The Space that Divides Us


History is the autobiography of a mad man – Alexander Herzen

divisive

2016 is proving to be quite the divisive year.  With Donald Trump’s far right pandering and Bernie Sander’s constant democratic socialist message there is quite a bit of space between the leading Republican nominee and an insurgent, but clear #2 on the Democratic side. The 2016 race aside, other sociopolitical groups have popped up like Black Lives Matter, Social Justice Warriors, and 3rd wave feminists that have found a home on many college campuses to combat injustices (real or imagined) they see in society.

With that as a backdrop, the University of Massachusetts’s college Republicans hosted a panel session several months ago about how far political correctness has gone and whether or not it hurts the freedom of speech. The panel included feminist author and philosophy professor Christina Hoff Sommers (whom I’m a huge fan of) Britbart (a conservative publication) editor Milo Yiannopoulos who is also a British, flamboyant homosexual, and Trump supporter, and conservative comedian Steven Crowder. While Sommers is an academic, Yiannopoulos and Crowder are professional provocateurs and were heavy with the insults. The video was dubbed “The Triggering” so that may give you a hint of what happened.

With “PC (political correct) culture” as the topic Yiannopoulos and Crowder where aggressive in their examples of how PC culture hurts the freedom of speech and Sommers took a more scholarly route. Their discussion proved infinitely more interesting by the constant interrupting and insult throwing from the crowd, which ironically was the problem they were addressing. They were being shouted down by people who were not part of the College Republican organization and insulted because their views differed from the social justice warrior crowd. While I detested many of their views, particularly Yiannopoulos and Crowder’s I certainly supported their right to say them and present them, they were invited after all to do this. They could have just sat their and said nothing and proved their point that many of the protesters were blocking their free speech in an attempt to make everything politically correct, but it actually was a fairly interesting video.

This event, and the reaction to it is a small microcosm of what you see played out in a grand stage in America, and it’s only happened on a large scale in the past 5 years or so. Terms like “cis-gendered” “white male privilege” “the patriarchy” “Trigger Warnings” and “Safe Spaces” were not terms in the common vernacular in 2010. Now they are common place in some different groups, mainly on college campuses. I don’t want to parrot the video too much but I agree with the panelists and say the main reason for this are ultra-liberal views are being coddled and reinforced by certain professors instead of being challenged, which is what is supposed to happen to your views in college. But I digress, this post isn’t about the video.

The folks who perpetuate these views are not doing so because they are bad people, in fact they are doing it out of a seemingly noble cause. They want people to not be hurt. They want to eliminate racism, and sexism, and otherisms, which is a great. However, instead of debating ideologies or ideas that perpetuate those discrimination they simply wish to silence them, becoming regressive instead of progressive. This is harmful on 2 fronts:
1. Being silenced doesn’t make anything go away or change anyone’s mind it only entrenches people more and have the silenced side gain more sympathetic ears because they are the ones who were wronged.
2. It hurts your view. People who may have been interested in learning more from a debate have been robbed of that chance. People who share your views may start to abhor your tactics and your “side” suddenly shrinks

#2 is certainly what happened to me. As I’ve said many times on here I’m a progressive person, I certainly want to eliminate racism, and sexism, and anything else that divides people, but the thing I see dividing people the most is this massive attempt at censorship over anything that may hurt people’s feelings. The TV show South Park may hurt other people’s feelings but if people like watching it, it should exist. People who don’t can simply change the channel and I will always hold freedom of expression and speech over someone being offended, and will forever hold myself to the notion that “While I may detest what you say, I will defend to my death for your right to say it”

But of course the social justice crowd is not without their foils. On the other side you have actual bigots, and sexists and with the rise of Donald Trump, and they are all coming out of the woodwork. Some of his rhetoric includes banning the immigration of Muslims, walling off Mexico and making Mexicans pay for it, calling many of the former terrorists, and the later rapists… And this is the guy that beat 16 other challengers for the nomination of a major political party.

It’s a stark and almost comical contrast when you have on one side a large group of people who’s number 1 interest is protecting the rights of women and minorities and people of the LGBT community, who want people to check their privilege and really think about what they say as to not to offend anyone. While on the other you have people attending massive rallies to see what casually sexist, off the cuff remark a presidential candidate is going to make next. This is a man who is not only loved for saying offensive and aggressive things but advocates his followers “beat the crap” out of those who protest and have a different point of view than him. This is the same type of censorship you see with the social justice warriors, who on occasion have threatened and actually assaulted people who have attended events where the speaker is conservative.

