Good little girls?

I confess to sharing Sarah Hoyt’s disdain for the attitude that girls need extra encouragement in any field whatsoever. You know what girls need, if you want them to succeed in male-dominated environments? Not screeds penned by crazy feminists who work in media – but training in how to interact with males. In a professional capacity. Aka NOT like how girls and boys interact with each other in school, where they are competitors for the best grades or best boyfriend/girlfriend (for the most part).

A brief perusal of the existence of “chick flicks” and movies made primarily for males (“action movies” I suppose, but that category is broader than what I’m thinking of) demonstrates the fact that males and females run on different operating systems.

For another example, I remember one night around the dinner table, myself and two other female members of the family carried on a conversation amongst ourselves for about three minutes that left father dearest bewildered and shaking his head. And he lived with us and had raised two of us himself! I call it “femalespeak” – and a great deal of the premarital counseling that J and I went through before getting married involved communication issues, but unfortunately never breaking down explicitly this division between how most men and most women communicate. As they say, we’re using the same vocabulary but speaking different languages!

I grew up in female-dominated environments, and wasn’t exposed to the different paradigm of male-to-male interactions until after marrying; my husband’s family is precisely 50/50 split, unlike my own, and they have a very strong tradition of wargaming together. Let me tell you, listening to male interaction after being immersed in female-dominated social settings is one heck of a culture shock. Girls simply do not talk to each other like that! There would be eternal enmity. Blood in the water. It was highly distressing – at first. But then, with observation (and, thankfully, the experience of watching a good bit of shonen anime in which fight-to-make-friends is a common trope) I realized that this wasn’t a fight – it was males engaging in their own form of group-cohesion behavior.

When men and women don’t realize that they operate on such fundamentally different wavelengths, you end up with ignorant pansy media females claiming that there’s a “hostile environment” towards women in male-dominated fields. Now, there may be a total jerk or two (they do exist, just as total bitches do exist) but the culture in today’s American male-dominated fields will appear hostile to the women who don’t understand men. Even though it’s not actually hostile at all!

This does a grave disservice to everyone. There is nothing wrong with chick-flicks or action-movies, but your enjoyment of the film is likely to be greatly impaired if you’re expecting one and get the other!

What’s more, the STEM fields are results-oriented, rather than socialization-oriented: which means that they are a much more natural fit for the male “jocular competition” form of culture than the female consensus-oriented culture. If we want able, STEM-oriented women to “feel welcome” in such fields, we should be teaching them how to tell the difference between male communication styles and female communication styles so that they’ll understand that the “harsher” male mode is neither personal nor an attack nor unwelcoming – in fact, it is the exact opposite and exactly what the feminitwits claim to want: equality. If you have to be treated with kid gloves and Victorian manners, you sure aren’t equal to the men, ladies.

And there’s nothing like saying “girls need extra encouragement!” to show that you think girls are inferior special snowflakes who can’t hack it on their own. Pfui on that!

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Marriage

Whenever I see something particularly interesting, even about a topic about which I have written before, I rejoice for now I have something to put on my blog that requires little effort or creativity on my part. This is because I am very lazy, and I cloak my sloth with the pretense of being humble and directing the reader towards those of greater intelligence or writing skill than myself (although those things may well be completely true).

So, the other night, I actually wandered by Althouse’s blog on my feedly, and stumbled upon this entry: A surprisingly sympathetic article about the asserted right to decline to make [wedding paraphernalia] for a same-sex wedding.

This put me in mind of a part of a very long essay by John C. Wright, who happens to be my favorite living author. I shall excerpt the particularly relevant portion:

Turning from this arid area of speculation to a more practical matter, the next question is whether there is a civil right by which a sodomite couple wishing to purchase the services of cake-bakers and wedding photographers and wedding planners, rent chapels or halls, or call upon Christian Churches to solemnize their vows of sodomy, must be served.

If a wedding dress tailor refuses to sew a pair of bridal gowns for a pair of lesbians wishing to enter into an unnatural, abominable, and truly sad and pathetic mockery of marriage, is that tailor the same as a clerk or cook refusing to serve Negros at a department store counter or diner?

The difference is so painfully obvious that I have trouble bringing myself to believe all Liberals and an embarrassing number of conservatives do not grasp the answer.

