Friday, February 28, 2014

Yoga was "culturally appropriated"—by upper-caste Indians

Central to this discussion is “Take Back Yoga,” led by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a campaign that claims yoga must be credited to Hinduism. HAF has cleverly used this deceptive appeal to white-liberal guilt, in order to get major play in the mainstream US media. The influence and “multiculturalist” legitimacy they acquire through their yoga campaign is useful for their real agenda—supporting the Islamophobic Hindu-right. According to a recent report by the Coalition Against Genocide, HAF is “positioning itself as an organization that represents the worldview of most Hindus in the United States. Although HAF projects itself as a lobby group working within a human rights framework, it has existential links to extremist and violent Hindutva supremacist organizations such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).” 
The cultural authenticity argument posed by HAF with regards to yoga is a dangerous one. Claiming that yoga belongs to Hinduism—or even to India or South Asia, for that matter—assumes the origins and evolution of yoga as monolithic. Neither contemporary “yoga” nor “Hinduism” is age-old or homogenous. Actually, both were assembled in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in interaction with British colonial realities. Pankaj Mishra points out that many upper-caste Hindus were happy to collaborate with the British in shaping a Sanskritized “unified Hinduism” under brahmin hegemony:
This British-brahmin version of Hinduism—one of the many invented traditions born around the world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—has continued to find many takers among semi-Westernized Hindus suffering from an inferiority complex vis-à-vis the apparently more successful and organized religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The Hindu nationalists of today, who long for India to become a muscular international power, stand in a direct line of nineteenth-century Indian reform movements devoted to purifying and reviving a Hinduism perceived as having grown too fragmented and weak. These mostly upper-caste and middle-class nationalists have accelerated the modernization and homogenization of “Hinduism.”
Caste-privileged Hindu leaders, through violent domination, have culturally appropriated a variety of diverse sects, practices, beliefs and rituals that have existed for centuries. This history, of both European influence and brahmanic appropriation, holds true for yoga as well. It should not be assumed that all the Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, or Sikh communities embrace brahmanical forms of yoga as part of their culture. Representing South Asia as the birthplace of a mythical homogeneous culture is a crusade of the chauvinistic upper-caste Hindus. We need to consciously learn about and highlight the rich, diverse cultures, histories, customs, and spiritual practices of the vast majority of people in South Asia, especially the Dalit and Adivasi communities who are continuing to struggle to keep their cultures alive. What we need is a constant challenge to the caste-privileged attempt to define Hindu, Indian, or South Asian culture as monolithic and theirs.
Meera Nanda points out that the physical aspects of modern yoga as it is practiced today actually
were hybridized with drills, gymnastics and body-building techniques borrowed from Sweden, Denmark, England, the United States, and other Western countries. These innovations were creatively grafted on the Yoga Sutras—which has been correctly described…as "the yoga canon for people who have accepted brahmin theology"—to create an impression of five thousand years worth of continuity where none really exists. The HAF’s current insistence is thus part of a false advertising campaign about yoga’s ancient Brahmanical lineage.
How can something that is itself a product of appropriation and hybridization of a variety of cultures be accused of being culturally appropriated only now by “the West”?
If that bit interests you, read the rest, which seems to be addressed more to the Indian and yoga communities.

Monday, February 24, 2014

the top 1% in the US's most and least equal states

Too Much February 24, 2014:

In the world's freest economy, people are free to live in cages

From Too Much February 24, 2014:

The world’s “freest” economy? That distinction belongs to Hong Kong, says the Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom, an annual tally that rewards governments for keeping taxes low and regulations on business feeble. Yan Chi Keung probably doesn’t feel particularly free. The 57-year-old, profiled recently by photographer Brian Cassey, lives in a six-by-three-foot cage home that costs him $195 a year. Why do over 50,000 people in Hong Kong live in cages? Rents for even small one-bedroom apartments run over $2,000 per month. So who’s enjoying Hong Kong’s economic “freedom”? Maybe the city’s top 10 richest. These freedom-lovers,Forbes reports, average $14.3 billion each in net worth.

my brilliantly simple or pathetically obvious unified theory of prejudice

I apologize for this post, because I may've just figured out something that's been obvious to everyone else.

I've been casually thinking for years about Engel's observation, "The first class opposition that appears in history coincides with the development of the antagonism between man and woman in monogamous marriage, and the first class oppression coincides with that of the female sex by the male."

I kept thinking there was no connection other than a love of a hierarchy.

But that assumes loving hierarchies is natural.