While there are still people who don’t belong to either extreme, these people are shrinking as each side grows louder. Sometimes tribe mentality is too strong. But these too sides are obviously incorrigible. One side wants everyone to be sensitive to the emotions of everyone else and the other goes out of its way to offend people. If there was a neutral person, each side may be able to get them to understand their point of view. However, if a social justice warrior tried to get a Trump supporter to understand what a trans-gendered person is would be a major hurdle, and even if they were successful explaining that, going to the next level of explaining why the trans-gendered bathroom laws are bad would be more than they could take. In contrast a social justice warrior will stick their fingers in their ears until a Trump supporter finished his rationale about how immigrants are mostly criminals. It has reached a point past debate.

The divide first started with President Obama when congressional Republicans wanted him to fail and be a 1 term president because (depending on which side your on) “he didn’t want to work with Republicans” or “he’s black” and it’s only gotten worse from there. From having leaders openly rooting for our leader to fail, to shutting down the government, and the rise of the tea party and PC culture we’ve become more of a divisive nation that any time in recent memory. With Donald Trump heading into the GOP convention and colleges that are now graduating pro PC college students the space that divides us is bigger than ever.

Social Justice Lupus


History is the autobiography of a mad man – Alexander Herzen

tumblr_social_justice_by_lionsilverwolf-d5hz26z

The issue of social justice has been an area of concern for me ever since I watched a CNN special called “Sun down Towns,” when I was 17 in 2007. It explained how there are still some small towns in the south and the mid west where it is considered “unsafe” for black people to be out after dark. It explained the system of segregation and discrimination that is tolerated and perpetuated by the whites of town and shocked me.

At the time though, all I had known was a diverse middle and high school in a diverse city in the most diverse state (per capita) in the country. Diversity was all I had known so racism and other “isms” I naturally assumed were a things only found in textbooks, and that we, as a people had gotten past race. Then, starting with the documentary came Barack Obama’s campaign for presidency, where I started to see real racism for the first time in my life.

I decided then, that social justice would become a cause that I would take up, study, and if the opportunity arose advocate.

It appears I wasn’t the only one. Flash forward 8 years to 2015. “Social Justice” has now become a brand or a catch phrase. It’s become different things to different people, and what was once seen as a noble or even rebellious thing to advocate for has become mainstream and irritating.

Nowadays anything can be seen as “oppressive” if looked at the right way. Even the song “Baby it’s cold outside” which albeit can be a little sketchy has been rethought as a rape crime scene than a girl playing hard to get. A debate that seems to come up every Christmas season. In reality social injustice is at an all time low, while social justice “warriors” have been at an all time high. Not to say that injustice isn’t happening, because it is but if injustice is a disease then all the new social justice warriors have become lupus. Finding and fighting it everywhere.

This was seen no more predominantly than with the election of Obama and in the Michael Brown case.

When Obama was elected I can remember soundbites of people calling him all sorts of names (Tyrant, Muslim, atheist, socialist, Nazi, anti-christ) along with a host of racial slurs. These things are obviously wrong and these people shouldn’t be acknowledged or taken seriously.

But then there are people with legitimate gripes with the president.
An unprecedented use of drones causing potential innocent casualties
Not ending the patriot act
Not closing gitmo
NSA spying
A potential war with Syria
among others

And because of the real racism that’s been shown. Some who advocate for social justice became lazy and labeled anyone who had a problem with the president as a “racist,” which really cheapens the word. As if over night a racist became a person who disliked a race to someone who disliked someone of another race. It’s not been something I’ve been called or called others because I reserve it for people who are truly despicable, which fortunately are few.

Causes are taken up by social justice warriors every so often in the news. It seems like every couple months a tragedy happens and people align with a killer or the killed as they trade character assassinations and defenses. It happens so often it plays out like a script.

1. Black teen is killed by someone not black
2. Everyone despises killer
3. Evidence comes out killer may have defended himself
4. Evidence comes out the black teen may not be so innocent
5. Debate ensues. Usually conservatives defend the killer while liberals defend the killed

This was seen first with Trayvon Martin, which I wrote about earlier and no one will ever know exactly why the altercation took place or what exactly happened.

