Archive for the just opinionated Category

I support you whether you like it or not

Posted in Goddamn feminism again, just opinionated, Not an activist, Rants with tags , , , on July 3, 2015 by idnami

I’ve been running into ally shaming a lot lately and I think it’s fucked up that this is becoming a thing. I don’t mean educating someone to become a better supporter of your cause, I mean straight up shitting down their throat for trying to support as best they are able. Some of it is from the feminist community, telling men who want to stand by us that they aren’t good enough at it, some of it from the LGBT community, telling cisgendered heterosexual supporters that they aren’t good enough at it. And like, yeah ok. Sometimes that support is offered clumsily or imperfectly, and some people are more talk than action, for sure.

I still think the fact that the talk is happening is a very encouraging sign, so let’s think about not alienating people who are sincerely trying to be part of the solution.

So, historic US Supreme Court decision blah blah, finally catching up to Canada after 10 years yada yada. We all know what happened and I’ll skip the rehash.

I know some LGBT people that this actually really matters to. American ones who want to get married. This was kind of a huge win for them and I was genuinely happy about it. Also it pissed off a bunch of bigoted fuckheads and that always makes me smile. So I threw a rainbow filter on my profile pic just like several million others. The intention was something along the lines of putting on a party hat. It was not intended as activism in itself, only a festive celebration of a thing that happened that means good things for certain people I care about. I’m pretty sure I could say the same for most of the people who did this.

But then, some other LGBT people said, “No you fucking hipster, don’t expect me to be grateful to you for jumping on this rainbow bandwagon.”

cheinbow

But why?

Well… I didn’t expect them to. And it’s ok that they weren’t. Gratitude is not an appropriate response to a party hat. But the talk became positively hostile and days later I’m still thinking about it. Cuz I actually give a fairly large number of fucks about LGBT rights, and whether I was expressing that in a way that could please everyone or not, ouch dude.

So no, me sporting a flag doesn’t directly help anyone. What it does do is tell the people I encounter something about me that I want them to know. It tells LGBT folks that I’m on their side. It also puts any homophobic idiots in the immediate vicinity in a snit, perhaps even provokes a reaction so that I know who they are and can shun them in future.

But, know who else I’ll shun? Every other type of bigot out there, including feminists who hate men and straight-hating LGBT people. Hate is the thing I’m actually fighting here.

I’m not a feminist because I think oppressing women is bad, I’m not anti racist because I think oppressing people of colour is bad, and I’m not a LGBT supporter (do I even say supporter if I’m bi? I’m in the acronym!) because I think oppressing gay and trans people is bad. I am all these things because I think oppressing people is bad. But I take part in the conversation about specific forms of oppression and the people they affect because I think just calling yourself a humanist is another way of saying you’re equally apathetic about everything.

I think we also need to recognize that apathy is a perfectly valid response to a world which demands that if you care even a little, you must care all-consumingly or you can go fuck yourself with a rusty hatchet.

I get it. Some of us have been so hurt so badly that we see the face of our abuser in anyone who shares characteristics with them. I get that I am a privileged member of a historically oppressive culture, whether I like it or not, and that sometimes I’ll be the focus for that rage. That doesn’t mean I have to hold still when someone starts flinging shit at me.

I don’t have to take a bullet for you. I don’t have to agree with everything you say. I don’t have to like you personally. I don’t have to be your punching bag, or drown in guilt for the hurt you’ve suffered at the hands of someone I may vaguely resemble. And the fact that I may think you personally are an asshole doesn’t mean I’ll stop actively supporting your rights. But if you get shitty enough at enough people, maybe some of them will. I see this with men vs feminism all the time.

Being an advocate of human rights, for me, means when I hear racism or sexism or LGBT bashing I don’t tolerate it. I address it and I’ve changed more than one person’s thinking simply by asking them to think. It also means treating people like human beings no matter what genitals or skin colour they have, who they love or where they come from. It does not mean being everyone’s friend, walking on eggshells, or treating their point of view as more important than mine. It also doesn’t mean spending every waking second educating myself on the special situation of every oppressed group. I tried that for a long time and it got exhausting. There is just too much to know and I’ve got my own shit to think about too. But feel free to tell me what you need. If you have the time to tell someone that it’s not your job to educate them and lecture them for not knowing what you feel they should, you have time to copy/paste a link. have time, speaking as a feminist who is getting pretty fed up with the unnecessary exacerbation of hostilities.