This morning I saw what I had missed. What underlies sexism and classism? Cheap labor, in the form of exploitation based on sex and class.

If you're exploiting people, I only see two basic choices:

1. You think it is bad to exploit people, and you stop.

2. You think it is good to exploit people, and you continue.

The easiest way to think it is good to exploit is to adopt a belief system that assumes exploitation comes from a natural hierarchy. Sexism, classism, xenophobia, racism, and religious bigotry are all rationalizations for paying a group of people less, treating them worse, and taking whatever you can from them.

ETA: This post partly came from thinking about the tragedy of the Europeans coming to the Americas: the Europeans met a representative sample of Americans, but the Europeans were not representative. The leaders came to exploit.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Martha Reeves and Lesley Gore: the music was for everyone

From 50 years after Beatlemania, a look at a year of change (which you needn't click 'cause it's behind a paywall):
For Martha Reeves, the music that came out of 1964 wasn’t about skin color; it was universal. 
“When I first got into show business, there was no white or black music,” Reeves says from her home in Detroit. “There was just music that everybody enjoyed, and Motown was not an all-black company. Our music had no color on it. It was made for people who enjoyed music, and our music will last forever because it was family-oriented.”

Lesley Gore was another artist making waves in 1964. She was 17 when the Beatles arrived on these shores and had already had a No. 1 hit the previous year with “It’s My Party.” In ’64, she had her second biggest song, the one that has resonated as one of pop music’s first hits with an overtly feminist message. “You Don’t Own Me” was a new breed of song for a female artist: “You don’t own me/I’m not just one of your many toys.” 
“When I first heard that song, I didn’t immediately think of feminism, but I did think of humanism,” Gore says. “It was a great song to be 17 years old and stand up in front of an audience and shake your finger and say, ‘You don’t own me.’ The feminists picked it up as their anthem, which is great, but I consider it a little more than just feminism. I think everyone can sing that song and mean it, like so many other songs from that era.”

Freedom - cover by Justine Dorsey & Octavius Womack

Stephen Hawking on people who brag about their I.Q.

The New York Times > Magazine > Questions for Stephen Hawking: The Science of Second-Guessing:
What is your I.Q.?
 I have no idea. People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.

the Dogness Monster?

Between the sidewalk and the street, there're a long mound in most parts of Minneapolis that's three feet high or more. When I looked out the window yesterday morning, I saw the upper body of a man walking with one arm slightly extended. About eight feet ahead of him, moving at exactly the same speed, was three inches of an upright, slightly wagging tail.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

about my Social Justice Warrior book, and a thank you to John Scalzi

If you have no interest in social justice warriors or scifi fandom's politics, be glad. This will be the last post I make about either on this blog, and I hope I won't make many more at Social Justice Warriors: Do Not Engage, because the point of writing the book was to be done with them. The book is about done, and so am I.

If you'd like to make comments on the latest draft, see A guide for Social Justice Warriors: Do Not Engage. Any comments left this month may inspire changes immediately; any comments after that may inspire a revised edition. What I love and hate most about ebooks is there's no excuse for not fixing mistakes.

John Scazi tweeted: "I've noticed an extremely high correlation between folks who use the phrase "social justice warrior" non-ironically, and complete assholes."

If you don't use Alanis Morisette's dictionary, it's impossible to use "social justice warrior" non-ironically. The term's just ironic. There are people who accept it the way many suffragists accepted "suffragette", but that does not make their use non-ironic. It makes it doubly ironic. Really, you cannot use "social justice warrior" non-ironically. The idea of being a warrior for a liberal pacifist approach to justice is inherently ironic, no matter how hard you spin it.

The non-ironic version Scalzi might've been thinking of is "social justice worker". But most people use that phrase with respect, because actual social justice workers work for justice and treat everyone with respect.

Now it's true there are assholes who use the ironic phrase "social justice warriors" because "asshole" is an all-purpose term of annoyance for people who won't accept your version of how things should be: "That Jesus of Nazareth, what an asshole." "That Malcolm X, what an asshole." Etc. If you're a social justice warrior, people who criticize social justice warriors are assholes.

I grant that referring to a group by a name they don't use can be rude—I always try to call people by the names they use for themselves. That's Manners 101. But social justice warriors don't have a name of their own. They only have an ideology. The ideology is very identifiable—it comes from the intersection of Critical Race Theory and 1980s middle-class feminism—but the believers don't have a name that their critics can use. So we're stuck with "identitarians" for people who see power primarily in terms of social identities and "social justice warriors" for identitarians who flame online in the belief they'll make a better world by tweeting and blogging and mobbing.

