#FreeDankula (also known as #WTFUK)

Holy shit, guys. I never thought that I, as an American, would be able to criticize another first-world Western country for authoritative overreach without it smacking of terrible irony. But here we are.

A bit of background: A jolly, ear-gaged British internet personality by the name of Count Dankula got into some legal trouble last year when he posted a short video of him pranking his girlfriend. What was this prank, you ask? Did he roofie her? Did he send her death threats over the phone? Did he secretly feed her ill-gotten birth control pills in the form of tiny snacks and sundries? No. Those kinds of things would actually harm someone and warrant legal action. No, he was annoyed by her gushing over how cute her little pug-dog was, so he decided to troll her by teaching the pug to raise its paw every time he said “Zieg heil,” because nothing is less cute than a Nazi.

Apparently, thinking that Nazis are the exact antithesis to cuteness and goodness is . . . encouraging Nazism? I don’t know. That’s what the British government thinks, because Count Dankula is now going to prison–fucking prison–for hate speech and being “grossly offensive.” The British legal system is sending a guy who likes gallows humor to the same place as child traffickers and rapists and guys who inject meth into their eyeballs before beating someone to death with their bare hands. He’s getting sent there for being crude on the internet.

What the fuck, Britain? I live in the United States. I hardly have any leg to stand on when it comes to criticizing other countries for imprisoning people for stupid reasons. But this is ridiculous. Everyone knows it’s ridiculous. I hope Dankula is set free as soon as possible and gets a heaping paycheck courtesy of the British government for undue pain and suffering. I personally don’t think the joke was offensive. (The joke is literally “Nazi’s are bad.) Even if it was offensive–even if you could find some objective means of measuring that out and determing that yes, Dankula said a totally mean, problematic thing, that still would not warrant legal fucking action. Being offensive is not something the government should be able to bear down on you over. I don’t care if it’s an actual Nazi in question who went on Snapchat and made a video about how gassing the Jews is awesome. You don’t arrest people for being unpleasant. You don’t arrest people for having demonstrably shitty beliefs about something. You don’t arrest people for thought crimes. 2018 Scotland is acting like goddamn Soviet Russia, sending people to gulags for complaining too loudly. This is messed up.

I’m sure you can see how ridiculous this is. Instead of going into it anymore, I’m just going to provide a list of all the people I can think of, off the top of my head, who should be arrested and/or detained for being “grossly offensive,” according to the UK.

1.) British native Ricky Gervais, who, in his most recent comedy special, made a joke about how he preferred Hitler over people with nut allergies. Obviously, making light of genocide.

2.) Bo Burnham, who has written song lyrics such as “and if we met in 1941, I was a Nazi, you’s a gypsy on the run,” and met it to be funny even though it’s about the Holocaust.

3.) Writer Dan Harmon who, in his show Rick and Morty, conceptualized a character named Abradolph Lincler, a combination of the goodness of Abraham Lincoln and the evil Adolf Hitler who was met to be a morally neutral world leader. Because acknowledging that Hitler was bad in a joke is unacceptable.

4.) Musical comedian Stephen Lynch with his hit song “I Think You’re a Nazi,” all about making light of problematic racism.

5.) All those people who take film clips of Hitler freaking out and sub-titling it different to make jokes when they should totally know that Hitler was a bad guy and not a laughing matter.

6.) The guys who make Epic Rap Battles of History, who featured a comedic portrayal of Adolf Hitler making Holocaust jokes non-stop not once but three times.

7.) Jewish comedian Larry David, who makes frequent Holocuast jokes in his show Curb Your Enthusiam.

8.) YouTuber JonTron, for once making a joke about how a Chinese rip-off of a Disney game featured a blimp with swastikas on it. Obviously not taking Nazism seriously.

9.) Quentin Tarantino, a film director who, in his fim Inglorious Bastards, featured Adolf Hitler as a villain but also had the gall to depict those who killed him as bad people as well. Evil, anti-semetic hate speech at its finest.

10.) Me and my friends, five academically and socially upstanding young adults who have never harmed anyone in our lives or broken any major laws, because we have an inside joke about heiling Hitler that we laugh about sometimes.


A Last Word on #MeToo, Human Awkwardness, and Witch Hunts

Oh my god, guys. Trump said a thing maybe. Look at him! Oh no, he said Haiti was a shithole and that Norway was nicer in comparison. Oooooh noooo. He is wrong in his assessment, and a meanie, and I bet he gets poor grades. I don’t wanna talk about this shit. If Trump even actually said that, he’s a buffoon who doesn’t know what PR is and that’s about it. Moving on.

* * *

I’m back, bitches! Grad school prep in conjunction with literary forays sucks and is time consuming. This will also be brief, because those are still things I’m doing! I just wanted to give some quick input into the latest controversies with the #MeToo “movement” that’s been going on. I’ve already discussed the topic once before, but it just seems like more needs to be said with some of the more recent bouts of rhetoric coming from that camp that I think are genuinely very troubling from a social and psychological standpoint.

Now, there are plenty of people who have an immediate negative knee-jerk reaction to criticizing #MeToo. It’s people finally outing rapists and scumbags who’ve gotten away with their immorality and exploitation for years. How can you have a problem with that, right? My problem is that it’s gotten to the point where people are being dropped by their agents and studios for simply being accused of something. And, worse than even that, it’s gotten to the point where the accusations themselves don’t even have to be all that damning to lead to that outcome. It used to be accusations of rape, pussy grabbing, and public masturbation. And I already had issues with those claims being believed wholesale for obvious reasons. But now those serious maybe-true-maybe-false career- destroying accusations have turned into “This male celebrity touched by lower back once, and upon further thought, I’ve now decided that it made me uncomfortable,” with the same career-destroying effects.

This is not okay. This is a witch hunt. I know people who support this movement start frothing at the mouth whenever anyone dares bring up that point of rhetoric, but it’s getting more and more difficult to deny. Left-leaning social movements like this one always have problems with cutting the bad fruit off of the tree, and this new mentality of internet-lynching every celebrity who some woman claims was a bit too pushy once is that bad fruit. Margaret Atwood, the explicitly feminist author of the Handmaid’s Tale (a book all about gendered oppression and misogyny and objectification and male entitlement to women’s bodies) has been called a rape enabler by the #MeToo crowd because she expressed concern for lack of due process in these harassment and assault accusations. Margaret fucking Atwood.

There’s the obvious case of Aziz Ansari,  who went on a really awkward date once, with that being spun as him being Part of the Problem (TM) by the #MeToo people. Also, go ahead and add Aziz Ansari to the list of Men Who Respect Womyn who only seem to be doing it to compensate for being an asshole either currently or in the past. Awkward sexual encounters that you regret going through with are now prime pickings for retroactive claims of abuse. And that is terrifying.

The worst part of it all is that I think there genuinely is a seed of something helpful here. You could genuinely use the Aziz Ansari “controversy” as a conversation starter for appropriate behavior with sexual conduct and reading body language and being clear and open with potential sexual partners. But instead of that actually helpful usage, articles about his case have turned into “articles that should be required reading for all men,” according to my liberal arts college friends.

