juvenilia

Required Reading (Justice and Dissent)

[#kneelbeforeJustice]Colin Kaepernick (r.) and Eric Reed kneel during the national anthem before a 2016 NFL game. (Photo: Associated Press)

“Donald Trump took time out from comparing missiles with Kim Jong Un and ignoring Puerto Rico to declare that the athlete who takes a knee is a ‘son of a b***h’ who should be fired for disrespecting America. He was harder on the athletes than on the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville.”

Leonard Pitts, Jr.

This is not one of those things where I get to say something like, “What he said!” or, “Plus one!” More directly, we can rest assured my part has something to do with paying the fuck attention.

Dear black people:

I guess we’ve messed up again. Seems like we’re never going to learn how to properly protest, no matter how hard conservatives try to teach us.

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The Latest #GOP47 Absurdity

U.S. Senate letterhead, from "An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran", authored by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), and released 9 March 2015, in an attempt to scuttle P5+1 negotiations and foster war with Iran.

As the #GOP47 themselves run out of excuses for their attempt to sink P5+1 negotiations in hopes of fostering a war with Iran, the conservative press will, naturally, attempt to step up to fill the silence.

Deroy Murdock of National Review burnishes his conservative credentials―as if contributing to FOX News and declaring his patriotic pride in torture wasn’t enough―trying to provide an astoundingly immature defense for the #GOP47:

National ReviewBefore U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and 46 of his GOP colleagues are frog-marched to the gallows and hanged for treason, one vital point of confusion must be cleared up. Say what you will about the Republicans’ open letter “to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The Cotton/GOP letter regarding Tehran’s atom-bomb talks with Obama was not sent to the ayatollahs. Had Cotton & Co. actually delivered their communiqué to Iran’s mullahs — perhaps via a Swiss diplomatic pouch or something even more cloak and dagger — their critics would be on less swampy ground in calling them “traitors,” as the New York Daily News screamed.

Either through befuddlement or deceit, many of the Republicans’ detractors have echoed this gross inaccuracy.

This is a unique defense, to be certain, at least among professionals. Resorting to the, “Well, the #GOP47 didn’t actually do anything”, is the kind of useless pedantry we can get from internet discussion boards and news site comment threads.

But yes, that is Deroy Murdock’s defense of the #GOP47: The #GOP47 didn’t actually ‘send’ the letter.

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Some Manner of Fun With Google

As fun as it might be to pop jokes about the Carolinas, there does come a point where we have to admit something seems more like juvenilia than dangerous hatred. Then again—

Jennifer Mann and Jodi McDaniel have lived together in their small home off Hilltop Farm Road for the past four years without any problems or disparaging remarks from neighbors or anyone else.

The lesbian couple didn’t expect the first nasty encounter to come from Google Maps.

“My son was on Google Maps at school when he (searched) ‘street view’ for our address and it said, “Fagits live here,'” Mann said, recalling the incident of about a month ago.

She couldn’t believe it initially, but when she checked Google Maps, the anti-gay slur was there, showing their driveway as the inappropriately named street.

“I just thought, ‘Are you kidding me?'” said Mann, 39. “I tried to contact Google, but I was put on hold forever and ever and ever. This day and time, with people and hate, you just can’t live your life.”

(Boyle)

—it probably reads a little differently when you’re the target of such childishness.

Google Maps logoFor its part, Google has struck the offensive tag and proclaimed its innocence; Kathy Hoglen of Haywood County also removed her department from the suspect list, noting that the driveway has no such registered name and asserting, “Of course we would never have approved anything like that.” And, indeed, with the “democratization” of the internet, the most likely explanation is juvenile idiocy.

And the McDaniel-Mann family seems to be taking that part in stride; despite their disgust the message seems consistent: People need to grow up.

____________________

Boyle, John. “Lesbian couple in Canton disparaged on Google Maps”. The Citizen-Times. 19 November 2014.

A Note About Rape Culture

Bill Cosby performing in Melbourne, Fla., on Friday, 21 November 2014. (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Marc Lamont Hill offers a useful primer on the idea of rape culture:

Over the past few weeks, new attention has been paid to longstanding allegations that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted multiple women over the course of his career. As new information and accusers are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.

By “rape culture,” I refer to the ways that our society and its institutions normalize, promote, excuse, and enable sexual violence against men and women. While I cannot definitively say that Cosby is guilty of the crimes of which he is accused, the conversation about him epitomizes some of the most pernicious aspects of rape culture.