Some people say identity politics is a term only used by the right, but Kimberlé Crenshaw, the woman who offered intersectionality to the feminist lexicon, wrote about it favorably in "Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color". When I use the term, I don't mean it as a pejorative—there have been points in history when identity politics were the only practical politics. But I prefer "identitarianism" because it addresses the attitude that underlies identity politics.

Well. I hope it helped to clarify that, so, John, thank you for inspiring this post.

Friday, February 21, 2014

How honorable people behave when a public apology has been publicly accepted

Mary Kowal accepted Sean Fodera's apology. I was one of the first to see that. I hesitated for a moment, then, in the thread here, left this:
    *slow clap* 
William Monetta asked if that was intentional rudeness, so I clarified:
    Not at all. I admired the way they both handled this. I realize many people will be parsing each syllable of what they each said because outrage culture encourages that, but it seems to me when an apology has been publicly made and accepted, the only honorable options are silence or applause, and since this pleased me, I applauded. It was very well done. Since you're not familiar with the slow clap, google it and see the Urban Dictionary's explanation. 
Esther Friesner said,
    I'm too lazy to look up the slow clap but I have seen it applied as both a tribute and as a slightly ironic gesture. I am glad to see it here applied as a tribute. 
To which I said,
    It was my bad for forgetting one of the basic rules of the internet: If you mean something sarcastically, it will be interpreted sincerely; if you mean something sincerely, it will be interpreted sarcastically. So I was glad to clarify.
If you want to see how people who think rage trumps honor respond, you can find more than a few in the comments at Sean Fodera Makes an Apology | Whatever.

An apology that has been accepted is part of a relationship between the apologizer and the accepter. Criticizing it is like criticizing any aspect of any other relationship: It ain't your business. Gossips cannot be stopped from gossiping, but honorable people tell them to be discreet. Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me." She knew that gossip done right is done intimately.

I'll repeat the Malcolm X quote that I wish every self-righteous champion of goodness would remember: "Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery."

The basic principle has been covered thousands of times in music. Here's one that's fun, Slim Harpo's "That Ain't Your Business":

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Everyone in a mobbing deserves the insanity defense

I left this comment at A Brief Comment Inspired by SFWA Stuff | The Dream Café:
For the record, I do think everyone in a mobbing deserves the insanity defense. It’s why I forgave everyone in Racefail. The hardest to forgive was myself. Here’s a quote I love about one of the US’s two most famous mobbings. Five years after the Salem witch hunts, jurors signed an apology saying, “…we also pray that we may be considered candidly and aright by the living sufferers as being then under the power of a strong and general delusion, utterly unacquainted with and not experienced in matters of that nature.” 
Someday, most of the people involved in fandom’s witch hunts will realize that they were “under the power of a strong and general delusion”

I read (most of) the Fodera and Feist and Co. thread on so you don't have to

The essential bits:

1. No one there is arguing that they were private. When someone showed up to announce that the site was not private, Lawrence Watt-Evans said, "Nobody thought it was -- in fact, that was one subject under discussion. Usually, though, the rest of the online world doesn't pay much attention to SFF Net."

So this suggests sharing their discussion wasn't illegal; it was just unethical—at least, if you think legal eavesdropping is unethical. I realize the first requirement for practicing outrage journalism is to believe what's legal is ethical. But the question of misrepresentation stays very relevant.

2. When Peter Heck said, "It appears our friendly snitch is back at work. A number of posts from this newsgroup have been copied, in whole or in part, at" he was not suggesting a snitch was at work on He was referring to the snitch a few months back who copied information from SFWA forums that were private.

3. Having read most of the thread, I have to agree with Sheils Finch when she said: "My quoted comment illustrated only the other side's rush to use name-calling as a tactic, "phenomenal buttheads." Too bad the spy didn't also take the rest: When I reminded the SFWA person who used the term that the signers included people such as Janis Ian and Dave Gerrold, both openly gay, and writers such as Nancy Kress and Harry Turtledove -- not known for their anti-feminist stances -- someone jumped in to accuse me of being a sexist pig and probably racist into the bargain. Which only goes to prove that some of them can't read."

4. Regarding the current title of Aja Romano's article, Ray Feist had a mighty solid rebuttal when he said: "Hey, you can't win. Three of the best books with my name on them are co-written with janny Wurts, so i hardly think I have a problem with women writers. The first woman writer I can remember going crazy over was Eudora Welty."