FUCKING SHIT. This is why progressives are being intellectually and culturally curb-stomped. This shit right here. You have a perfect glowing example, lit up in the sky with neon lights and jittery pyrotechnics, of a Teaching Situation–a perfect real-world example to teach people about consent and healthy sexual interaction. A PERFECT EXAMPLE. And you use it, instead, as yet another thing to bash men as a sex/gender over the head with. It’s all men‘s fault. It’s all patriarchal entitlement’s fault. Men need to learn. Men need to be taught not to rape, doncha know?

Instead of using that case as a way to give everyone a lesson in how to make your limits and comfort zones clear in a budding sexual situation, you turned it into another example of how men are the ones who need to do all the learning and make all the changes, about how men should know better. It’s ironically incredibly misogynistic: Women, apparently, have none of these responsibilities. Women are apparently incapable of totally consenting to things because they’re just too weak-willed to make their boundaries clear, and a man not abiding by boundaries that he hasn’t been told about is apparently totally and entirely at fault while the woman is totally faultless and the victim.

That chick’s date with Aziz Ansari could have been a lot less awkward had she actually told him that she was uncomfortable with how fast things were going; but her keeping quiet and feeling gross afterwards is apparently all Aziz’s fault because he should have been a mind reader who could tell that she didn’t really want to suck his dick even when she consented to sucking his dick. I’m not even letting the dude off the hook here–he’s a grown man and should be better at reading body language and social cues that indicate someone being uncomfortable even if they don’t explicitly tell him so. But to act as though he’s entirely at fault whereas his date did everything right and did nothing to contribute to that awkward discomfort herself is flat-out wrong. The whole point of consent is that it is mutual–a mutual understanding between two people about what each of them wants and the limits each of them has. When your rhetoric makes it seems like consent is a one-way street–that it’s the man’s responsibility to uphold and be mindful of it while the girl has to do fuck all–your rhetoric is being misogynistic. Your rhetoric is painting women as unequal partners in that sexual encounter, the partner who has no responsibility to have that conversation or make their feelings clear, to ensure mutual consent, because they just can’t be trusted or expected to. What?!

* * *

This is also incredibly awkward for other reasons that I haven’t seen touched upon that much. As you all know, those on the left side of the spectrum seem to be more prone to cultural relativism than those on the right. “All cultures are equal, just different,” and all that jazz. Speaking as a girl who has dated and/or been asked out by men from different cultural backgrounds on multiple occasions, #MeToo’s obsession with painting awkward romantic/sexual encounters as assault/harassment might come back to bite them in the ass. Will they choose women or brown people? Who knows?

Personal shit alert. Warning you now. From personal experience, South Asian men (culturally, not just racially) are waaaay more sexually aggressive than what a lot of girls are used to. I have been in situations nearly identical to the scene painted by Aziz Ansari’s accuser, identical and sometimes more extreme: Super awkward encounters where the guy was far more enthusiastic than I was and didn’t seem to notice even when I thought I was making my lack of interest very clear. I regret those encounters. I find them awkward. They made me feel gross then, and they make me feel gross in retrospect. Do I think those guys are more than a bit asshole-ish for totally ignoring my body language and social cues? Yes, I do. Could they benefit from a talk about consent (and I mean a real talk about consent, not a “men are the bad guys, teach them not to rape” talk)? Probably.

But they didn’t assault me. They didn’t harass me. They “coerced me” in only the most basic “peer pressure” of senses. I didn’t fear for my safety. I just wasn’t good at expressing myself. I wasn’t good at making my boundaries clear. I wasn’t good at telling people what I was comfortable doing, because intimacy is embarrassing enough without talking about it beforehand, and it’s even more embarrassing to push someone away from you even when they’re having a nice time. Call that a stupid mentality all you want. It is. But that’s the one most sexually inexperienced people–men included–have. Everything is awkward, and there are people who never learn how to openly talk about it. And you should be encouraging that openness and comfort with sexuality for people of all genders instead of just telling men how much they suck.

Now, if I had done those things—if I did have those discussions, or if I did push the guy away and say “I’m not cool with what you’re doing”–and they still went through with stuff, that is assault. Call that out. The problem is that the #MeToo movement and its social media supporters have shown themselves to be woefully ill-equipped to tell the difference. And I worry about that. I really do.

People are fucking awkward. Human beings are awkward. #MeToo’s current standard for what they find to be “totally unacceptable, misogynistic behavior” doesn’t allow for any of that. It doesn’t allow for error. It doesn’t allow for mistakes. It doesn’t allow for misunderstandings. With their standard, my first high school boyfriend, who is a great guy and who treated me with nothing but kindness and respect, is Part of the Problem (TM) because a seventeen-year-old not being sure how physical intimacy works and holding you a bit too close or putting his arm around you when you’ve never really engaged in PDA before and weren’t really expecting it is bad. That’s perpetuating rape culture, doncha know?

Just . . . fucking shit, guys.

The Young Turks Supports Misogyny

Yeah, how’s that for a clickbait title? I can do it too, Buzzfeed. I can do it too.

To make things perfectly clear, I don’t think the folks over at the Young Turks support misogyny. I’m just doing some clever role playing, providing some ironic commentary.

So what happened? Cenk Uygur is the creator of the Young Turks (TYT), a very popular left-wing news commentator on YouTube. He also helped establish the Justice Democrats, a left-wing party that is against neo-liberalism and corporatism, with the intent of getting said Justice Democrats elected into major offices. And almost twenty years ago he made some very crass and insensitive comments about women while online. That may not seem like such a big deal to you, but, to quote ‘Bino: “Because the internet, mistakes are forever.” And, boy, did this mistake hit him hard, to the point where he may or may not resign as the face of the Justice Democrats because of it.

Here is the official Justice Democrat’s response:

We are deeply disturbed by recent news regarding & David Koller. Their language and conduct is horrifying and does not reflect our values at Justice Democrats. We would be hypocrites to not act immediately and ask for their resignation.

I bring this up because it raises some interesting questions about how we, as a society, should proceed. We are living in the midst of a full-blown societal moral outrage, where anything that we don’t perceive as perfectly aligned with our morals and values needs to pack its shit and GTFO. This is not me throwing leftists and liberals under the bus, by the way. The last widespread moral outrage in the US had right-wing evangelicals to blame, and there are plenty of triggered alt-righters and garden-variety conservatives cropping up in the mean time.

The thing stereotypical SJWs, right-wing and left-wing identitarians, and modern day populists have in common is that they all seem to require constant virtue signalling in order to remain a part of the club. This effectively means constant policing of morality of those both within and outside of their respective clubs. What’s happening to Cenk right now is the same thing that happened to the Bible thumping, anti-gay marriage Republican senators who were found out to have frequented gay bars back in their college days. It’s the same thing that happened to Lauren Southern when her significant number of alt-right fans found out she dated a brown guy once. It’s the same thing that happened to Pewdiepie, where some hack “journalists” scoured old vlogs for any off-color jokes they could find. It’s the same thing that’s happening to all of these liberal actors and entertainment stars who maybe touched a girl’s ass without asking once, thirty years ago. There’s absolutely no room for compromise. As the Justice Democrats stated outright, they would be hypocrites if they didn’t immediately excommunicate Cenk Uygur from the church for violating one of their most sacred laws.

