decline in religion, by your own logic. I guess you’re implying that they tolerate too much anti-religious things, that you’re then not allowed to question?

While I agree with the general sentiment that there are some groups you’re generally not allowed to criticize in the name of “being tolerant,” I don’t agree with your conclusion that this is bad thing for religious beliefs. Religion, like all beliefs and belief systems, can and should be criticized. The issue with the Tolerance Police popping up over the last handful of years is that they seek to shield only certain people and ideas from the criticism justifiably levied at them. But a religion being subject to criticism isn’t bad, and having to defend your religion and explain why it’s a legitimate belief to hold should not be seen as a “threat.”

You rightfully call out this “no one can question my opinions” notion when you see it in millennials, but you’ve complained about people having the gall to question you and what you think is the Truth in this very article. Hi, Pot! This is my friend, Kettle!

10. The commonly defiant posture of young adulthood. As we leave adolescence and morph into adulthood, we all can be susceptible to an inflated sense of our own intelligence and giftedness. During the late teens and early 20s, many young people feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof. I did. The cultural trend toward rejection of God—and other loci of authority—resonates strongly with the desire for autonomy felt in young adulthood.

That’s why atheism has always been consistently popular among young adults in America, right? Wait a minute . . . Also, there’s nothing like believing that your planet is the center of the universe and that you specifically are cared about by the Creator of all things to give someone an inflated sense of bulletproof giftedness. Just saying.

Finally, is it really any wonder that kids raised in the churches of 21st century America aren’t often stirred to lifelong commitment? Most churches are so occupied with “marketing” themselves to prospective attendees that they wouldn’t dream of risking their “brand” by speaking tough-as-nails truth.

I’m sorry, I just burst out laughing for a few minutes because I remembered this one fire-and-brimstone sermon I had to read in English class once. Yeah, nothing appeals to young people more than impassioned, fifteen minute long rants about how God’s going to bitchslap them into Hell where they’ll be brutally tortured forever if they don’t submit to His almighty authority and weep in the power of his presence until their eyes bleed. People will just line up around the block to be a part of that religion! Screw the church that has bake sales and potluck dinners and an in-church band playing rock as hardcore as the Christian faith allows. Protestant preaching about Hell is what’s really metal.

For evangelical youth mentored by many a hip and zany “Minister to Students,” commitment to Jesus lasts about as long as the time it takes to wash the stains out of T-shirts worn at the senior-year paintball retreat.

I don’t know what’s sadder: student ministers apparently trying so hard to be “hip and zany,” or Dr. McFarland actually seeming to think that those guys are too edgy.

“Hey there, kids! Who wants to play some lazer tag and listen to Flyleaf before the sermon!” *insert Bill and Ted-appropriated air guitar*

“Get out of here! You’re corrupting the youth!”

It is true that our culture has grown visibly antithetical to God and Christian commitment. But in addressing the spiritual attrition rate of young America, it must be admitted that a prayerless, powerless church peddling versions of “Christianity Lite” share in the blame. God only knows the degree of our complicity, and also the time when we’ll be concerned enough to change direction.

How dare they try to make the church-going experience actually enjoyable, am I right? But I guess that does entail admitting that church and strict religious teachings aren’t very appealing, which must be a difficult thing to do if you’re a Christian apologist. I’m sure the Muslim imam decrying the fact that so many young Muslims are trying to *gasp* go on dates agrees with your sentiment that Religion Lite and hip, wishy-washy young practitioners are ruining the whole thing. How dare they? It’s almost like lording over people and telling them that casually believing in God is bad and that they’re not being religious “the right way” is one of the very many things making them a bit sick of you.

Well, that was fun! I’m going to go listen to some awesome Swedish, Satanist, goth metal now.

Once Upon a Time, I was a Social Justice Warrior

I think I’ve made it relatively clear that I am on the left side of things in regards to politics. For those new to this, back in the olden days of Disorderly Politics, with my very first post about why I wasn’t a feminist, I mentioned rather offhandedly that I used to be far more entrenched in social-justice brand leftist politics than I am now. I decided to use this blog post to explain the reasoning behind why I was a part of that crowd and the reasoning behind why I left it. I think it’s important to have this kind of narrative out in the ether to combat the notion that anti-SJWs are inherently hateful borderline bigots, born and raised on conservative Reddit forums.

This’ll be a long one, and a lot of it’s background. So skip on down to the half-way point if you don’t want to deal with that. It’s about time that I ranted for 3,000 words again.