Our friend the Libertarian would say that the clerk and shopkeeper for any reason or no reason has the right to deny service to anyone, either due to the customer’s race or for any motive, fair or foul, honest or hateful, full stop. Let us consign that answer, for better or worse,  to an academic discussion having no bearing on the present case.  The fact of reality is that this is not the law as it stands in the United States in the current generation. There are abundant court cases confirming the interpretation of the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment as granting to any potential customer a right to be served or sold any good or service offered to the general public, not to be denied on the basis of race.

Now, nothing in the civil rights law says that if a man offers firearms for sale to the public, he is required to sell a gun to a member of a minority who tells him he means to use the weapon to rob a bank.

Nothing in the law says that a house-painter who offers his skills to the public is required to accept a job from a member of a minority who asks him to paint graffiti on the Washington Monument, or a mustache on the Statue of Liberty.

Nothing in the law says that a tap dancer who offers his skills to the public is required to accept a job from a member of a minority who asks him to trample the crucifix, or burn the flag, or spit on his mother’s face.

Indeed, nothing in the law requires me, a writer who offers his skills to the public, to accept a job from a member of a minority to follow his orders to pen a 3000 word document containing nothing but blasphemy against my God, treasonous sentiments against my nation, or filthy insults against my wife.

This is simply not what the civil rights law says and not what it is meant to say.

Likewise here.

When a baker or a tailor or a Church renting a hall to a pair of sodomites whose express the intention to make a mockery of the sacrament of marriage and desecrate it, a faithful Christian cannot aid, participate, or assist this desecration, lest the sin be his. He is not asking Caesar to draw the sword of the magistrate to prevent the desecration — our First Amendment as a matter of law makes all protection of sacred things to be a private matter, handled, if at all, by the customs and non-coercive mechanisms of courtesy and shame — he is merely asking Caesar to be excused from doing that which his religion forbids, that is, namely, materially aiding and abetting in the commission of a notorious and public sin.

It simply baffles me that I hear few or no conservatives address this argument. The baker, under our current laws, has no right to refuse to sell a gay man a cookie if such cookies are offered for sale to the general public. This is because selling a cookie is not prohibited by the baker’s religion, or else he would not be offering them for sale to the general public. The florist willing to sell a wreathe to a gay man holding a funeral again violates no stricture of religion. But asking the baker to bake a wedding cake or the florist to make a bridal arrangement to celebrate a gay so-called wedding does clearly and unambiguously propose that the baker and the florist aid and abet the desecration of the marriage sacrament.

No matter what the civil rights laws say, the First Amendment clause concerning the free exercise of religion overrules this. If the florist or the baker is being asked to desecrate something their religion holds sacred, they have a right not to be forced to participate, the same right they have not to be forced by public law to offer incense to an idol.

Any law that requires a man to trample a crucifix, or burn a Torah, or make and worship and image of Mahound, is null and void as a matter of primary Constitutional principle, and enjoys an endless line of court cases to support this construction.

Note, please, that this is a non-issue as far as real gays and lesbians are concerned: any of them can find a Jewish or Anglican or Unitarian baker or a florist, or a lapsed Catholic. The non-Christians and lukewarm Christians and lapsed Christians by such astronomical numbers outnumber the serious, practicing Christians who might voice a serious objection to the desecration of marriage, that a pervert couple who actually just wants a cake or a floral wreathe can easily obtain it, and no one stands in their way, not in America, not in this generation.

Only those who are seeking to make an issue out of it, to pick a fight, to disturb the public peace, and to trample the Constitution in the name of all-inclusive diversity (or whatever the bafflegab non-word of the day is today) have the time and patience to track down the practicing Christian bakers and florists to demand they publicly humiliate their faith by betraying Christian teaching.

So the legal argument that civil rights are being offended fails both as a matter of law, since the Free Exercise Clause is controlling legal authority, and as a matter of practical fact, since the matter only comes up for perverts seeking to be offended by hunting out those rather few Christians with faith enough and loyalty enough to defy the perverts and turn away their business.

And only their business in this one area: the bakers and photographers and florists and hall renters will sell and rent to them their skills and facilities for any other purpose other than a wedding.

The Christians will happily bake birthday cakes and sew confirmation dresses and rent halls for gay dances or any other purpose whatsoever, because we have no objection to sinners existing. We are all sinners. But the Christians would also refuse to bake cakes, sew dresses, take photographs, and rent halls to a man marrying his sister, or a man marrying as two wives, or a man marrying a child.

We do not refuse to participate in desecrating marriage because we hate desecrators, but because we love marriage.

It is because marriage is  sacred, a thing established by God whom we dare not disobey, not because sinners are sinful, that we ask you to take your business elsewhere. It has nothing to do with you. It is not all about you.