There are reasons assertions of rape culture are controversial, and it is important to recognize the two primary drivers of objections to the concept of rape culture are pride and, well, it would sound weird to say “capitalism”, and that isn’t quite right, but it has to do with opportunity and reward.

In the first place, rape culture isn’t something to be proud of; our contributions to such outcomes are often conditioned behavior, and in the end, even if we carry conscious misogyny, it is not like we would admit we have wrong ideas. Nobody enjoys self-indictment.

The second is the idea of a marketplace hungry for comfort. And this downright sounds silly until one pauses to consider the idea of men’s rights advocacy, and the basic controversy about what that phrase actually means. Paul Constant of The Stranger reminded earlier this year that there are fewer of these types than we tend to imagine, but “those few activists are exactly as terrible as you think”.

He referred to an event in Michigan earlier this year, the first “International Conference on Men’s Issues”, and for those hoping that such a gathering might produce something more than the usual misogyny we hear from this manner of asserting men’s rights, well, more fool you. Or, perhaps, in the context of a marketplace hungry for comfort:

The crowd broke out in laughter when one speaker suggested most alleged rapes on college campuses are fabricated.

“The vast majority of female students allegedly raped on campus are actually voicing buyer’s remorse from alcohol-fueled promiscuous behavior involving murky lines of consent on both sides,” said Barbara Kay, a columnist for Canada’s National Post. “It’s true. It’s their get-out-of-guilt-free card, you know like Monopoly.”

† † †

Janet Bloomfield, an anti-feminist blogger and spokeswoman for the conference, has suggested in the past that the age of consent be reduced to 13 because of a “mistake of age” can get unwitting men in trouble.

“The point being that it can be incredibly difficult to know, just by looking at someone, how old they are,” Bloomfield wrote, calling some teenage girls “fame whores.” Bloomfield also called protesters of the event, “Wayne State cunts.”

In a marketplace society, you can always find someone willing to sell what other people want. One of the foremost purveyors of what this market wants to hear is Wendy McElroy who wrote earlier this year:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and it will be used to promote a big lie — namely, that we live in a “rape culture.”

Such an approach is not helpful, especially when it relies entirely on fallacy:

The idea that America is a rape culture is a particularly vicious big lie, because it brands all men as rapists or rape facilitators. This lie has been successful despite reality.

And there you have it. To the one, no national culture is monolithic; to the other, the only person asserting that “America is a rape culture” would be Ms. McElroy, in the course of building a windmill to tilt.

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#GamerGate: Moving Pictures and Megalomania Mix

Detail of animation by Mark Fiore, via Daily Kos, 31 October 2014.

Hold the Line, against new and different games produced by girls … who are not sufficiently buxom and supportive of your awesome manliness!

Be Brave, good gamer soldiers … and continue your anonymous attacks against these upstart good-for-nothing girls!

Mark Fiore

In a way, it really does seem to come to that. The #GamerGate phenomenon would be entertaining for all of a few seconds, much like we stare at someone we think is attempting spontaneous and nearly-insane comedy right before we realize, to our horror, that we are about to laugh at a spastic disability. In truth, the phenomenon would not even be a one-hit wonder except for a spectacular nexus of bigotry and juvenilia.

Detail of animation by Mark Fiore, via Daily Kos, 31 October 2014.Mark Fiore’s moving (ha!) editorial might sound like open satire, but such an assessment would be somewhat insulting, as it would suggest the artist required some sort of herculean labor to simply run down the checklist of hashtag-GamerGate.

Online, we are supposed to call it Poe’s Law, which is an alpha geek’s attempt to claim originality for pointing out that truth is necessarily stranger than fiction. However, we ought not knock Poe’s Law, because the internet age does raise, by orders of magnitude, the frequency with which the question arises whether we are viewing the real thing or a vicious satire. Evangelical Christianity, the Republican Party, Fall Out Boy, and now #GamerGate.

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A ‘Double Hufftendre’

An entry from the Huffington Post most-read sidebar, 11 September 2014, reflecting the consumption priorities of the news site's readers.It really is too easy to pick on Huffington Post; the most-read lists on pretty much any given news site can be depressing, amusing, harrowing, or whatever. And for that we generally can’t blame the site per se, but, rather, its readers. In HuffPo’s case, though, that glammed up sidebar is a neverending wellspring of, “Wait, what?”

To the other, we at This Is generally adore double-entendre, bad puns, and the sorts of inside jokes that make us wonder about our own psyches. Psyche. Psyches. I don’t know; depends on which one of me is in on any given day.

We also have a weakness for hilarious names, as cruel and inappropriate as that might be, but it is a burden bestowed by a grandfather who once told the story of the Rev. Perry Winkle. And real life provides so much better comic relief than Asswipe Johnson.