The us vs them mentality of this seems to imply that your struggle isn’t my struggle too, that our struggle isn’t theirs, and you bet your ass it is. I don’t want to live in a world where rights are granted in some kind of weird gradient system. So when I’m told that because I don’t understand every nuance of an issue I want to help fight and therefore I’m not welcome in the battle, I find it incredibly counterproductive. Also it really hurts my feelings, and hurting your allies sometimes just makes you extra enemies.

I’m glad that legal rights in the US have taken another step forward, but as we’ve seen with every other fight against systemized oppression, you can’t legislate true equality. Women didn’t magically become equal just because the government granted us the right to vote, and we are still fighting almost 100 years later. The evolution that society needs to ensure that every person has the same rights as every other person comes from changes in the hearts and minds of the individual members of of that society. In other words, look at all these fucking rainbows. They mean that more and more and more people stand up for the idea of equality. It’s not just lazy, idle, armchair activism. It’s a sign of changing times.

So if you see me flying a rainbow flag, please know I do not expect a pat on the back for it. But I also don’t expect a punch in the face. Unless you’re a trans/homophobe, in which case, get in the ring, motherfucker.

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Please, stop giving free publicity to awful celebrities

Posted in just opinionated, Rants with tags , , , on April 24, 2014 by idnami

Disclaimer: This is a subject about which I feel very strongly. What follows is an angry, sweary rant that some may find excessive. However the first draft was just one long stream of outraged profanity and gibberish produced by pounding my head on the keyboard in frustrated incredulity, so deal with it.

***

I understand. You’ve spent five minutes of your life that you will never get back watching in horrified fascination as someone famous does something repugnant. You did this because it’s viral because it’s terrible and you think, “If I can’t unsee this, no one else should be allowed to either.”

I am addicted to net vomit myself. I spend far too much time doing Buzzfeed quizzes. I frequently fail to resist (though I try. oh god I try) the vaguely titled clickbait on Upworthy. I have an uncanny knack for finding shit like this and this and this and this and oh god wtf is that?

K shut up, that Mister Rogers one was awesome. Otherwise… just woah.

I’m notorious for sharing this kind of crap. On my headstone it will say, “Where did she find this stuff?” My favourite thing to do with my sister is make her watch my latest finds when she comes over. She pretends to be disgusted but secretly loves them. She showed me that last link, so what does that tell you? Whatever you say, sis. Weirdo.

The biggest reason I love the internet as I do is because it has allowed all of us, the bizarre, the far left field and just plain fucked up members of society to have a voice and to influence the sense of humour of humanity forever… or at least until they invent something better than Youtube. I can’t help but just adore it this kind of stupid, crazy nonsense and I believe it deserves to be known far and wide.

But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the real garbage. The stuff that isn’t awesome because it’s bad or ridiculous, it’s bad because it’s bad. It’s so inexplicably bad that it might not even know it is bad, and that’s the problem. There are people who are so famous, so used to having their own way and so somehow successful that they can do any damn thing they want and someone will give it a green light and back it with actual money. But we, the Internet, know it’s bad, and we express our disapproval by… sharing the everloving fuck out of it.

Yesterday, no less than seven times on social media, I saw links to the latest Avril Lavigne/Chad Kroeger collaboration. This unholy pairing of blasphemers of all that is rock have co-written a “song” that is an utterly heinous offense to music, lyrics and taste. It’s accompanied by a gawdawful, indescribably dreadful and frankly fucking stupid video that no one can goddamn resist forcing upon their fellow man. This despite every one of the articles carrying the video stating that the Internet has unanimously panned it for being officially the worst thing ever. Instances of this video are being pulled down all over the net. Yet a persistent gaggle of journalists have insisted on preserving and promoting it in all its douchebagging glory and now it’s fucking trending. And no I am not posting a link. You can just Google it yourself if you care that much. Better yet, use Bing, since your standards are already in the toilet.

But we love to revel in our superiority, right? By sharing the content and our negative opinions of it at the same time we continue to guarantee our place within the tribe of Cool, Socially Acceptable, and Definitely In No Way Affiliated With These Clueless Louts Cuz Please Dude, I’m Just Sharing This To Show How Stupid I’m Not.

