Category Archives: Politics

The scary thing about incels isn’t the incels ..

The recent attack in Toronto has generated lots of OMG Incels! discussion in the mainstream media, including explanations of what an incel is. This is a good thing, though as David Futrelle says, incels have been vile for a while — it shouldn’t have taken Toronto to wake people up. San Bernadino incel and murderer Elliott Rodgers went on his killing spree four years ago; incels celebrated his anniversary (May 24) last year and I’m sure they’ll do so again. In another case from last year an Australian neo-Nazi plotting a shooting spree said his lack of sex was one of his motivations.

But what’s really scary is that people in the mainstream express alarmingly sympathetic or similar views to the outraged incels. Economist Robin Hanson wonders why we fret about economic inequality but not sex inequality. And now it seems male supremacist guru Jordan Peterson, believes we should take action to appease the incels. His solution? Enforced monogamy. Not in the sense of banning divorce, but in some fashion mandating that women pair off with the incels (“Otherwise women will all only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn’t make either gender happy in the end.”).

And yes, I clicked through to the source article and that is indeed what he says, though he doesn’t give details. Perhaps because there’s nothing he can say that would make forcing women to pair off with men sound reasonable or sane. It’s particularly telling Peterson opposes economic redistribution, but feels the incel threat is so great, redistributing women is A-OK (let’s let the terrorists win!). I’m guessing that as sexual frustration doesn’t drive women to go around committing terrorist acts, Peterson won’t feel the need to force men to make them happy (or perhaps like many incels he believes even fat and ugly women get laid all they want).

Peterson is mainstream enough that the NYT’s Bari Weiss portrays him favorably as part of an intellectual dark web, saying politically incorrect things nobody else dares say. Yes, saying male dominance is justified by male superiority is soooo edgy! Nobody else out there is saying things like that.

It’s not even new. Back in the Reagan era, antifeminist George Gilder argued that men simply don’t have the instincts to behave like responsible human beings unless they have a woman to civilize them. Marriage makes men mature; without it, they’re just self-destructive thugs. So women have a duty to society to put their lives on hold and marry men. Much like Peterson, the focus should be on low-status men. Losers. They’re the ones who need uplifting. Rush Limbaugh made the same point in the 1990s: men can be dangerous savages or they can be responsible members of the community. It’s up to you, women (why yes, this is very close to the explanation for twenty-something slackers I’ve written about before) And claims that male killing sprees are women’s fault go back at least a decade.

And for a final example, we have right-wing Christians Jared and Douglas Wilson (unrelated) who in addition to believing women should have no rights, have also expressed a view that for men, sex is all about conquering and dominating while women’s role is to submit: “the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasure party.” I think incels would be down with that — and as far as I know, conservative Christians still consider the Wilsons as legitimate thinkers in good standing.

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10 percent, 10 percent, 80 percent

Some years back, Oprah (IIRC) did a show on cops and police corruption. During the debate, one cop got up and said something to the effect of “10 percent of cops are completely incorruptible. 10 percent of cops are no better than crooks. The other 80 percent can go either way, depending on which 10 percent they’re working with.”

I heard that and thought at once that there’s a lot of truth to it (not necessarily the specific percentages). Not just for cops, but for people in general.

Some people, really try to do the right thing, consistently. They protest. They speak the truth to power. They’re activists or political prisoners. They’re the people who don’t sexually harass their coworkers or customers and don’t cover it up when someone else does. If they screw up, they try to do better next time. They walk the walk. They prove we can be better. Nelson Mandela. Vaclav Havel in Czechoslovakia. Captain Ian Fishback, who blew the whistle on prisoner abuse in Iraq after he couldn’t get any action or guidance from his superiors.  Conversely, some people are Harvey Weinstein or rapist cop Daniel Holzclaw. They seem to have been rotten to the core.

I have no trouble believing the behaviors the 20 percent model can influence the other 80 percent. It’s a limited influence because the 80 percent aren’t just sheeple. They have their own standards, their own inclinations and a lot depends on circumstances. If an organization shows it doesn’t give a damn about harassment, punishes whistleblowers or covers up for valued employees, that can outweigh the guy in the next cubicle being upright and principled. If the good 10 percent are fired, mocked or sent to prison camps, lots of people won’t want to emulate them.  I still think setting a good example (corny as it sounds) matter (quite aside from the fact that doing the right thing is important in itself).

Here’s a convoluted counter-example. A couple of days after 9/11 I donated blood. I’d never seen the donation center so packed. After 9/11 people were eager to do something, to help, to volunteer. W could have encouraged them; instead he encouraged everyone to go back to their everyday lives and maybe shop to boost the economy (I hate that idea). I assume W figured the less he asked, the happier he’d be with the war, but I think it was a bad call. People were ready to do stuff; our leader said don’t bother. Some of them may have done it anyway, but a call to action could have inspired more. Of course W ducked the draft by joining the National Guard, then blew off his Guard service, so I don’t know that public-spiritedness ranks very high in his pantheon of virtues.

A related point is that what we do can have unanticipated consequences.  For an example, read this Slacktivist post about the Satanic panic of 30 years back and how Mike Warnke, fake reformed Satanist (the fakery was pretending he’d ever been a Satanist). Warnke’s Satanist shtick was pure huckstering, promoting a book (The Satan Seller) to conservative Christians eager to hear lurid stories from someone who was now safely good and reformed (an eagerness hardly unique to the religious right). It had horrifying effects: prosecutors and cops informed about the rising tide of Satanism threatening their communities looked to The Satan Seller as a nonfiction resource. His self-serving lie had ugly consequences for others; some attorneys cited his account as proof that Satanists engaged in human sacrifice was a thing. It wasn’t a deciding factor, I’m sure, but it didn’t help.