Get over yourself. Unglue your eyes from the looking glass, Narcissus. Snap out of it.

All we ask is that you not compel us to participate in your blasphemies and desecrations when you commit them. All we ask is to be left in peace.

So the Fourteenth Amendment argument fails because the cases are not parallel between a baker who refuses to be hired (and it does not matter who hires him, gay or straight) to help celebrate a gay wedding that desecrates his religious faith, and a baker who refuses to bake anything for Black customers. The first is protected by the Free Exercise Clause and the second is not.

And yes, that is just the particularly relevant portion. I did say that long essay is long.

A commenter at Althouse points out that gay-rights activists do not, of course, hold the same opinion that religious beliefs must be put aside when dealing with the public – their moral belief that homosexual behavior is righteous is sacrosanct. Freedom of religion and morality for me and not for thee: not that this is news, considering conservatives have been pointing out the blatant hypocrisy and narcissism of gay activism attempting to use the power of government to get their way from the very beginning.

Which goes back to a fundamental issue, I think: that law is based on shared morality, shared culture, and in order for there to be peace, there must be solid fences between neighbors, so that each culture may go its own way. The differing minority will always be “oppressed” by the majority, but this is not because the majority is doing anything out of malice. They simply wish to arrange the legal climate and social contract in the way that seems best to themselves. That others disagree on some points is why small-government libertarian types laud federalism, so that individuals may form independent communities in a way that suits themselves and their own morals and preferences, and no one will be forced to do anything against his conscience.

Make no mistake – using the power of government to force an artist to make a work of art that desecrates his faith, in an environment where there are many similar artists who do not share that faith that could be patronized instead, is an act of rank and blatant oppression, motivated by nothing less than utter malice and lacking in any kind of decency or true tolerance.

Part of why Jim Crow laws were so abhorrent is that they codified and supported an attitude that justified interfering in another human being’s ability to work and support himself. Racist white communities could excuse their exclusion of blacks from obtaining the basic fundamentals of life – food, shelter, work – by saying they could just go elsewhere. Actual anti-homosexual bigots could excuse their exclusion of gays and lesbians from society by saying they could just be discreet and stay in the closet, or celibate, or engage in sham marriages to keep up appearances, and thereby be secure in their employment and welcome in the community.

This reasoning is rightly to be abhorred, and it just goes to show that humans are rationalizing animals rather than logical animals that gay activism is now using the “stay closeted and nothing bad will happen to you” argument in order to justify their harassment of individuals with differing religious opinions. After all, if closets are licit means of dealing with differing opinions, it’s far more likely that the more numerous group will force the minority into the closet. And there are always going to be more heterosexuals than homosexuals, feminism’s attempt to turn all women into lesbians notwithstanding.

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Reflections on breeding pairs

So I was reading something somewhere and I got routed over to Shadowdancer Studios and perused some of the entries, which included a fisking of some special snowflake’s short-bus “analysis” of Frozen, which I actually watched with J a few nights ago so that he’d get what’s happening in the current season of Once Upon A Time. (Got all that?)

One thing that jumped out to me, other than the weirdness of a feminist using logic (say whaaaaaaaat?) was that this particular feminist talks about Disney movies’ focus on “breeding pairs” as if it’s some kind of strange, not-quite-respectable thing. Now, sign me up for critiquing The Little Mermaid on the grounds that haring off after some hot dude you just met is a bad idea (I loved that part of Frozen: “No, you CAN’T marry him! You just met!”)

Particularly strange is the perspective that dismisses the actions of the Disney princesses with the comment that the solution to all their problems is to fall in love. This statement may well be accurate on some levels – “Regardless of what the princess wants at the beginning of the film, heteronormative love is generally the solution.” – but I think the author is dead wrong on this when it comes to Beauty and the Beast. Because the problem to which heteronormative love was the solution was NOT Belle’s – it was the Beast’s! Belle gets her adventure in the great wide somewhere when she rides off into the forest to find her father, sacrifices her freedom for his life, and explores a magical castle full of enchantment. The transformation of the Beast from a self-centered, immature, whiny brat (with big claws) into a young man who finally “gets” self-sacrificial love (sending Belle away to make her happy even though she is literally his only chance at ever regaining the humanity of the ENTIRE CASTLE’S POPULATION) is the main point – Belle herself does not “learn” the value of such love because she is shown to possess it from the beginning! She gets “more than this provincial life” from the moment she rides through the castle’s gates: the rest of the movie is about how her example of love and kindness transforms an angry, selfish young man. (What I want to know about that movie is where the heck are his parents this whole time?!) Romantic love is definitely not the solution to her problem.