* * *

For some background, I am from the rural South. Southern Baptist church on every corner, sweet tea drinking, Confederate flag flying from the back of every other pickup truck-brand, Bible Belt South. I have many younger brothers, and my single mother and grandmother raised me in a trailer park. Most people around me were politically conservative, as is typical of the area. And the ones who weren’t politically conservative tended to be Southern Baptist Democrats–mostly African-American extended family who liked Billy Clinton and social safety nets and thought the gays were going to go to Hell.

My mother and grandmother are life-long Democrats out of habit. For the most part, like most poor working people, they are apolitical in the practical sense. We never talked about politics, and what they know about the political scene typically doesn’t go past what is gone over in mainstream ABC Channel news segments. There are things of more immediate concern in their lives.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been more socially liberal than most of my peers, something that can be significantly attributed to me realizing that I was an atheist at a very young age. Once you start thinking church is stupid and God doesn’t exist, it’s kind of hard to think that homosexuality or drugs or premarital sex or abortions or any number of other things are sinful. And being in some way “sinful” is the main argument you hear against most of those above topics when you live in the Bible Belt. There are other arguments, of course, but I didn’t hear those until much later.

So me and my small group of more liberal friends grew up with a bit of a chip on our collective shoulder regarding small-town conservatism. It’s to be expected. I’m of the opinion that small towns exist as a test to see if you leave when you get the chance to. I was desperate to pass that test, like many other small town kids are and forever will be. I’m sure that if my town was full of moralizing liberal hippies, I would have a knee-jerk negative reaction to that. But as it stands, my town was full of people who thought Obama was an evil Muslim socialist who wanted to take our guns, and by the time I was eighteen years old, I wanted to get as far away from that as humanly possible.

While I was looking for colleges, a liberal atmosphere was one of the main things I was after. Granted, I wasn’t gay save for a solitary girl-crush my senior year. My friends and I didn’t do any drugs, and we weren’t fans of drinking. I wasn’t promiscuous. But I already identified as a humanist at that point and was very concerned with not automatically judging anyone who indulged in any of those things as long as they weren’t harming themselves or others. I was tired of the hypocritical small town conservatism where they hated marijuana but didn’t seem to care about their neighbor being addicted to meth, and where God loved all His creations but still didn’t care much for the homosexuals. I wanted to be in a place that accepted gay people. I wanted to be in a place where I could talk about being okay with legalizing marijuana without getting yelled at about the inherent moral depravity of drugs. I wanted to be in a place where I wasn’t afraid to admit that I didn’t believe in God.

I wanted to be at a liberal arts college. So that’s where I went.

I took the ACT and a few subject tests, aced my advanced placement courses, got a full-ride to an impressive liberal arts college a 2-hour plane ride away, and I was ecstatic. Going to college was the first time I’d ever flown on a plane or taken a taxi. I was out of my element, to say the very least.

* * *

The title is a bit intentionally click-baity, as I don’t think that I was ever a full-blown SJW. I say that because the atmosphere of my new college was really great . . . for a week. Yes, this is truly one of those “the grass is always greener on the other side” stories, as cliched as that moral is.

I knew full-well about how hyper-liberal my chosen college was. This was not an example of my family being afraid of an evil Northern college rotting my brain and turning me into a Communist. My family highly values education in a very blanket sense. They don’t know what the Ivy League is, but they know college is important, and I showed them my school’s spot on the Forbe’s college list, and they were impressed. So as soon as they figured out that I got a full-ride, they had no qualms with it. They didn’t worry about the politics of the place at all.

No, all my warnings came from the internet. Like any nerdy high school senior with a home computer, I did ravenous amounts of research on the colleges I wanted to go to. I visited the official website and student blogs and web forums and Reddit pages all in an attempt to get the most accurate picture possible of my choices. The general consensus was this: Academics are A+, but its liberal politics are seriously out of hand. Like any nerdy high school senior with a serious case of Desperate-to-Leave-Her-Small-Town Syndrome, I ignored those warnings. I wrote them off as people with right-leaning politics who just didn’t do enough research before choosing their school. Of course it was a super-liberal place, why were they so bitter and surprised about it? They should’ve went to Georgetown or Notre Dame if they wanted a more conservative atmosphere.

I get it now.