5. And having read the thread past the point of Aja Romano's article, I think Sean Fodera was right when he said: "The simple fact is that I have an entirely visceral distaste for MRK because of things she did and said directly to me. I have a similar difficulty overcoming my long-standing fear of dogs (as well as my fear of heights and spiders). Neither has a bearing on the other, except as direct examples of how subconscious fears can manifest despite conscious efforts. Bottom line is that I wrote every word she said, with none of the meaning attributed to the pull quotes."

P.S. Aja Romano, this may be more evidence that the expectation of privacy is relevant

Dear Aja,

I read John Scalzi's Join the Insect Army! and wondered who said the bit he didn't credit. So I googled it and didn't see the answer right away. I tried an advanced search and still had no luck. Then I wondered if the original message had been deleted or if something else was going on, so I tried fodera - Google Search, and got this:
A description for this result is not available because of this site's robots.txt
Then I wondered if all of was not available to search engines, tried fodera - Google Search, and found that some parts of are easily searched.

But the part you linked to? Not searchable, because robots.

Clearly, the people talking there were not expecting anything they said to come up in a search. Someone had to do the extreme form of cyberstalking by going to an obscure web site and clicking through messages in the hope of finding something that could be twisted into news.

If I were a lawyer, I might think that was pertinent. Remember that the first question the law asks is whether there was "a subjective expectation of privacy". Clearly, there was.



Relevant: Dear Aja Romano, regarding Sean Fodera, Journalism 101, and the Expectation of Privacy

ETA: The question of privacy is stranger than I thought. You can't google the site, so I decided to read some of the thread you called attention to, and found that when talking about whether former SFWAns should be criticizing SFWA there, Sean Fodera said, "many of us are paying members of, which means that this open, public forum is as much ours for discussion of SFWA as it is anyone else's"

So the question is whether he meant it was an open, public forum for everyone, or an open, public forum for paying SFWAn and non-SFWAn members of

My current thinking is it would be simpler to focus on your misrepresentation of what was said.

ETA 2: I am very slow. It only now occurred to me that your original title, "Sexist, Racist Sci-Fi Writers Forget Their Horrible Rants are Public" implies that you thought they had "a subjective expectation of privacy".

ETA 3: I read (most of) the Fodera and Feist and Co. thread on so you don't have to.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Carl Sagan on bamboozles

"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. it is simply too painful to acknowledge—even to ourselves—that we've been so credulous." —Carl Sagan, "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection"

Dear Aja Romano, regarding Sean Fodera, Journalism 101, and the Expectation of Privacy

Dear Ms. Romano,

I was thinking about your recent bit of outrage journalism, Apparently, these guys don't want women to write science fiction, and why the Popehat response, Science Fiction Community Generates This Weekend's Buffoonish Defamation Threat, didn't convince me.

So I googled "journalism privacy". The first hit was Journalism Ethics: Privacy. To use a favorite cliché of social justice warriors, it's Journalism 101, basic principles spelled out in big letters and simple words. I strongly recommend that you read the whole thing. It isn't long.

And you might read this as well: Reasonable expectation of privacy - The IT Law Wiki: "Under current law, to establish a reasonable expectation of privacy a person must establish two things: that the individual had a subjective expectation of privacy; and that that subjective expectation of privacy is one that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable"

Now, you may think the Popehat article is definitive, but any honest lawyer will tell you the law is always a contest of opinions. Here are the relevant points:

1. We have a right to privacy.

2. Sean Fodera, Raymond Feist, and their friends were griping on, a dinosaur site that gets little attention by the general population—at least, until you boosted their google juice with your article. The people who hang out at are the field's old-timers. The best analogy I've seen is that it's the ancient local bar where the old folks go to talk quietly among themselves.

3. You decided to make them the faces of sexism in fantasy and science fiction, and focused on Sean Fodera. Google his name today, and you'll see you succeeded wildly.

4. The conversations you cite did not happen on the SFWA forums, which many of your readers seem to believe. Apparently, you believed it, as the tweet you made and deleted yesterday suggested. I'm sorry I didn't take a pic of it, but please correct me if this isn't right: You mocked me for saying on Reddit that Fodera was speaking at an obscure site—I think you said the SFWA site isn't obscure. Then you deleted your tweet after I clarified my comment and you realized I was right.

5. The current state of technology allows privacy to be penetrated anywhere, so you could argue no one has a reasonable expectation of privacy anywhere, but the law is against you: we have a right to privacy. It's reasonable to expect privacy under certain circumstances. What's done on a soapbox is not reasonably considered private and what's done in one's bedroom is reasonably considered private, but in other locations, "reasonable privacy" is not so quickly decided.