So let’s consider for a moment the actual results of all this misplaced contempt-promotion. Every click on Avril’s website is… one more reason for her to keep making this shit! Remember the Miley Cyrus VMA “scandal”? How everyone talked for weeks about her “shocking” performance? That did more for her career than a thousand approving reviews could have. The US petition to have Beiber deported back to Canada? Do you know how many young, impressionable Canadian girls are just dying to comfort that little shit the second he crosses the border?

These people are just happy we are talking about them, and it just encourages them to do more idiotic things. If we could just shut up about them for five goddamn minutes they would get the results they actually deserve.

They would be ignored. Not even ostracised. that takes energy and gives them too much power. No. Simply forgotten. Bereft of the Food of The Celebrities: fame, controversy, paparazzi, buzz.

Stop wasting your time on these people. Stop giving them your clicks. Please, please for the love of all that is good and right, stop encouraging their assininery with your attention and foisting it on everyone else. Let them die in the oubliette of internet obscurity, them and all their kind.

I made it through about a minute of that Lavigne vid and it was a minute too many. You may be thinking that if it’s this worthy of anyone’s ire that you need to see it, share it and mock it at length, but if you do you’re playing right into her record company’s hands and helping her stay in the spotlight, when there are so many talented people who deserve to be there more. Are you a robot slave of the rich and famous? No? Then knock it the fuck off.

I’ve been guilty of the same, and I want to do my part to make up for that, so I make you this promise right now. I will never again promote any one of these dumbfucks. I will not mention the Cyruses, the Beibers, the Nickelbacks or their untalented wives in this blog ever again. Just do me a favour and stand with me on this. I’m just one blogger, but together we can help make the internet a better place for everyone. Well, except those guys. Fuck those guys.

 

How to not fuck up a relationship

Posted in just opinionated, Uncategorized with tags , on November 26, 2013 by idnami

black heart

Some time ago I ran across this article  which I thought was brilliant for many reasons. I shared it on Facebook and the two biggest complaints I got were a) it was too long and wordy and b) it had to do with feminism which certain men’s rights types claim oppresses men.

The latter complaint I will disregard as I think the men’s rights movement is largely woman-hating bullshit and I don’t have time to cater to those guys. I wouldn’t want them dating any woman I know so they can keep on fucking up their relationships all they like, till they breed themselves right out of the population.

The former I can get down with, as most of us are cruising the net while procrastinating at work. So here I’ll try to condense some of those ideas and a few others in 1500 words or less.

WARNING: The following is written from a fairly heteronormative female perspective as I am a (mostly) straight chick who (mostly) dates guys, and this stuff largely comes from my complaints in my past relationships.

It’s also geared toward romantic relationships. However, it’s pretty good advice for any gender and sexual orientation in any type of relationship as it’s mostly about treating yourself and other humans decently.

But it’s also kind of bitchy, cuz I’m like that.

Most men I associate with are not assholes who think women are meat puppets to be used and thrown away, or kept around and disregarded. They are largely caring, intelligent people. However many of them seem bewildered by the women they try to get close to. So here are a few tips that would at the very least have helped a few dudes I’ve dated.

1. The whole jerks vs. nice guys thing is bullshit.

Straight up. All you “nice guys” who can’t figure out why the women you’re attracted to all seem to gravitate toward dickbags, ask yourself this question: How boring am I?

That sounds awful I know, but speaking as a woman who has a lifetime of dickbag dating behind her, I can tell you that if all you have going for you is “nice” you don’t stand a chance.

The appeal of jerks is that they tend to keep things interesting and engaging, if only on a negative level. Every asshole I ever loved, I loved because he made music or art or poetry and deeply gave a damn about his legacy to the world.

 Do you live life passionately? Do you care about anything that matters? Do you have anything to offer, to interest her, to set her on fire? Or are you just inoffensive?

If you answered no to the first three questions and yes to the fourth, don’t bow your head in defeat just yet. Understand that relationships, like life, require more than simply breathing to maintain. If all you do is work and watch TV, why would you want someone to share that with? Do you really find it all that satisfying yourself?

If yes, eventually some boring woman may flop down next to you on the couch and you can spend your lives together in vegetative bliss. If no, what are you waiting for to do what fulfills you? If you want a woman who inspires you, you have to inspire her. So get off your ass and go be inspirational, or quit bitching. Do it for yourself first and watch your life transform in more ways than one.