True, it is in that vein of juvenilia that the sidebar headline stands out so much: “These Slits Were Too High For Comfort On This Week’s Worst Dressed List”. Then again, one would hope it’s the anemic play on “slits” being “too high” that ranked the article among the most read; what a sad testament if that many people are actually out hunting for celebrity fashion gossip or the chance to revel in what may or may not be some idiotic excuse for slut-shaming.

Really, I prefer the exploitative joke of an obscure colloquialism for a vagina to the idea that people really do care that much about who someone else thinks is the worst-dressed celebrity in a given week. The fact that there is anything remotely approaching a weekly worst-dressed list is a suggestion that the species will, indeed, amuse itself to death.

Something About Misogyny

Sauerbraten: Two players, a zombie ogre and a robot warpig, battle it out in a map borrowed from some other game.

A funny story . . . er . . . right, sort of. Okay, not really.

Once upon a time, several years ago, a friend and I stopped by his tech-sector office late at night to grab a couple boozeless drinks from the staff fridge. And while the idea of people working late is hardly unusual in these United States, there were several people hunched over in their cubicles, clacking away at their keyboards, and they were apparently pushing for deadline. Such is the software sector.

There was a proper butch lesbian of larger bodily proportions and less contrived personal fashion—i.e., disqualified from the “hot” list—working out of the corner cubicle. Indeed, she is only important in the context of the rest of the anecdote.

There was nothing unusual about that night, but my friend commented on a story I had recently heard from a woman; he was the other player.

So it goes, for reasons that were never clear to me, a female friend had stopped by his office for something. Sure, that’s sort of a clue that something is up with the story, but there is nothing else on the other end to suggest why. Whatever, this was over a decade ago; I could easily have smoked away those memory cells.

Apparently the sight of a lithe blonde woman of chesticle endowment brought the office to a halt.

“They don’t see women very often,” my friend joked, and if you remember the alpha geek jokes from the time, well, that’s right on target. I did point out the lesbian in the corner cubicle, but got the, “Dude?” shrug in return: Nobody thinks of her as a “woman”. Dude.

And let that say what it will.

Dude? Dude.

It is naturally the first memory to mind as the “GamerGate” story penetrates my sphere of indifference toward the perpeutal juvenilia known as gamer culture.

And when I see a bunch of gamers panicking? Well, that just recalls the old alpha geek jokes.

For those unfamiliar, GamerGate is a pretty minor scandal. For those with a stake in its issues—in this case over half the American population, i.e., women, as well as software industry workers and executives—it is actually a sad repetition of roadworn attitudes reminding just how badly Americans have trashed the Shining City on the Hill.

Still, though, it is very nearly amusing to see the gamers panic.

Brief summaries should suffice to bring people up to speed. Stephen Totilo of Kotaku explains:

The current drama goes back, however directly or indirectly, to an ex-boyfriend and a series of blog posts attacking his ex-girlfriend’s character, then it goes to scrutiny and harassment, takes a turn to involve a possible game journalism sex scandal (refuted), maneuvers into vitriol against feminist game critic Anita Sarkeesian (horribly nasty stuff), takes another turn to be about journalism ethics (addressed), spills into some essays and round-ups about how fraught the marketing-driven “gamer” identity is and how it might be dying or dead (rounded up here on Kotaku in an article that says there are many a cool gamer, too!) and then in some way flows into a thing called GamerGate which was actually first used as a Twitter tag a day before any end-of-gamer articles were written.

Over at TechCrunch, Tadgh Kelly tries his hand at telling the story:

#gamergate began a few weeks ago when an ex-boyfriend of Zoe Quinn posted an enormous, pompous and self-important diatribe online accusing her of sleeping her way around the games industry. He posted screengrabs of chats they had, presented his side of the story as the noble and maligned man being led astray by this faerie creature who turned out to be full of lies and so on.

His revenge-porn/character-assassinating rant went all around the gaming world at the speed of rumor and was followed by hacks and “doxxing” activities that purported to show that gamers had been right to be suspicious about Quinn. In its wake a torrent of abuse and more abuse started to build a head of steam. Allegations of conspiracy, of women using sex to manipulate the industry and all the rest of it gained outsized publicity largely due to a video shared by actor Adam Baldwin. And then, somewhere around the same time, Anita Sarkeesian published her latest Tropes vs Women video and the waves of rage and accusations of agenda-pushing in the media began all over again.

And that’s the thing about stereotypes and legends, techies and the Dudehood. There’s nothing new, here. (more…)