6. The "false light" aspect of this story matters enormously. Sean Fodera is not currently a member of SFWA. He works in publishing in contracts. He's not influential, and he wasn't famous until your article. He was griping about one individual, Mary Kowal, with men and women who dislike a subset of men and women in the science fiction community. Your take on that is obvious from your title, "Apparently, these guys don't want women to write science fiction". And yet you did not cite anything to suggest any of them do not want women to write science fiction, and you missed the fact that they were in a conversation with women who write science fiction.

Let me repeat that so you might understand it: They were in a conversation with women who write science fiction.

If I did not hate all-caps, I would repeat that a third time in all-caps, so let's try it bolded: They were in a conversation with women who write science fiction.

Really, Susan Schwartz, Sheila Finch, Esther Friesner, and Lois Tilton are women.

You knew this. And yet you cast Feist's mention of "fugheads" and Fodera's dislike of Mary Kowal as evidence that they do not want women to write science fiction.

7. The question of whether "someone else would have the story" also matters. The news did not start with the conversation at, because hardly anyone pays attention to The news began when someone anonymously made the tumblr that you linked to. Whether you made it in order to claim plausible deniability is irrelevant. That tumblr, like the conversation it cherrypicks, was obscure until you chose to make it into a story.

So a lawyer could probably have fun with what you did. Because there's another point that you don't seem to care about: mobbing has horrible emotional consequences. It would be very, very appropriate to sue you for the pain and suffering that your targets have endured. And it might be right to sue John Scalzi, who responded to Fodera's outrage with mockery instead of sympathy. Anger is a common response to being mobbed—see Mobbing drives people a little—or a lot—mad. Laughing at a mobbed person's temporary madness is like laughing at someone who shrieks when poked with a sharp stick.

Ah, well. I'm not a lawyer, so everything I've said here may be bullshit.

But I do know a little about writing and ethics, so I beg you to think more about these issues the next time you're tempted to contribute to outrage culture.


Will Shetterly

P.S. Aja Romano, this may be more evidence that the expectation of privacy is relevant

P.S. 2: I read (most of) the Fodera and Feist and Co. thread on so you don't have to

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mobbing drives people a little—or a lot—mad

When you notice someone is being mobbed, no matter how offensive you may find what they did, try to have some pity for them. From Yankton Press & Dakotan > Mobbing Like A ‘Rape Of The Spirit’:
“Mobbing is like a rape of the spirit. It destroys a person from the inside,” Elliot said. “Before I found out about this, I used to wonder why someone would go into a work environment and spray the whole area with bullets. Why do people go postal? This is one reason why. You know who your friends are not, but you don’t know who your friends are. Everybody is suspect. These people become so paranoid. They can suffer extreme anxiety disorders and also, in extreme cases, post-traumatic stress disorder.”

It’s easy for people to become caught up in mobbing an individual, Elliot said. They want to belong and don’t want to become targets of abuse themselves. Elliot admitted that not only has she been the target of mobbing in the workplace, but she also engaged in the behavior herself on one occasion before she recognized that what she was doing was unacceptable and apologized.

“People think it’s funny, and they think it doesn’t have a lasting impact,” Elliot said. “Mobbers make fun of people behind their back. They spread rumors that are unkind. They get other people to gang up on someone. They humiliate someone and act like it is a joke. They withhold information the person needs to make decisions. They hold their targets to a different standard than they do everybody else. It’s engineered to confuse the target. It’s engineered to discredit.”
From the links at Workplace Mobbing, I especially recommend Mobbing and the Virginia Tech Massacre. It's easy to think the writer's taking the outsider's side too much, so I'll note this, from his conclusion: "This does not mean trying to excuse Cho's inexcusable crimes. Nor does it mean trying to shift blame and scapegoat somebody else. It means trying to get at the truth of what happened: empirical identification of the sequence of events, what led to what. Sound scientific explanation honors those who wrongly and unnecessarily lost their lives or suffered injury at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, and gives promise of preventing repetition of the tragedy."