And I’m just wondering how much longer the Morality Police and its ridiculous, ever-fluctuating standards of “what is moral” will be able to sustain itself in this day and age. All of the aforementioned shitstorms occurred because of the internet. Old photos uploaded to social media, old blog posts, old e-mails sitting in a forgotten account somewhere, people they used to know cropping up on Facebook or Twitter and letting the world know all these new and interesting things. If you make it your job, not only your job but your moral imperative, to make sure everyone you associate with is clean and pure from beginning to end with no regard for context or how much time has passed, then no one is going to be spared from this.

It’s almost 2018. The people who are young adults now hardly remember a time when they didn’t have some kind of online social media. The 18-year-olds just entering into the adult world have never lived in a world without online social media. And yet here we are, using the internet and digging up things from decades ago–almost two decades in Cenk’s case–in order to cast moral aspersions on people who may or may not even stand by what they did as though that moral judgement is totally and completely valid, no caveats necessary.

Cenk said piggish, sexist comments about women and how they’re defective because they don’t put out more back when the iPod was a new thing. This isn’t me saying that his comments were totally fine. This isn’t me saying he’s a great guy who gets too much flack. This isn’t me saying that the comments should just pass under the radar because “it was a long time ago.” What I am saying is that you can’t judge people for things they did or said in the past as though that questionable action just occurred, as though its something you can do anything about now, without even bothering to address the situation any further. And, when you’re playing Morality Police, it’s certainly not something you can use as a legitimate form of moral judgement. Can you imagine what kind of precedent this is setting for future social and political discourse?

“Senator, we have written verification that, thirty years ago in a YouTube comment section, you called someone a fag. Why are you homophobic? Why do you hate the gays? I can’t believe how immoral you are.”

“Our records show that, back when you were twenty-two, you made insensitive comments to one of your friends on Facebook. Why are you such a sociopath?”

“We have footage of you fifteen years ago given a speech at a Democratic convention, so why are you running as a Republican now? You hypocrite. You’re just taking advantage of people.”

It completely and utterly lacks any sense of scale. If you did something once, if you said something once, that must mean you stand by that thing forever. We can act as though nothing has changed whatsoever. And if nothing has changed, or they committed a legitimate crime, sure–rake them over the coals. Go through all the legal things necessary and called for and expected. If they most they ever did was give voice to a thought crime or do something a bit asshole-ish, that’s a situation that requires more thought than immediate banishment from the tribe.

Have they changed their opinion since then? Have they changed their behavior since then? Have they actively denounced the bad thing they did? Is the “bad thing” only a bad thing by some ever-changing societal standard that it’s unrealistic to judge any past actor by? Is the “bad thing” only a bad thing by your own incredibly subjective standards? Can they explain themselves and their past thoughts or behavior in a satisfactory fashion? That’s all very relevant to how we should currently be judging them and their character, and none of that shit matters, apparently. Because when you’re policing someone’s Moral Character (TM), the broader the brush, the better. If that thing’s any smaller than an industrial paint roller, you’re doing it wrong.

And, oh yeah, go ahead and add Cenk Uygur to the list of Men Who Respect Womyn who just seem to be compensating for being an asshole either in the past or currently.

Laughing at a “Race Realist” Lecture

How about something a bit different?

I just stumbled across this lecture, which seems to be fairly well-liked among the alt-right and/or white supremacist scene. It’s about “race realism” and how Africans’ dearth in mental ability is supposedly reflected in their native languages. And holy shit, is it a gold mine of pseudo-intellectual garbage. To sum up the argumentation: “I studied the apparent lack of one abstract concept in one Africa-originating language, so now I’m going to talk about how black people as a global, generalized racial group have no ability to congnicize any abstract concepts whatsoever and are therefore intellectually lacking.” If you think that’s a little bit more than a hop, skip, and a jump away from a logical conclusion, congratulations, you’re smarter than 90% of the people who commented on this video. If you want to feel simultaneously entertained and enraged by idiots too stupid to realize they’re not smarter than you, then grab your popcorn and start reading.

This is going to be a really nerdy post by the way, with lots of philosophy of language and psycholinguistics mumbo-jumbo thrown in. I think that kind of thing is interesting, which is why I decided to address this lecture; but I majored in language cognition and neurology, so the esoteric subjects I think are entertaining may not be overly interesting to anyone else. Warning you now.

Also, this lecture is an hour long. I literally could not get past his opening statements before having pages full of notes on everything wrong he was saying. I stopped after five fucking minutes, because that was enough fuel for five blog posts, let along just one. So if you want me to respond to the next 50 minutes of this lecture, let me know. Otherwise, I’m only going to address literally the first five minutes of this travesty of academic work.

He starts out with a nice little anecdote about how students he met in Nigeria informed him that they weren’t able to say something like “half-way up the tree,” instead only being able to say “up” without further qualifers, with there being no sense of gradation. He then goes on to speak about how oral languages (ones with no writing system) are by necessity finite in size and “basically static.” From there, he states that since the size of these oral languages is limited, then the concepts in that language are also limited. Most egregiously, he then says that “the language and thinking of these people is going to be impoverished in comparison to a language like English.”

Okay . . . what?

What is this guy’s PhD in, chiropractic medicine? The fucking thesis statement–the backbone of his entire argument in this lecture–is just flat out wrong. It’s not just a little inaccurate. It’s not a difference of opinion. It is just wholly incorrect. Either this guy is actively and intentionally lying to his audience who he knows won’t question what he’s saying to any great degree, or he is so stuck in the mental frame work of “race realism” that he somehow managed to overlook one of the foundational rules of human linguistics even when he was trying to be accurate. I actually dug out my notebook from my Intro Psychology of Language course, and the first bullet point on the first page goes against his thesis. This is not rare knowledge available only to the most specialized linguistics researchers in elite academia. Here’s a link about the basics of human language for you guys. The Key Points section is all you need.

Oral language is not “finite and static.” The thing that differentiates human language from the communication of other creatures–the thing that makes humans cogntively unique–is our infinitely productive language and ability to communicate abstract concepts. For everyone too lazy to click that link:


  • Human language is generative, which means that it can communicate an infinite number of ideas from a finite number of parts.

  • Human language is recursive, which means that it can build upon itself without limits.

  • Human language uses displacement, which means that it can refer to things that are not directly present.


There is not a known human language in existence or out of existence (that includes strictly oral languages) that has not been infinitely productive. That includes African languages.

What do I mean by that? That simply means that the capacity to create novel words is always present within the structure of a language. As long as a word can be spoken with the phonemes of that language, it can be recognized as a potential term and integrated into the wider vocabulary. And that’s just in regards to totally new base words; you can also infinitely generate novel terms by taking base morphemes (individual units of meaning) and sticking them together in new ways to create words that are understandable even if they’ve never been heard or spoken before. For instance, what do you think exculpatory means? You may not have heard that word before, but you’d probably be able to guess what it means because you can put together morphemes! Ex-, culp-, -ate , and –ory. Ex means not, culp as in culpable, and -atory describing a consistent, descriptive state.