The moral: Complete yourself. No one else can do it for you. 

2. You are 50% responsible for your relationship’s state of emotional wellness.

So let’s assume that you have successfully incorporated tip #1 and a fascinating, complex woman has fallen in love with you, or is at least interested. Good job! Do you expect things never to go wrong? Or a better phrasing might be, are you completely gobsmacked when things inevitably do go wrong? Uh oh.

Look, it’s gonna happen. One of you will step on the other’s toes at some point. If she does it to you, you may get hurt or mad. Can you express that openly and maturely? Passive aggressiveness is bullshit, don’t do that. But so is blame and accusations.

Try to find a middle way where you can name the action and its effect on you without making it a judgement on her. If she’s a decent person, she will do what she can to make it better. This skill may take time to develop for both of you, but it is a skill. 

So what if you step on her toes? What if she’s upset about that? One of the biggest problems I’ve had in relationships is, female hurt or anger tends to freak guys right out. And quite often in my experience they will immediately focus on the way I’ve expressed myself rather than what I’ve expressed.

I do consider it important to express these things in a non-threatening way for best results. However if she happens to cry or be visibly angry without being abusive, do not use her emotional expression as an excuse to dismiss her. Don’t attempt to rationalize or minimize your actions thinking that if she only understands why you did what you did she won’t be mad anymore. It doesn’t work that way.

Do apologize sincerely first.  I recommend this to everyone. You may not have meant to hurt or upset the other person. You may think they shouldn’t feel the way they do. But guess what? They do, and as a caring partner your job is to try to rectify your own part in causing it.

Apologize first, explain later, and for God’s sake don’t go into hiding because you aren’t comfortable with displays of emotion. Learn to deal with the discomfort head on. You will grow as a person and your relationship will grow too. I promise.

The moral: Make it better, not worse.

3. Take space if you need it, but don’t disappear. And don’t be jealous and clingy either.

Let’s say you’re dealing with the above scenario and don’t trust yourself to have the conversation in the moment. Or maybe there are questions about the direction of the relationship that you don’t feel prepared to answer. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into having an immediate conversation you aren’t ready for. The results will never be good.

So, step back, take a few hours or days, think hard about the question or issue. But don’t take forever about it. If someone has presented you with a problem you helped cause, you need to do your part to fix it in a timely manner. Don’t assume it will go away if you ignore it long enough. It will grow.

Similarly, if you’re being asked to make a commitment or state your intentions, this is a defining moment in the relationship. Refusal to answer the question is in itself an answer. If you let that hang, she will draw her own conclusions and you will wake up alone one day. But, do take your time exploring your feelings before answering, lest you be forced to backpedal later.

On the other hand your partner also needs space. Don’t try to make another person compensate for your insecurities. If you’ve been cheated on or deceived in the past it’s reasonable to fear that happening again. However acknowledge that your choice to be with this person needs to be based on a reasonable faith that they won’t. So treat them like it.

The Moral: Balancing sharing and privacy is healthy!

4. Don’t be an asshole.

Evaluate your maturity level. Fucking and chucking is not ok. Mind games are not ok. Punishing another person for hurting you instead of working toward positive change is not ok. Sticking them on a shelf is not ok. Comparing them to a past lover is not ok. Dating someone but only caring about your own needs? So not ok.

If you’re looking for a punching bag, step away from Plenty of Fish and go to the gym. If you’re looking for someone to prove something to you, prepare to be disappointed. If you’re looking for someone to make you happy, you are missing the point. If you are looking for someone to share happiness with, you’re headed in the right direction.

The moral: Give good to get good.

Above all, remember that we are all struggling human beings who make mistakes. Honestly admit to your own and be as forgiving to the other as you would want someone to be to you.

My response to knee-jerk reactions to the word feminism

Posted in just opinionated, Rants on November 7, 2013 by idnami

Occasionally I feel the need to post something with the word “feminism” in it to see which of my male friends react, and how. I find that if there is a negative reaction it’s usually the same complaint. What that complaint usually boils down to is, “I’m sick of feeling guilty for being a man. You have your rights now so be quiet.”

I’m sorry that you feel my desire for actual equality means you have to feel guilty. You don’t. If you are a man and you have a problem with feminism, you don’t get it. Because you are a man.

