Sunday, March 30, 2014

#CancelIrony: an open letter to white male leftists who criticize identity politics

When Stephen Colbert is called a racist for ironically mocking a racist, the only proper response for white male allies is to ignore all discussions of anti-racism and anti-sexism and let women and people of color lead.

Seriously. If you're concerned about class, ignore self-styled anti-racists and feminists—they make their priority clear by their name. Most of them are more concerned with becoming Condi Rice or Hillary Clinton than leveling the economic pyramid. You can no more change an identitarian's mind than you can change a Scientologist's. Belief systems are about beliefs, not logic. All you'll do is get hated, and that doesn't help anyone's cause.

I briefly wondered if Tumblr's social justice warriors could be useful to socialists. An "I need socialism because" campaign would be a lot of fun. Then I realized most of them don't need socialism. They're concerned with what they see as the last flaws of capitalism. The working class are irrelevant to them.

Inspired by #CancelColbert: Suey Park, the activist behind the hashtag: What continues to amuse me about this kerfuffle is a privileged Asian-American hijacked a discussion about American Indian mascot names to insist Asian-Americans are oppressed because a white man said "Oriental" when making fun of the guy who owns the Washington Redskins. Last time I looked, Asian Americans are one of the groups that are richer than white Americans. As for social oppression rather than economic oppression, the US Senate, our country's version of the House of Lords, is a fine measure of both kinds of power. Our first Asian American senator was elected in 1959, and we have an Asian American senator now. Considering that Asian Americans are 6% of the US population, that's actually representative. But there still aren't any working class Senators.

For anyone keeping track, there's a tiny circle of "activists" behind #cancelColbert. Several of the usual suspects appear at Twitter / debreese: @Karnythia See this? ...

This comment at reclaiming brocialism amused me: "a brocialist is a socialist who has your back, knows where you're comin' from, will let you stay on their couch for a bit, buy a round every once in a while, and will like be there for you when you need someone". While I'll happily agree some male socialists can be embarrassingly sexist, there's a lot to be said for being a brocialist. Malcolm X's preferred title was "brother", after all.

Matthew Stoller on 19th Century red-baiting: communism, American Indians, and Confederates

Antebellum Red-Baiting: When Slaveholders Accused Northerners of Fomenting Communism

More 19th Century Redbaiting: Native Americans Are Communists, Which Is Why Anglo-Saxons Must Kill Them

Follow-Ups on 19th Century Red-Baiting

Friday, March 28, 2014

Can humor survive the internet?

Google the "cancel Colbert" kerfuffle. It's like there's a contest to see who can be more humorless.

lazy meals: New Mexican New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder
green chiles

Mix to taste in the pot. Nom!

I think I invented this one, though it was not the science of the rockets. It's best with fresh roasted chiles, of course, but canned chiles are nice.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Today's USA inequality FAQ

From The chartbook of economic inequality, here's economic inequality in the US:


From Self Help is no help for inequality | The Great Debate:
there is no evidence that neither children nor adults know less about financial matters today than they did in 1930, or 1950, or the late 1970s — when the U.S. savings rate was 10 percent. There is also no evidence they know more than in 2006, when the savings rate fell to zero. (Today is it about 4 percent.) 
To presume home-buyers put into predatory loans by mortgage brokers working for outfits like Countrywide Financial could have stopped the housing market implosion if they knew a bit more about balancing their checkbook is absurd. Just as absurd as thinking a high school class in money management could help someone two decades later decipher a 100-page, single-spaced mortgage origination document loaded with “gotcha” clauses.
From John Cassidy: Is Surging Inequality Endemic to Capitalism? : The New Yorker:
In the nineteen-fifties, the average American chief executive was paid about twenty times as much as the typical employee of his firm. These days, at Fortune 500 companies, the pay ratio between the corner office and the shop floor is more than two hundred to one, and many C.E.O.s do even better. In 2011, Apple’s Tim Cook received three hundred and seventy-eight million dollars in salary, stock, and other benefits, which was sixty-two hundred and fifty-eight times the wage of an average Apple employee. A typical worker at Walmart earns less than twenty-five thousand dollars a year; Michael Duke, the retailer’s former chief executive, was paid more than twenty-three million dollars in 2012. The trend is evident everywhere. According to a recent report by Oxfam, the richest eighty-five people in the world—the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Carlos Slim—own more wealth than the roughly 3.5 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world’s population.

...major companies are giving their top executives outlandish pay packages. His research shows that “supermanagers,” rather than “superstars,” account for up to seventy per cent of the top 0.1 per cent of the income distribution. (In 2010, you needed to earn at least $1.5 million to qualify for this élite group.) Rising income inequality is largely a corporate phenomenon.

...If ownership of capital were distributed equally, this wouldn’t matter much. We’d all share in the rise in profits and dividends and rents. But in the United States in 2010, for example, the richest ten per cent of households owned seventy per cent of all the country’s wealth (a good surrogate for “capital”), and the top one per cent of households owned thirty-five per cent of the wealth. By contrast, the bottom half of households owned just five per cent. When income generated by capital grows rapidly, the richest families benefit disproportionately. Since 2009, corporate profits, dividend payouts, and the stock market have all risen sharply, but wages have barely budged. As a result, according to calculations by Piketty and Saez, almost all of the income growth in the economy between 2010 and 2012—ninety-five per cent of it—accrued to the one per cent.
ETA:

debunking rape culture theory, a linkfest

From The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)'s recommendations to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (pdf):
In the last few years, there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming “rape culture” for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campuses. While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important to not lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime.

While that may seem an obvious point, it has tended to get lost in recent debates. This has led to an inclination to focus on particular segments of the student population (e.g., athletes), particular aspects of campus culture (e.g., the Greek system), or traits that are common in many millions of law-abiding Americans (e.g., “masculinity”), rather than on the subpopulation at fault: those who choose to commit rape. This trend has the paradoxical effect of making it harder to stop sexual violence, since it removes the focus from the individual at fault, and seemingly mitigates personal responsibility for his or her own actions.

By the time they reach college, most students have been exposed to 18 years of prevention messages, in one form or another. Thanks to repeated messages from parents, religious leaders, teachers, coaches, the media and, yes, the culture at large, the overwhelming majority of these young adults have learned right from wrong, and enter college knowing that rape falls squarely in the latter category.