Any language that has morphemes is infinitely productive. All human languages have morphemes, by the way. That’s also ignoring things like tense, gender, and other various grammatical forms that also enable the formation of novel words through set grammatical rules and conjugations that can be universally applied and understood. So, to put it briefly, the notion that a language is “static and finite” in size because its vocabulary is smaller is just not accurate. This professor goes on a tangent about how small the native Africans’ dictionary was compared to his pocket dictionary of English as though that was somehow an indication of their language being “impoverished.”

This is especially inaccurate when you consider that a good number of African languages are tonal and grammar-heavy, unlike English. With all languages you see this trade-off: A language with a lower vocabulary has a ridiculously more complex grammatical and conjugation system to derive meaning. A language with a large vocabulary has quote/unquote impoverished grammar and syntax by comparison, because it derives most of its meaning through words, not grammar. English is a very vocabulary-heavy language, so there’s less meaning derived from grammar. There is a tribal language in Africa–I forget the name, sue me–where a sentence is usually just a single actual word, but a very complex meaning is taken almost completely from grammatical conjugations onto that single word: who they’re talking to, what their relationship to that person is, is there more than one person present, what topic it is they are talking about, how urgent the topic is, where on the timeline the topic happened, how they feel about the topic, how they think others should feel about the topic, etc. In that language, all of those linguistic subtleties are achieved through grammar, not words. They don’t have words for those concepts because the language doesn’t require them. The dictionary for some random African language being small compared to a vocabulary-heavy language like English says nothing about how expressive that language is.

The worst thing about this argument is that it could easily be applied to any language, including English. “Look, this language has less X than other languages, therefore it’s impoverished!” His first anecdote about how lacking African languages are is all about how one of them was too vague with its location descriptions. You could do the same thing with English. Easily. For example, English prepositions are very difficult for most non-native learners of the language because English prepositions are incredibly vague and under-informative. The sentence “It’s under the table,” is really shitty. Is it stuck underneath the tabletop? Is it on the floor underneath the table? Is it visible underneath the table or obscured? What side of the table is it under? Is it all the way underneath the table or only part way? Is it closer to you or me? There are languages that let you know those things with a single preposition or particle. I guess English is impoverished now.

Hell, Japanese is considered to have one of the most intricate writing systems ever established. You know why it has that intricate writing system, though? Because it is phonologically impoverished. That’s fancy talk for “far too many of their words sound/are phonetically spelled the same way.” わたし, for example, can refer to multiple different words. It’s the kanji, 私 vs.  渡し just to name a few, that lets you know what the actual intended meaning is. Seeing as how this professor is a stereotypical alt-righter and a race realist, I highly doubt he’s willing to call the Japanese dumb; but using his same logic, I could call the Japanese language “static and finite” because it doesn’t have enough phonemes to make unique words and has to rely on a separate writing system to offer differentiation. Compared to strictly oral languages that rely solely on audibly distinguishable sound, Japanese is pretty much retarded.

Now that I’ve made it clear why calling any human language “static and finite” is incredibly off-base and unsupported by actual linguistics, let’s move on to his point about abstract thinking. This professor is paying major lip-service toward the Whorfian view of langauage, aka linguistic relativity.

The principle of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects its speakers’ world view or cognition. Popularly known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism, the principle is often defined to include two versions. The strong version says that language determines thought, and that linguistic categories limit and determine cognitive categories, whereas the weak version says that linguistic categories and usage only influence thought and decisions.

For those of you who really like Orwell, he discusses this very frequently in 1984. The entire concept of Newspeak is one based around strong linguistic relativity: if you get rid of the word for something, people will have no concept of it. This is a very interesting hypothesis, and very fun to talk about, but it’s just not overly accurate. It’s at least not completely and utterly wrong like the “African languages are static” talking point, but progress in the field of psycholinguistics since the initial Whorfian hypothesis shows it to be lacking. All you have to do is look at babies and non-speaking infants and realize that they have conceptual understanding of the world and its contents before having access to language. So his statement about “the size of these oral languages being limited leads to concepts of that language being limited” is also not true.

The general consensus is that human beings don’t need specific words to refer to concepts (abstract or otherwise) in order to have an idea of those concepts, but having a specific word makes mental compartmentalization easier. That’s not saying that language has no effect on our mental concepts: the Pirahã, for example, are a very isolated Amazonian tribe whose language doesn’t have a numerical system, and it’s essentially been impossible to teach them how to count past the subitizing range (1-3). This professor would probably take that as an example of the Pirahã being a punch of stupid brown people who can’t do math haha, but that tribe lacks a numerical system because they think of “number” in more abstract terms (“not enough,” “enough,” “more than enough”). In other words, they think in more abstract conceptual terms than hu-white people, so you definitely cannot say that they lack the ability to think in abstractions, as is being argued about “impoverished” languages.

How concepts work is still contested. There are multiple camps in philosophy and linguistics. But they all agree that a specific vocab. word isn’t necessary for concept-building. They just disagree on everything after that. Personally, I like Wittgenstein and his idea that we understand and tweek our mental concepts by putting them on a constantly calibrating scale of comparison. That doesn’t require words at all, it just requires you to recognize how similar or different things are.

To bring it back to 1984, someone living without freedom doesn’t need the word “freedom” to get the concept because they can mentally understand that something exists on the opposite end of the scale from where they are now. A good example of this is the supremely disappointing (but good for this one reference) movie The Invention of Lying, where the main character is trying to explain that he lied without having a word for “truth” or “lie,” so he just settles with, “I said something that wasn’t.” The concept is there without the words. The idea that having a small vocabulary means that a language utterly castrates your cognitive ability to form and rectify concepts is not true. Just like most everything else this “doctor” said in this entire lecture is not true.

Nerdy rant: Over.


One Black Woman’s Genuine, Desperate Plea to the Progressive Left

Dear Progressives, Democratic Socialists, Anti-Racist College Campus Activists, Left-Leaning Media Commentators, and Any Other Relevant Parties:

Introductions are in order. Hi, I’m a blogger. I’m old enough to remember floppy disks, and orange Nickelodeon VHS tapes, and that class I had to take about this new-fangled thing called the “world wide web.” I’m young enough for “terrorist” to have been a vocabulary word I knew before I learned basic multiplication tables. That one scene in Fight Club where Tyler Durden laments the lack of wars and higher purposes, the societal ennui psychologically castrating an entire generation, does not apply to people my age. People my age have had our fair share of perpetual war, and our cup is running over with causes and higher purposes for us to devote ourselves to. I get it.

The Bush Era was awful–proxy wars, and incompetently handled natural disasters, and spying on civilians, and GitMo, and militarized police forces, and education plans that plummeted our international rankings. Then we had the great Hope, Obama, a man of so much cultural heft that most left-leaning people opt to forget that his unsustainable executive orders about affordable health care and dreamers (TM) were supplemented by further war mongering and American-killing drone strikes, by criminalization of military and corporate whistleblowers, and the further empowerment of the NSA. Trump may not be worse than those yet, but he’s certainly not any better. Politics haven’t worked out too great, not for a very long time.