From The Culture of Cults:
...when established members leave or are expelled, they may develop a particular kind of cult-induced mental disorder, marked by anxiety and difficulty in making decisions. The disorder exhibits similarities to (but is not identical to) post-traumatic stress disorder, and certain types of adjustment disorders.
What exactly is mobbing? According to authors Noa Davenport, Ruth Schwartz and Gail Elliott in Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace (Civil Society Publishing, 2004):
...Through innuendo, rumors, and public discrediting, a hostile environment is created in which one individual gathers others to willingly, or unwillingly, participate in continuous malevolent actions to force a person out of the workplace.
These actions escalate into abusive and terrorizing behavior. The victim feels increasingly helpless when the organization does not put a stop to the behavior or may even plan or condone it.
As a result, the individual experiences increasing distress, illness, and social misery…Resignation, termination, or early retirement—the negotiated voluntary or involuntary expulsion from the workplace—follows. For the victim, death—through illness or suicide—may be the final chapter in the mobbing story.
...At times mobbing is done as a bully revels in animosity, gaining pleasure from the excitement that it creates, giving the bully what Westhues (2002) calls “the euphoria of collective attack”.
...the target may find that he/she is less productive, creative, and self questioning. Mobbing can leave the target’s life in turmoil (Glass, 1999), feeling embarrassed, frustrated and untrusting. Symptoms may include crying, sleep difficulties, lack of concentration, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, excessive weight loss or gain, depression, alcohol or drug abuse, avoidance of the workplace, and/or uncharacteristic fearfulness (Namie & Namie, 2000; Davenport, Schwartz and Elliot, 1999). For some the degree of symptoms may become severe and include severe depression, panic attacks, heart attack, other severe illnesses, accidents, suicide attempts, violence directed at third parties and symptoms of PTSD (Namie & Namie, 2000; Davenport, Schwartz and Elliot, 1999). These symptoms may lead the target to feel who they are as a person is being stripped away.
...According to Leymann (n.d.) roughly ten to twenty percent of those mobbed in his study seemed to contract a serious illnesses or committed suicide.
Changes take place in relationships inside and outside of work. When the target fails to “bounce back” from the impact of being mobbed, family and friends may begin to abandon the target (Namie & Namie, 2000). According to Westhues (2002) “Not infrequently, mobbing spelled the end of the target’s career, marriage, health, and livelihood.”
The study shows that those aged over 45 are more likely to be the victims of such abuse.
'Mobbing' Can Damage More Than Careers, Professors Are Told at Conference -

The "Bitch" Evolved: Why Girls Are So Cruel to Each Other: Scientific American:
Findings from this study indicated a clear difference in aggressive responses between the genders, with women overwhelmingly compelled to retaliate by attacking the offender’s reputation, mostly through gossip. This gender effect panned out even after controlling for participants’ evaluation of the social appropriateness of such acts. In other words, in spite of the fact that the women realized malicious gossip wasn’t socially appropriate, this was nevertheless their preferred first point of attack. Men, on the other hand, were more evenly divided in their response, but failed to show the same preferential bias for acts of “informational warfare”...
Women Really Are More Socially Aggressive Than Men (With Apologies to ): Scientific American

When Digital Shaming Goes Too Far: Lessons From the Seattle Tip Stiffer - Media - GOOD

Bitter behavior is so common and deeply destructive that some psychiatrists are urging it be identified as a mental illness under the name post-traumatic embitterment disorder.
This makes sense to me. PTED isn't the only response to mobbing, of course, but it may be the most obvious one.

ETA: How to survive a mobbing (that mostly happens online)

What to Do if a Coworker is Mobbed, Part 2 | Psychology Today

John Scalzi punches down

A Note to Sean Fodera | Whatever. A guy thinks a forum is more private than it is. Scalzi joins in humiliating him.

ETA: My one contribution to this furor has been a tweet:

If the context misrepresents him, he may have a case. Quotes out of context are the best way to lie.

ETA 2: On twitter, I said, "Saying supporters of free speech support racism & sexism is like saying opponents of the death penalty support rape & murder."


Mobbing drives people a little—or a lot—mad

Dear Aja Romano, regarding Sean Fodera, Journalism 101, and the Expectation of Privacy

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The hard numbers on Twitter racism, plus the Taxi Test

Twitter users post 10,000 racist slurs every day, study finds: "Just how racist is Twitter? About .00007 percent racist. ... Demos, a UK research group, has published a new study finding that about 1 in every 15,000 tweets contains a slur. That’s over 10,000 tweets each day. The most common phrase that turned up on the study? “White boy.”"

They do give some nuance, so if you want to quibble, read the short article first.

I was recently looking at the numbers for how hard it is for a black person to get a cab in New York, and I decided to do the math.

