Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dear readers who are disappointed that I'm a democratic socialist who believes in free speech, civility, and the presumption of innocence

I periodically get angry messages from people who say they loved my novels and hate that I oppose identitarianism, censorship, and mobbing.

Okay, they don't use those words. Here's the most recent example. On Twitter, Chorizo Oh No! (who identifies as "DOTA 2 player, feminist, non-binary habitual ne'er-do-well and raconteur" sent me this:
It's really depressing when you find out that someone who made art that carried you through some of the darkest times of your young life is so blinkered that they engage in ridiculous victim-blaming antifeminist rhetoric like you do. It's taken me over a year just to build up to

searching for you on Twitter, at least in part because I was hoping that your views had broadened and developed some the horrific secondhand accounts I read back then. Will, you've actively broken my heart. Kill your heroes, kids - they're all monsters in the end.
I've identified as a feminist since I learned the word in the 1960s, so I don't know what "victim-blaming antifeminist rhetoric" refers to. I suspect it means I criticize rushing to judgment and have often said a better motto than "believe the victim" is "take all charges seriously." I stopped "believing the victim" in the 1980s when the Tawana Brawley rape allegations made it clear that if you accept the folk definition that "feminism is the radical belief that women are people", you have to assume women, like men, sometimes make mistakes or lie.

I suspect the people who thought Elsewhere and Dogland were only about race and gender are like the people who cite Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and miss their criticism of capitalism. Socialists have always been at the front of the struggles for other rights—it's significant that Charles Fourier, who coined the word "feminism", and W.E.B. Du Bois, who first wrote about "white skin privilege", were socialists.

Some of my readers are disappointed by me, but I'm disappointed by them. They dream of a pure class system in which the rulers and the ruled look alike. I dream of a world without masters.

Relevant:

Respect everyone: the wisdom of St. Peter and Malcolm X

Eleanor Marx on socialist feminism and bourgeois feminism

Three men falsely accused after Weinstein's fall: Sam Seder, Matt Taibbi, Mark Ames

In times of moral panic—which often begin with a valid concern—the worst people exploit the panic to attack their opponents, knowing guilt will be assumed by everyone caught up in the panic.

At least three men have been falsely charged. The Destruction of Matt Taibbi focuses on one but provides background for the others. Perhaps the most outrageous fact:
Despite how widespread the story was, not a single journalist or editor contacted the women named in the controversial passages.
Every journalist and editor who shared the story should be fired.

Sam Seder was lucky enough to be exonerated soon after being fired because his accusation was built on fluff*, but had there not been a moral panic, sane people would've looked into the fluff before firing him.

* I wanted to write "obvious fluff", but nothing is obvious to panicking people.

Relevant:

MSNBC Reverses Decision to Fire Contributor Sam Seder

Matt Taibbi - A LETTER TO READERS

About Those Exile Smears… - By Mark Ames

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Woody Allen and Soon Yi Previn: basic facts

Dylan Farrow's Why has the #MeToo revolution spared Woody Allen? asks a question that implies an answer she does not want to hear. Abusers tend to have more than one victim. When no one else is speaking out now, in a time when victims are being supported, the odds increase that Allen is innocent. Before deciding, read Woody Allen, Sex Abuse Allegations, and Believing the Victim, which includes useful information like this:
While Soon Yi Previn was an adult (her birthdate is unknown but her age was in the range of 18 to 20) and Allen had never acted as her stepfather, even his defenders generally agree that the affair was sordid and grossly inappropriate.
and
...a major Canadian study that tracked more than 11,000 reports of child abuse and neglect in Canada in 2003. While reports of sexual abuse made during custody or visitation conflicts are fairly rare — the study identified 69 such cases — they are also quite likely to prove unfounded. Child protection workers substantiated just 11% of these charges, while 34% were “suspected” to be valid but not fully confirmed; 36% were classified as unsubstantiated but made “in good faith,” and 18% as deliberately false. By contrast, the rate of false allegations for all child sexual abuse reports was 5%. (The claim that malicious accusations in custody disputes come mostly from fathers is based on an earlier phase of the same study. However, fathers’ false reports were overwhelmingly of child neglect and sometimes physical abuse; false charges of sexual molestation were more likely to come from mothers.)
Woody Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi is creepier than you could imagine includes this quote from Soon-Yi Preven:
 “To think that Woody was in any way a father or stepfather to me is laughable.”
and notes:
Allen and Previn married in 1997 and have two adopted children together.
The adoption process is not easy for anyone. In Allen's case, the charges against him would've resulted in exceptionally close scrutiny.

Does this mean he didn't abuse Dylan Farrow? No. It means we can't know, and sadly, neither can she. One lesson learned from the Day-care sex-abuse hysteria is that young children are susceptible to having their memories manipulated.

But the absence of other accusers strongly suggests that Allen deserves the benefit of the doubt.

As for his relationship with Soon-Yi, I'm a little creeped out by the difference in ages, but she was an adult when the affair began and, so far as anyone knows, continues to be happy. Their relationship isn't for me to judge. Unless you want to change the age of consent, it's not for you to judge either.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

This video about editing the first Star Wars has good points about effective storytelling in all forms



Lucas, like most of us, was at his best when he had to carefully consider the opinions of other people. The first Star Wars would have failed if he hadn't had a smart producer, Alan Ladd Jr., who forced him to go through many drafts of the screenplay, and a smart wife who may deserve a co-writer's credit, Marcia Lucas. As this video points out, he also got solid advice from fellow directors on what to cut.