That’s not even mentioning the right-wing evangelical moralizing that characterized the late 80s and continued into the early 2000s. Books and music and films and television had to be censored and altered to protect our morals–and, later on, our American values. Speaking out against The War was deplorably anti-American, and sympathizing with the ragheads made you worse than a terrorist. The gays were sinful and mentally ill. Abortion was an act against God and all good morals. Video games caused violence. And the police were allowed to violate your rights as a citizen as long as it meant stopping you from doing vague drugs, the more innocuous the better. We’re still dealing with many of those things to this day. I get it.

I get it.

What we’re seeing here, though, in 2017, is a pendulum swing. And it’s one that’s going to kick us directly in our collective ass if it isn’t acknowledged. It’s a cliche, a tried-and-true stereotype of How the World Works that can be depended upon and expected and planned for. But it never is. Since the dawn of time, people have been prone to acting as though their behavior has no effect on the rest of the world–and if it has an effect, it’s only of the positive variety, the kind of effect that goes down in the history books as a good thing. We’re only ever on the right side of history. People never want to sit down and admit what hindsight makes obvious: Social movements and norms feed into each other. They don’t arise in a vacuum, effected only by the already-present ideals of those already within it.

Do you think the war-hating, free-loving hippies would exist if it weren’t for the societal pushback against the war-mongering, stuck-up traditionalism of the 1950s? Do you think the evangelical outrage of the 90s would exist without the secular hedonism of the 80s? Do you think the 2010’s obsession with social justice would exist without the late 90’s and early 2000’s obsession with curbing personal liberties in the name of God and Country? And do you think the uptick in racial populism now would exist without that earlier obsession with social justice?

We as liberals cannot keep pretending like white nationalism has nothing to do with us. And we can’t keep pretending that it’s only connected to us insofar as it being the evil underbelly of society’s reaction to us doing such great things, to us being on the right side of history. Societal pushback doesn’t happen unless the people before you take things too far. It’s like that one overused symbolic story about the frog who automatically jumps from a pan of boiling water, but who will die of obliviousness if the water is heated to a boil slowly, increment by increment.

The hippies didn’t arrive en mass until the Red Scare led to Americans being openly and brazenly persecuted. The right-wing evangelicals didn’t gain power until the hedonism of the 80s led to multiple health and safety epidemics. And the right-wing populists didn’t gain mainstream traction until “social justice” overstayed its welcome. That’s not to say that these ideas and inclinations didn’t exist before, but their societal popularity was dependent upon being a 1:1 negative image of what came before, upon being a contrast in every way to the current status quo of the old guard overextending its influence and violating the values it claimed to support. The McCarthyists who cared so much about protecting America’s freedoms curbed America’s freedoms in the name of that protection, so they had to go. The stereotypical 80s businessmen living the quintessential American Dream that was supposed to reward “American values” gave no shits about those values, so they had to go. The activists and proponents of social justice who care so much about fighting racism and sexism and classism have slowly morphed into a group that encourages racism and sexism and classism. So they have to go.

I know what you’re thinking. “What?! We don’t encourage any of those things. We fight against them! Anyone who says we encourage those things is just personally invested in maintaining societal inequality where they have most of the power and afraid of the True Equality we’re trying to bring to the country.” But hear me out, please. I’m actually begging you. Please. PLEASE, consider the idea that your detractors may have something resembling a shadow of a glimmer of a mirage of a point to make. You talk all the time about how we need to listen and believe and take people’s professed lived experience seriously. So do that. Do it for everyone, not just for the people who you’ve already deemed worthy of the time and attention. That selective, very conditional empathy is the thing that’s backed progressives into a corner in the first place. So take a step back for a moment and really look at what progressives have been saying and how they’ve been treating people recently. I’ll give a few examples:

The BBC, a publicly funded organization in the UK (that part is important), actively excludes white people and white people specifically from their hiring processes, even for jobs that have nothing to do with physical appearance or being on camera. This is a public institution, one those white people help pay for but apparently aren’t allowed to take part it. Another example: feminist activists in Canada got the country’s only abused men’s shelter shut down under the pretense that it was misogynistic and detracted from the seriousness of violence against women, curtailing any attempts its founder–a victim of domestic abuse himself–did to try to reinstate it. This is in a country where men make up just a little under half of domestic violence victims, where many domestic violence shelters actively wouldn’t admit men. Another example: activists in America railed against statements made against affirmative action in college acceptance, calling it racist and a result of “white fragility.” White males are one of the least educated groups in America, above only non-native English speakers. Their high school retention rate is extremely low, their college retention rate is plummeting along with college application rates in general, and white males have one of the highest rates for genuine illiteracy in the country. And yet anyone who thinks it’s no longer fair to treat white males as the gold standard for education quality in America is just being racist or “fragile,” according to progressives.

These are just a handful of examples, off the top of my head, of progressives not practicing what they preach. They are examples of progressives proclaiming to care about victims and proclaiming to care about inequality . . . unless the victims are part of a group we’ve already determined to be not worth caring about. These aren’t esoteric niche issues, either. Non-discrimination policies in the job market, domestic abuse, and education are not something you can sweep under the rug as some small, irrelevant thing. And yet you have people openly laughing at the hilarious notion that white people can be treated poorly or that men have problems. It’s just “white fragility.” It’s just inborn privilege making them uncomfortable with positive change. Are you starting to see why there’s pushback against you? Are you starting to see why people don’t think you have their best interests at heart?

I’m biracial. I have the privilege of being very aware of how normalized this has become, this conditional empathy and justified disdain for entire groups of people. I have to be aware of it–that’s half of my family that you are constantly disparaging. I’ve sat in rooms where, whenever white people are mentioned, I’m expected because of my skin tone to wrinkle my nose at the very concept. And, yes, disparaging is an appropriate term for it, whether you want to admit that or not. You should, because it would go a long way to help mitigate the problem of white nationalism that’s on the rise, but I understand how that would be difficult.

In the end of the day, you want to help people. You want to be kind and understanding and welcoming, and you want to fight for the underdog against the powers stacked up against him. You want people to be safe and happy. You want to love people who are different, not push them away. But all the good intentions in the world do not make up for the fact that you have assigned a very clear label to a very certain group of people: the label of them. The them who just doesn’t get it; who is always on top, stomping on the little guy; the them who couldn’t possibly have any problems or ever possibly be mistreated; the them that’s only looking out for itself; the them who is always in the wrong; the them who can never do enough or say enough or act enough in our favor; the them who is never enough. The them who we are morally obligated to see in a negative light unless we want to be accused of being on the wrong side of history. Along with them.

I get it. It’s difficult to have a movement when you don’t have anything concrete to point to as The Problem. But you can only treat someone like them for so long before they take on the title willingly. So here we are now, and I’m not a fan of the way the discourse is heading. I’m not a fan of people wanting to “incentivize” me to leave the country I was born in because I have the wrong skin tone. I’m not a fan of segregation. I’m not a fan of well-meaning people making enemies where they would have naturally had friends by insisting that someone who is part of them is always The Problem, no matter what they say or do or believe. I’m not a fan of denying the existence or seriousness of real world hardships because the people facing them don’t look the right way.