Every single day I have to face the million little signs that I am not considered the equal of my male peers. Most of them are innocent enough, a sort of benign sexism. At work, online, on the street. I see it in the way other women think of themselves, this insidious feeling of inferiority, weakness, that never goes away. In all but the strongest of us, it pervades everything we do. The way my social currency goes down in value as I age, gain weight, or simply choose not to make an effort with my hair and makeup one day. The way I am automatically taken less seriously at work unless I assert myself almost forcefully. The way people are surprised when I do.

I see this inequality when men who express vulnerability are told to “man up” or are called pussies. I see it in the bitterness of men who are told it is not themselves women value but their status objects. I see it in the unreasonable expectations placed on both genders because of their genders. I see it woven into the very fabric of our language where masculine words express power and strength and feminine words express weakness.

This is patriarchy, and it is a load of shit. Feminism is not a dirty word. It is a movement that demands closer examination of our culture and our assumptions. It is not about being bitter, or taking away men’s rights. It is about not being content now that we aren’t barefoot, pregnant and confined to the kitchen anymore, not being content to be allowed to vote, not being content because we are “relatively equal” when compared to some other societies, or our own 100 years ago. It’s about not being content until we are actually equal, meaning also that we’ve rectified the social pressures on men to play their prescribed roles as well. It’s about calling out those prescribed roles for the complete bullshit that they are and fixing this.

So please don’t take my feminism as a personal affront, an attack on men or a war waged in bitterness. I see it as a social responsibility and necessary, though I’m sure my hopes will not be fulfilled in my lifetime.

Your accusations of racism might actually make you a racist

Posted in just opinionated, Not an activist, Rants with tags , on September 1, 2013 by idnami

Because there’s no escaping it, and in the interest of staying abreast of current events, I made myself watch a 2 minute clip of the Miley Cyrus VMA video. I dismissed it by saying something like, “She looked like she was having the time of her life. Good for her.” And then I got back to the many more important things in life, like watching Schmoyoho videos on Youtube.

A friend of mine responded that it was racist because she slapped a black woman’s ass and was “using black people as accessories to be ghetto.” I didn’t think she needed any help being ghetto, but I replied that as she is an accessory herself I didn’t see the big deal so long as the backup dancers were paid well.

Later on I saw my gorgeous black neighbour taking out the garbage without his shirt on. I admit, I gawked. Then the conversation I related above crossed my mind and I had a sudden stab of guilt for objectifying a black man. I thought about this for a moment then said to myself, “Don’t be such a goddamn racist!”

This was not because I had been objectifying a black man, but because I suddenly felt guilty about it because he was black, which is frankly ridiculous.

Let me be clear. I’m an equal-opportunity pervert. Black men are attractive in a quite different way than white men. And when I am ogling a guy I’m not thinking about his personality traits or intelligence, his value as a human being, how much money he makes or whether or not he would be a good father or political candidate. There is no human quality judgement going on there.

I’m not going to tell you what do I think about because it may change your perception of your favourite blogger.

furry-fandom-sex-fetish

Not this.

I think there comes a point, a very awkward point, where sensitivity to issues of race can become racist in itself. and there can be a fine line between caring about protecting people from exploitation and simply being patronizing.

What if the woman whose ass got slapped liked it? What if they planned it out beforehand giggling all the while? What if maybe she didn’t enjoy it particularly but the pay cheque was high enough that she didn’t care? It was clearly planned and the woman didn’t appear surprised by it, so what’s the big deal?

All of these possibilities are equally valid but I don’t see anyone asking the lady who got slapped how she felt about it. Instead we are using her too.

We are judging the situation based on the skin colour of the people involved and shamelessly using both of them to make our point. That is racism and exploitation right there, my politically correct friends, and it’s just as wrong.

We must acknowledge that if Miley was on that stage by choice, so was everyone else. To imply that the black person was a victim rather than a willing participant (an assumption based on her blackness?) is to fail to give her credit for intelligence, equality and the capacity to choose. We hold Miley responsible for her actions on stage, so why not the others?

As a member of a historically oppressed group (women) who is all too aware that the time when I could have been considered property isn’t long past, it really chaps my ass when it’s implied that every woman making a pay cheque off her sex appeal is a hapless dupe being exploited by the patriarchy. This assumes a lesser intelligence in women making these choices, a sense that we cannot be trusted with our own sexual expression. And though possibly well-meaning, it’s sexist as fuck.