* * *

As I said, my fabulous Liberal Wonderland that was everything I had hoped and dreamed of in a college lasted all of a week before I started to get tired with it all. That’s not to say that I missed the politics of my hometown, but I clued in very quickly to what I had previously thought was impossible. I associated conservatism with religiosity and repressive social practices, and I associated liberalism with live-and-let-live acceptance, and I didn’t think you could have too much acceptance. Turns out, I was wrong.

I was much more dedicated to social justice ideas upon entering college. This was mainly because of my fervent support of gay rights. I actually planned on being more of an activist for minority groups in college even though I hadn’t had much experience. Because of that interest, I was accepted into a week-long program that happened before official orientation that was all about social justice and activism and all that cool stuff.

The experience wasn’t awful, by any means. Some of my happiest memories of college–and in general–take place during this program. Despite my fervent support of gay rights, I was very ill-informed about transgender people and had a negative opinion of them that wasn’t all that warranted, and I genuinely do appreciate the program informing me more about what being trans actually meant. With that being said, it was during that seven-day program that I learned social justice wasn’t for me.

I was fine with telling people my preferred pronouns every time I introduced myself. I was fine with talking about gender identity. I was fine with acknowledging white privilege and male privilege, and I ascribed to feminism wholeheartedly. I find it important to note those things, because, on paper, it seems like I should have been all for stereotypical social justice warriorism. But I could never fully buy into it because, from day one, it came across as extremely cynical to me, and it wasn’t an atmosphere that I took kindly to even if I agreed with plenty of its points.

I distinctly remember doing a Privilege Walk on the second day of the program. For those of you who don’t know what that is: You stand in a line, and you close your eyes, and someone reads off a list, and every time a point pertains to you, you take a step forward. The idea is, the people who take the most steps have the most privilege, and vice versa. So there were questions like “My family owns our house,” “I’ve never been followed in a store,” “I’m a man,” etc. etc. I didn’t mind the walk itself as much as I minded the discussion afterwards, where we were all told to open our eyes and gaze upon our disparate amounts of privilege. It was all very somber and sad and self-pitying, and I eventually just had to make a comment about how I was actually very encouraged by what I saw because, no matter how far behind or ahead people were at the end of the Privilege Walk, we still all wound up in the same place: at a good college, with people who support us, and good prospects ahead of us. My optimism was apparently a surprising thing to hear.

The rest of the week was like that. It was lots and lots of encouraging people to navel-gaze about how bad they had it in the most cynical way possible. I remember going to a small caucus group for black students that could essentially be summed up as: “Tell us about all the even slightly racist things that have ever happened to you, and tell us about how awful they made you feel, and if you can’t think of anything or it didn’t make you feel bad, we’ll convince you otherwise.” At one point another girl, who has gone full SJW four years later, questioned the need for racial affinity groups on-campus, and she was essentially told never to question how necessary they were again because they obviously were, end of story.

I wasn’t a fan of the cynicism. I wasn’t a fan of the automatic disregarding of ideas that didn’t fit within our little liberal bubble. I wasn’t a fan of the superfluous social niceties that had you feeling like you were walking on eggshells whenever you were talking to a new person. I wasn’t a fan of the “intent vs. impact” idea they enforced that treated people’s intentions as irrelevant. So I couldn’t buy into it entirely, even back then.

* * *

 It still took me some time to become totally disillusioned, but I had already decided that the social justice activism scene just wasn’t for me. It came across as incredibly histrionic and exclusionary from the get-go. There was lots of internal drama, and lots of molehills being made into mountains for our brave campus activists to surpass, and it seemed like a very toxic environment that I didn’t want to be around. So I had to find some other way to be a good liberal.

Early in my college career, I decided to look into Democratic Socialism as a potential political label. I wound up taking a train to a four-day long Democratic Socialists of America conference in New York. I still have the pin they gave me, I still get DSA emails, and the conference convinced me that the DSA wasn’t for me either. It’s largely for the same reasons. I feel like I was privy to one genuinely productive discussion for the entirety of those four days (It was about helping the working class.), and the rest was once again a whole lot of overly-negative naval gazing about how bad we all had it for various reasons. I even mentioned to one of the friends I made there that I thought the conference’s habit of breaking up people into demographic groups to talk to them separately seemed really unhelpful, and I didn’t and still don’t think his justification for it was all that satisfactory.