And more recently seen with Michael Brown, with more evidence. It’s clear Michael Brown (who is a giant person) assaulted (or attempted to) a cop and was shot. It’s a split second decision he had to make. I’m not defending either person. People holding up officer Darren Wilson like he’s a hero are wrong. But also people holding up Michael Brown as well. A case of poor decisions on both sides but not a case of injustice.

Cases after of Tamir Rice and Eric Gardener show actual cases of injustice that should be held up more.

But it’s more than just race relations. Privilege and the necessity to “check it” are other terms that have been thrown out by the SJ crowd. White privilege and male privilege are both something I benefit from. It’s pretty undeniable that white guys have it better than anyone else, now or at any other point in time. But telling someone to “check their privilege” (which ironically I have been told to do) is something that shuts down debate. Just like calling someone a racist because he doesn’t like one black guy because that guy was mean to him.

There’s actual injustice and there are actual racists and actual sexists and actual people who lack empathy because they can’t acknowledge how good they have it. I still consider myself a social justice advocate because it’s still needed in a bad way. But when a “movement” (I guess you would call it) is hijacked by people who use callouts, shut downs, and shaming as a way to show their POV instead of debate fail at their goals of change.

I could tell one of my students that they wrote an essay wrong and yell at them, shame them and mock them. But then they’re going to fail again. But showing why they are wrong will help them and help those who they write to in the future. Instead of telling someone to “educate yourself” or to “check your privilege” use nuance, patience, and tolerance (even of intolerance) to show you have the moral ground that you claim to have. Without it, you can be just as bad as the people you rail against.

Purple Penguins and Porn


History is the autobiography of a madman – Alexander Herzen

purple-penguin

When I was in 2nd grade Santa Claus came to class. (No this is not a Christmas post) Needless to say the other kids and I were super excited. We got to grill him about which mall Santa was the “real” Santa and which ones was his helpers. We also got to tell him what we wanted for Christmas. I think I wanted an N64 that year, which was brand new at the time. We were all sitting at his feet as he sat down when he got to a girl in my class. Her name was Olivia and she didn’t look the most “feminine.” I had always felt sorry for her. Her little sister was friends with my sister who had long blonde hair and blue eyes. Olivia had a bull haircut (not sure by choice or not) and a deep voice (even for a 7 year old) Santa looked at her and said “And what would you like for Christmas little boy!?” Olivia paused and looked at him, got angry and growled “I’m a girl!”

Well needless to say there was an awkward pause in the room and we all knew this guy clearly wasn’t a real Santa Claus now because he couldn’t even figure out that the girl he was talking to was in fact a girl. I forget what happened next but I knew he “had to go” quickly thereafter. Olivia’s dad got a job in another state and I haven’t seen her since.

I look back at this story and have several thoughts about it.
1. The Santa probably stopped being a Santa shortly thereafter.
2. Easily could be top embarrassing moment for a kid.
3. Growling in a low voice only made the situation worse. Maybe I just imagine it for comic relief?

That was in 1997. In 2014 a Nebraska school district has attempted to make this story an impossibility. Which sounds good, right? Don’t assume student’s gender, use gender ambiguous language or something?  Well sort of. Instead of saying “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen” as I say many times a day, the district believes that calling their students “purple penguins” will dissuade this. O_o

So again, I get it. Calling a boy a girl or a girl a boy can be annoying to mortifying. And with the rise of transgendered/genderless minded kids this will provide less of a pressure to conform to some kind of gender binary system. Sure. All good for them. But what about all the other students who want to be boys or girls and want that reinforcement? I can’t imagine the authority that would decrease from calling my students that I had in Baltimore, “Purple penguins.” The laughing alone would waste so much instructional time. Not to mention the authority that worked so hard to gain would vanish. Students respond to strong authority figures not ones that coddles possible gender questions.

Not only that. But what about the students that enjoy personifying gender stereotypes. I played rough and did “traditional boy things” because I enjoyed being masculine and all the things that came with it. Just in the way my sisters enjoy wearing a pretty pink dresses because they enjoy being girls.

That reinforcement can be imperative for a sense of identity. Children need structure when their young. Routines, consistency, and expectations. Autonomy comes with age and if traditional gender ideas aren’t for them then that’s fine. Choice comes with being an adult though.