As a burlesque artist I’ve done some extremely risqué stuff. Each time I walk onstage I’m there by choice. As a feminist I demand that choice be acknowledged and respected. Many women making a living as strippers or porn stars would say the same. Many of us do this because we like it, because it pays well and because we don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks about that. So if a woman chooses to have her ass slapped on stage, why are people who weren’t part of that decision crying racism?

As for white people “stealing black culture” I’d like to point out that black urban culture is as heavily influenced by European culture as it is by ancestral African heritage. If you don’t believe me please take off those blue jeans.

Stylistic fusion is how humanity develops culturally. I don’t get mad at drag queens for “stealing” my feminine culture, even when they look better in heels than me. Similarly I am not being racist when I:

Sing the blues

Wear a shirt with a Mandarin collar

Eat bannock and salmon

Wish I could play sitar

Twerk (lying. I can’t twerk)

Slap a consenting human adult of any colour on the ass.

And feeling as though I am is as silly as it would be if I got mad at a black guy for wearing a plaid shirt because he’s “stealing my Scottish culture.”

I feel that one of the most important human rights is freedom of choice. Too often in trying to stand up for oppressed minorities we treat them like children and oppress them further. If we fail to respect a human being’s capacity for informed and intelligent decision making based on their skin colour, exactly who is the racist here?

The Ominous Omnibus – my thoughts on Bill C-10

Posted in just opinionated, Rants with tags , , , , , on July 24, 2013 by idnami

It is no secret that I strongly disapprove of our current government. Stephen Harper is the reason I started taking any interest whatsoever in politics because I looked into his icy blue eyes in 2008 and decided I didn’t want that man running my country. This opinion has been strongly reinforced by the fact that I’m daily inundated with convincing indications that the Harper Conservatives are taking Canada in a very bad direction.

But I thought there must be some reason they’ve been voted in twice. So I’ve been actively seeking Harper-positive people to tell me why this is. Trouble was, I didn’t think I knew any.

But it turns out I do! So I asked him to send me any pro-Harper information he came across and asked his opinion of Bill C-10, that being one of my biggest beefs with this government. I’m not alone on that.

He very kindly explained why he is for it. Harsher penalties for crime would mean fewer criminals on the streets. Not giving special consideration to first nations and immigrants from troubled countries puts everyone on equal footing. Fair enough.

I would have no problem with this… if it worked. However, prolonged incarceration doesn’t serve as either as a deterrent to first offenses or repeated ones. You can threaten the death penalty for theft but a person will still steal food if they are hungry enough. A rapist or child molester knows there are penalties for their acts. The idea that this knowledge will stop them from their wrongdoing fails to acknowledge the mental illness that makes them not care.

This obviously doesn’t apply to absolutely every case but the causes for the majority of crime are poverty, desperation, lack of options and mental illness. And when I say lack of options I don’t mean you had no choice but to steal a car. I mean that you were given no good reason not to. Why should disenfranchised people care what society wants when society clearly doesn’t give a damn what they need? And for many, the prison lifestyle is preferable to the free lifestyle. At least you are guaranteed food and shelter.

So now we have a crime bill that basically says to these people, “You have committed a crime and you must be punished by being fed, clothed and housed on the taxpayer dime even longer. Take that, miscreant!”

I grew up around a lot of lower class people who turned to crime early in life. Some of them have been in and out of prison since their teens. So it’s a mindset I’m extremely familiar with. And due to my familiarity with it, I can definitively say that the prison system’s main contribution to preventing crime is separating the criminal from society. But the criminal mind, and the resentment towards society that leads to criminal acts (especially violent ones) thrives in prison.

And why should that surprise us? If you want to change someone’s thinking do you confine them with a bunch of other people who think the same way and can teach them better tricks?

The truth is our entire sense of justice is messed up and outdated, based on emotional, revenge based thinking rather than rational, solution oriented thinking. We seek to punish misdeeds with the very erroneous idea that people will “learn their lesson” and emerge contrite and somehow cleansed of the urges and mindsets that put them there in the first place.