This is me begging you. Please, look at what you are doing. This growing fire can be contained if you would stop feeding it. Let it burn itself into a few sputtering, barely-relevant embers, like any other flame that doesn’t have enough to fuel to grab onto. This isn’t me saying that you can’t be an activist or that you can’t fight against discrimination. But countering bad things with normalized resentment and knee-jerk disparagement of your own doesn’t help. To quote the actually successful soda advertisement that shamelessly panders to the left-leaners in its consumer base:

Just buy the world a Coke and keep it company.







Answering Julie Borowski’s “10 Questions for Liberals”

Hey, guys! Julie Borowski is a popular Libertarian on YouTube who I am subscribed to. She recently released a video where she asked self-proclaimed liberals ten questions. I’m a self-proclaimed liberal. I like answering questions for attention on the internet. Here we go.


1.) Gun ownership is rising among women and minorities in the age of Trump. Do these people have the right to defend themselves with guns?

This is a thinly veiled “Why do you want to take away guns/people’s right to defend themselves?” question, so I’ll address that with more detail. In short: I don’t. Gun control is only ever extensively talked about in the wake of a mass shooting, at least as far as liberal circles go, and it comes across as rather Pavlovian to me. See someone do bad thing with gun -> associate gun with bad things.

There are a myriad of factors that I believe contribute to America’s shitty gun violence record, factors both socio-cultural and individual, many of them–if not being wholly unique to America–at least being very stereotypically American. Guns and their revolutionary symbolism have carved themselves out as a part of the American identity and gun violence (particularly the perpetrators of it) is sensationalized in American news media; the “American Dream” is oftentimes conflated with a guarantee of success and/or contentment, and our poor mental health practices and warped sense of “self-care” don’t make failure to launch much better. You’re pretty much just waiting for some poorly adjusted dude to take up arms for his hyper-specific, revolutionary personal cause rooted in his own feelings of striking out at a larger society that owes him more. And that’s excluding the ones who are just psychopaths who feel like shooting people. There are also multiple countries with high rates of gun ownership per capita without our mass shooting problem, and places with much less gun ownership with equal or worse gun crime. At that point, the existence of readily available fire arms seems more like the cherry on top of the Ticking Time Bomb of Poorly Mitigated Homicidal Tendencies Sundae than one of its baser elements.

The counterargument to that would be “Well, it’s not really a sundae without a cherry,” and, sure, having so many readily available firearms isn’t overly helpful to the rest of that. But trying to ban guns outright as many of the more extreme liberals suggest or place more limits on the legal purchase of guns in order to curb mass shootings is like instituting carding policies to curb underage drinking. It just won’t work. There’s too much booze everywhere. It’s too easy to get. And the general cultural surrounding booze isn’t one that’s going to stop a 16-year-old from downing 6 shots of cheap drug store vodka if that’s what they wanna do.

As a liberal, I am for more gun control policies, but I’m not operating under the delusion that they’ll do much to mitigate mass shootings. Most of the gun deaths in the United States are unintentional (accidentally shooting yourself or others) or suicides, and those are the things I am personally focused on when I say I want more gun control–mandatory safety and usage training, higher standards and longer wait periods for purchase, less places with a license to sell firearms, limitations on what can be purchased based on the situation, higher legal cost to improper gun safety, etc–because those things actually are able to be positively changed through legal gun purchase policies. So if those minorities and women actually know how to handle their firearms safely and don’t leave their pistol in their purse for a seven–year-old to get a hold of, more power to them.

2.) Can you acknowledge the difference between banning birth control and not forcing somebody to pay for it?

Yep. I’m on the fence about the whole birth control thing. In the end of the day, free/subsidized/cost effective birth control is something that I think we as a modern, developed society should have; but it’s not something that I think is a women’s rights issue like many liberals like to paint it as. There are many cases where women take birth control for medical reasons–to correct hormonal imbalances or help with crippling menstrual pain–and the argument can be made that in those cases birth control should be treated as any other necessary prescription covered by company health insurance. I can see why people don’t think birth control should be subsidized in the case of a lady just wanting to have sex without condoms, though. It doesn’t seem overly necessary.

That being said, readily available and financially accessible birth control is a social utility that I support very much. One of the main reasons that I could never be a libertarian even though I agree with them on a lot of things is that libertarians don’t really acknowledge when things are social utilities. It’s just “I don’t directly or immediately benefit from this, so why should I have to use my money to pay for it?” Yes, you do benefit from it, hypothetical internet libertarian. As it turns out, living in a society of healthy, educated people who didn’t get pregnant at 15 is something that makes things better for everybody.

You get less teenagers having unplanned and unwanted babies, firstly. That, in turn, has a net positive effect on decreasing poverty rates because you no longer have people trapped in the cycle of poverty because they had a kid they couldn’t afford who then grows up to continue that cycle. Libertarians should be happy about this, because statistically less poverty means less welfare being handed out. In the case of not-poor people, birth control helps out a lot with general family planning, and men and women are apparently more comfortable around each other when they know the pill is involved. That’s an interesting fun fact for ya.

3.) Over 60% of babies believed to have Down syndrome are aborted in the US. Is that not ableism?

“Ableism” is a stupid fucking term that does nothing but make a joke out of legitimate cases of disabled people being mistreated. Now that that’s out of the way . . .

I’m fine with mild eugenics practices, actually. I’m all for providing incentives for people with highly heritable genetic disorders to not have kids, is all I’m saying. Down syndrome isn’t like autism where there’s a pretty good chance that your kid won’t be that bad. No, Down syndrome is almost a guarantee that your child is going to have a shortened life, and one where they will always need someone looking after their most basic of needs. So if two parents want to stop all the fun times and rainbows that come with having a child with a debilitating, life-long intellectual disability, I’m not gonna stop them.

4.) How can creative, free spirited people support socialism–a top-down approach that crushes individualism?

I don’t support socialism. The “socialist” societies that armchair liberals point to as proof that socialism works are, in reality, capitalist societies that also just have really high taxes that go to funding social programs like health care and public housing. Sweden is not full of socialists. People who say that do not know what socialism is. Actual socialists societies either don’t last very long or have extremely low standards of living for the majority of the populace–Cuba being a good example. I don’t like socialism.

I support having a capitalist society backed up by a strong social safety net and state/federal programs that would allow individuals to work towards their own goals and fulfill their potential without having to worry about things like, “Oh shoot, paying for my blood cancer treatments is going to put me and my family in debt for eternity.” or “Oh shoot, I was born to a poor single mother, so, statistically, I just got screwed out of the college education that’s pretty much necessary for any kind of upward mobility in 21st century America.”

That being said, our current social systems are in dire need of reform. It’s gotten to the point where, for many people, going on welfare is a more practical option than finding gainful employment. And when that is the case, you’re not necessarily encouraging improvement or using welfare as a last resort for people who genuinely need the help, which it should be. You won’t hear any argument from me there.