Speaking of adult choices… porn. Specifically porn hub. Who has unleashed a massive ad campaign. That’s right. Porn ads. Now whatever you think about porn, everyone can agree that it’s a personal choice. The porn hub ads, are pretty comical. Showing how they cater to every diverse interests and fetishes and how it’s okay to not have a relationship and trying to take shame away from it. And when researching the number of porn searches in America, it’s popularity can’t be explained away. I’m sure you can imagine how much wider their market would be when you erase the shame factor.

But there is a new… organization, maybe a movement? The FTND (Fight the New Drug) organization is one designating to fighting porn. Kind of reminds me of the anti-sex league in Orwell’s “1984” come to life. What is interesting about this group is it integrates anti-porn feminists and religious extremists, who are often at ends with each other. They’re coming together to inspire relationships and “educate” the world about the “awfulness” of porn.

pornhub-finalists-11-2014 lol

I’ve heard a lot of anti-porn points with little impressiveness. It’s addictive, it subjugates women, it’s immoral, it means your lonely. All with varying disagrees of truth, but all are not 100% accurate. They perpetuate these myths about porn.

1st myth: It’s addictive. Yeah it’s addictive. As addictive as fatty foods cigarettes, alcohol and anything else. I don’t think it’s a secret though. Only porn doesn’t make you fat, blacken your lungs, and destroy your liver.

2nd myth: It subjugates women. In some cases absolutely. I’ve heard of some fetishes that portray women in an awful light. However, women are the stars of the movies. Porn stars are most often females and are more numerous and more popular with the exceptions of Ron Jeremy or Peter North who are now pop culture icons. Some women own porn production studios and lots of autonomy in their business so sometimes it’s empowering.

3rd myth: It’s immoral. Sex is a taboo. I get it. It’s not as good as reading a peer reviewed science article. But in terms of immorality it’s pretty low.

4th myth: It means your lonely. Possibly, but as a porn hub ad notes that many couples use it to spice things up.

There’s definitely a problem with too much of anything, including porn. Being able to separate fantasy and reality is a key part of life. Most people can but some can’t. Just because a couple people can’t doesn’t mean we need to be a nanny for everyone. I’ve always believed and have seen that people that develop addictions for one thing would develop addictions for other things if exposed to them. If you can’t control yourself when you smoke, why can you when you drink?

I understand the want for people to call kids purple penguins and to end porn. There are good sides to that. Watching too much porn and incorrectly identifying children’s gender are all negatives. But have we gone too far with people’s personal choices? If you’re happy with your natural gender assignment, and see calling all kids “penguins” as a distraction and don’t care what you’re neighbor is looking at why should you care?

I’ve always ascribed to the position of do what you want as long as it doesn’t harm others. Don’t pay too much mind to what others are doing with their time, your own life should preoccupy you until you die.

Everyone wants to be the victim


History is the autobiography of a mad man – Alexander Herzen

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is officially underway this summer! For those of you that aren’t into soccer it’s sort of like the Olympics of soccer. Countries assemble a national team and compete for bids into the tournament. Many Americans don’t like soccer and I can understand that. It’s low scoring, boring at times, and the U.S. has never won the cup. 

But for me it’s fascinating. I’ve played soccer my whole life and love watching the cup. However, there is one thing about soccer that besides the low score could be an easy critique. It’s that some games are 1/2 soccer skill and 1/2 acting. There are a lot of fake injuries that go on. Some players get looked at the wrong way and then act like they have a broken leg. I get it, it’s part of the sport, and a really good faking could garner a free kick, or even better a yellow card against the opposing team. But it’s nothing to be proud of. It’s disingenuous, fraudulent, and frankly a wuss move. Some would say it’s acting like a woman, which isn’t true since it’s definitely not seen in the female world cup, (or at least to the extent it is with the male variety)

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It’s a “I want to be a victim” thing a “oh everyone look at poor little me” thing. And it certainly transcends soccer or (futbol) into many aspects of society and even into our political arenas.

We throw around victim willingness at the drop of a hat. It’s common for immature young men to talk about a “raping” they got after losing in a game. A common phrase would be “bro we got raped yesterday after our school lost our football game 40-0” Did you really get “raped” bro? Or are you so self conscious about your poor performance that likening it to a viscous sexual assault seems appropriate to you? That not only did you lose a sports game but it was like you lost a sense of your innocence? 

It’s probably not the thoughtful phrase and most likely out of thoughtlessness but comes out from an unconscious desire to be a victim searching for pity rather than just using a hyperbolic (and offensive) comment.

In politics it’s everywhere. People would rather focus on the big bad opposition and all their insensitive, cruel policies, and proposals than their own failings as a party. It is common for a Republican to think that the big bad gubberment is going to take their guns and restrict the 2nd amendment. They want to play the “noble patriot” that yearns for a older and simpler time and just wants their guns and their land, and their property. Clearly they are “victims” since society is more tolerant of homosexuals, abortions, and a diverse culture which is an affront to their “Christian” or “traditional” way of life. Those poor poor conservatives/Republicans…(joke) 

Liberals/Democrats can also be a bit on the sensitive side as well as being hive-minded. Most ideas that come from this crowd is grounded in good intentions, but not always the best practicality. Rising the minimum wage, gun control, green tech, animal rights…etc all speak to have a good end but sometimes at the at the expense of personal choice or practicality. While they may be better at identifying issues any opposing idea is taken as apathy or an assault to x issue. Apathy to the poor, apathy to the environment, a war on women…etc. Democrats coined the term “war on women” for the GOP just because the GOP is against abortions. While you can argue the pros and cons of the issue, the GOP certainly isn’t out gunning down women. A minimum wage increase can hurt some smaller businesses. Being against that makes you a solider in the “war on the poor” when in reality you just make see a difference in the amount that should be raised. 

Anytime any party suggest something that would hurt a key voting block of the any party, that party is lightening quick to call foul, and show how they are an innocent bystander and the other side is big and bad. Garnishing sympathy means adding votes. Every year more voters turn out to vote for the party who they feel the sorriest for. Or at least the issues that they feel attacked. Hell the whole Civil War and succession movement was born out of an idea that Lincoln would end slavery thus offending the South. Those who agreed were called “southern sympathizers”

 

There’s a whole business in being a victim. All sorts of lawsuits claiming things like “fast food made us fat” “I didn’t know the coffee was hot and it burned me” “The person who just resuscitated me via CPR didn’t obtain my consent”  and many others. Someone pretending to be a victim can get a big pay day by just being dumb (or faking it,) which has led to even more absurdities like forcing places that serve coffee to put a disclaimer up that the “coffee will be hot” or good Samaritan laws to protect those who are sued for saving a life, and consent forms that have all sorts of mostly harmless activities. If you think you could potentially be a victim in anyway then hire a lawyer and see if you can score big.

Clearly the reason for this self-victimization is for pity/sympathy and whatever perks come with it, which can be attractive. I remember playing pool with a friend all night when I was 16 complaining about who had a worse girlfriend. In hindsight we were both really were in unhealthy relationships and had legitimate complaints but instead of bemoaning about it we were trying to out do each other. I would talk about how mine would be emotionally cold to be for days of end, while he would tell me that his girlfriend and her mother would take him shopping then make him use his whole paycheck to pay for their clothes or food. We would go back and forth trying to make the other feel sorry and get the most sympathy instead of thinking of ways to solve our problems.  

In reality there are many of real victims. Most real victims are ashamed of it. “Real” rape victims (unlike the guy who lost his football game) don’t casually lament about their attack but are ashamed of it, victims of child abuse don’t try to out do others with their stories, but often keep them a secret. Speaking out isn’t to gain sympathy, but to try and stop it from happening to others. Not only are fake victims fraudulent but they also take away from others who have experienced very real victimization. 

It’s kind of like pretending you were sick to stay home from school. If you faked a sick day you didn’t have to do any work, could sleep in, watch TV, and potentially have a parent care for you, and it would be pretty nice. If you were actually sick it wasn’t pleasant at all because you were sick and that’s not fun. If you were discovered to be faking it then your parents would be less inclined to believe you the next time you claimed you were sick, whether or not you actually were.

Self-victimization speaks to the baseness of human wants, wanting the perks with out any of the suffering. Wanting the highs with no lows. Everyone wants to be the victim without actually being victimized. 