And even in the Disney movies where romantic love is the magical solution, a more cynical perspective is that the princesses are using the romantic love of their male partners in order to gain something they desire. Cinderella is a particularly egregious example of this “young woman uses feminine wiles to charm man into giving her what she wants” trope – in this case, an escape from the drudgery of living with her (admittedly evil) stepmother. But Ariel is another example: she wants to live on land, and Prince Eric is really just a very convenient means for her to achieve this without losing her Privileged Princess status. No slaving away out in the sun all day for Ariel!

Note as well that “true love’s kiss” only works if the kisser possesses the quality of True Love. Whether or not Cinderella loves her prince with True Love is beside the point, especially since she’s in suspended animation at the time. Frozen hangs quite the lampshade on this by having Anna believe that she possesses True Love with Hans, only to discover that she’s been duped by a handsome cad and her icy sister was quite right in dismissing their plans for immediate matrimony.

As talented author John C. Wright says, “There are feminists who object to tales where knights and princes disguised as churls or shepherd boys rescue princesses chained to rocks from the leviathan in the sea, and carry her off on his white charger, or, better yet, carry her aloft in his winged shoes to a royal wedding.  The feminist called such tales, where the princess is merely the prize to be won, examples of male chauvinism. Blind vipers! Were only their eyes opened, they would call this female chauvinism, because this is a type or a shadow of the rescue of all the soul of the Church by our beloved Bridegroom.”

Indeed, these romantic tales are not marketed towards young boys so that they may imagine themselves in the princes’ shoes – the princes do not usually have more than bit-parts to play in the tale! – they are marketed towards the little girls who dream of being, or becoming, royalty. The siren call of True Love is held out as an ideal that people strive for in a world where real marriages are hard work and fairy godmothers don’t magick up beautiful gem-studded dresses and crystal shoes for grand European balls. The development of Disney pushing “true love” as an act of familial love troubles me – because it indicates that such deep, familial love is become part of fantasy, the high horns of Elfland blowing in an ideal realm rather than in day-to-day life. Soul mates have always been fantasy. Sibling love and sacrificial parental love, on the other hand, used to be quite common, a bedrock and a safety net.

(I won’t go into The Princess and the Frog - on the whole that movie was just plain odd, which is about as much as I remember of it. If Disney wanted a dark-skinned princess, surely there must be tales of myth and legend out of Africa, filled with enchantment and danger and high drama, that would have suited. Setting such a tale in the modern day and making the princess an entrepreneur was just…. fail. And not even epic fail. Weird fail.)

And now on to the “breeding pairs” business.

The most important thing most young people will ever do in their entire lives is form a successful breeding pair. The most significant thing in the vast majority of all men and women’s lives is their choosing a mate and raising children. Very, very, very few people ever achieve a greater legacy than their offspring. Great inventors and explorers might; a few skilled authors whose work stands the test of time to become classics. Even the drama of real-life royalty is bound up with the extreme importance of choosing mates wisely and rearing children well to continue the royal line!

To discount the importance of the tale of the breeding pair is to discount the only real work of significance that most people will ever accomplish. Why shouldn’t young girls fill their daydreams with such romance? The world of the career woman is decidedly unromantic, filled with paperwork and HR departments, committee meetings and meaningless drudgery (the meaning of most work is that it nets you food and shelter and hopefully a bit of disposable income for entertainment, after all) that might be “important” at the moment (because otherwise you will be homeless and starving), but fifty years from now will be as utterly forgotten as the 501st time you washed your socks. Romanticizing careers makes just about as much sense as romanticizing doing the laundry by beating clothing against rocks in a river instead of having a delightful assortment of woodland creatures as helpers.

This week, my grandmother died at the age of 89. She and my grandfather recently celebrated their SIXTY-EIGHTH wedding anniversary. Nothing either of them ever did was as significant as their achievements as a breeding pair who became beloved elders of a large clan and an example for us all to aspire to; no career either of them ever held was as legacy-building as the way their love for each other has shaped the next three generations of our family.