5.) Many say that the rich don’t pay their “fair share” in taxes, yet the top 20% pays 84% of income taxes. What exactly is “fair share”?

I just want to note that the tagline under the Wall Street Journal article she shared was “And the bottom 20%? They get paid by Uncle Sam.” They get “paid by Uncle Sam” because they’re actually impoverished and require government subsidies to be able to maintain acceptable living conditions, dude. That whole “1% of American’s own 99% of the wealth” tagline hasn’t changed much sense the Occupy Wall Street days. The bottom 20% of Americans aren’t rolling in cash because they got $300 back from the government at the end of tax season. Stop being a dick.

The progressive tax rate we have currently I think is fine. As it stands now, the top earners pay a bit under 40% income tax on their personal earnings, less than that if they have a spouse or dependents. “Top earners” here means anyone grossing  ~$500,000 a year. It goes down from there. Most of the top 20% are in the $350,000 range, who have an average of 33% income tax. The issue is that the United State’s income inequality *insert rainbow and/or scare chords here* is so skewed that comparatively lower incomes are taxed higher amounts just because the income brackets to determine tax rates have become so wonky. You could make an argument for how taking 33% of a $350,000 gross paycheck is too much, and I may even agree with you. But those people get charged that because the borderline non-existent middle class and growing lower class has ensured that anyone who even barely scrapes the six figure salary is considered a “Top Earner” and gets taxed like one.

So I guess the point I’m trying to make is that such huge disparities in income do not help what libertarians already consider to be an unfair system that punishes success. If the bottom 20% wasn’t sub-poverty level, the progressive taxes wouldn’t hit mid-level earners nearly as much.


6.) Do you really trust the Trump administration to have control over your health care?

No. But I’m also not a fan of the fact that my grandmother can work for 40 years, with almost no vacations or sick time taken out for the entirety of those four decades, and still be plunged into bankruptcy-inducing debt because her lifetime of physical labor did a number on her knees and spine, and those surgery bills don’t come cheap. I guess she should have just worked harder if she wanted to afford her necessary and unavoidable medical treatments that stopped her from being able to work, amiright?

Without any sarcasm, I can be against Trump (which I typically am) and still think universal health care or something like it should be a goal we work toward as a country. Obamacare did some good by helping those without health care, but you can’t ignore the fact that it screwed many people who already had health care over. That being said, Trump’s alternative does nothing but make that situation worse.

My main issue with the universal health care argument, in an American context, is that those you see arguing for it so often don’t seem to understand that it would be a major overhaul of multiple different areas. European countries that have universal health care also have very strong public initiatives to remain healthy and do what they individually can to mitigate the need for direct medical intervention because they know it cost society as a whole money. Meanwhile in America, we have “fat acceptance” and Michelle Obama can’t try to make school lunches include actual vegetables occasionally without getting pushback from both the public and hegemonic school-lunch manufacturers like Tyson. And that’s just the social side of things.

The different types of health problems facing the US would also have to be taken into account, ie, the higher rates of specialized problems which we actually do have superior health care for (in regards to the people who can afford it anyway). Would that care quality drop in the face of universal health care? If so, how do you mitigate that? We’d also have to dismantle the largely corrupt insurance and pharmaceutical companies that benefit heavily from private medicine, which probably isn’t even possible. It would be difficult on all counts to get a universal health care system that actually worked and wouldn’t be overburdened by corrupt actors or the public’s own incompetence. We kind of just don’t live in a society or have a culture where this would be an easy transition to make. With all that in mind, if someone was actually willing to address all those issues instead of just making blanket statements about how universal health care is great, I’d support that.

7.) Isn’t it hypocritical that Bernie Sanders, who preaches Democratic Socialism, has three houses?

I don’t begrudge Bernie Sanders his three houses. Good for him for being able to afford those unnecessary summer homes or whatever the fuck they’re for. I’m a poor person. I don’t know why someone needs more than one house.

Democratic Socialism does not entail “no rich people who have more money than other people and who spend that money.” It’s about being against corporate bureaucracies that have more of a say in governance than democratically decided policies; and it believes that the workers and consumers who are affected by economic institutions should have the most control over them through things like cooperatives or consumer representatives, with an emphasis on consumer demand as the driving goal behind what these cooperatives/representatives rally for or produce. The notion that it’s inherently against the accruement of wealth isn’t overly accurate. It’s more against the accrument of wealth through means that ignore or discount the interests of the larger populace and its democratically determined wishes.

Personally, I see a lot wrong with the above game plan and many of their other beliefs, which is why I’m not a Democratic Socialist. But, playing Devil’s Advocate for a second, they don’t hate rich people. They hate corrupt rich people. If you can convince them that Bernie Sanders is corrupt, you’d have a point about hypocrisy. But there’s an extra step there that you’re missing.

8.) Anti-discrimination laws say that wedding vendors cannot deny services to gay couples. But wouldn’t you prefer these business owners expose themselves as homophobes so you know who not to give your money to?

I’m also on the fence about anti-discrimination laws, as I believe I’ve pointed out before. In the end of the day, I’m on the side of instituting them as a means of ensuring civil rights. Even so, I do think it’s really weird and questionable that someone can face federal recourse for refusing to do something as benign as make a cake or take some photos. I think libertarians ere on the side of dismantling anti-discrimination laws, and I wouldn’t go that far, but I see the point they’re making about them oftentimes being really weird in practice.

Also, many liberals have fallen into some rather hypocritical circles wherein anti-discrimination laws are great . . . until they aren’t. You can’t refuse service to a gay person or a black person because discrimination is bad, but if someone has politics you don’t believe in, discriminating against them in regards to the civil rights they’re afforded is not only fine but a moral imperative! It’s annoying to say the very least.

9.) Why do so many liberals want to ban controversial speech? Do they think  only speech from the right is going to be targeted? Remember: the government has a history of cracking down on anti-war and far-left speech.

I don’t want to do this. Freedom of speech is incredibly important to me, and I’m actually viscerally disgusted by people who look at the hate speech laws of Germany or the media censorship of Australia and say that the US should strive to be more like that. You are born with a fucking right that hardly anyone else in the world has, and you think it’s a bad thing because letting mean people say mean things without legal punishment or censorship “shouldn’t be tolerated.” Don’t support a certain power if you wouldn’t be okay with the political other getting a hold of it, as they invariably will. The power to censor and socially shame people for wrong think is awesome until the pendulum swings back around and “offensive content” takes on a new meaning. And to all my liberal friends out there: Gen Z is more conservative than the Baby Boomers. Give it a few more years, and the speakers getting de-platformed are going to be the ones you agree with, and I doubt you’ll be spouting the platitude about how “it’s not technically censorship” when that happens.

10.) Will you admit that raising the minimum wage will price out some young or unskilled workers out of a job?