Dan Ackman's 2007 article, Giuliani's sorry crackdown on New York cabbies, says, "the evidence showed that just 15 percent of the alleged refusals to pick up passengers involved race. The vast majority were based on destination."j

Calvin Sims' 2006 article, An Arm in the Air for That Cab Ride Home says, "The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission’s “Operation Refusal” program, in which undercover officers of different races randomly hail taxis, found in its most recent study a 96 percent compliance rate among cabbies."

If 4% of cabbies were generally noncompliant in 2006, and only 15% of those had to do with race rather than destination, cabbies didn’t pick up black people because of their race .6% of the time—which means that in 2006, when any 200 cabbies were deciding who to pick up, only one would make a racist choice. Which is one too many. But it’s far from true that “black people can’t get cabs”, and, as Sims notes, the compliance rate continues to improve.

If anyone has more recent figures, please let me know.

Identitarian watch: Is Malala a role model for every little girl?

The question's asked at G I Z TO THE I B E ♪ ♡, "malala is a role model for EVERY LITTLE GIRL..

Her answer is no. Because appropriation. Full answer:
no no n
no no fuck stop it
it is not regardless of race and religion
she is a role model SPECIFICALLY for muslim little girls around the world. little white girls around the world have TONS of role models. everywhere. literally all over television, books, you name it. admire Malala, yes. that’s not what is being said. do not take something that is meant for a specific culture simply because you want it.
Oh, identitarians. Must we all give the Roman alphabet back to the Romans now?

ETA: Just commented elsewhere: "Who doesn't love a little girl who's inspired to dress up like Malala? It takes a powerful ideology to rant about appropriation instead of saying, "You go, girl!""

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

John Scalzi vs the ACLU and me on free speech

ETA: Thanks to a commenter, I realize I did not make my main point as simply as I could've: There are two kinds of censorship, legal censorship and illegal censorship, and therefore there are legal ways to suppress speech. Fans of suppressing speech think that so long as their actions are legal, they're not censorship and speech is still free.

I'll number Scalzi's Ten Things About Petitions and Freedom of Speech without quoting them, because I'm lazy.

1. Like all people who support limiting speech, Scalzi takes a conservative legalistic approach; the ACLU does not. From Free Speech | American Civil Liberties Union: "The ACLU’s Project on Speech, Privacy, and Technology (SPT) is dedicated to protecting and expanding the First Amendment freedoms of expression, association, and inquiry; expanding the right to privacy and increasing the control that individuals have over their personal information; and ensuring that civil liberties are enhanced rather than compromised by new advances in science and technology."

2. Ditto on censorship. From What Is Censorship? | American Civil Liberties Union: "Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are "offensive," happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional. In contrast, when private individuals or groups organize boycotts against stores that sell magazines of which they disapprove, their actions are protected by the First Amendment, although they can become dangerous in the extreme. Private pressure groups, not the government, promulgated and enforced the infamous Hollywood blacklists during the McCarthy period."

3. Scalzi makes a common straw man argument here. Example, please.

4. The ACLU knows very well that supporting free speech can have repercussions: From ACLU History: Taking a Stand for Free Speech in Skokie | American Civil Liberties Union: "In 1978, the ACLU took a controversial stand for free speech by defending a neo-Nazi group that wanted to march through the Chicago suburb of Skokie , where many Holocaust survivors lived. The notoriety of the case caused some ACLU members to resign, but to many others the case has come to represent the ACLU's unwavering commitment to principle."

5. Signing a petition to protest a development that you have reason to fear is nothing anyone should be ashamed of. Scalzi's Task Force had not been disbanded when the petition was circulated. Better to speak up too soon than too late, as Niemoller knew too well.

6. The ACLU undoubtedly wishes every petition was beautifully written, because good lawyers are like that, but badly written petitions in support of free speech are still support for free speech.

7. Wasn't this covered in #6? Is it really important to have 10 points?

8. The ACLU would probably note that language is more flexible than many people think. Regarding "political correctness", the term has been used by the left and the right. Doris Lessing wrote, "Does political correctness have a good side? Yes, it does, for it makes us re-examine attitudes, and that is always useful. The trouble is that, with all popular movements, the lunatic fringe so quickly ceases to be a fringe; the tail begins to wag the dog. For every woman or man who is quietly and sensibly using the idea to examine our assumptions, there are 20 rabble-rousers whose real motive is desire for power over others, no less rabble-rousers because they see themselves as anti-racists or feminists or whatever."