Most of us mere humans aren’t brilliant geniuses or great inventors or talented artists or insightful writers whose works will endure and continue inspiring generations to come. My (currently-hypothetical) children won’t ever meet my grandmother, but the days I spent dwelling in her house and learning from her stories and singing along with her songs, learning to love little birds and play with my annoying younger siblings in forest and field and stream, hunting crawdads and newts and minnows – they’re part of who I am, and I’ll pass those down to little minds who will only ever know her as a picture or a video clip of their grandpa’s parents. Just as I know my grandmother’s mother, dimly, though her tales.

The jobs they worked and the challenges they faced – most of that is gone, now, totally irrelevant, a minor detail; ancient history. Their adventures in the great wide somewhere – and they did have adventures! – are notes that have faded, washed away by time – except where their children remember. And their children’s children, and their children’s children’s children will also hear the tales and sing the songs. Their legacy will live on – is already living on – through generations. Their generations, the children they raised and the grandchildren they helped mold and the great-grandchildren that will, perhaps, have dim memories of white-haired elders singing in their reclining chairs.

I may owe a debt to Henry Ford or Thomas Edison or George Washington, or any number of other significant figures whose contributions to humanity are enormous but have nothing to do with their reproduction. But I wouldn’t even be here to enjoy cars and electricity and democracy if not for the humble breeding pair who weathered the Depression and World War II and stuck it out through thick and thin for 68 years, raising a passel of boys and helping each of their sons out while they went on to form their own breeding pairs and produce grandchildren – most of whom, by the way, are also married.

Sorry, feminists: it’s breeding pairs all the way back and all the way down. And we like it that way. Do any of you have a dozen grandchildren? Somehow I doubt it!

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Women who don’t care about rape

I have come to the conclusion, after the recent events involving sensational rape stories, that there are a great many women who do not actually care about rape, and that this set of women includes women who say that they have been raped (sometimes brutally) as well as women who self-identify as “rape activists.”

You can identify these women when they relate a tale of sexual assault, but then tell everyone that they don’t want justice done.

If you don’t want to see a rapist brought to justice, I’m sorry, but you don’t really care about rape. Even if you personally have been raped.

What you really care about is yourself.

Justice means less to you than the inconvenience of having to go through the criminal investigation process. The safety of potential future rape victims – who are certainly likely to presently exist if it’s been several years since you were assaulted – means less to you than your own selfish coping strategies.

You basically chose to hang other vulnerable women out to dry by refusing to pursue justice.

And then “rape activists” have the gall to talk about how many rapes go unreported? Well excuse me, but who exactly is it that spends all their time giving women a huge wagonload of night-soil excuses for NOT COMING FORWARD?! Oh right, the “rape activists.” Nice little scam they have running there – convince women it’s okay to not pursue justice against rapists in favor of creating just-so stories about “rape culture” while neatly ensuring that the “rapes that go unreported” problem never gets addressed. Thus supplying a convenient population of scot-free rapists to continue driving the victim industry that gives “rape activists” their meaning in life (and supplies a lucky few with paychecks).

I can respect a victim that says “I was raped, and I was too weak to come forward then, and it’s too late for me to pursue justice now because the evidence is gone. But here’s how I could have dealt better with what happened to me, and I want other young girls to learn this so that they can do more than I did.” At least in that instance, the story serves a useful purpose to train others to recognize danger signs, and perhaps a more recent victim might read it and come forward so that a good case could be made for locking up a dangerous predator.

But a victim that comes forward, gives potentially identifying details of her “rapist” and then claims that she doesn’t want anyone to investigate the CRIME she just accused someone of committing? I’m sorry, but society has a vested interest in bringing rapists to justice before they RAPE SOMEONE ELSE. If you’re standing in the way of that investigation telling people to let it drop, it doesn’t matter if you’re a victim or an activist – you don’t actually care about rape.

Stated intentions don’t matter. Actions matter. If you value your own tranquility over the pain of doing the necessary work to put your rapist in jail, congratulations: YOU are rape culture. YOU are the one who is protecting your rapist from justice and giving him and other sexual predators the confidence to keep victimizing women. Not society. YOU. Writing screeds about generic bad men doing bad things isn’t fighting rape. Attempting to shame male sexuality isn’t fighting rape. Passing ridiculous rules about how exactly college students are required to pursue intercourse isn’t fighting rape. Fighting rape is putting rapists in JAIL. And society stands ready to do this. Why are women like Lena Dunham and UVA “Jackie” and Sabrina Rudin Erdely getting in the way of society putting rapists in jail where they belong?

The only logical conclusion: either they’re lying, or they don’t actually care about rape. Or, you know, both.

