Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2022

Elon Musk and the Problem with Termites

 Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter at the end of October and stated desire to transform it has sparked a growing conversation on free speech. This conversation has revealed the contradictions in the positions of those both in favor of and opposed to censorship, including his own. Musk's stated goal has been to increase free speech on Twitter, seeing it as the digital commons, and free speech in that commons as vital to a healthy democracy . The clamor against this change and the direction from which it has come has illuminated precisely why it is needed, and displayed the hurdles to its success. While external economic pressures from governments and advertisers make the transformational task difficult, the greatest dangers may prove to be internal. Despite a massive staff reduction of ideologically driven workers, there seems to remain resistance to the change by some staff and automatic algorithmic functions acting as termites in the house undercutting the stated goals of increa

Relying on Experts Doesn't Remove Your Responsibility

In October, just two weeks apart, John Stewart and John Oliver covered the "trans issue" on their shows, The Problem with John Stewart and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, respectively. I promised myself that I wouldn't write about either episode, both of which were covered extensively. I made the promise because I can watch neither in its entirety. I find them infuriating. I also have found it difficult to stop thinking about them. While contemplating whether I had to write just to let the anger go, I realized that the ire wasn't just because of those two episodes, but about what they represent: the loss of respect for people I have long admired. I don't mean Stewart and Oliver. In the absence of a clear event like a death or deliberate end to a relationship, a loss is not always apparent. I began writing about the "trans issue" because I had not previously fully recognized the danger to children. I assumed that the people I know would appreciate hav

In Rejection of Normalization

At the end of August there was a new development in Texas in what has been framed generally as the culture war. In this case it could more specifically be called, the discourse around child protection. There has been an ongoing discussion in the US and UK around the appropriateness of drag queens for children in libraries and schools. Drag queens have historically been gay men cross dressing as women performing versions of femininity while lip synching, singing, or dancing. It's a form of gay adult entertainment that has become popular in the mainstream over the past decade, due in large part to the popularity of Rupaul's Drag Race. The development was an all ages drag show reviewed by the Texas comptroller for sexual content. A group of armed radical activists protecting it from protest made the event newsworthy. They are not the most significant aspect of the story, which I'd have missed entirely if not for the coverage by internet news and current events program The Risi

The "Right" Never Named: The Problem with "Trans Rights"

The new secular religion of gender ideology relies on adherents accepting its cants without question. As part of the vast majority on whom it is imposed, I can't help but question. For example, when we are told that "trans people" are the most marginalized group in the world, what does that mean? When we are told that trans rights are human rights, what human right is denied people for choosing to identify as trans? What is the mechanism for losing a right when one self identifies as transgender? It might surprise you to know that the people declaring that "trans rights are under attack" won't name the rights they are in danger of losing. Like every declaration from the ideology, it needs to be understood for what is actually being said; the reality the declaration is meant to obscure. As a whole, the ideology is meant to obscure the fact that we have two immutable sexes, men cannot be women, and that disturbance with the body is a matter of resolving psycho

The Anti-Politics of Identity

We identify as things we generally are not, thus Rachel Dolezal, men who identify as women, women who identify as men, and people of both sexes identifying as non-binary. No amount of empathy, compassion, or wishing will change that. I could identify as a classical guitarist and even be recognized as such. However, how I might choose to identify wouldn't change the fact that I don't play classical guitar. Some seem to believe that regardless of that fact, my identity, if genuinely held, should be validated by others. Refusing to see people as they want to see themselves, regardless of reality, is portrayed as a form of bigotry. They believe we must accept people as they say they are. It is clear that the people saying this have not even begun to reckon with the consequences to the individual who expects external validation for an identity he cannot validate for himself. They can barely acknowledge the consequence to society as a whole when strangers are forced to accept a false

The True Meaning of "Gender": The Affirmation of Fantasy Identity

After 50 years, the ruling for Roe v Wade establishing abortion as a right has been overturned by the Supreme Court. The implications of this ruling are worth exploring, but not my intent here. I was initially somewhat surprised that it was overturned, and that feeling immediately started to wane. Increasingly it feels like an inevitable outcome of this moment. The current ruling may be as much about the 50 years of conservatives fighting to overturn Roe as it is the larger social context in which it happened. Across social media I have seen a number of memes that start, "If men were the ones who got pregnant..." or "If every time men had sex they faced death..." All of these memes are clear on who doesn't need abortion and thus assumed to be attacking the right. None of the memes clearly state who abortions are for and who needs the right. This seems significant.  W. Burlette Carter, Professor Emerita of Law at George Washington University has suggested that th

The End of Transition: Protecting Our Children From an Induced Mental Health Crisis

 Consider these mostly factual statements that were uncontroversial just a few years ago: Puberty is an important, if difficult, developmental stage for human development. There are two sexes. Men cannot change their sex. Only women can get pregnant. Men have a penis. Women have a vagina. Males don't belong in spaces and programs set aside for women. That these statements are now contested might lead one to believe that there has been something observed in a subset of humans which means these statements don't apply to them. This explains why they are so poorly contested, precisely because nothing has changed. Like all multi-cell species, humans still come in two sexes. The assertions of gender ideology are so absurd-- some women have a penis-- that it seems impossible for rational people to adopt them. Yet, they do. In part, it is imposed top down by brute force with threat to employment and parental rights . It also employs a powerful tool which does the cognitive work that al

An Open Letter and a Challenge to My Facebook Community

But we have to be honest-- and it seems to me, when you turn science into ideology and politics into science, then you're not talking from an honest place...and I think that's muddying the waters regarding what side you're on, and rarely leads to anything good. Mads Mikkelsen Dear Friends The ways in which we interact on social media erodes our trust in others. Relationships are decimated through that erosion. I write this open letter to express hope in the possibility that together we can offer a better model for discussing contentious topics and to issue a challenge towards that end.  I don't know if you've noticed but I have not been doing my usual posting on the topics of the day I consider important. I was suspended for a month from Facebook for saying something true (and no, I didn't "misgender" anyone). I've thought about that a lot and its implications for the ways in which people disagree with each other. From my experience it's a lot