Thursday, September 18, 2014

Clemson Requires Students to Respond to Poll Concerning Sexual History Or Face Disciplinary Action

If this madness were emanating from the right, faculty everywhere would be deploying torches and pitchforks...  But it's emanating from roughly the left...so...don't hold your breath on that pitchfork thing...

FIRE And Donations Thereto

FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, is a great organization.

Here's where to donate, if you are so inclined.

Sullivan: Back To The Bush Years...?

At The Dish:
My own dismay (even bewilderment) at the current mood in America may well be because I was largely off-grid in August. But it’s still a truly remarkable shift. In a month, the entire political landscape has reverted to Bush-Cheneyism again. I honestly thought that would never happen, that the grisly experience of two failed, endless wars had shifted Americans’ understanding of what is possible in the world, that the panic and terror that flooded our frontal cortexes from 9/12 onward would not be able to come back with such a vengeance. I was clearly wrong. Terrorism does not seem to have lost any of its capacity to promote total panic among Americans. The trauma bin Laden inflicted is still overwhelming rationality. It would be harder to imagine a more stunning success for such a foul mass murder.
The party that was primarily responsible for the years of grinding, bankrupting war, a descent into torture, and an evisceration of many core liberties is now regarded as superior to the man originally tasked with trying to recover from that experience. The political winds unleashed by a few disgusting videos and a blitzkrieg in the desert have swept all before them. And we now hear rhetoric from Democratic party leaders that sounds close to indistinguishable from Bush or Cheney...
 Worth a read, I say.

"Social Justice" Hysteria: Women Are Helpless: Rape Whistle Edition

[Forgot to link to this ad from a campus newspaper somewhere.]

Two aspects of current leftist (i.e.: lefter-than-liberal) delusions about rape go like this:
(1) It is logically impossible for women to do anything to lower their probability of being raped.
(2) If you in any way suggest that (1) is false, you are "blaming the victim."
But both (1) and (2) are false--clearly, unequivocally, undoubtedly false.
DoJ statistics show conclusively that (1) is false. Resisting rape attempts (even, apparently, by simply doing things like shouting loudly) is effective in stopping rape.
As is so often the case, confusions like those in the ad on the other end of the link glance off of the truth. Here is something a good ad might have said:
Having and distributing rape whistles might possibly give some people the wrong idea.
For example, it might suggest to some that most rapes are committed by strangers; but that isn't true.
That would be ok. I'm not sure it needs to be said, but there's not a damn thing wrong with saying it. And it might help. It's not obligatory to say those things, but it'd be fine.
However:
Having and/or distributing rape whistles (or carrying or distributing pepper spray, or participating in or giving self-defense classes, etc.) does not in any way suggest that "the targeted person is primarily responsible for their assault." First, even if it did suggest partial responsibility, there is nothing whatsoever that suggests primary responsibility. Second: no responsibility is suggested at all, of course. Selling burglar alarms in no way suggests that homeowners are responsible--much less "primarily" responsible--for break-ins. Installing seat belts in cars in no way suggests that accident victims are responsible for their injuries. And so on. 
This ad is terrible. It's terribly confused--and confused in a way that is currently fashionable/rampant on the left and among leftier liberals. It's motivated by the false beliefs (1) and (2). And, furthermore, it exhibits a willingness to sacrifice the lives and well-being of real people on the alter of dogmatic ideology. (1) and (2) have become dogma on the left, and denying them often generates vicious, irrational denunciations in response. These are falsehoods that threaten to actually misinform women in a way that might actually increase their odds of being raped.
This confusion and ideological madness is just one part of the neo-PC/SJW madness that is metastasizing on the left. Crazy views bolstered by bad reasoning, dogmatic refusal to listen to or even tolerate criticism, and a kind of moral/ideological fanaticism are now rampant in certain sectors of the political spectrum--and spreading. Confusions about so-called "cultural appropriation," attempts to re-define 'racism' and 'sexism' so that it is literally impossible for non-whites to racist and women to be sexist, indiscriminate claims about the so-called "social construction" of, well, everything under the sun, attempts to broaden/weaken the concept of rape in ideologically-driven ways that classify even things like consensual sex between intoxicated people as rape...and on and on. 
Under the rubric--the misnomer--"social justice," the lefter-than-liberal, neo-PC left is promoting irrational, unjust, illiberal positions--and, as during the paleo-PC madness of the '90's--many liberals are falling for it. Liberals should be rejecting these positions because they are irrational, unjust, and illiberal. But, in case that doesn't motivate you, you might also note that the more liberalism allows itself to be influenced/infected by the irrational, illiberal left, the more reasonable people will be driven to the right. That's what happened during the paleo-PC madness, and that's what will happen again if the madness is allowed to spread.
I've often thought that American liberals are particularly helpless against the illiberal left because it's fairly scarce here. We're used to fighting a conservatism that seems to have become unhinged that we are used to pointing all our weapons in that direction, and falsely see everyone on our end of the spectrum as allies. But illiberalism is illiberalism and irrationalism is irrationalism, right or left. The nouveau PCs are not liberal, and they are not our allies.
The rape ad is just a small thing, but it's a small instance of a big problem.

[Also forgot to address the main text of the ad above:
"The only use for a rape whistle is: if you're about to rape someone, blow the whistle." This is a reference to the current delusion common among the SJWs and leftier feminists, that all anti-rape messages/information should be directed at possible perpetrators of rape and none at possible victims. These are policy implications of (1) and (2) (above)...]

What To Call ISIS/ISIL/The Islamic State

Apparently the best term for these jackasses is DAIISH.

The reason for using this term: they hate it so much that they've threatened to cut out your tongue if you use it.

LOL.

That's so DAIISH.

"So Help Me God" No Longer Required In Air Force Oath

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Krauthammer: Obama Thinks He's So Great

Wow, this is really embarrassing, even by the standards of Chucky K...

Climate Denialism In TX Textbooks

U.S. Intelligence Services Remain Uncertain About Danger Posed By ISIL

Monday, September 15, 2014

SJWs: More Annoying That Sam Harris

link

It's his account of the interactions...but they ring true...

Terrorist Force Multipliers: Lindsay Graham: Will ISIL Kill Us All?

link

For a bunch of people who seem to consider themselves hard, the GOP/Fox "News" axis of crazy sure is easily frightened. I mean

Though, to be fair, I saw the same kind of thing toned down a notch or so on CNN. Before making the mistake of turning on cable news, I had not realized how terrified we all are of ISIL. So see? You can learn stuff by watching that stuff...

Though, of course, Graham's real target is the real enemy of America: Barack Obama. The point of the tirade is really: Obama isn't handling this right; Obama is bad. It is, of course, crucial to make this point as often and as dramatically as possible. If you've got to help out ISIL to do so...well...the enemy of my enemy...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Return of Sex-Negative Feminism

Meet the new boss...

One of the many things the far right and the far left have in common: they frown upon sex, sexual pleasure and eroticism, and think you have to justify them in moral/political terms if you're going to insist on enjoying them.

Michelle Goldberg on The Return Of the Anti-Liberal Left

This, too, is very good, IMO.

Michelle Goldberg: Feminism's Toxic Twitter Wars

This is really, really good.

The main point: as web feminism becomes more radical, it has become more vicious.

Here's just one paragraph:
Online, however, intersectionality is overwhelmingly about chastisement and rooting out individual sin. Partly, says Cooper, this comes from academic feminism, steeped as it is in a postmodern culture of critique that emphasizes the power relations embedded in language. “We actually have come to believe that how we talk about things is the best indicator of our politics,” she notes. An elaborate series of norms and rules has evolved out of that belief, generally unknown to the uninitiated, who are nevertheless hammered if they unwittingly violate them. Often, these rules began as useful insights into the way rhetorical power works but, says Cross, “have metamorphosed into something much more rigid and inflexible.” One such rule is a prohibition on what’s called “tone policing.” An insight into the way marginalized people are punished for their anger has turned into an imperative “that you can never question the efficacy of anger, especially when voiced by a person from a marginalized background.”
Several of the top comments are also really good.



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Amanda Marcotte: Christina Hoff Sommers Is Public Feminist Enemy #1

link

Marcotte is an idiot.

Sommers, on the other hand, is pretty great.

If there were more feminists like Sommers and fewer like Marcotte, I'd still think of myself as one.

The funniest thing about this is that Marcotte's claim that Sommers "works tirelessly against equal rights for women" isn't even minimally plausible. If Marcotte had said that Sommers has the wrong conception of feminism or whatever, she might at least be able to make a token argument for the claim. But, since Sommers is obviously far more committed to genuinely equal rights than Marcotte, this article shows itself up for what it really is: an incoherent shriek against Sommers.

I mean, the mere fact that Sommers takes the top spot should tell you something about what Marcotte is up to here.

But here's one of the thing the insanity on the left is doing to liberalism: it's trying to eliminate the possibility of non-culpable disagreement. This is a ploy favored by extremists left and right: disagree with the orthodoxy, and you are a counter-revolutionary thought-criminal...

That web liberalism happily counts someone like Marcotte as one of its voices says a lot about the disastrous trajectory it's on.

[Bonus!: If Sommers approves of you, then you're a misogynist! (via /r/Tumblrinaction)]

Has Gawker Achieved Peak Stupid? Or: Why You Are Evil If Your Actions Contribute To The Arrest Of Your Mugger

If this is not satire--and I fear that it isn't--then I think that it may literally be the stupidest thing I have ever read in my life.

This would normally be called 'victim-blaming' by places like Gawker...

Wonder what's different about this case?

The stupid runs rampant in the land...

(h/t /r/Tumblrinaction)

George Zimmerman, At It Again?

Boy, George Zimmerman seems dedicated to making sure that I keep getting wronger and wronger about the Treyvon Martin case...

I never did really explain why I switched over to the Zimmerman is probably innocent side...  But boy, was I wrong.

It seems clearer and clearer that the guy is a freaking psycho.

(via Inside Carolina)

Also:

George Zimmerman, gun-show hero.

Oh man. That makes you ashamed to be human.

California's Water Shortage (Remember: OVERPOPULATION IS NOT A PROBLEM)

not good

(via Inside Carolina)

The Loneliness Of the Social Justice Warrior / The Leftist Threat To Liberalism

For the love of God, American liberalism...it's not too late...

Don't go down this path...

This is the political correctness debacle part deux.

Although, by the standards of this stuff, this letter is pretty tame, it still represents mindless, brainless moral fanaticism. In some cases, it's moral fanaticism about issues that are, in their non-fanatical form, worthy (e.g. anti-racism, anti-sexism). In other cases, it's moral fanaticism about insane, fabricated sins (e.g. "cultural appropriation").

Like the PC fiasco, this is, in a way, a test of liberalism. To what degree will it allow itself to be swayed by this irrational, illiberal movement? Sadly, the answer is: at least to some non-zero degree...

I wonder whether this is some kind of weird balancing effect...  Just as the American right seems to have become so irrational that a massive backlash against it seems unavoidable...madness emerges on the left wing of American liberalism...

In my experience, it doesn't take much left-crazy to balance out a whole bunch of right-crazy...  It might be that the U.S. is just a lot more used to/tolerant of craziness on the right. OTOH, speaking for myself, I seem to find left-wing craziness more inherently nauseating than right-wing craziness. Perhaps that's unreasonable...or perhaps my friend McCarthy is right when he says "the right just wants you to behave...the left wants your soul..." I value my right to misbehave...but I value my soul (my metaphorical soul, that is) more. Right-wing crazy I kinda sorta understand, and accept as part of the human condition: sit down, shut up, toe the line, greed, God, guns, conformity, nationalism...  Left-wing crazy comes with theories...  Creepy, creepy theories...  The cult of culture, the social construction of reality, Worfian linguistic determinism, queer theory, critical theory, "theory" theory, neo-Marxist views about class struggle, feminist epistemology...and on and on...  It's the difference between fighting a Neanderthal and fighting a demented religious lunatic who aims to kidnap you and brainwash you until there's no you anymore... The former might be more dangerous--even much more dangerous--in bottom-line terms...but god damn that latter one is much more sinister...

Should The World Fantasy Awards Be Named After/Representations Of (Big Fat Racist) H. P. Lovecraft?

Warning: this is a link to Salon.com.  But it's actually a pretty good post, IMO.

Lovecraft was--and this is undeniable--a big fat racist.

And, as the author points out, no one seems to be arguing that we shouldn't read him.

But it's not clear that the World Fantasy Awards should be representations of him (and, hence, informally named after him).

As the author notes, there are a lot of people the statue could be modeled after...and, of course, it doesn't have to be modeled after any particular person at all.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kevin Drum: A Wee Question About That Residual Force Everyone Keeps Blathering About

Did The Rabid Right Force Obama To Over-React To ISIS/ISIL?

It goes without saying that I'm merely an interested layperson with respect to such topics, and my opinions should carry virtually no weight.

And this isn't even an opinion. It's more like a worry...

But I was actually rather more happy with pre-speech Obama than post-speech Obama, at least in the sense that I thought degrade was a more reasonable goal than destroy with respect to ISIS / ISIL.

Don't get me wrong. I hate those guys. I wanted to see us degrade the shit out of them. Degrade them into dark stains on the sand...  But...pledging to destroy them, I worry, is a whole different ballgame.

It isn't clear to me that they are the kind of threat that warrants this reaction.

They're evil--that's clear. And I'm inclined toward humanitarian interventions... But we simply spent too much capital of all kinds on the Iraq debacle, and you can only do what you can do.

But the Republicans are playing their preferred role as terrorist force multipliers, pumping up the threat...and doing so, of course, as a means to destroy their real target, Obama...

The media is helping, as is its wont. I turned on CNN after the speech (of course I know better...) and, of course, there was much shrieking and weeping and fear mongering...  Americans are afraid!!!!!111 we were told...  Which...does not seem right to me. I'm not afraid...  I don't know anyone who is afraid...  I'm concerned...but...that's different...

We seem to have a system that is rigged to err on the side of overreaction. This system is, I believe, set up/sustained mostly by the right. Their tendency to over-use the military, and to politically attack any Democrat who doesn't over-use the military...well, it's like we're swimming in a strong current that's always sweeping us toward the use of force. It's possible to resist it in the short term, on occasion...but there's no resisting the overall bias it imparts onto our decisions.

I've been worried of late about the rise of the loony "social justice" (note: not actual social justice) left, and liberals' general refusal to oppose it. But there's no doubt that the loony right remains a much more powerful, must more immediate threat...

Among the many astonishing things I witness on CNN the other night was the spectacle of a rabid, almost unhinged John McCain spewing anti-Obama vitriol masquerading as an analysis of the situation in Iraq. His tirade was so misleading as to nearly count as lying...but, since his goal was to try to make the ISIS/ISIL problem look like Obama's fault rather than Bush's, truth was beside the point. Jay Carney should have called him a liar to his face...but my guess is that he didn't want to lose his new gig on CNN, and he soft-pedaled his response...

It seems to me that we're facing a full-court press by the GOP aimed at getting us to do something stupid--the GOP's forte, it sometimes seems to me.

And I worry that Obama is just worn down. Six years of rabid, non-stop, relentless, unhinged attacks on everything he has done--even the things the GOP formerly agreed with--combined with an unusually challenging set of events in the rest of the world have beaten him down and forced him to fight a kind of delaying action against the forces that besiege him. The GOP's efforts to crush him have been aided by bad luck with respect to foreign policy, and he's retreated from his saner position with respect to ISIL: go slow, wait and see, degrade them as possible, open up opportunities for other people to kick their asses or for them to implode...has been replaced with a more aggressive, but perhaps less reasonable approach.

Honestly, I worry more about the derangement of the GOP than I worry about ISIL. ISIL is bad, but they're just one thing. A deranged GOP pushes us relentlessly to make bad decisions on a whole range of issues. And I worry they may have pushed Obama in a bad direction in this case.

This is not supposed to be excuse-making for the President. My point here is that I worry--though it's a mere layperson's worry--that he's moved in the wrong direction, whatever excusing circumstances there might be.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ta-Nehisi Coates: What We Mean When We Say 'Race Is a Social Construct'

link

I like Coates's work a lot, and there's stuff to like even about this piece. But it comes down to basically the same fallacious arguments that always populate attempts to convince people that race is "socially constructed."

First, of course, "socially constructed" is a disaster as a term/concept. At best its ambiguous as between almost opposite meanings, at worst it's not even clear enough to be determinately ambiguous. "x is socially constructed" is sometimes used, very roughly, to mean we made x, and sometimes used to mean we made x up...but more often it's used by people who don't quite mean either thing, but slide back and forth between the meanings--indiscriminately or tactically...

Second, there's the some people who believe that race is real also believe racist things argument. This is obviously fallacious, so there's no need to discuss it.

Third, there's a cluster of arguments about vagueness, continuua and changing beliefs. Are the Jews a race? Are the white? Are the Irish a race? Or what?  But the fact that opinions about race have changed is no more an argument for the unreality of race than is the fact that ideas about species have changed an argument for the unreality of species. Arguments from difference of opinion are always weak arguments (though sometimes not entirely weightless). And frequently a bad strategy to try to extrapolate from borderline cases. Look at the clearest cases first--that's sound advice.

To cut to the chase: Are there any real, physical, racial distinctions?

The answer is obvious when the question is asked correctly. Of course there are real, physical differences between Norwegians and Nigerians, Jews and Japanese. It should tell you something about the contemporary left that they are willing to deny a plain fact that everyone knows on the basis of an abstruse theory that barely makes sense. It's a very bad sign when a group is willing to deny plain facts for political ends...

Anyone who denies that there are such differences is welcome to take this bet: take 100 randomly-selected Swedes. Call this group A. Take 100 randomly-selected Sudanese. Call this group B. An average person will be able to tell, at a rate better than chance, which group is from where.

It is utter madness that anyone is having this discussion at all.

The core problem, to my mind, however, is the first problem, the radical, debilitating unclarity of "socially constructed." Begin with a defective concept, and the rest of the conversation will be infected, and defective.

Coates tries to deal with the obvious objection, but, sadly, ends up simply falling into confusion again, writing:
Race clearly has a biological element -- because we have awarded it one.
This may be begging the question by covertly asserting that biology, too, is "socially constructed," or it may be some other kind of confusion...it's almost impossible to tell. But it couldn't be clearer that this response to the biology objection does not work. The differences between groups we are talking about has nothing to do with anything we "awarded" them. They were there before anyone ever thought of them or discussed them. And if you wiped out all our history and all our memories, it wouldn't be long before we noticed them again. If Martians contact us tomorrow, it won't be long before they notice the differences. And that is because the differences in question are real.

There are some real, physical, biological differences between groups of humans. These differences typically correspond to the differences we call racial ones. Humans think a lot of crazy things about race, but nobody is trying to say that everything anyone has ever thought about race is true. All sorts of beliefs about race have been false, and not a few have been pernicious.

But none of that means that there are no real, physical differences between groups of humans.

So: is race "socially constructed"? The question makes little sense because "socially constructed" makes little sense. But, to the extent that the question does make sense, the answer is clearly no.

Conservative Bias In Texas Textbooks

link
Texas students may soon be reading in their history textbooks that the American system of democracy was inspired by Moses, segregated schools weren’t all that bad and taxes imposed for programs like Social Security haven’t measurably improved society.
There is nothing I can say about that that does not involve a lot of words I shouldn't use in this venue.

Funniest line:

“If anything in politics can move a crowd, it’s holding up an American history book that diminishes the role of the Founding Fathers and Ronald Reagan." 

One of these things, my friends, is not like the others...

Texas history textbooks have been a battleground for years, so this is nothing really new. But it's still a scandal. 

Oh and: an explicable one:
...the Texas Freedom Network issued a press release complaining that just three of the 140 reviewers on the state panel are current faculty members at Texas colleges and that some individuals, such as a used-car-salesman-turned-pastor, seem to have few qualifications for the job. At the same time, several academics with more qualifications were rejected, “a clear sign that for the state Board of Education, years of study and teaching do not count,” said Edward Countryman, a history professor at Southern Methodist.