Research supports the view that to focus solely on certain social groups or “types” of students in the effort to end campus sexual violence is a mistake. Dr. David Lisak estimates that three percent of college men are responsible for more than 90% of rapes. Other studies suggest that between 3-7% of college men have committed an act of sexual violence or would consider doing so. It is this relatively small percentage of the population, which has proven itself immune to years of prevention messages, that we must address in other ways. (Unfortunately, we are not aware of reliable research on female college perpetrators.)

Consider, as well, the findings of another study by Dr. Lisak and colleagues, which surveyed 1,882 male college students and determined that 120 of them were rapists. Of those determined to be rapists, the majority — 63% — were repeat offenders who admitted to committing multiple sexual assaults. Overall, they found that each offender committed an average of 5.8 sexual assaults. Again, this research supports the fact that more than 90% of college-age males do not, and are unlikely to ever, rape. In fact, we have found that they’re ready and eager to be engaged on these issues. It’s the other guys (and, sometimes, women) who are the problem.


It’s Time to End ‘Rape Culture’ Hysteria | TIME.com

Is America A "Rape Culture"? | RealClearPolitics

Barbara Kay: A bump in radical feminism’s control of the gender agenda



Lest anyone claim these are only from conservative sources, Sommers is a registered Democrat. Young is apparently a "moderate libertarian" who has criticized Men's Rights Activists. Both identify as equality feminists.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Whiteface, blackface, humor, hatred

At Nick Cannon courts controversy with whiteface, Cannon says, "There is a big difference between Humor and Hatred." Which inpired me to leave this comment there:
Yep. If you're not trying to belittle people of another race, it's not whiteface or blackface; it's just makeup.
Related:

on blackface, or the cultural imperialism of anti-racism

drow (dark elves) and blackface

What would Wonder Woman wear? Amazonomachy has the answer

Just read (and recommend) The Amazon Women: Is There Any Truth Behind the Myth?. Its mention of Amazonomachy, "the portrayal of the mythical battle between the Ancient Greeks and the Amazons" in Greek art, made me think of the long argument over Wonder Woman's skimpy costume. I can't see DC going with something like this:


(Though people who are concerned with butt shots and twisted torsos for fighting women should note they're nothing new.)

But a fine costume might be inspired by these Amazons:




Monday, March 24, 2014

If I was making an anthology of superhero fiction

I would include Robert N. Lee's "Finest Kind" from his 666ties stories. Otis Redding and Elvis are superheroes, but not allies. There's more about the stories in the series at Awesomedome.com.

This is the second plug I put off making because the work doesn't neatly fit in a genre, so I'm not quite sure how to tell the people who will love it that they will love it and the people who won't get it that they won't get it. This particular story may appear to be about super heroes, but it really isn't. It's a gonzo meditation on the mythical 1960s.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

things science fiction writers got wrong #8247

I'm going over my third novel, The Tangled Lands, to release it as an ebook in a week or so. Written in the late '80s, it was set partly in a cyberpunk future that's now effectively an alternate version of our present. Which meant I was surprised when I came on a line about a smoking section in a bar. I never thought outright smoking bans would be so successful.

The line was not purely cosmetic, so I had to think for a minute or three before I found a new version for the book. Yeah, I could've left it alone. But it was the wrong place for something that's now distracting, and I like the new line better, so all's good.

on Rightscorp, the internet's privateer, and what to do if they say you've been busted for piracy

If you've been accused of pirating or think you might be, you should learn a little about Rightscorp before you do anything. As I understand the situation—and I am not a lawyer, so don't bother suing me if I'm wrong—companies like Rightscorp cannot legally get the names of suspected pirates from the ISPs directly, so they play a little trick. They send DMCA takedown notices with a request that the ISP send their full notices to the suspected pirates. Most ISPs agree. The full notices include details of what's suspected and a demand for payment. If the ISP's customer clicks on the notice links and pays, the accusing company gets (1) the person's identity, (2) the person's confession, and (3) profit.

Remember that wireless networks get used in many ways by many people. ISPs can know where piracy happened, but they can't know who pirated without a confession. So if you get charged through your ISP, your concern is with them, not with Rightscorp. The ISP will almost certainly be content to give a warning the first time they get a DMCA notice about you.

Here are most pertinent bits from  a few short articles that I recommend you read in their entirety:

From Comcast Kills Business Model of Piracy Monitoring and Settlement Firm | TorrentFreak:
Rightscorp usually asks for $10 or $20 per infringed title, demands that are concealed in DMCA notices so they can bypass the courts.
Under the DMCA Internet providers are obliged to forward copyright infringement notices to their customers, so with this strategy the company can contact the alleged pirates without knowing who they are.
At least, that’s the theory.
The problem is that Rightscorp’s entire business model relies on the willingness of the Internet providers to forward their full settlement requests. To make sure this happens the company specifically adds the following line on top of each DMCA notice.
**NOTE TO ISP: PLEASE FORWARD THE ENTIRE NOTICE**
Unfortunately for the anti-piracy outfit, not all ISPs are doing that.
TorrentFreak looked into the matter and we found that Comcast, the largest ISP in the United States, strips out all the threatening language and references to the proposed settlement. Instead, it only lists the infringement details including the source, file-name and a timestamp.
From Is the MPAA giant waking up and luring defendants through their $20 DMCA settlement letters? | TorrentLawyer™ - Exposing Copyright Trolls and Their Lawsuits:
What is bothering me, however, is that the release on their https://secure.digitalrightscorp.com/settle website (pasted below) releases the accused defendant from their claim of copyright infringement for a mere $20, but it has the defendant ADMITTING GUILT to the infringement. Thus, in legal terms, an accused internet user who pays the $20 may be released from liability for THAT instance of infringement, but the next time they catch that user downloading, they can not only sue for the full $150,000 (or ask for TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS as a settlement), but in court, they would use the prior settlement as EVIDENCE OF GUILT that the accused defendant habitually downloads copyrighted videos and TV shows.
To be clear: EVERY settlement agreement for copyright infringement should have language stating that the accused defendant is not admitting guilt, or else the act of settling a copyright infringement claim can be construed as an “admission” of guilt in a court. Specifically, the language (e.g., taken from CEG-TEK’s settlements) would say something like “this Liability Release represents a compromise and that nothing herein is to be construed as an admission of liability on the part of RELEASEE.” This language appears to be purposefully ABSENT from the RightsCorp Settlement Agreements.
For this reason, it is difficult for me to suggest hiring a third party / attorney and paying one of us to anonymously settle a $20 matter, BUT it is my opinion that the RightsCorp settlements are simply dangerous to your legal rights.
There're more interesting articles about Rightscorp at TorrentFreak.

And a reddit discussion: Recently received infringement notices from ISP linking me to Digital Rights Corp. -- Faced with 12 infringement notices each for $20. Paid two of them before learning the facts. Next steps?

For Canadians: Canadian Movie & Music Pirates to Be 'Fined' Without Court Orders | TorrentFreak

ETA: Judge: IP-Address Is Not a Person and Can't Identify a BitTorrent Pirate | TorrentFreak

Saturday, March 22, 2014

on "Oginga Odinga of Kenya", one of Malcolm X's favorite songs

I had heard that "Oginga Odinga of Kenya" was one of Malcolm X's favorite songs, so I went looking and found two versions:





Gail Falk wrote about it in Freedom Songs,
My favorite Oginga Odinga tells about the State Department’s ill fated effort to show Kenyan official Oginga Odinga in 1963 that race relations in the United States were really fine. The State Dept. included Atlanta on its tour (after all, it was supposed to be the City Too Busy to Hate) and put Odinga up at the Peachtree Manor, one of the only integrated hotels in the city.  SNCC staff heard about Odinga being in town and went to visit him with the purpose of giving him a different perspective. They invited the Kenyan to accompany them to the Toddle House restaurant, right next to the hotel, where they were refused service because of their race, and a number of people were arrested for sitting in. Odinga realized he had been given a “whitewashed” version of American race relations. He taught the SNCC workers the Swahili word for freedom, which is the chorus of the song: Uhuru, Uhuru, Freedom Now, Freedom Now.
The Freedom Singers recorded it in the '60s, so maybe I'll find a copy of that someday. But here they are doing another of their songs with the Obamas singing along:



And not related, but found in the search, another example of why I admire Malcolm X so much:

on Douglas Lain's 'Billy Moon'

This is not a book to read when you want to read a book like another kind of book. It should be shelved under "literature and fiction" because the people who go to the science fiction and fantasy section are not looking for a book like this, though some of them will be very happy when they find it. Douglas Lain is a great writer, but when I try to figure out how to recommend this book, I'm at a loss, because Billy Moon's characteristics are strengths or weaknesses depending on what you're looking for. I searched for other reviews to see if I could simply recommend one, and I came away thinking they're all fair, the positive ones and the negatives ones. Trying simply to be as clear as possible, I'll say that for me, the book is fascinating without being compelling, so I read it in bits over several weeks. Whether I would've found it compelling if I'd taken the time to read it quickly I don't know, but it isn't the sort of book that makes me rearrange my schedule or stay up all night. It's a book about love and honor and responsibility and reality and family and revolution that looks at those things quietly and quirkily. Lain reminds me a little of Chesterton and Vonnegut in ways I can't explain. Here's a review that may be as good as any if you want to know a little more: Douglas Lain's 'Billy Moon' | Portland Monthly.

ETA: For a couple more takes by readers with different tastes:

Book Review: ‘Billy Moon’ by Douglas Lain | Blogcritics

Book Review: Billy Moon by Douglas Lain | Marxist-Humanist Initiative

ETA 2: Library Review gave it a lovely writeup and made it their Debut of the Month: Science Fiction & Fantasy Reviews | August 2013.

Has Jim C. Hines addressed RAINN's refutation of "rape culture"?

I was thinking about fandom's culture wars and remembered Jim C. Hines' What is Rape Culture? when I read It’s Time to End ‘Rape Culture’ Hysteria | TIME.com. The crucial bits:
RAINN urges the White House to “remain focused on the true cause of the problem” and suggests a three-pronged approach for combating rape: empowering community members through bystander intervention education, using “risk-reduction messaging” to encourage students to increase their personal safety, and promoting clearer education on “where the ‘consent line’ is.” It also asserts that we should treat rape like the serious crime it is by giving power to trained law enforcement rather than internal campus judicial boards.
RAINN is especially critical of the idea that we need to focus on teaching men not to rape — the hallmark of rape culture activism. Since rape exists because our culture condones and normalizes it, activists say, we can end the epidemic of sexual violence only by teaching boys not to rape.
No one would deny that we should teach boys to respect women. But by and large, this is already happening. By the time men reach college, RAINN explains, “most students have been exposed to 18 years of prevention messages, in one form or another.” The vast majority of men absorbs these messages and views rape as the horrific crime that it is. So efforts to address rape need to focus on the very small portion of the population that “has proven itself immune to years of prevention messages.” They should not vilify the average guy.
Hmm. Have any of the warriors addressed that?

See also:

RAINN: stop blaming "rape culture" and blame individuals—a post especially for social justice warriors

debunking rape culture theory, a linkfest

David Lisak on rape and rape culture

pragmatists vs ideologues: on rape culture theorists and Jim C. Hines.

Monday, March 17, 2014

the all-enveloping confabulation of social justice warriors

The Unpersuadables: Why Smart People Believe Crazy Theories - The Daily Beast: "“If a person’s set of beliefs all cohere, it means that they are telling themselves a highly successful story. It means that their confabulation is so rich and deep and all-enveloping that almost every living particle of nuance and doubt has been suffocated. Which says to me, their brains are working brilliantly,” Storr writes, “and their confabulated tale is not to be trusted.” "

This seems especially pertinent in light of the identitarian love of narrative and subjectivity.

on John Scalzi, Baen Books, and the cognitive dissonance of prosperous liberals

This morning, I wrote:
To be a liberal capitalist calls for cognitive dissonance—liberals believe it's wrong to exploit people, but they don't actually want to give up the things they get by living high on the capitalist pyramid.
John Scalzi's my current favorite example. So I should say upfront that I like him. He's good company at a meal. He's a competent writer. He's a PR genius. If he hadn't banned me from his blog during Racefail 09 for reasons I still don't know, I wouldn't have started watching him critically. (He banned me right when Coffeeandink claimed I had outed her, but before she changed the public posts on her LJ where she used her legal name. I suspect he was making a pre-emptive ban because I had cooties in the identitarian community—at the time, he was desperately making amends for having been skeptical about Racefail by giving time on his blog to the people who wanted to control the narrative.)
He's been helping to control the narrative ever since. The Orthodox Church of Heinlein is a fine example. Referring to Toni Weisskopf's The Problem of Engagement, he says, "I recommend you check it out for the full effect, but for those of you who won’t, here’s an encapsulation of the piece." Rhetorically, that's a beautiful piece of intellectual dishonesty—he's acknowledging the principle that reading what Weisskopf actually said is important while suggesting to the believers in "don't give google juice to the enemy" that they needn't bother, then by doing an "encapsulation" that's entirely his take on the argument, he's ensuring that anyone who does read the original will read it through the memory of his spin.
When I got that far, I saved the post, but I thought I would delete it later. I'm tired of identitarians. I just didn't want to give this example any more time.

But tonight I came across Rick Notes: Yet another fisking of John Scalzi and Toni Weisskopf. I generally agree with Boatwright, so I'm glad he saved me from having to write more.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

my new book, A Socialist Reader, free or 99 cents!

I made an ebook that's free at Smashwords and is currently 99 cents at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but will be free at those sites when they notice it's free at Smashwords and match the price.

Contents:
• A very short introduction by me 
• Two collections of my favorite quotes about socialism, sharing, and wealth, Quotes for Socialists and Socialist Quotes from the Great Religions
• The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
• Socialism, Scientific and Utopian by Frederick Engels 
• The Soul of Man Under Socialism by Oscar Wilde
Available:
• Amazon
• Barnes & Noble
• Smashwords

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bordertown sensibilities: Lindsey Stirling and Landfill Harmonic

Transcendence (Orchestral)- Lindsey Stirling - YouTube:

About Landfill Harmonic:

weird tricks for getting Smashwords to accept an epub made with Apple Pages

SmashWords is extremely useful and extremely tricky to deal with, at least for me. Making epubs with Pages for Amazon and Barnes & Noble is simple, but making epubs for SmashWords isn't. Here's what currently works for me:

1. Make the epub in Pages without a cover image.

2. Place the cover image in the epub using Calibre.

3. Unzip the epub file with ePub Zip/Unzip. (The Mac's usual unzipping tools will only create new problems.)

4. Open the folder you just created, find OPS/toc.xhtml, and open it with a text editor like TextEdit. Delete

<nav epub:type="toc" id="toc">
and

</nav>
5. Open titlepage.xhtml. Delete
preserveAspectRatio="none"
6. Save the changed files and rezip the folder with ePub Zip/Unzip.

Good luck!

Friday, March 14, 2014

RAINN: stop blaming "rape culture" and blame individuals—a post especially for social justice warriors

it's all one thing: RAINN: stop blaming "rape culture" and blame individuals—a post especially for social justice warriors

the primitive drumming of my people

Because St. Patrick's is coming up, the dance class did an Irish tune. I was, as usual, a little lost at the beginning, but I think I caught on reasonably well by the end of the song. It made me think about rhythms, and how people used to talk about "primitive" African drumming, which is actually extraordinarily complex—European rhythms are primitive.

If you want to research this, you could start at Polyrhythm - Wikipedia: "In traditional European ("Western") rhythms, the most fundamental parts typically emphasize the primary beats. By contrast, in rhythms of sub-Saharan African origin, the most fundamental parts typically emphasize the secondary beats. This often causes the uninitiated ear to misinterpret the secondary beats as the primary beats, and to hear the true primary beats as cross-beats. In other words, the musical "background" and "foreground" may mistakenly be heard and felt in reverse—Peñalosa (2009: 21)."

The cowardice of the "safe space" and the courage of engagement

I recently tweeted,
If Rosa Parks had been a social justice warrior, she would've demanded a safe space for people of color at the back of the bus.
I didn't think I had much else to say about safe spaces, but I just saw this comment from Brad R. Torgerson:
...the only winning move (with Scalzi and Whatever) is not to play.

It might be different if Scalzi ever stepped beyond his “safe space” in order to defend himself and his invective in an environment where he isn’t lord of the manor. But because Scalzi has created a “safe space” in which he never has to be made to feel demonstrably wrong for any length of time longer than it takes him to ban/deride a critic, he is not what I’d call an honest participant in the larger cultural, political, and philosophical debate. He needs his “safe space” too much.

Which is probably why most people (on Scalzi’s side of this) make such a noise about “safe spaces”, in all kinds of different arenas. They have concluded that any forum for interactivity that does not immediately affirm them — and all of their many smelly little orthodoxies and prejudices — is not “safe”, and therefore they will go to great lengths to whine about, pester, or attack, anyone who does not enable them in their need to be “safe.”
The safe space is an echo chamber, and nothing more.

Well, it can be a place for segregation, of course. I've been amused for years that WisCon is so racist that people of color need a safe space there. I recently saw this (click to biggen):

http://i.imgur.com/LAtXYUa.jpg

If I was a white racist on a college campus, I would be creating "a space for white folks to meet and work on racism, white supremacy, and white privilege" and put this sign up:


The shared sensibilities of segregationists remind me of Tom Metzger of the White Aryan Resistance addressing the Black Panthers:



He talks admiringly of Marcus Garvey and the Nation of Islam, and refers to the time the American Nazis spoke to NOI:


Call it a safe space if you want, but segregation is segregation. I pray I'll always choose dangerous spaces.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Race relations are low on the concerns of all Americans—a post especially for social justice warriors

it's all one thing: Race relations are low on the concerns of all Americans—a post especially for social justice warriors

on spoilers

Just left this comment at Why I refuse to watch movies without spoilers:
What spoilers spoil are the artist's intention of how the story should be revealed and the audience's initial experience of the art. Because I respect both of those things, I don't care how old something is—I won't spoil it. If you don't know what Oedipus Rex is about, read or watch it before someone rushes in to tell you. 
​The thing I hate most about people who spoil is their attitude. I'm not sure which are worse, the ones who're gleeful or the ones who're indifferent, but neither think it's wrong to deprive someone of an experience. 
That said, I believe in consensual activities, so if a spoiler and a person who likes to be spoiled find each other, I'm happy for both of them.

Race relations are low on the concerns of all Americans—a post especially for social justice warriors

I saw this rather hectoring article: The Only Thing Americans Worry About Less than Climate Change? Race Relations - The Wire. The writer, a white guy named Philip Bump, thinks the low ranking of race relations is a bad thing. Here are the priorities Gallup found:


I went looking for the original study and failed to find a break-out for white and black folks, so I'm guessing the results weren't very different. Pollsters usually mention wide divergences in subgroups. But I googled a bit and found Race Relations | Gallup Historical Trends, which has this:


So the answer is most white and black folks think race relations are good overall. I found a few more things I had suspected:

U.S. Blacks, Hispanics Have No Preferences on Group Labels—Black or African-American is just fine, as is Latino or Hispanic, and "people of color" is such a non-issue that it doesn't even appear on the list.

Fewer Blacks in U.S. See Bias in Jobs, Income, and Housing: "Older blacks are more likely to say differences are due to discrimination" A more precise statement would've been "older blacks and younger identitarians who attended expensive private schools" but the latter group only matters in the online warriorverse.

Standard disclaimer: No, this does not mean there's no more racism. It only means racial issues have improved greatly in my lifetime, and many of the talking points of social justice warriors aren't relevant offline.

ETA: An interesting point about the first graph. It does have a breakdown by Republicans and Democrats. This did surprise me: race relations are slightly more important to Republicans than to Democrats.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Four quotes about Guaranteed Income

“The solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” —Martin Luther King

"Will a guaranteed annual wage kill incentive among the poor? If a man is given a certain amount of security, won't he quit working? Exactly the same contention could be made about the sons of the wealthy who are left large fortunes. Yet the evidence suggests that, given economic freedom, people will generally choose to do that which interests them most. It is up to society to see that these interests are widened and that too requires investment." —Pierre Berton

"In the distribution, a certain minimum is first assigned for the subsistence of every member of the community, whether capable or not of labour. The remainder of the produce is shared in certain proportions, to be determined beforehand, among the three elements, Labour, Capital, and Talent.” —John Stuart Mill

“Some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and capacity to work, can be assured to everybody.”  —F. A. Hayek

SJWs think black women and gay men have nothing in common

More evidence that intersectionality is disconnectionality: The Daily Dot - Perez Hilton and the gay movement's racial politics

The Ninja Economist takes on your attacks over the (lack of a) gender gap in tech salaries - Quartz

The Ninja Economist takes on your attacks over the (lack of a) gender gap in tech salaries - Quartz: "I asked Goldin if we shouldn’t discuss a narrowing pay gap because it hurts women by minimizing the issues they face. She replied, “Facts are facts. Truth doesn’t hurt.” "

Matt Bruenig on Black and White Poverty

Why Paul Ryan Is Wrong to Blame Black Culture for Poverty | Demos: "As of 2012, black poverty is down 50 percent from its 1959 starting point while white poverty is down just 30 percent. The swing in percentage points is even more dramatic, with black poverty down 27.9 points and white poverty down just 5.4 points. The historical trend data don't support Paul Ryan's racist theory of poverty, but they do support a racism theory of it."

My feminism will be Minchin or it will be bullshit

The song, Confessions:


The intro to the song, which I recommend playing after the song:


Now, you could also say my feminism is Clara Zetkin's or Emma Goldman's. Here's Zetkin on the difference between socialist and bourgeois feminism:
...the liberation struggle of the proletarian woman cannot be, as it is for the bourgeois woman, a struggle against the men of their own class. She does not need to struggle, as against the men of her own class, to tear down the barriers erected to limit her free competition ... The end goal of her struggle is not free competition with men, but bringing about the political rule of the proletariat. Hand in hand with the men of her own class, the proletarian woman fights against capitalist society.
That's quoted in Tony Cliff: Clara Zetkin and the German Socialist Feminist Movement (Summer 1981), which does a nice job of pointing out that many male socialists have failed to live up to the goals implied in Engels' Origin of the Family.

Okay, I didn't mean to make this post at all serious. I just wanted to say I believe in politics that can laugh at itself, and never forgets that we're human animals before we're political animals, and human animals are hilarious.

Since I'm on feminism, I'll end with an Emma Goldman quote:
At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause. 
I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business. I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from convention and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement would not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. "I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody's right to beautiful, radiant things." Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world — prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own closest comrades I would live my beautiful ideal.
No, I'll end with an odd bit of tribute to Goldman:
)

Too many spammers, so no more anonymous commenting here, alas

But you can still make a burner G+ or OpenID account if you want to comment here without worrying that an SJW might take offense.

The Problem of Engagement by Toni Weisskopf

The Problem of Engagement — a guest post by Toni Weisskopf | According To Hoyt

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Based on Forbes' most powerful people, straight white males are not the definition of privilege now

From The World's Most Powerful People List - Forbes:

RankName/TitleOrganizationAge
1

Vladimir Putin

President

Russia61
2

Barack Obama

President

United States52
3

Xi Jinping

General Secretary, Communist Party

China60
4

Pope Francis

Pope

Roman Catholic Church77
5

Angela Merkel

Chancellor

Germany59

If you focus on political power, Putin's the only white male among the world's four most powerful leaders. If you include religious power, remember that to have the Pope's power, his sexuality must remain unknown—celibacy has no gender.

ETA: I was writing hastily above. Sure, you can be celibate and have a gender, and the Pope uses a male pronoun, so while I might argue that his job calls for him to be agender, if you think his gender is male, that's fine by me. But it's very odd to call him straight. It makes me wish someone would ask him how he identifies.

Monday, March 10, 2014

on hateful words and compassionate ones

Just left this comment at What Really Happens When You Use the R-Word | John C. McGinley: "Actually, "retard" and "retarded" are not always used as put-downs. They're only used as put-downs when they're used rhetorically as put-downs. If you do a little googling, you will find every other euphemism for people who are developmentally disabled being used as a put-down, including "developmentally disabled". Compassion is about compassion, not about the words we use. We can say the most insulting words with compassion and sound compassionate, and the nicest words with hatred and sound hateful."

On the list of things many people don't understand: the meaning of a word changes with its context. Black teens can call each other nigger and know there's only respect or affection behind it. Sneer at someone and say, "You and what army, sweetheart?" and you'll probably get hit.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A “brown” dancer responds to “Why I can’t stand white belly dancers”

NW Bellydance Source » A “brown” dancer responds to “Why I can’t stand white belly dancers”

quick thoughts on Heroes, Arrow, and Agents of SHIELD

Emma and I tried the first episode of Heroes a few years ago and only liked one character, Hiro. I'm not sure why we decided to try it again, but now we can't understand why we didn't like it. Though we still think Hiro's the greatest, it's a fine show so far—we're about halfway through the first year. I understand the next two years fall in quality, rather like Veronica Mars did, so I don't know if we'll stick it out. But the first year so far is damn fine work.

We nearly stopped watching Arrow at the end of season one, but we're enjoying it more now because they figured out something that the comic book, so far as I know, never did: If Green Arrow is Robin Hood, he needs his band of Merry Men. The TV show is doing a good job with that. Also, I have a man-crush on the guy playing Slade Wilson. And a different kind of crush on the actor playing Felicity.

Agents of SHIELD. Oh, Agents of SHIELD. How I wanted to love you. The only reason I'm watching one more is we're getting Sif, who deserves her own movie. Maybe the writing will turn around, but I'm not expecting it to. The show runners do not seem to remember the first rule of television: burn story. The show feels like it's run by fans, and not in a good way.

Let Justice Be Dumb

Let Justice Be Dumb | LEONARD PIERCE DOT COM: "Too much talk about economics might lead to a discomfiting realization of the existence of class — in one’s nation or, worse yet, in one’s own head.  Start talking about economics and you might wonder why you do all your protesting on an expensive machine built for you by virtual slave labor an ocean away, where the lessons of sexism and homophobia are too dearly learnt.  In a world built on degrees of intersectionality, it will not do to come to the realization that there are really only two groups that matter:  the owners and the owned."

Clara Zetkin, founder of International Women's Day, on solidarity

Clara Zetkin, socialism and women's liberation | SocialistWorker.org: "The proletariat will be able to attain its liberation only if it fights together without the difference of nationality and profession. In the same way, it can attain its liberation only if it stands together without the distinction of sex. The incorporation of the great masses of proletarian women in the liberation struggle of the proletariat is one of the prerequisites for the victory of the socialist idea and for the construction of a socialist society." —Clara Zetkin

ten places in the US where everyone should be talking about class



Saturday, March 8, 2014

The difference between sex and gender, especially for the trans athelete suing CrossFit

Transgender athlete sues CrossFit for banning her from female contest - CNN.com:
The lawsuit also alleges that CrossFit's policy of having to compete in a person's original birth gender, would require that transgender athletes would have to reveal their personal histories. In essence, that they'd have to "out" themselves, even if they sought privacy, the lawsuit alleges. After her sexual reassignment surgery, Jonsson changed all her records to reflect her sex change to female, including her birth certificate, according to her lawsuit. Jonsson kept her background a secret and did not identify herself as transgender, according to the complaint.
Your gender is a cultural construct, but your sex is not. Your gender is how society treats you—do you meet the cultural definition of a man or a woman? Your sex is how medical people treat you—for your health, they can't ignore your sex. You can change your gender, but you can't change your DNA.

So Chloie Jonsson's gender is female, but her sex is male, and she has male physiological advantages like greater upper-body strength that make it unfair for her to compete with cisgender women.

PS. I keep wondering if we'll give up on gender sometime soon. It seems less and less relevant.

Friday, March 7, 2014

my first Amazon review for my latest book

At Amazon.com: How to make a Social Justice Warrior, D. J. Anderson said,
Shetterly is a fascinating writer, and he covers a LOT of material here. He is consistently thought-provoking, and he is at his best here, struggling with complicated issues and walking through his thoughts and personal journey.
That's about as good as it can get.

Don't worry. I probably won't share any more. But that's a lovely one to start with.

My Social Justice Warrior book is done

Details: My book is done, and so am I

Thursday, March 6, 2014

feminists versus daughters

I am often struck by the extreme unpopularity of feminism today given that the vast majority of people support the traditional feminist goals of equal pay and equal respect. And then I think about the two recent scifi kerfuffles and the dismay of the daughters of Jonathan Ross and Sean Fodera, and I think I need wonder no more.

The Hugos, Jonathan Ross, His Family And Neil Gaiman

The Hugos, Jonathan Ross, His Family And Neil Gaiman - Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movies and TV News and Rumors

Neil Gaiman rounds on fans after Jonathan Ross withdraws from Hugo awards

Neil Gaiman rounds on fans after Jonathan Ross withdraws from Hugo awards | Books | theguardian.com

K. Tempest Bradford drove Jane Goldman off Twitter?

Tempest seems to be taking the credit in Community Responses To The Jonathan Ross Hugo Host Debacle – Part 1 | K. Tempest Bradford.

I agree with her that Seanan McGuire is nice, but I have to point out that nice people sometimes do bad things, and in this case, Seanan reacted knowing very little about the situation, so more people who knew little about the situation also responded. It's how flamewars work.

Tempest hasn't said anything specifically about white women's tears yet. Maybe she knows her audience will get that from what she has said.

ETA: Related: It really is time people stopped hating Jonathan Ross - Telegraph

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jonathan Ross’s wife Jane Goldman quits Twitter after online abuse

Jonathan Ross’s wife Jane Goldman quits Twitter after online abuse

Jane Goldman deletes Twitter account after family bombarded with abuse by sci-fi fans over Jonathan Ross hosting Hugo Awards

How Lego earned the wrath of the 'gender-neutral toys' crowd

How Lego earned the wrath of the 'gender-neutral toys' crowd - latimes.com: "The main market for the $4 billion company's traditional plastic bricks and mini-figures is boys. Certainly some girls enjoy making castles or skyscrapers out of the bricks, just like their brothers, but in 2011, Lego's market research boys found that 90% of Lego users were boys. And now, the company's attempt to address the disparity has outraged the sizable "gender-neutral toys" contingent."

Dogland made me who I am: a 45-second video

another must-read on Jonathan Ross and the Hugos

Let He Who Is Without Sin — Andrea Phillips: "The shift from "this person is doing something objectionable right now and we have to stop it," to "this person said some objectionable things some years in the past and so he's not welcome among us," is one that gives me great pause. You know who else has said some objectionable things in the past? Me. You know who else? You."

Belle Knox, aka the Duke University Porn Star

I was inspired to write by Elizabeth Stoker's This Duke University Porn Thing, which applies her version of Christian ethics, which I generally like, to the story of Belle Knox, the 18-year-old would-be porn star who has been outed and harassed at Duke University. Stoker made me want to look at the story simply as a socialist.

Like renting space in your womb or being a medical test subject, sex work is one of the purest forms of capitalism. The only ways you could more literally sell your body would be to sell your organs.

From the simplest socialist point of view, workers are united. Insulting a sex worker is no different than insulting a dock worker.

But there's also Marx's notion of alienation to consider. His idea is that our labor and our sense of self are separated when we work for someone else's profit rather than for what we think is fun or necessary. Which means porn stars are alienated in the most extreme sense. They're alienated from their bodies.

I watched a couple of Belle Knox's tapes. The fascinating and sad one claims to be her first interview to do porn—the real interview probably happened before, when she agreed to be on camera. The interviewer notices she cut herself in the past, and she says she did it because she thought she was fat. That moment changes the story from "this is a cute woman who likes rough sex" to "this is a human who has hurt her body in the past and is now selling it."

I won't draw an easy conclusion. But I want a world where no one wants to hurt themselves, and no one wants to make porn for any reason other than the love of making porn.

Update: Bully who outed Duke porn star has his porn preferences publicized | Bed Post | Creative Loafing Tampa

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Must-read on Jonathan Ross and the Hugo awards

New Statesman | Jonathan Ross and the Hugo awards: why was he forced out by science fiction's self-appointed gatekeepers?

Traffic Cop Dances Like a Boss!

Dance is changing my idea of female beauty

My standard for female beauty was probably set when I was ten or twelve and first saw Diana Rigg in The Avengers:



I don't mean racially. My standard for female beauty includes Michelle Yeoh:



and Pam Grier:



and Buffy Sainte-Marie:



and a great many women with dark hair and bodies that look tall and strong, on-screen, anyway. But since I've started dancing, I'm finding shorter and heavier women attractive too. I'm sure it's the effect Laci Green describes, the consequence of paying attention to more kinds of women:



It's a cliché, but the most attractive thing a person can do is smile. Right now, I'd say the second is dance. Dancing, like smiling, can be completely goofy and completely enchanting.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Faith of the Social Justice Warrior

This is the almost-final-draft of a section from a book about social justice warriors, identitarianism, and mobbing. For more information and links to other chapters, see How to Make a Social Justice Warrior.

"Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel." —Ambrose Bierce

"Rosa Parks didn't refuse to give up her seat to a white person so she could be chauffeured in a limousine. She just wanted to be treated the same." —Melissa Thompson, “Privileged Problems”

In hierarchal societies, religion comforts the exploiter and the exploited. It assures exploiters that if they observe the proper rites and treat the exploited with some consideration, they are good people who may enjoy the rewards of exploitation. It promises the exploited that if they observe the proper rites and serve their exploiters well, they are good people who may hope for better lives someday. Traditional religions for hierarchists were taught by priests in palaces, but the faith of the social justice warriors is taught by priests in ivory towers.

For social justice warriors, the most important act of faith is to check their privilege. Like Christians confessing their sins, they list their privileges to be absolved. Then warriors of privileged identities know their economic privilege is forgiven, and warriors of oppressed identities know their economic privilege is a just reward. In both cases, the effect is to make the economically privileged feel entitled to their economic privilege.

Like Buddhism, the way of the social justice warrior is nontheistic—it does not require a belief in any god. Like Unitarian Universalism, the way of the social justice warrior is pluralistic—it’s not restricted to any one religion. Like all religions, it has a founder who had disciples and apostles who never studied with him, but who promoted and transformed the faith—Derrick Bell’s most famous disciple is Kimberlé Crenshaw and his apostles include Tim Wise. It has articles of faith—all white people are racist and all men are sexist. It has sacred texts, the best-known being Peggy McIntosh’s “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”.

The only thing that separates the faith of the social justice warrior from all other religions, so far as I know, is that it uses different names when it addresses different issues. On race, it’s called Critical Race Theory or anti-racism. On sex, it’s third-wave feminism or intersectional feminism. Perhaps it should be called Anti-ism, because it constantly redefines itself by what it opposes in any given instance: anti-imperialism, anti-ageism, anti-ableism… Or perhaps it could simply be called Anti-privilege, though that would be as misleading as any other name since social justice warriors include capitalists and rarely address economic privilege.

The faith of the social justice warrior is not a universal faith. Like Anglicanism and Unitarian Universalism, it best serves the needs of the upper classes. It does not speak to white conservatives, but it soothes white liberals who see slavery, America’s "original sin", a sin of white people rather than a sin of rich people. As for black believers, Adolph Reed Jr. gave an example of one in an interview with Bill Moyers:

ADOLPH REED: …among the reasons that I know Obama's type so well is I've been teaching at elite institutions for more than 30 years. And that means that I've taught his cohort that came through Yale at the time that he was at Columbia and Harvard. I recall an incident in a seminar in black American political thought with a young woman who was a senior who said something in the class. I just blurted out that the burden of what she said seemed to be that the whole purpose of this Civil Rights Movement was to make it possible for people like her to go to Yale and then to go to work in investment banking. And she said unabashedly, well, yes, yes, and that's what I believe. And again, I didn't catch myself in time, so I just said to her, well, I wish somebody had told poor Viola Liuzzo before she left her family in Michigan and got herself killed that that's what the punch line was going to be, because she might've stayed home to watch her kids grow up.
BILL MOYERS: This was the woman who on her own initiative went down during the civil rights struggle to Selma, Alabama to join in the fight for voting rights and equality, and was murdered.
ADOLPH REED: Right, exactly. I'm not prepared to accept as my metric of the extent of racial justice or victories of the struggles for racial justice, the election of a single individual to high office or appointment of a black individual to be corporate CEO. My metric would have to do with things like access to healthcare—
BILL MOYERS: For everybody.
ADOLPH REED: For everybody, right.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

What identitarians don’t know about race and class

This is the almost-final-draft of a section from a book about social justice warriors, identitarianism, and mobbing. For more information and links to other chapters, see How to Make a Social Justice Warrior.

The history of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is a history of black people selling black people to white people, so if there should be racial guilt, the guilt should be shared. The US Congress has formally apologized for slavery. So have leaders of Benin, Ghana, and Cameroon. But you wouldn’t know that from talking with identitarians because it doesn’t fit neatly in a race-based narrative. Nor will you hear about rich black slaveowners in the US like William Ellison, who was part of the richest 1% of the Old South’s slaveowners. Pointing out these facts is not denying the extreme racism of the past—it’s only acknowledging that the history of racism is distorted when identitarians assume race and class are intersectional rather than interrelated.

A few facts about race and class in the US:

1. Poverty

“Four-fifths of us who work for salaries or wages make less than $20 an hour. This is a poor country. We're a nation of the working poor, and it's something that people don't want to acknowledge.” —Dale Maharidge

For most of my life, I would've guessed the worst poverty in the US was in Watts, Appalachia, or Mississippi, but The Economist’s “The Poorest Part of America” notes, “Virtually all of the 20 poorest counties in America, in terms of wages, are on the eastern flank of the Rockies or on the western Great Plain.” The race of the people in the poorest part of the US? “It is largely white. The area does include several pockets of wretched Native American poverty, but in most areas the poor are as white as a prairie snowstorm.”

Tony Pugh wrote in “U.S. economy leaving record numbers in severe poverty”, “Nearly two out of three people (10.3 million) in severe poverty are white, but blacks (4.3 million) and Hispanics of any race (3.7 million) make up disproportionate shares. Blacks are nearly three times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be in deep poverty, while Hispanics are roughly twice as likely.”

Regardless of race, Americans have very little hope of rising to a higher economic class. Economist Miles Cork found that among the major developed countries, only Italy and the United Kingdom have less economic mobility than the US.

2. The Death Penalty

If you believe the US is a classless society, race is clearly an enormous factor in the death penalty. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the racial percentages for people legally executed for murder since 1976 are:

BLACK: 34%
HISPANIC: 7%
WHITE: 57%
OTHER: 2%

The races of the victims:

BLACK: 14%
HISPANIC: 5%
WHITE: 79%
OTHER: 2%

The victims are fairly representative of the US population, but the murderers aren’t. Someone who only considers race would conclude blacks murder more than whites, and blacks are more likely to get the death penalty than whites.

But there are other factors. John McAdams said, “It is clearly the case that blacks who murder whites are treated more harshly than are blacks who murder blacks. This looks like racial disparity if you assume that the circumstances are similar in the two cases. Unfortunately, it's vastly unlikely that they are. Most murders are among people who know each other. Murders done by strangers are much more likely to be regarded as heinous than are murders growing out of domestic quarrels, drug deals gone wrong, and such. It might seem reasonable to compare the punishment received by blacks who murder whites with the treatment received by whites who murder blacks. Unfortunately, while black on white crime is relatively rare, white on black crime is even rarer. There simply isn't an adequate statistical base to allow us to generalize about whites who murder blacks, which pretty much leaves us to compare the way the system treats blacks who murder blacks with the way it treats whites who murder whites. When we do this, we find some fairly solid-looking evidence that the system is unfairly tough on white murderers -- or if you prefer, unfairly lenient on black murderers. But even this finding is one we have to be skeptical about. Is the average black on black murder quite similar to the average white on white murder? Or are there systematic differences?”

So what might cause systematic differences? We know the rich rarely face the death penalty, regardless of their race—OJ Simpson faced life imprisonment, not death. In 2005, I did these calculations:

From “Capital punishment in the United States”: “Approximately 58 percent of the defendants executed were white; 34 percent were black; 6 percent were Hispanic; and 2 percent were from other races.”

From “New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty FAQ”: “Ninety-five percent of defendants charged with capital crimes are indigent and cannot afford their own attorney to represent them.”

The racial breakdown of poverty in the USA:

Asian American: 2.92% (or 3%)
Black: 25.17% (or 25%)
Hispanic: 22.68% (or 23%)
non-Hispanic White: 49.23% (or 49%)

So, remembering that nearly everyone who's executed is poor, let's line this up:

Percentage of people in poverty who are white: 50%
Percentage of people executed who are white: 58%

Percentage of people in poverty who are black: 25%
Percentage of people executed who are black: 34%

Percentage of people in poverty who are Hispanic: 23%
Percentage of people executed who are Hispanic: 6%

Percentage of people in poverty who are Asian: 3%
Percentage of people executed who are "other": 2%

The white and black poverty-to-execution ratio may be high because there's more crime in cities—a higher percentage of the Latino poor is rural. Or maybe Latinos commit fewer crimes of the sort that result in execution. Either way, I'm comfortable concluding this: the death penalty is based on class, not race.

Looking for more evidence, I found Attorney General John Ashcroft’s conclusion from a government study, "There is no evidence of racial bias in the administration of the federal death penalty."

When I wrote about this in 2005, someone identified as Carl left this comment:

For the past 20+ years I’ve worked in the criminal justice system—the past 8 years for a criminal defense firm, and the 14 years before that as a court clerk—I’ve done more death penalty cases than I want to think about (very few attorneys or judges ever want to do even one, and once you’ve done one, you never want to do another—they’re brutal on everyone involved), and can honestly say that in my experience (in California—your state may be different), the vast majority of DP felons (and felons in general) tend to be poor, poorly educated, and not very bright in general, with very poor social and coping skills. While there are occasional exceptions, they are damned rare.

The only notable exception I worked on was a wealthy woman who went even more psycho (she was bizarre at first, and went completely around the bend when her husband dumped her in favor of Next Year’s Model), and murdered the ex and his new wife in their beds. That one showed up on TV, both in the news and in movies-of-the-week, and she managed to avoid the death penalty, where poorer killers were far more likely to get Death. (Yes—you can probably guess the name).

In my experience (and hers, and OJ’s), money plays a far greater role than ethnicity.

3. The Drug War

"Most prisoners report incomes of less than $8,000 a year in the year prior to coming to prison. A majority were unemployed at the time of their arrest." —Paul Wright, Prison Legal News

"The primary reason for this massive number of black men in jail is the War on Drugs. Therefore, if the War on Drugs were terminated, the main factor keeping race-based resentment a core element in the American social fabric would no longer exist. America would be a better place for all." —John McWhorter, "How the War on Drugs is Destroying Black America"

Drug War Facts gives this picture for drug offenses: "Of the 250,900 state prison inmates serving time for drug offenses in 2004, 133,100 (53.05%) were black, 50,100 (19.97%) were Hispanic, and 64,800 (25.83%) were white."

While the drug war is racially disproportionate, class still matters. From “Racial, Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the US Federal Courts”, a 2001 study by David Mustard: “Having no high school diploma resulted in an additional sentence of 1.2 months. Income had a significant impact on the sentence length. Offenders with incomes of less than $5,000 were sentenced most harshly. This group received sentences 6.2 months longer than people who had incomes between $25,000 and $35,000.”

According to “The rich get richer and the poor get prison”,  “Among those entering prison in 1991, about 70 percent earned less than $15,000 a year when they were arrested, and 45 percent didn’t have a full-time job. One in four prisoners is mentally ill, and 64 percent never graduated from high school.”