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And the pendulum swings

The idea of marriage as an official recognition of infatuation has obviously failed, so now brave new pioneers are searching online for “co-parents“: people to “help” raise children – without sex or romance. (Notice that the relationship very closely resembles the Child Support model of no-fault divorce “marriage.”)

My own opinion is that if you fail so abysmally at the mating game that you can’t actually snag a committed mate who wants to reproduce with you and get him to go through today’s farcical marriage, that can be dissolved on a whim, you have no business whatsoever procreating at all. Period. I mean, if you can’t get an independent adult to commit to living with you on a kinda-sorta-maybe-permanent basis, you seriously should not be creating a small, helpless, dependent human person to be your personal life-fulfillment slave for the rest of your existence. Especially since, no matter the arguments for “oh this is better than this OTHER failure mode” of human reproduction, a husband and wife living together offer something fundamentally far more valuable to their children than any co-parent ever can: a functioning model of a full human pair-bonded mate relationship. Good luck to the “co-parented” kids when they hit puberty and start dating, ’cause they’re sure gonna need it! (I’m minded of the moral of the TV show Once Upon A Time, which can be summarized as “nobody f***s you up like your parents.” Seriously.)

However, all the issues which such co-parents hash out together – spiritual beliefs, life philosophies and goals, parenting styles – all of that is exactly what people prior to the marriage-as-public-infatuationromance model would have done. Marriage has been far more like a permanent business contract that happens to include sexual reproduction as an important component for far longer than it’s been romantically companionate.

One of the Insty commenters points out one of the glaring logical fallacies contained in the article – in that a communal “village” has determined that accepting single mothers instead of couples into their community is detrimental. So much for needing a village to raise a child! What’s even more obvious in the comments from “co-parent” Hope is that she is not in fact building a new kind of family – she is setting out to create a very typical post-divorce “shared parenting” relationship with multiple baby daddies, just without the marriage part first. Why go through all the bother of actually getting married when what these women really want is an extra pair of adult hands and an extra paycheck? In today’s society where men have little to no legal rights to their children, a woman doesn’t even have to promise sex in order to get a man to sign up as her gravy train – she’s essentially just signing him up as domestic help!

That there are men who are willing to sign themselves up for this just for the opportunity to be somewhat involved in their child’s life is incredibly sad commentary on the state of modern society.

What’s more is the “failed experiment” of the nuclear family is actually what built Western civilization into a world-dominating culture. It’s just the more recent romantic serial monogamy form of “marriage” which has failed. These women are riding the coat-tails of social capital set up by the standard for lifelong marriage; the sort of polyandry they enjoy (while permanently extracting male resources) couldn’t be maintained in any other culture.

With the advent of reproductive technologies commoditizing human life, and the rise of rent-a-womb surrogates who sell offspring to order, I think we are not too far out from seeing things come full circle as men who want children contract with women surrogates to be the domestic help. In which case we come right back to Ye Olden Dayz, don’t we? I doubt the feminists will allow that – they obviously much prefer this new arrangement in which children are owned by their mothers and the fathers are required to sell their bodies through domestic help and income-generating labor in order to have access to their own children.

You can try to rework human nature as much as you want but in the end biology is an inescapable dictator. You can have WIC and child support orders but in the end, having two biological parents involved is just better.

Even if you really suck at adult relationships and have a proven track record of an inability to maintain them.

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The problem of policing

Over the last few days there has been a prodigious number of pixels conscripted to the task of talking about police, and law, and how things go wrong. I shall collect a few posts: on Sarah Hoyt’s blog, Cedar Sanderson and Amanda Green. Over at Vox Popoli, a discussion on the intrinsic danger of the law, complete with libertarian utopia in the comments. (Sigh.) And Armed and Dangerous has a contribution as well.

The details of exactly what happened to Eric Garner seem to change based on what point the commentator is wishing to make, but the basic structure of the incident seems to be that this man, a rather ordinary human being complete with faults (who among us is perfect?) and a habit of getting himself arrested for violating petty laws, ended up dead due to a “kinetic interaction” with the police. (Look, no guns this time. Perhaps what we really need is Police Control, not gun control.)