From Hate Speech on Campus | American Civil Liberties Union: "How much we value the right of free speech is put to its severest test when the speaker is someone we disagree with most. Speech that deeply offends our morality or is hostile to our way of life warrants the same constitutional protection as other speech because the right of free speech is indivisible: When one of us is denied this right, all of us are denied. Since its founding in 1920, the ACLU has fought for the free expression of all ideas, popular or unpopular. That's the constitutional mandate."

9. The ACLU couldn't care less whether someone refers to a black friend, but the ACLU would note that citing an anonymous source has a fine precedent in journalism and the law. To assume that an anonymous black person couldn't subscribe to a particular belief assumes all black people are alike, and most people would like to protect their friends from people who think like that about race.

10. Either this is more padding to make 10 points, or it's back-patting. People of good will don't make posts like Scalzi's, but people who preach to the choir do.

ETA: A reminder that censorship which is legal, like the censorship that the Hollywood 10 faced, can still be vicious:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

the right to speak versus the right to silence

I've been banned at Oh Dear: SFWA Bulletin Petition — The Radish and at POLITICAL CENSORSHIP: A helpful guide to whether or not it’s happening to you | A Trick of Light. Which is amusing and appropriate and entirely unsurprising. What too many people cannot grasp is Evelyn Beatrice Hall's take on Voltaire's view: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

In the comments, the arguments constantly boil down to "If you support their right to speak, you support them."

Every generation has its share of people who can't think critically. The Critical Race Theorists are among the latest. The inability to understand the difference between supporting an idea and supporting the right to share an idea explains their love of subjectivity—if you have nothing objective, you either admit your mistake or double down.

I've been thinking lately about the two fists of identitarianism: One fist says, "You are privileged; you must be polite." The other says, "We are outraged; we are right to rage and mock." I recently came across Katie Roiphe's The Mockery Feminists: Caitlin Moran and Tina Fey: Feminists used to be deadly earnest. Today they’re funny, sarcastic, and ironic. What happened? It has me thinking more about mockery as a tactic, and how it encourages group cohesiveness while making outsiders less likely to join. The popularity of feminism continues to be surprisingly low: Despite the US's overwhelming support for equal pay and strong support for legal abortion, a CBS poll found that only 24% of women and 14% of men think of themselves as feminists if you don't give them a practical definition. I don't think mockery is going to help. But it will make bitter people briefly feel better, and if that's all you want, mock on.

Perhaps the desire to mock explains another difference between civil rights workers and social justice warriors. Civil rights workers want the right to speak. Social justice warriors want the right to silence.

ETA: Just left this comment at Facebook: "There was a time when the SFWA Bulletin allowed writers to say what they pleased. No one was ever silly enough to think that everything in it represented the SFWA group mind. That has changed, obviously. Your defense of a free speech zone is hardly the same as defending free speech. Free speech is messy, but the only way to make it tidy is to eliminate "free". The right to say what offends no one is no right at all—and I am not blind to the irony that astonishingly abusive things are said by people who claim they only want to prevent anyone's feelings from being hurt."

ETA 2: Several people have thought I was upset about being banned. I'm not. Your blog, your rules, of course. I was amused. I thought that was conveyed in my second sentence, but obviously, it didn't work for everyone, so I just added "amusing" in the hope that'll help. I'm amused because people who love to silence show their love of silencing by quickly banning critics. This should fall under deeds speaking louder than words, but it is remarkable how people's belief systems can interpret both words and deeds to protect their faith.

RELATED: the right to offend is the heart of free speech

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Emma fights patriarchy...with her hair!

I continue to be amused by Laurie Penny's claim that being a fashion slave is fighting patriarchy: Why patriarchy fears the scissors: for women, short hair is a political statement. When you try to prove your point with pictures of actresses with expensive haircuts, you should notice the patriarchy loves short hair. Really, you cannot fight patriarchy with consumerism.

But I feel a bit sorry for her after reading Sorry Laurie Penny, but the patriarchy likes short hair. I hadn't realized she was attacked as racist and, well, hairist for her position, though given her politics, she should've expected the backlash.

This does give me an excuse to post a recent picture of Emma:

She's had long hair a few times, but for most of her life, she's had short hair fought patriarchy. Here's a picture of Emma and Ellen Kushner around the time War for the Oaks came out:

(photo by Beth Gwinn)

There was a time when short hair challenged the patriarchy:

But as soon as movie stars started cutting their hair, patriarchy chilled. Louise Brooks was gorgeous, but not a threat to patriarchy:

My most recent reason for being sorry my mother's not alive is she would've laughed if I'd told her that she'd been fighting the patriarchy all her life with her hair. Here she is on her wedding day: