Transphobia

A Moment Significant of Either Something Important or Nothing In Particular

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Detail of 'Lucifer', by Franz von Stuck, 1890.

There is this, from Jacob Hamburger for L.A. Review of Books

What exactly are the ideas that have made people like Weinstein, Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, and Christina Hoff Sommers into what a recent New York Times profile described as intellectual “renegades”? According to the Times writer Bari Weiss, most emphasize the biological differences between men and women, a feeling that free speech is “under siege,” and a fear that “identity politics” is a threat to the United States’s social fabric.

A listener of Harris’s podcast might add to the list a vociferous defense of the validity of genetic explanations for IQ differences between racial groups, a follower of Peterson’s videos might insist on the nefarious influence of “postmodern neo-Marxism” on college campuses, and a fan of Ben Shapiro might contribute a skepticism toward the reality of “transgenderism.”

The movement sees itself as an alliance that defies established political categories in order to defend these ideas against the creeping influence of thought control. This leads us to another important meaning of the term intellectual dark web, the suggestion that its ideas are not only controversial, but particularly innovative in our political moment. If the dark web arouses the anger of certain commentators in the media or the academy, it is for the same reasons that new technologies in the internet age are “disruptive.”

It would take a short memory, however, not to notice that these sorts of polemics over political correctness are anything but novel: they have been around for at least 30 years, ever since a strikingly similar set of media debates centered around college campuses took off in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Toward the end of the Reagan years, political correctness became a favorite bugbear of conservative intellectuals, who believed that college professors had latched onto illiberal or totalitarian notions of equality, and were indoctrinating their students with a subversive view of American society. Today’s “dark web” provocateurs rarely mention these predecessors, who not too long ago occupied a similar place in national media debates. Detail of cartoon by Jen Sorensen, 17 July 2018.But the comparison suggests that the “iconoclastic” ideas of these figures are actually a well-established institution in American discourse: an institution whose home is on the political right.

—and what stands out is that we really ought not be surprised. To the one, the general point is nothing new; to the other, what is the significance of this particular discussion getting this press at this time?

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Image note: Top — Detail of Lucifer, by Franz von Stuck, 1890.  Bottom — Detail of cartoon by Jen Sorensen, via The Nib, 17 July 2018.

Hamburger, Jacob. “The ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ Is Nothing New”. Los Angeles Review of Books. 18 July 2018.

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A Note on Civility and Equivocation

#wellduh | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Radical Centrism 101: Detail of cartoon by Matt Lubchansky, via The Nib, 31 May 2017.

In such time as we have to reflect on notions of civility and politic, and observing its coincidence in which we grasp both desperately and often belligerently after comparisons in history, it does occur that sometimes these lines of thought and inquiry merge or intersect or whatever else they might do, and from this nexus arises a question worth considering:

• While rhetoric of conservative backlash often drew puzzlement and even mockery, and centrists, liberals, progressives, and leftists alike have scrambled to remind women, queers, and blacks what happens when we make too much uncivil noise, like winning court cases or wondering who would actually claim a religious right to actively sabotage health care, there is also an iteration of Green Lantern Theory whereby President Obama could reconcile the political factions by simply charming and schmoozing Republicans enough, including that he should never speak common platitudes of empathy because, being a black president, doing so apparently means one is trying to start a race war; and, yes, it seems worth wondering just how much worse the conservative and crossover payback would have been had the nation’s first black president gone on to prosecute war criminals, including the white woman recently minted Director of CIA.

When questions of civility arise, perhaps we ought to consider just how we might answer such demand for civility that torture and white supremacism are not somehow uncivil.

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Image note: Radical Centrism 101 — Detail of cartoon by Matt Lubchansky, via The Nib, 31 May 2017.

A Note on Domestic Terrorism

#resist

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA): "The violence, chaos, and apparent loss of life in Charlottesville is not the fault of 'many sides.' It is racists and white supremacists." [via Twitter, 12 August 2017]

So … yeah. Any questions on this one?

We might call these people “alt-right”, but they are the American hardline right wing, and they’ve been here the whole time. In recent decades, Republicans have pandered to them in hopes of cultivating a permanent conservative majority. What happened in Charlottesville is not an accident. Nor was the conservative effort to take it this far.

Many prominent Republicans have stepped forward to say what needs to be said in the vital minutes and hours following the terror attack, and then President Trump’s attempt to spread the blame. We need not ask where Republicans were before this happened: They were busy stirring supremacists against people of color, women, homosexuals, and non-Christians.

Heather Heyer died yesterday. May her family and friends find peace, and may she please find justice. We shall carry her name until then, and, you know how it goes, we probably won’t ever want to put it down.

And we need to recognize that she will not be the last.

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@MarkHerringVA. “The violence, chaos, and apparent loss of life in Charlottesville is not the fault of ‘many sides.’ It is racists and white supremacists.” Twitter. 12 August 2017.

A Memo to Pat McCrory: Deplorability and Expectation (#bullyblubbering)

#bullyblubbering | #pooreffingyou

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory addresses the Wake County Republican Party 2016 Convention at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, 8 March 2016. (Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty)

MEMORANDUM

To: Pat McCrory

re: Deplorability and expectation

Over at Salon, we learn:

Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican best known for his controversial bill banning transgender people from using the bathrooms that match their gender identity, is now complaining that the association with anti-transgender prejudice is hurting his post-gubernatorial career.

“People are reluctant to hire me, because, ‘oh my gosh, he’s a bigot’—which is the last thing I am,” McCrory complained on a podcast for an Asheville-based evangelical Christian website known as WORLD on Friday, according to the Raleigh News and Observer.

During a previous interview he told WORLD that “if you disagree with the politically correct thought police on this new definition of gender, you’re a bigot, you’re the worst of evil. It’s almost as if I broke a law.”

It is worth noting, sir, yeah, that’s going to happen: When you go out of your way to do something deplorable, other people regard you accordingly. It is, in point of fact, rather quite difficult to countenance the proposition that you are so incapable of comprehending this point.

To the other, apparently you’ve accepted several opportunities—your phrasing, remember: “I’ve accepted several opportunities”—so it would seem you’re not hurting for work.

Furthermore, you forfeit a good deal of general human sympathy when lamenting of having been “purged due to political thought”: You do recognize, sir, do you not, that you went out of your way to harm other people? You signed a law. You advocated against human rights. You created danger and harm for other people in doing so. If you wish society to commiserate with you as others react to your deplorable behavior, at least have the decency to describe circumstances honestly.

And what the hell do you have against veterans, sir?

Yeah, I know, it gets me, too, that nobody talks about this part, but you also went after veterans.

So, anyway, you were in fear for your safety because you were faced with protesters? And you were “sitting there”? Really, you can flee protesters while sitting?

Seriously, sir, if you would like to start rebuilding your reputation, perhaps you might start with not behaving deplorably.

Honesty would be a start.

Be warned, though: At some point you must face the fact that general human decency is a constant requirement of being viewed as a decent human being. I know, I know, some days it’s tough. I mean, you did sign that bill into law, and all. And you did go out and advocate for it. And you still don’t seem to have a clue what you did wrong.

Seriously, though, the times being what they were, yes, potty police and other assorted urogenital obsessions were going to try; and yes, an intelligent, decent public servant is expected to know better; and no, you don’t get to pretend you are any sort of victim.

And maybe you can stop with the bullyblubbering long enough to tell us what the hell you have against veterans?

____________________

Image note: Photo by Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty.

Rozsa, Matthew. “Pat McCrory, who signed North Carolina’s HB2 bill, can’t find work because people think he’s a ‘bigot'”. Salon. 14 March 2017.

Butchery and Botchery

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube)

Chauncey DeVega inquires after a point close to the heart of the #trumpswindle:

What happens when Trump and the Republican Party are done feasting on the “white working class” and their other supporters? When the bones are picked clean, to whom will they turn for a meal? People of conscience know the answer even if it terrifies them.

If a budget is a kind of moral document and a statement of priorities, Trump has shown that he is an enemy of the American people and the common good—including his most stalwart supporters. If Trump is willing to betray them, all others should quake in fear at what he plans for his enemies in the process of “making America great again.”

The question echoes: To call for Main Street over Wall Street, why would anyone vote for Donald Trump? To call for empathy with the working classes, why would anyone vote for Donald Trump? To drain the swamp of entrenched interests, why would anyone vote for Donald Trump?

(more…)

What They Voted For: Pervert Bully

#perverts | #WhatTheyVotedFor

This is the basic math: (Sexual Behavior) + (Gender) + (Death) = Conservative Rant.

New York real estate developer, failed gubernatorial candidate, and former state Trump campaign co-chairman Carl Paladino. (Photo: Unknown)In the interview with arts publication Artvoice, the real estate developer was asked what he would most like to happen in the New Year.

He responded: “Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford. He dies before trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to [senior White House adviser] Valerie Jarrett, who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her being a nice person and decapitated her.”

He also said he’d like to see first lady Michelle Obama “return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortable in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”

(Rupert)

This is the important question: Why?

(more…)

A Tragic Tale of Tools

#lulz | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

Trying to explain #pizzagate reminds of an old lyricα: “Baring your soul was the in thing to do. It’s fun and it’s easy for an empty-headed fool.” And it’s true, those recalling the period closely―and thus painfully―enough, yes, the line works well enough. Indeed, we might cringe recalling Iron John and the mythic Fire in the Belly, but the vinyl memory also brings to mind a trend of men exploring their feelings, shedding fear about shedding tears, and, of course, reinforcing the stereotypes they would ostensibly otherwise break by pursuing their feminine sides. It is then, merely coincidental―or, you know, not, given how the interconnectedness of all things is most affecting of our lives when asserting through the historical record―that scattershot assertions of traditional masculinity find themselves so close to an invented scandal asserting child sexual exploitation by one group while relying on an opposing group wallowing in child rape fantasies.

Never mind. Andrew Breiner takes his turn for Salon:

But a small number of people on message boards like 4chan and Reddit were more interested in seemingly mundane emails about small social gatherings and parties hosted by Podesta and his friends. Specifically, they noticed that these emails mentioned pizza a few times.

Boldly disregarding the simple explanation that the emailers, like most Americans, eat pizza regularly and find it to be an easy food to serve and eat while socializing, self-appointed Internet detectives decided that “pizza” was a complex code for pedophilia. Using this code, Pizzagaters claim, Podesta and his well-heeled pals could brazenly discuss their plans for throwing disgusting sex parties exploiting enslaved children, in between exchanges about Clinton’s campaign strategy and setting up conference calls.

It’s important to note that since the theories that would become Pizzagate began on 4chan and Reddit, sites known for trolling people with cruel, complicated pranks, it’s likely that many of the conspiracy theory’s originators were joking―coming up with absurdities to entertain themselves.

But it took a very short time for /r/Pizzagate, the now-closed Pizzagate-focused Reddit subforum, or subreddit, to fill with people who appeared to be true believers. The theory also became popular on Reddit’s “The Donald,” a hub for Trump supporters. From there, Pizzagate caught the attention of conservative fake news sites, minor white supremacist celebrities, and supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It’s been amplified for unknown reasons by Twitter bots traced to the Czech Republic, Cyprus and Vietnam.

To the one, we can only reiterate the question of whether or not Trump supporters are complaisant assets to the machinations of international interests, but perhaps more importantly we should note, to the other, the question of lulz.

That is to say, we might recall Brendan Gauthier’s report for Salon in September:

Perhaps the most noteworthy admission came from a 4chan user who openly acknowledged the big scary alt-right’s satirical (and inflammatory) edge: “CTR shills still not realising that pol is a board of satire and our only mission is to meme the retarded manchild to the white house for the lulz.”

This is one of those weird facets we might wish to pay some attention to. Overseas twitterbots are sufficient to move a soft-headed religious fanatic to terrorize a pizzeria as a means of taking up arms against Hillary Clinton; the lulzaholics ought to be proud, but what about the rest of Donald Trump’s supporters?

In the end, it’s all the same. They get played by Russian trolls, international misinformation bloggers, and botnets around the world because they want to.

It is easy enough to remind that it always has been about supremacism and lulz; as the excuses fall away, what else will be left?

____________________

α Memory insists it comes from a Seattle band from the late eighties into the early nineties called Chemistry Set, but that vinyl echo is really dusty.

Image note: Naota gets screwed. (Detail of frame from FLCL episode 2, “Fire Starter”.)

Breiner, Andrew. “Pizzagate, explained: Everything you want to know about the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria conspiracy theory but are too afraid to search for on Reddit”. Salon. 10 Deceember 2016.

Gauthier, Brendan. “Pepe’s post-debate identity crisis: Online alt-right turns on Donald Trump after his presidential debate fiasco”. Salon. 27 September 2016.

A Memo to American Conservatives: Self-Gratifying Mess

#closeteers | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Corset looks forward to using Brief. (Detail of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, ep. 12, "D.C. Confidential")

MEMORANDUM

To: American Conservatives

re: Triggerella and the Perverts

When the right wing makes a nasty, self-gratifying mess of itself― ....

Yeah, you know, that’s just not an encouraging start, is it? Still, though, how conservatives manage to make such a perverse, awful mess out of pizza isn’t exactly a mystery for the ages. It’s easy enough to make the point that people like Comet Ping Pong gunman Edgar Maddison Welch are mere tools; or remind that the “alt”-right, as they are presently known, are least scathingly described as seemingly unwitting agents of international interests except for the fact that they are at least sanguine with their place in that exploitative scheme and, as such, would rather be known as willing grifters openly working against the best interests of their country than easy marks in a pabulum-grade propaganda swindle; but there is another important question we ought to consider, as well, and that is the dangerous, sexually deviant obsessions displayed by conservative scandalmongers.