Hashtags and mass murders


History is the autobiography of a mad man – Alexander Herzen

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I like to think I’m a fairly well informed person, which is odd considering I don’t own a TV. I think the internet via Facebook and my NYtimes app keep me fairly up to date on major happenings, but unfortunately I fell a little behind on the recent mass shooting in Isla Vista, a part of UC Santa Barbra. I had heard something about a shooting there but just figured it was another crazy guy, with sobbing parents… another hallow discussion on gun control… I didn’t need to read more on that.

I was proved wrong a day or 2 later when I saw two aftermaths occur.

One was the typical gun debate. I think one of the dead fathers said something about gun rights and 2nd amendment conservatives got mad. One retorted with “Your dead kids don’t trump my gun rights” or something awful. I’ve already wrote about guns and tragedies. If you like to see that response it can be found here http://https://autobiographyofamaddman.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/fat-people-with-guns/ but it’s not something I’d like to get into again. The only thing I will add is this painfully harsh onion article.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/no-way-to-prevent-this-says-only-nation-where-this,36131/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=LinkPreview:1:Default

The 2nd and a much more interesting aftermath I found was in rather lengthy status filled by a feminist friend with recent trending hashtags like #notallmen #yesallwomen and #misogynykills and didn’t really understand so I asked some questions about it. Apparently I was being polarizing by not fully agreeing 100% with him and others who posted…because I didn’t know what they were talking about, but whatever it happens, and people are fired up on all sides.

I had to figure all this out for myself so if you were a little clueless like me I’ll catch you up. Apparently this nutcase went around shooting up people (girls) who he felt had wronged him by spurning his advances and making him feel like an outcast. A lot of girls labeled him as a misogynist and rightly so. Apparently then a lot of guys got their feelings hurt and started the #notallguys (not all guys) as in not all guys are misogynist nerds who go on shooting up sorority houses. (No duh) then that was retorted with the feminist hashtag #yesallwomen because all women go through some sexual abuse or discrimination at some point in their lives, Sure I can get on board with that… The fact that does occur, I’m not on board with sexual abuse though.

So where’s the outrage? I see it as the devolution of yet another tragedy that gets caught on side issues. The main side issue being feminists v men rights groups round 1000.  Some articles and blogs I’ve read on it have managed to stay above a fray and have a good unique point of view…the majority of views though are not so much. So here’s where I shake my head and as usual it’s at both sides.

I think it’s a pretty fair assessment that this kid was deranged. He also felt girls “owed” him sex that makes him a misogynist. You add the two together and the mix is never good. You also look at the fact that both men and women can be turned down many many times but who reacts violently about it? A woman can be unattractive with the personality of a wet blanket and be pissed at the world for never finding a guy. She will probably not go on a rampage and write a manifesto. There is something corrosive for a guy who can’t find a girl that eats at his mind. Maybe it’s because guys have a bigger ego, maybe it’s because they’ve been conditioned to see that in movies, video games, and TV shows that the nice guy ALWAYS gets the girl in the end and when that fantasy doesn’t play out in the real world something snaps. In high school remember having to escort a friend of mine to her locker because she was going to tell off a creepy upperclassman who always watched her pack up and followed her out up school because she was afraid she would hurt his feelings and he would go crazy. That’s something I’ve definitely never had to worry about.

The real poo flying was started with the men’s rights groups who got together and started posting #notallguys, making them the center of the debate and not the killer and certainly not about the people that died. Obviously not all guys are like this, and maybe they were baiting feminists (which certainly worked) when they responded with #yesallwomen because yes all women go through sexual discrimination/abuse at least once in their life. And that’s where things officially fell off the tracks. I don’t know if the male rights douche’s responded again and I don’t want to know. This is no longer a tragedy where a crazy guy shot people, it’s now a who’s right: feminists or mens’ rights?

I also don’t feel that talking about how some guys go crazy and kill people is anything controversial. It’s an unfortunate fact about our society. Yes guys shouldn’t feel they are owed sex and that whole conversation is valid.

What my dissatisfaction is, is in this dichotomy between feminists and men’s rights folk that has existed for along time. It’s dumb and certainly not productive. Who cares who’s right? Why do females have to be right and guys be wrong? Why does team men have the upper hand against team female? These are false dichotomies. For me there is no team fem v team man. I’m on team people. Our disagreements shouldn’t be who’s right here? Are women right? Are men right? Sometimes 1 is, sometimes the other is, sometimes both are, and sometimes neither. Our struggles aren’t sexist orientated with men being bad and women being good or vice versa. Are struggles are insanity v sanity, douche bags v good people, and violence against peace.