Making punishments harsher doesn’t scare criminals enough to stop them, as evidenced by the ineffectiveness of methods used in centuries past. Did the threat of hanging or transportation keep England, for example, from being absolutely riddled with crime? No it didn’t. It wasn’t effective as a deterrent and it didn’t keep the public safe. So if the threat of death or indentured exile didn’t stop crime, why would extra jail time?

This is assuming we catch them at all. Harsher penalties do create incentive to take extra precautions against being caught.

So we are treating the symptom and not the disease, and we aren’t even doing a very good job of that. It’s obvious that the root problems need to be addressed, but that is way harder without overhauling our entire society.

Can we reduce poverty, disenfranchisement and racism? Can we incorporate an emphasis on mental health into routine medical care? Can we change the pervasive, ingrained attitudes that allow rape culture to flourish? Can we hold society as a whole accountable for the people it produces?

I really mean that last one, not that there’s much anyone can do about it. Irresponsible parenting, indifferent teaching, negligent medical care, race and gender hate, stubborn ignorance, religious fanaticism, bigotry and generally mean-spirited attitudes are largely responsible for producing criminals in the first place. And responsible for all that is the unthinking, uncaring, selfish, shortsighted, terrified stupidity of the human animal. That’s you and me, pal. If we could bring ourselves to actually treat each other as we want to be treated we could probably weed out a lot of criminal tendencies.

But mostly we don’t, so we’re doomed. But is a vengeful, punishment based justice system our best option?  Even Texas doesn’t think so, and that’s saying something. They tried it. It cost them tons of money and their crime rate dropped at half the rate of the national average.

So they tried a more rational, statistically viable approach. They invested in drug treatment, mental health programs, and improved probation and parole programs. And it worked. They still have people in prison, even on death row, but far fewer. And their crime rate is far lower. It’s cheaper too!

This goes against our instincts. When we hear of horrific violent crimes our primal, animal brains scream for blood. But going against our instincts, rising above our primal urges is what enabled us to build civilization to begin with.

So what I don’t get is why our government thinks we have the money to burn on a way of doing things that has already been proved a bad mistake. Bill C-10 and the thinking behind it could cost us the opportunity to prevent crime at the root level, ruin more lives, destroy civil liberties and still not accomplish its objective of a safer society. I rarely point to America as a positive role model, but in this case, I’m with Texas.

I am somewhat skeptical that you’re a skeptic. I think you’re just a dick, but I’m open to other possibilities.

Posted in just opinionated, Rants with tags , , , on June 1, 2013 by idnami

I have several friends who claim to be skeptics. Friends, if you are reading this I’m about to roast your asses, just so you know. Love you!

Skeptics vs opinionated egomaniacs can be compared to agnostics vs atheists. The agnostic says, “God? Fuck if I know. Maybe.” Whereas the atheist says, “There is absolutely, positively, definitely no such thing as God.”  and then goes on for a while about sciencey things in order to impress everyone with how intellectual they are and how misguided and dumb anyone who disagrees is.

You are completely wrong and stupid.

You are completely wrong and stupid.

It’s possible that the atheist may in fact be right. I won’t rule it out. Some days I’d like them to be right because I often think if there is such thing as a higher power consciously aware of the tiny particle that is me, it’s fucking with me. However the agnostic attitude seems more sensible. Because no one actually knows for sure, much as they’d like to pretend certainty.

I recognize the right of an atheist to disbelieve in God the same way I recognize a christian’s right to believe. But in both cases I wish some of them didn’t have to be such douchebags about it.

A true skeptic questions and is interested in answers. A dickhead claiming to be a skeptic stands with arms smugly folded and wallops you with a definitive denial of anything you say, uninterested in the possibility that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in their philosophy. To them a lack of evidence for equals conclusive evidence against.

So you unwarily cite some point of belief, philosophy or even personal experience. You’re not trying to start shit, just make conversation or answer a question. And the skeptic is down on you like a sack of righteous outrage demanding proof, as if the fact of your perspective makes it your personal responsibility to provide evidence that fits their specific criteria, or you will be invalidated!

This criteria will of course be defined by our skeptic’s preconceived notions of the subject being discussed rather than by its actual parameters. ie: “Oh so you’re a psychic? Read my mind right now then! Oh you can’t? Then there’s no such thing as psychics!”

There... there isn't?

There… there isn’t?

And then they win despite this faulty thinking, because your patient attempt to explain that that is not how it works will be lost in their triumphant gloating and intellectual high-fiving. They consider themselves experts in every subject, but especially the one you’ve spent your whole life exploring.