In addition to that, though, there was a healthy dose of the casual straight white male hatred that is so common in SJW circles nowadays. Sitting in a room full of people having a hearty laugh about how disappointing it was that a good book was written by a straight white guy made me extremely uncomfortable, to say the very least. These were not bad people. And they weren’t stupid people. What I learned from that conference was that Democratic Socialists throw awesome house parties, and have very rousing conversations over dinner, and are willing to leave their house at 1am during a blizzard to find you after you accidentally get lost on the subway and wind up in Harlem. And their social politics are extremely off-putting when you put them all together in a room to talk about them.

* * *

My final disillusionment ultimately came during the two times when I genuinely tried to give social-justice-style community work and social activism its chance. I was already mainly against it. I thought it wasn’t nuanced. I thought it divided people more than it united them. But I was still willing to give it a chance if I thought it could do some good.

Since I care about education, I joined a tutoring program that tutored low-income, mainly minority students in their after-school programs. We helped with their homework, and went over their quizzes, did cool science experiments, all that jazz. I enjoyed doing it. I found one nerdy black elementary schooler and took him under my wing, and it was all going great. Then my location changed, and I no longer had my little mentee, and I had a new site coordinator–one of my classmates.

While going to my new location with her and the new batch of tutors I was working with, I witnessed the most ridiculously racist conversation on the face of the planet that made me drop the tutoring program entirely because there was no way I was going to work with a bunch of raging racists even if I did like helping kids study. Essentially, my Latina site coordinator thought that she’d go off on an unsolicited rant against two strangers who worked at the community center we were tutoring at. It was a rant about how she hates white people, and about how she’s so glad that all of us were people of color, and about how those horrible white boys need to get out of our way because they ruin everything and don’t care about minorities, and about how she wished white people just weren’t around. This is not paraphrased, by the way.

Those “horrible white boys” turned out to be locals in that low-income community who volunteered as coaches for a program that taught kids various sports in an attempt to keep them away from drugs and other illegal things. When she found out that they cared about minorities after all and weren’t just two white boys hogging the gym to shoot some hoops, she begrudgingly acknowledged that maybe they were okay but she still hates white people in general. That disgusted me. My fellow tutors’ reaction to it–to nod and agree–disgusted me. The fact that that racist cunt prided herself on how she was able to teach children disgusted me. And the fact that she felt perfectly comfortable telling me that she hated a race of people and wanted them gone all because my skin tone apparently dictates that I agree with that sentiment disgusted me.

Needless to say, I never talked to any of them again.

The final nail in the coffin was something very similar: me, trying to give a group with a good premise a chance and quickly becoming disillusioned with the entire thing because everyone around me was an asshole. I decided to join the new club that helped and advocated for low-income students. I’ve been very open about how I don’t think elite institutions care about class or the hardships being low-income places on students in those academic environments. I thought the club was a great idea. I signed up for it. I became a Big Sibling to an underclassmen. I participated in panels and talked to the administration about things they could do to help people who don’t have any money to spare.

Then, one night, I met the girls in charge of the group. We were sitting around a table putting candy in plastic bags and talking about the group dynamics of the club. It was at that point that the two girls who formed the group decided to–you guessed it–go on an unsolicited rant against a random person who had done nothing wrong. In this case, they overtly laughed at a white guy who didn’t appreciate people on campus constantly telling him that he had privilege because he was a straight white guy–and, as a side effect, providing him with less help and support than the “oppressed” people. This was a boy who was forced to go “home” every winter break to the backseat of a car, to live off of McDonald’s coupons for a month, whose parents abused him, who didn’t have a penny to his name. And apparently the very notion that he didn’t want to be treated like he was privileged when he so obviously wasn’t was laughable. His concerns were stupid and could be dismissed without a second thought.

And those were the people who apparently cared about low-income students. Those were the people who wanted to help, who wanted to make a group that wasn’t about racial demographics, who wanted to focus on class for fucking once. But apparently white men can still go fuck themselves. They don’t deserve any sympathy. They’re given enough of it from everyone else.

* * *

That was the point that I gave up on “social justice” and its very conditional sympathy for the downtrodden, rivaled only by the small town conservatism that cared about all of God’s creatures unless they were fags. That was when I gave up on the political ideology that kept trying to censor art and media, like it was the 1980s again and they were the pearl-clutching Christian mothers afraid that D&D and Frank Zappa would turn their children to Satan.

And maybe you could say that I’m throwing the baby out with the bathwater when I reject social justice as a concept. But I don’t think so. They had good ideas that were difficult to object to–acceptance and diversity and social support. I’m not denying that. And I’m not denying that there are many people who ascribe to social justice who are still holding onto that vague set of genuinely good ideas as principles to uphold. But social justice as a copyrighted, trademarked political institution with leaders and interest groups that lobby the government and speak on television and make course syllabi for college students . . . that social justice is ruined, in my opinion.