Sure. Just having a minimum wage at all does that. If you’re going to make that argument, you might as well just argue from the position of demolishing the minimum wage entirely. I would not agree with you there. The minimum wage was instituted as a means of curbing one of the many forms of worker exploitation that rocketed up during the 20th century. And, I’m sorry libertarians and conservatives, I don’t think you have the “right” to be exploited out of fair payment for your labor like a six-year-old who doesn’t know that $1 isn’t a lot of money. That’s also assuming that it necessarily must price workers out of a job, which isn’t the case.

If you’re talking about small businesses and mom-and-pop stores, you’d have a stronger point; but in regards to huge companies like McDonald’s or Wal-Mart, the threat of a raised minimum wage is largely a manufactured one. It’s like diamonds: They’re expensive because the people who sell them want them to be. For example, a few years ago Papa John’s (a chain pizza place) got into hot water for making this exact argument for why it couldn’t give its low level employee’s basic, bare-bones health care. “Oh, if we did that, we’d just have to fire people because it would cost too much.” Someone actually did the math, though, and released it to the public, revealing that it would not put a dent in Papa John’s net income at the end of the year to provide health care. I’m talking “We made $1,000,000 last year, and now we’re only making $999,800.” levels of insignificant.

For a Wal-Mart example, regional managers are actively instructed to make sure that the people below them don’t work enough to receive benefits even if they want to work more. And, from personal experience, they are petty as fuck about it. There was one time where, if an employee didn’t take any vacation days, they’d be up for a holiday raise. One of my coworkers who never took any vacation time didn’t get that holiday raise because they counted her checking in for work late one time as her taking a holiday. So, would ya look at that, we don’t need to give you that raise we promised anymore. In short, corporations are assholes, and saying that we shouldn’t have a raised minimum wage because it would provoke more assholery on their part doesn’t endear me to the notion.

If you want to talk about the nuances of this, I’d be up for it. Should it be different for every state, based on the cost of living? How about rural vs. suburban/urban? Should you raise it for full time workers or workers above a certain age, but keep it the same for the people who are just there for some extra spending money. Should small businesses have this requirement, and if not, should they be given some kind of subsidy to make up for the increase in competition from larger actors? Things like that are legitimate questions that many people, once again, overlook in favor of making nice-sounding statements about how we should just have this good thing. There are details that need to be addressed in the application, if it is to be applied competently.

#MeToo, Hollywood, and Inescapably Shallow Social Media Movements

Hey, guys! This will be a quick post on the controversies and social media movements to “build awareness” that have sprung up in the wake of everyone pretending that something obvious was surprising: Show biz sucks! Who would have thunk? This is totally not a thing everyone already knew.

So film producer and former Hollywood studio executive Harvey Weinstein turned out to be a total pervert who frequently sexually harassed (and maybe assaulted) many, many actresses who depended on him for a paycheck. I know Neon Demon was about modeling and not acting, but that movie came out last year. It’s not like the notion of Hollywood and/or the wider entertainment industry being sexually and financially exploitative and shady as hell is a novel idea. Hell, Corey Feldman went on the record years ago talking about how he and his young friends were molested and exploited by their producers/executives, to the point where he credited that abuse with why one of his friends committed suicide. I have no idea why people are acting like this isn’t a problem that everyone was already aware of. And social media “activism” is not helping the problem.

I repeat: It is not helping the problem.

I don’t want to be one of those people who totally dismisses social media as a tool for social change. There are plenty of legitimately helpful groups and movements that could not exist or be nearly as successful as they are without the help of things like Facebook or Twitter. The Innocence Project. Multiple religious apostate groups. Depression outreach groups. The list goes on and on. So no, I’m not going to sit here and say that social media is utterly worthless when it comes to contending with social ills.

But for all those instances of social media providing a helpful and conductive platform for ideas that otherwise wouldn’t be easily accessible, on the flip side of that coin are things like #MeToo and the Harvey Weinstein debacle: People on the internet doing what people on the internet do best–oversimplify problems to the point where nothing they say is helpful and create symbolic Boogeymen to slay as opposed to actually caring about the wider issue at hand.

#MeToo went from “raising awareness about how many people are sexually harassed and/or assaulted” to “telling men that they’re all responsible for rape and encouraging women to continue with a victim narrative even if they don’t fit into it.” I already had issues with #MeToo because it conflates sexual harassment with sexual assault like they’re equal and comparable things, making no distinction between the two. That’s not to say that there are no cases of sexual harassment that actually should be taken seriously as abusive/threatening behavior. But that doesn’t change the fact that “sexual harassment” can also be something like an asshole yelling “Hey, baby!” at you while you walk down the street. And with the way the #MeToo hashtag has been shaping up, at least on my personal Facebook feed, it seems like a lot of people have taken to saying #MeToo for relatively minor reasons like that . . . even though it was meant to be a hashtag raising awareness about genuine molestation victims.

It turned into yet another excuse for people to make it all about them. I legitimately had a girl on my Facebook wall make a 300 word #MeToo status all about how she doesn’t have any actual experience involving being sexually harassed or assaulted, but she’s going to post the hashtag anyway because “rape culture probably made her discount and overlook any sexual harassment she’s faced in the past.” I’ve had guys tentatively and with the upmost apologies post #MeToo, because they’re detracting from “women’s issues” by pointing out that they too have been victimized. The fact that sexual violence and exploitation effect men and women at fairly comparable rates apparently doesn’t matter. It’s a women’s issue, and men need to learn not to rape, doncha know?

The same can be said for the Harvey Weinstein case. It’s no longer about sexual abuse in Hollywood. It never really was to begin with. That’s why everyone can already know about the problem but not give two fucks about it until a specific person starts making headlines. The issue doesn’t matter. Harvey Weinstein matters. Hollywood producers sexually exploiting their actresses and actors isn’t what we’re here to talk about. Harvey Weinstein being a pervert and an asshole is what we’re here to talk about. Because he’s the Boogeyman, and slaying him will make us feel like we did something so that we can promptly continue to not give any fucks as soon as his name in particular stops garnering as many clicks. Look, here’s another story about some random actress talking about how Weinstein made a crude comment to her at a studio mixer once! Ewww, isn’t he so gross?! Look, this one director is mad as this other director for not getting Weinstein in trouble for being a perv! Isn’t he such a hero!

Social media has made it so that the problem itself isn’t important, just contributing to the very specific narrative being spun–in this case, “Isn’t Harvey Weinstein awful, and thinking he’s awful makes us better people?”

No one cares that Corey Feldman was raped because Harvey Weinstein wasn’t the one who did it and his name is Corey instead of Carry. And, for all the social media executives’ talk about how they’re progressive and promote liberal values, the leaders of social media don’t give two fucks about this problem either. Rose McGowan got kicked off of Twitter for trying to tell the truth about Harvey Weinstein before it was cool. The Obamas and the Clintons, and left-leaning Hollywood in general, were just as aware of the issue of sexual exploitation in the American entertainment industry as everyone else who has made a “casting couch” joke.  That didn’t stop them from sucking Harvey Weinstein’s metaphorical dick up to a few weeks ago, and, on the Hollywood side of things, blacklisting anyone who had anything bad to say about him.

And these are the people telling a bunch of working class middle Americans who just happen to come from a red state that they’re “deplorable.” Okay.