I see annoying people...

I see annoying people…

I try to stay out of arguments like this because, unlike a true skeptic (one who doubts, but questions) they really just want to be right.

A recent example: The other day I was sitting in a pub minding my own business when I was approached by a drunk gay man who was distraught that he had frightened off his date when a fit of uncontrolled mediumship came over him and he spouted a bunch of stuff some dead guy told him.

When I sympathized, saying that I understood that things like this can scare people because I was a professional psychic for years and have seen some serious shit, he told me he didn’t believe in psychics and I was a fake!

This was after he tried to convince me that he was receiving messages for me from a dead woman named Christine about something to do with manicures and that my dead (?) father, Frank, told him he had wanted to name my sister Jenny. He insisted that these messages were true despite my assurances that they were not ringing any bells.

I began to understand why this man’s date bailed on him.

Note: My father’s name is Stephen. I don’t know if he’s dead.

That guy is an ironic anomaly as he came off as the world’s worst cold reader and exactly the type skeptics like to point to to show why people like me are all crazies. The above is also an example of me being a skeptic. I listened and asked questions but eventually concluded that the guy was more drunk asshole than medium.

My problem with the atheist style of skeptic is that, despite their supposed grounding in scientific fact, their approach to the things they disbelieve is anything but scientific. Science admits its flaws and limitations. Science understands that we grasp only a tiny bit of what’s going on here. It doesn’t stop learning and growing.

My good friend Ali, who is a talented psychic and inspired this post, put it like this, “What I do is much like most people trying to understand and believe in fairytale ‘germs’ before microscopes. Maybe it’s all hokus pocus but it sure does work! And even if we lay folk don’t understand how electricity WORKS, it still does and we can still turn on the lights.”

The trouble being that the skeptic refuses to give any credence to the “anecdotal evidence” (read: personal experience) that people like Ali and me find fairly convincing proof that we are not in fact crazies but have tapped into something real. Cuz you know, it keeps working.

We have theories about how it works but we don’t worry about them too much so long as the lights come on when we flip the switch, which they usually do but not always and with varying degrees of brightness. Our metaphorical lightswitch isn’t testable under laboratory conditions as yet partly because, much like germ theory prior to the widespread use of microscopes, most people do not possess the tools to examine it closely.

It is also because there are several subtle and difficult to control factors at work.

Picture a guy in a lab coat sweating over a bunch of beakers and petri dishes, trying to create a drug that can cure cancer or make people smarter or something. And he looks into his microscope and yells “Eureka!” Because that’s what a scientist does when their experiment succeeds.

Eureka!

Eureka!

And he makes careful notes and then tests it on rats and does a victory dance when the rats are all cancer free and solving calculus formulas and stuff. Then he goes to make another batch and does exactly what he’s pretty sure he did last time but this time it makes the rats suicidally depressed and it’s back to the drawing board and time to order a fresh shipment of rats.

BacktotheFutureDocBrown

What went wrong this time? What went right the first time? What if the only true difference was the time of year, the cycle of the moon, fluctuations in the geomagnetic field, the mood of the rats at the time the drug was administered or all of the above? And when such subtle influences can vastly change your results, it’s really hard to consistently reproduce them, especially under the intense pressure of a person demanding proof while not really wanting it proven.

My point is, just because the proof is too subtle to be perceived does not mean it isn’t there.  And just because you aren’t interested in perceiving it doesn’t make me wrong.

So, when I mention my interest in the occult and you immediately start talking down to me like I’m a developmentally challenged 5-year-old doesn’t make you a skeptic, but an opinionated jerk with fanatical beliefs of your own just waiting for the chance to force them on anyone whose opinion differs.

You aren’t automatically right, and saying the word science doesn’t change that. The most terrifyingly accurate and specific tarot reading I ever had was from an astrophysicist. He said the longer he studied the way things work, the less he understood them and the more humbled he felt by the limitless possibilities in an infinite universe. I will take an actual scientist’s word over that of some cynical hipster with so much arrogance and so little imagination as to place limitations on infinity. Thank you.

Also, shut the fuck up.

Also, shut the fuck up.

Next time: Psychic: What it is and is most certainly NOT. Or possibly a rant about Stephen Harper.  You never know. Stay tuned!