That bathwater is boiling, and that baby is dead.

#HangAyazNizami and Other Thoughts from Our Favorite Peaceful People

Time to shake things up a bit with something that is immediately awful and harmful, and something I have a hard time being sarcastically dismissive about. So strap in, I guess. If you haven’t read my post from a while quite a while ago, I am an atheist, so the topic I’ll be talking about hits closer to home than usual. I may bitch a lot about BLM and feminism and how I think they’re awful for the most part, which I do, don’t get me wrong; but in the end of the day, I can only care so much about things I feel obligated to address just to break the stereotype that all women/black people/etc. think X thing. Religious beliefs, though, are actually something you can choose about yourself, something that actually says something about you as a person, something that actually informs who you are as a unique human being. As a general rule, anything that involves being harmed or abused for the damnable crime of “thinking the wrong things” really disturbs me as a concept, so that on top of me being an atheist makes the Ayaz Nizami debacle resonate with me a great deal.

For some background: Ayaz Nizami is a Pakistani atheist who, along with reportedly two other atheists, was arrested for blasphemy after posting on a few atheist Facebook pages and online forums. This follows right on the footsteps of an atheist in neighboring India, H. Farook, being hacked to death with sickles by a mob for expressing atheistic sentiments online. People have taken to the internet expressing themselves about what the punishment for blasphemy should be, which is why #HangAyazNizami was trending. I guess we know what the consensus is.

This is the same country where tens of thousands of people supported and mourned the death of an assassin of a government official who wanted to protect Christian minorities. This is the same country where the government has actively given a call to arms to its people to start seeking out and reporting blasphemy, particularly of the anti-Islam kind, to be punished. According to Pew researchers, the Middle East and North Africa are the main places where you can still find laws against blasphemy (18 out of the 20 countries) and apostasy (14 out of the 20 countries), with Pakistan being one of the harshest, often sentencing blasphemers to the death penalty. Other countries are nicer and just send people to prison for 2-15 years. Aren’t they reasonable?

* * *

For some more nice info about Pakistan in particular: 61% of them think that there is only one interpretation of Sharia law, 84% of them are in favor of making it the law of the land, 87% of them think religious judges should handle disputes, 89% think stoning is an apt punishment for adultery, 76% think apostasy from Islam should warrant the death penalty, 91% think it’s bad that their country doesn’t follow Sharia more closely, 88% think a wife should always obey her husband, 26% think that a woman has the right to a divorce, 85% think that it’s necessary to believe in god to be moral, 93% think sex outside marriage is morally wrong, 90% think homosexuality is immoral, 71% think divorce is immoral, a bit more than half think honor killings are justified, and 87% think society should not accept homosexuality, which falls in line with the mainly-Muslim countries where not even younger generations are slightly more accepting of it.

I put these stats there for a nice micro-example of how these are not “fringe” notions. It’s not 1% of Muslims with extreme, fundamentalist ideas who think apostates should be killed and that gay people are evil and that women have to defer to their husbands, even legally. These are not uncommon ideas to have in overtly Muslim societies. And I’m sure that if you asked the people who gave their answers to this poll, they’d say there were religious moderates. Yes, the lovely moderates we hear so much about, the ones who are peaceful and fine and just minding their own business.

* * *

I’m not a fan of religion. There are days where I actively despise it as a concept. The Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) are awful and mostly incoherent, and I used to be inclined to give the more Eastern-centric religions a break . . . until finding out about the whole “using Reincarnation as an excuse to hate and further the abuse poor people” thing, after which I threw in the towel and admitted to myself that making excuses for religion was pointless. This isn’t me saying that religion causes bad things to happen. I mentioned in my original post about atheism that I think people would find excuses to be crazy and violent even if religion wasn’t a thing. That being said, I think religion gives people an excuse to be violent and explicit groups of people who it is morally acceptable to mistreat or treat as lesser than you. “There are other stupid things in the world,” doesn’t strike me as a particularly compelling argument for why religion should just be given a pass and treated like some great thing.