If a silver lining can be found in these tragedies it is that frank and honest discussions happen about the causes of these so that we can try and prevent them, the sad thing is they always devolve into shouting matches, unnecessary battles, and nothing changes.

Picking Off Moderates


History is the autobiography of a mad man – Alexander Herzen

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All things in moderation right?

Not In the modern political and sociopolitical landscape. In there, there are often only two solutions presented to a problem or two views to have on a topic. There is conservative solution and the liberal solution. As if those are the only two possibilities. I often find this right/left dynamic insulting to the issue itself, to people watching the debate and not fully correct.

But this is the way that has been working for both political parties for at least the past 10 years. Running to the right/left has been a shrewd political move. Hell CPAC is a extremism cheer leading exercise for conservatives. As if there is a prize for who can be the most extremely conservative. Extremism is often seen the same as having values. Moderates are seen as wishy washy wet noodles who don’t stand for anything. They get this stereotype because… it’s often true. Moderates are the “establishment” politicians who won’t rock the boat. They’ll keep a steady pace and get better committee posts and move up the ranks. 

To combat that groups like the Tea Party have sprung up to challenge these establishment goofs on the right. So far the left example was the Occupy movement…which didn’t turn out so well. 

I’ve come to find that in most cases the truth lies between two extremes. However you take any “ism” (racism, feminism, transgenderism…etc) and there seems little room for moderate in between being for or against. Scientists and researchers have found inconvenient facts in these that those on the left and right don’t want to hear but don’t come from conservative or liberal minds. Confused? Here’s some examples.

Racism: It’s great to be anti-racism. I think that people should be treated equally regardless of race. However, there are some reasons why certain races excel at certain things. If you look at any sport (minus hockey) it’s dominated by black athletes. Why is that? Why is the 1% of the 1% of the best NFL/NBA/MLB players black even though they make only 13% of the U.S. population?  

The answer is from slavery, where the biggest and strongest black slaves were forced to procreate. For generations and centuries this went on. Now we have many black people who come from that heritage excel in sports. Is that a pleasant fact that makes a lot of people happy? No. It’s uncomfortable to talk about and admit. The CBS commentator “Jimmy the Greek” was fired for espousing such thoughts…albeit he did it with poor articulation but that remains an uncomfortable fact for people to take in and goes against the equality mantra that we’re all the same. Does that make me a racist for addressing a fact? No, but not all people will see it that way.

Feminism: It’s great to be a feminist. Girls and boys are equal, cool. Breaking down forced gender roles for those who don’t want to fulfill them is good. If a boy wants to be a sensitive poet and a girl wants to play rugby…they should be allowed to do it with no objections. But trying to make a gender-less society where masculine and feminine become meaningless terms (as some feminists want) is where it becomes too extreme. 

Men (generally speaking) have bigger frames, poor micro-muscle control (in fingers and toes) but better macro muscle control (arms and legs) This is why guys generally enjoy playing contact sports, have poor handwriting and don’t always make the best dancers. Men also produce much more testosterone than females. But less estrogen. This is why guys tend to be less emotional than girls and fight more. You can find many exceptions but I’m just speaking generally. Again, it’s not very en vogue to talk about the biological differences between men and women, but they exist. This doesn’t make girls better than boys or vice versa we all have different biological gifts and weaknesses but that’s okay. It doesn’t make us bad or good, it makes us human. 

Transgenderism: This one hasn’t gained as much acceptance but I’m fine with it. You’re born a girl but feel like you’re a boy…that’s fine do what you feel you need to do. I’ll never understand why or how but I do understand you should at least feel comfortable in one’s own skin and that’s important to all people. However once we try to over-accommodate people who are transgendered certain uncomfortable to address problems arise. 

If a transgendered person goes to a prison where do they go? Should someone (born a boy) but want to be a girl go to a male prison? If they look like a girl in that person it will be very dangerous for them. But if that same person was at a woman’s prison then that could be dangerous for girls in that prison with a male inmate. Often the wrong choice is made and tragedy ensues. A transgendered male (born a girl) attempted to fight in a male league in an MMA fight. She thought she was a male and had gender reassignment surgery. He was beaten within an inch of his life. Despite feeling male, biologically he wasn’t. He had a female frame, smaller hands, narrower shoulders and less testosterone (which is a huge factor in fighting) Being against him fighting in a male league isn’t trying to “hold transgender people down” it’s acknowledging our biology over our psychology. 

These are just three examples in which there is no apparent room for most people to be moderate. If you aren’t fully on board you’re seen as racist, sexist, homophobic…etc. I’m listening to a podcast right now where an acclaimed scientist is talking about how climate change is so immense we’re doing little to stop/hasten it but that we are doing some things. He’s not a climate “denier” or “alarmist” he’s a moderate guy that is bashed by some in the scientific community for not being “all in” on climate change. 

There are certainly times to be extreme or have full conviction on something. I had a professor who said the truth is NOT between two extremes, citing that President Obama IS a U.S. citizen and there is room for the middle there. But he’s an extreme guy and there are few instances where he’s right. When proposing a good idea like… abolishing slavery, renewable energy, helping to organize a community. Those should be done in true earnest. 

I’ll leave you with this final thought:

It is great to get on board with good causes and beliefs that help people. It is important to never to be so far entrenched in them that pragmatism goes out the window and you alienate those who could be allies just because they’re only 80% with you and not fully. 

Why not have it all? The Birth Control Dilemma


History is the autobiography of a mad man – Alexander Herzen

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Abortion!

Did you tense up? Just at the sight of that unpleasant and uncomfortable word?

Such a polarizing issue, it’s easy to lose your head about it. But don’t worry this isn’t a post about the “A” word, so relax. It does relate to it though.

When I was in 9th grade, I had the typical Freshman “health” class. Sure there were sections about mental health, nutrition, CPR…but everyone knew the real reason we took the class. SEX ED!

The awkward but kind of exciting class where young teenaged guys get to talk about something they talk about with their friends with. My sex ed was probably typical of an abstinence only education. There were “fun” and “hip” videos about how abstinence is “cool” and they had other ways of shoving outdated Puritanical views down the throat of a 21st century kid.

For the absurdness of what passed for an “education,” my teacher was pretty up front about the politics about the matter. She informed us that she wasn’t allowed to even mention homosexuality (because I guess if you don’t mention them they go away?) and was not able to endorse, nor demonstrate how to properly use birth control, only that is was an “alternative” and a flawed alternative at that. Clearly the more sinful alternative than unprotected sex.

So even though my sex ed class was fairly conservative, there was still the opt out choice for a kid to look at anatomical correct depictions of a reproduction system…alone…in the library. Because that is so much less traumatic for a kid. “Welcome to your sex education! You’re alone and the female reproduction system looks like an alien creature!”

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It’s got eyes and a mouth and just… weird looking.

Anyways… what’s the reason for this? Why don’t we talk about how a condom works or how to get birth control?

Because we don’t want to incentiveize sex? But instead teach preach about how it’s a bad activity? It’s about people who don’t want to face facts:

Teens will probably have sex
If not in high school than in college. And if this is their only formal sexual education then why not teach everything? The alternative to learning effective contraception is trial by error. Hopefully the errors are few…Hopefully. Scaring kids is better than actually educating them? Telling kids “don’t do something” tends to make them… Want to do it more.

The sooner we can face facts the more we can cut down… and get ready I’m going to say it again…abortion!

Here lies the dilemma. The people who hate abortions AND birth control are the same kind of people. The fundamentalist/far right/conservative person. I can agree that abortion isn’t an inherently good thing and we should try to have less of them.

And it is a problem in these peoples’ area of the country.

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However, instead of making abortion illegal (which would push it into back alleys not eliminate them) there is another way. As an educator I take the…educational route. Having a practical sex ed WITH extensive contraception we will have less kids having sex (because they’re going to do it anyways… AND less abortions.

More education is usually the answer to most problems. Getting over the “tough” fact of parents that yes more than likely their little girls and little boys will one day have “the sex.” We can only hope that when they do, they don’t become parents themselves. Better the pill then an abortion. But they have a choice to make.

If you cut birth control education you have an increase in teen pregnancies and abortion. If you have more birth control you admit your children will have sex but have less pregnancies and less abortion. There should only be one logical outcome.

Less abortion
or and
More education

Why not have it all?