A lot of people have quite a lot of differing reactions to this chain of events. I’m still wishing that the media would choose an actual sainted martyr instead of a petty criminal for their cause of “delegitimize the government” – which is exactly what’s happening here. But perhaps that’s merely my own provincialism at work, and the fate of Eric Garner and other such unheroic petty criminals is exactly what we all should be talking about, rather than the instances of true innocents being persecuted. Innocents are hard to find, considering humanity’s imperfection; and smart people, by definition, are much much less likely to be caught – or if caught for white-collar crime, much less likely to end up in a physical altercation

Given that smart people, if they choose to break the law, are less likely to get caught doing it by police in an aggressive standoff, and the majority of individuals in any given population is going to consist of those who are below average and average intelligence, the system of laws and street-level enforcement in any just society must be designed to deal with stupid people, that is, the low-IQ and those who are generally decently intelligent but are having Idiot Moments. (Smart people are a different problem; when they go really bad, they go to Wall Street or Washington, after all.)

Having an Idiot Moment in front of a police officer is a good way to get dead. This is a simple fact of life; cops are not omniscient, they have off days as well, even without considering the systemic, institutional problems involved in the ever-more-militarized police bureaucracy. Having an Idiot Moment in front of the armed, licensed-to-kill agents of the state is always going to be a potential Darwin Award event, even if we managed somehow to have a perfect world in which police officers are beloved friends of absolutely everyone in the community and never have Idiot Moments themselves.

One petty criminal, well known to the local constabulary as a scofflaw, in a world where petty crime often leads to escalating violent criminality, having an Idiot Moment while the cops are also having Idiot Moments (if one subscribes to the “they should have handled that better” position, which is a rather rich position to take for armchair theorists whose jobs never put them into contact with violent criminals) – combined with ill health on the part of the victim – and it’s all too clear that “what else can you reasonably expect?” applies, as far as short-term takeaways go. Protect yourself first, and don’t get into heated arguments with people who (a) already don’t like you for whatever reason, and (b) are used to using physical violence to back up their decisions. If Mr. Garner hadn’t died, would anyone have even cared if he’d been arrested for the nth time? Would the media have paid any attention to the problem of cops lying, ridiculous laws, etc. if there weren’t a dead body involved? Unfortunately, I very much doubt it.

And yet, there are problems, and those problems do need to be addressed. Cop Attitude is not healthy for society. A legal system full of petty regulations is not healthy for society. An enforcement system that endlessly arrests repeat offenders in a frustrating (for everyone!) cycle of uselessness is not good for society in oh so many ways. Media stories that like to focus on OMG raaaaacism! based on nothing more than the skin color of the people involved (the irony) are also not good for society, because an amorphous attitude of “institutional” racism is exactly like anthropogenic climate change: you can blame it for anything but there’s nothing practical that anybody can do about it that doesn’t involve killing millions for standing in the way of “progress.” Which might be “practical” but as a solution to the problem of human nature and human existence… well, let’s just say I prefer humanity to continue existing in an imperfect state rather than pile up corpses in pursuit of the Super-man. Let us continue to strive. (Certainly this preference has to do with my peculiar religion, which celebrates this month the incarnation of God into human nature, so that one man might actually be perfect, and yet still suffer the punishment due to wrongdoers so that imperfect humanity might be redeemed, and someday made perfect by Divine intervention. Which is the only way it’s ever going to happen.)

The angry response to such a tragedy is also to be expected. There is a certain amount of discussion that must be had about the specifics of it; whether or not the police department in question has institutional attitude problems that need to be addressed, whether or not the law that Mr. Garner was accused of breaking is a good one, what constitutes reasonable force and appropriate risk mitigation for both police officers and agitated citizens and whether or not the decisions made in the heat of that particular moment were wise or foolish. (From what I hear, everyone involved was having an Idiot Moment, but hindsight is 20/20.)

I happen to think that there is at least one problem that might be usefully addressed, without having to engage in 20/20 hindsight or casting blame about on all parties for collectively being utter morons, and though libertarian utopias amuse me, it happens to be one of the libertarian arguments.

Cops shouldn’t be able to use their position as cops to shield themselves from prosecution. In this country we have laws that apply when a person’s actions result in the death of another; murder, manslaughter, etc. And while I think the cries of “murder” are unhelpful hyperbole (since I do not think that the officers at the scene intended to kill Mr. Garner with malice aforethought: they could easily have offed him quietly elsewhere and elsewhen if that were the case) there is an argument to be made that the inadvertent death of Mr. Garner qualifies as some form of careless manslaughter. That the fact that it happened while the police officers were attempting to carry out what they no doubt saw as their sworn duties should not protect them from legal charges for negligence. I’m going with the “no titles of nobility” argument: that law enforcement should not themselves have immunity from the laws that they enforce.