This most recent happening with Ayaz Nizami (who, best case scenario if no one steps in, is going to be imprisoned for the rest of his life) just serves as yet another all-too-frequent example of an idea being granted the title of sacrosanct. This is what happens when a large group of people decides that their ideas should never be criticized. Should never even be joked about or made fun of. Should never be questioned. And this is why it annoys me to all hell when people in the US and Canada and Britain and Germany trip over themselves to defend Islam from any criticism, doing nothing but reaffirming this already-ridiculous notion that it should automatically be regarded with the highest of respects.

You have Majid Nawaz and Ayan Hirsi Ali of all people being labeled as dangerous Islamophobic bigots. You have social media sites actively guarding against “Islamophbic, hateful content.” But, rest assured, all the tweets unironically calling for a man to be hung in the streets for speaking against Islam are still readily available to be seen by anyone who wants them.

You have Canada passing motions that make “Islamophobia” something that can get you in federal trouble, because how dare you not respect someone’s religious affiliation. How is this not some glorified blasphemy law? How? And why does no other religion get it? I’m guessing it’d still be okay for me to go on over to Canada and call a Christian photographer who’s just not feeling up to snapping photos at a gay wedding an insufferably moralistic cunt. It’s okay to not give two fucks about the religious convictions of a Christian, but expressing displeasure with the religion that has currently provided the world with almost 500 violent attacks (most of them small scale, which is why they aren’t newsworthy at this point) in the last 3 months isn’t allowed. All in the name of tolerance. Muslims should be insulted by this. They are being depicted as either a.) ticking time-bombs who are going to literally explode the second they feel disrespected or b.) fragile victims who crumble under criticism of their apparently deeply held beliefs, even when criticism of all the other religious beliefs is seen as fine and normal.

I understand why this is happening. People want to be kind. They want to be tolerant. They want to be good people. There actually was a rash of genuine Muslim-hatred after 9/11, back when you could throw a rock and hit somebody who thought we should nuke all of the towelheads and kick all the sand niggers out of our country. I understand feeling bad about that and seeking atonement for it. But we’ve gotten to the point of overcompensating. In our attempts to prove that we don’t hate Muslims, we are over-correcting past missteps by giving the Islamic religion a pass for things that we wouldn’t otherwise accept.

A Christian shoots up an abortion clinic and kills 5 people? Christianity is awful. A Muslim shoots up a club and kills 30? Well, he was indoctrinated into America’s strong anti-gay sentiments. People aren’t allowed to wear any identifying religious garb at a certain business . . . unless a Muslim girl wants to wear a headscarf, in which case it’s an outrage that she can’t wear her religious garb. A Christian doesn’t want to bake a cake for some gay people? Screw their religion. A Muslim doesn’t want to be taught by a woman in the classroom? Well, that’s their religious belief, so . . .

I’ll provide a quick anecdote. One day, some friends and I were discussing a professor from another university who was a sexual predator yet inexplicably hasn’t been fired just because he was such a big deal in academic circles. He sexually harassed and groped female students. At one point he outright drugged a girl, and she woke up an indeterminate amount of time later topless, on his lap, with his hand in between her legs. On another occasion, he asked a female Muslim student for a kiss, and pulled off her headscarf while he yanked her closer to him, after which she pulled away and left. Now, both incidents completely and utterly disrespect the wishes and bodily autonomy of another human being. That being said, I think we can all agree that being outright drugged and raped is worse than having an accessory pulled off your head while someone roughly grabs your arm. Guess which incident my friends thought was the more deplorable, punchable thing for that man to do? Hint: they didn’t want to punch him until they found out he pulled off a Muslim girl’s headscarf, because that would make her feel really bad.

It is nothing but people scrambling to prove how tolerant they are, to the point where they are willing to sacrifice their other principles to do it. “Muslim women are the best feminists” being one of the most egregious examples of this. Yeah, have fun going to feminist bastion Saudi Arabia and being physically assaulted in public for not wearing a headscarf. To be fair, many countries are overcompensating in the opposite direction, taking into account legitimate fears and translating that into counterproductive policies like outright banning burkinis and whatnot. What people don’t seem to realize is that religious freedom means having the freedom to practice a religion as long as that practice doesn’t impose on the rights of others and having the freedom to criticize that religion mercilessly, if you so choose.

Meanwhile, as Canada enacts the first steps of its anti-Islamophobia motion, Ayaz Nizami is going to be put to death for criticizing Islam, and Ayan Hirsi Ali is sleeping with armed guards outside her bedroom, and Majid Nawaz is getting death threats, and the former editor of Charlie Hebdo is at risk of losing money over committing hate speech, all because they said something unkind about the religion of peace.