What makes Comet such a distinct place—a beloved haven for outside-the-mainstream people and art—is what has whet the appetites of alt-right fanatics looking for an outlet for their hate. In a large-scale gestural mural of people and faces by an artist who’s played the Comet stage, conspiracy theorists see a depiction of a child being strangled. In run-of-the-mill bathroom graffiti, they see secret sexual messages. In the lack of labeling for the gender-neutral bathrooms, haters with a political agenda see “secret rooms.” In Heavy Breathing, a band composed of decade-plus veterans of the D.C. music scene that traffics in stylized, abrasive, tongue-in-cheek electro-punk—only the truly humorless would not receive it as such—they see child-abusing satanists. In the venue’s all-ages policy, a time-honored practice of radical inclusion in the D.C. punk scene, they see a cover for pedophilia.

And in Josh Vogelsong—who has been bartending and helping book shows at Comet since 2011 and also performs in drag as Donna Slash—and his fellow drag queens who’ve performed at the venue, the alt-right sees degenerate weirdos who represent an America they’d like to destroy. For weeks, Vogelsong has been harassed and received death threats on Instagram from #pizzagate believers. User @rb.sad called him a “dumb bitch, or whatever the fuck you are” and a “fucking tranny,” he told Slate. User @debbieoconnell_ called him a “PAEDOPHILE CHILD MOLESTING ASS PIECE OF GARBAGE.” Other internet trolls have threatened “Hillary will be dead soon and so will you” and “we’re gonna slit your throat and bathe in your blood.”

“There’s just so much on Instagram—me in drag, photos of drag queens covered in blood, and bands doing weird shit—that it’s easy for people to see it and be like, ‘Oh my God!'” Vogelsong said. D.C. drag queen Summer Camp, who once appeared covered in red fluid in an Instagram photo for a Halloween event at Comet, has also been threatened by members of the alt-right in recent weeks. So has Cis Jenner, another local queen who performed at Comet years ago and now gets Facebook messages calling her a “Satanist homo.” “Hope I get to watch u bleed out n get a hard on from it,” one said.

Many of the #pizzagate blog posts claiming to find circumstantial evidence of a pedophilia ring at Comet have specifically referenced the sexuality and gender identities of the owner, who is gay, and staff. Conspiracy theorists who have gone through Vogelsong’s Instagram, where he advertised his shifts to friends with a photo of two buff men scarfing down a single slice, now claim his posts are code for gay men doing obscene things to children.

(Cauterucci and Fischer; boldface emphasis added)

So, this one is pretty straightforward.

• If you are all lathered up in a moral rage about the Satanist homo, why? Is it the Satanism? Because while the literature has plenty to say about watching people bleed, if dude gets hard watching homo dude do anything at all, then dude is a fuckin’ homo, too. Get thee out of the closet, bitch! Stupid enough to be scared sadistic is no decent way to go through life.

____________________

Image note: Corset looks forward to using Brief. (Detail of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, ep. 12, “D.C. Confidential”)

Cauterucci, Christina and Jonathan L. Fischer. “Comet Is D.C.’s Weirdo Pizza Place. Maybe That’s Why It’s a Target.” Slate. 6 December 2016.

The Donald Dyke Show

It is true, I am not a lesbian. Nonetheless, the question of Rush Limbaugh as inspiration for anything having to do with … er … ah … right. Anyway, I’m not lesbian. Jennifer Bendery can explain the rest:

But Rush got me thinking: are there lesbians out there who are voting for Trump? I don’t know of any in my lesbian circles in Washington, D.C. I didn’t come across any in July at the Republican National Convention, where I sought out LGBT attendees. I could only find one article that featured an interview with lesbian Trump supporters.U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump answers a question at a news conference before a campaign rally in Hampton, New Hampshire, 14 August 2015. (Detail of photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder) There were two of them. Is that it? Two?

I decided to try to find a Trump-supporting lesbian to see what makes her tick. I hit up about 20 lesbian friends to see if they knew anyone. There’s only so many of us, I figured the six-degrees-of-separation theory would be my greatest asset. Their responses were not helpful.

“Bahaha,” emailed one friend.

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Image note: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump answers a question at a news conference before a campaign rally in Hampton, New Hampshire, 14 August 2015. (Detail of photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder)

Bendery, Jennifer. “My Search For A Lesbian Donald Trump Supporter”. The Huffington Post. 8 September 2016.