The judicial system (and its supporters) like to say that if police did not have immunity, then the judicial system would be swamped with people suing officers for carrying out their duties. I’m not especially sympathetic to the judicial system in any case, and this sounds like some kind of whine about not wanting to do their jobs, to me. Surely there are other solutions to vexatious litigation than rendering a police badge a title of feudal authority and dividing people into nobles and serfs! (How much of the Cop Attitude stems from this protection from consequences of wrongdoing, I wonder?)

If causing an accidental death is something that an ordinary citizen will be brought to trial for doing, it seems to me that it would be very good for America that police officers should face the same fate, and not receive cover by claiming that is all part of the job. Self-defense is one thing, and indeed police officers have to use a slightly different mindset since it is their job to secure violent persons. But if in the course of securing a violent person, that person dies – well, there certainly needs to be an accounting. And the police bureaucracy is obviously not trusted to do that accounting, and I think that there are very good reasons why that is the case that don’t involve accusations of systemic racism.

It’s not illegitimate to look at this situation and say “What could Mr. Garner have done differently to avoid this situation from his end?” as a means of acting wisely oneself, but the whole problem of police engagement is that they will still be engaging with people acting foolishly even in a perfect world in which all police officers are paragons of righteousness and restraint! There is far too much collateral damage being done by police these days; in an age of SWAT raids on wrong addresses and shooting twelve-year-olds who are brandishing toy guns, police simply don’t have the social trust they need when something hairy happens and things go wrong.

That lack of trust is due to police actions, and only police action can earn it back.

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Segregation

As a person who leans more toward a libertarian mindset, I do not share the nonsensical “OMG SEGREGATION!!” attitude that prevails wherever white liberals gather. It’s plain to anyone who has eyes that people like to congregate together with others of like culture and interests, and since cultures in the macro sense are tribes writ large, it’s not surprising that most geographical locations have “majority” and “minority” populations. I’m not aware of any place on Earth that has precisely equal parts of all the major ethnicities, and given that the “races” themselves lump together totally disparate peoples who may not even be able to stand each other all on the basis of skin color, it would be petty and shallow to invest any particular value in such a community, anyway.

Of course, it’s always amusing to point out to the white liberals who go on and on endlessly about “diversity” (by which they mean, “fewer white people”) that the “diverse” people groups often do not share this preoccupation with skin-color ratios and are quite willing to be blatantly and unapologetically exclusive. Of course, white liberals justify this by blaming white people for all the evil in the world, but then, getting them to arrogantly and un-ironically compare white people to gods and colored people to children (or animals) without moral agency and then laughing at the stupid hypocrisy is kind of the point.

But in any case, if some people want to put on a protest that’s specifically about race, I really don’t see the problem with wanting to assign people different roles based on their skin color. It’s perfectly logical in the context of the protest itself; the fact, of course, that they’re using a media myth as their inspiration rather than protesting either the way black lives don’t matter to the black criminals who do most of the killing or ACTUAL CASES of police malfeasance doesn’t change the fact that the request to have “segregated” roles for this particular event was quite reasonable.

It’s tragically ironic that the unintended consequences of the media igniting firestorms over white or white-Hispanic people defending themselves against black aggression will work not to eliminate the specter of whites-who-don’t-like-blacks, but rather to increase the numbers of white people who don’t trust blacks, don’t like blacks, and don’t want anything to do with black people. While also reinforcing the black community’s distrust for law enforcement (good luck recruiting new police officers from those communities, guys! And even if you get a few, they’re gonna want to go police some other place where the people actually respect the uniform!) and the poisonous raaaaacism! narrative that teaches black children that the ordinary struggle to succeed that everyone faces in life is some pernicious force that will keep them down (raaaaaaaaacism!) and therefore it’s easier to give up and take the hated white man’s handouts.

Yeah, sure, that doesn’t have any dreadful effects, does it? And it’s not like a narrative in which one tribal group paints themselves as victims another tribal group as oppressors wasn’t the precursor to just about every genocide ever either, eh?

The annoying thing is that there are injustices that need to be addressed, there are instances of people who are held back by institutional failure (coughpublicschoolscough) and there are plenty of cases where police officers behave as jackbooted thugs at the behest of the local political power structure. But it’s never those cases being blown up with national media coverage and protested! It’s so frustrating to see so many people with the proverbial good intentions being led around like sheep, baaing and bleating on command and never thinking that maybe they’re being used for some other purpose than fighting real racism and real injustice!

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