Conversely, as Vaclav Havel put it, “even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.”

We don’t have to figure out every possible outcome of our action before we take them. Unlike the book I read a while back (I forgot the title) where someone said saving a life was wrong unless you were sure it would work out for the best, it’s okay to act on a best guess. Havel’s decision to be a dissident rather than collaborate with Czech communist rule was a morally sound one. Warnke’s lies weren’t, even though he couldn’t have known how much impact they’d have (but he certainly didn’t ‘fess up when that became obvious).

Doing the right thing matters.

Image taken from Arthur Waite Tarot deck

 

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We elected Trump. Is it surprising the Egyptians worshipped the dung beetle?

Herewith, a round up of people who seem to have prestigious, high-paying positions despite … well, dung.

For starters, Trump himself. I missed it, but last year he undid much of Obama normalizing relations with Cuba. Now he’s decided to tear up the Iran nuclear deal. And he apparently thinks any negative news about his glorious self is fake news by definition. As Lance Mannion says, among Trump’s goals as president is to reinforce his own delusions how wonderful he is, and to undo everything Obama accomplished that makes people respect Obama more. But Mannion’s right, a hundred years from now Obama will have a record of accomplishment and Trump won’t.

Next, rape apologist Robin Hanson, whose views on redistribution of sex I ripped into a week ago or so. Along with claiming nonviolent rape isn’t as bad as cheating on your husband (because having your body violated isn’t as awful as a man unwittingly raising someone else’s child) he also wonders why stealing food when you’re starving is less objectionable than raping someone when you’re horny. Okay, fair enough. Besides the fact lack of food kills and lack of sex doesn’t; stealing food (at least in his example) doesn’t involve assaulting anyone (I don’t know of anyone who thinks say, drugging someone so you can take their food nonviolently is OK); so yeah, totally interchangeable.

Bari Weiss at the NYT, for example. According to her the “intellectual dark web” is a daring group of right-wing freethinkers who tackle ideas that are utterly repressed in the mainstream, like “There are fundamental biological differences between men and women” and “Identity politics is a toxic ideology that is tearing American society apart.” I’m very impressed they could come up with groundbreaking, paradigm-shattering ideas that sound exactly like the same cliches conservatives spew every day (we’ve been hearing about the evil of left-wing identity politics since Trump got elected). How long before Hanson’s on the IDW, I wonder? In related links, Mother Jones responds to Weiss’s article, one writer questions an account in the article and CJR looks at all the left-wing voices getting much less coverage in the media. Nathan Robinson points out that the people in Weiss’ article are not silenced at all.

Male supremacist and misogynist Paul Elam offers an impressively awful list of excuses for Bill Cosby’s rape history: the problem is he liked sex too much which makes a man weak! And the sluts were totally asking for it! And the evil feminists want to take down powerful, successful men! Etcetera.

Sure, podcaster Nick Fuentes wants white Americans to have a white homeland (as usual, he’s not advocating white people go back to whatever homelands their ancestors came from) but that doesn’t mean he’s a racist or anything! Hopefully his career will suffer as much as Richard Spencer’s.

Scott Pruitt likes shielding himself from public scrutiny for good reason.

Theocrat Bryan Fischer who insists based on his personal reading of the First Amendment that it only protects Christian rights. Which would be a bad thing for Christians if it were true — but fortunately neither the Bill of Rights nor the Constitution says anything about discriminating between religion. Fischer also claims it only applies to Congress, except when he wants it to apply to the states. Or anyone else Fischer needs it to apply to. And like those IDW types, Fischer likes to whine a lot about imaginary persecution.

Southern Baptist powerhouse Paige Patterson has a long history of saying the right option for women abused by their spouses is to suck it up. I linked to something about Patterson Monday, but it seems worth adding this.

Self-help guru Tony Robbins thinks women are just joining #metoo to feel significant (sort of the way they cry rape because it gives them perks, I guess). And it’s a bad movement because it’ll just piss men off! Which I’m sure hasn’t occurred to anyone before he pointed it out (Robbins subsequently apologized).

And UPDATE: NY AG Eric Schneiderman, violent abuser.

To illustrate this article, here’s a tree against the sky (no symbolism, I just like the photo).

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Donald Trump: Making America White Again

For example kicking out immigrants who’ve been here for more than a decade. And the new Medicaid work requirements make it easier for states to cut off Medicaid to blacks. The standard religious-right explanation for loving Trump is that he’s supporting their political agenda. As he’s not the only Republican willing to do that, Slacktivist suggests it might be the white-supremacy thing. But some pundits still don’t buy racism was a factor in Trump’s election (or male supremacy, for that matter). Oh and we have West Virginia Republican and convicted criminal Don Blankenship criticizing Mitch McConnell for having a Chinese-American wife.

Kanye West likes Trump. Conservatives celebrate.

NMMNB predicts that whoever the Dem candidate is in 2020, the media will dump on them. Likewise it’s unlikely Democrats would be able to fire the House Chaplain as Paul Ryan just did (he later retracted it), without igniting a media firestorm.

Netherlands reporters question Trump’s ambassador for his lies about Muslims supposedly taking their country over.

Every Ten Commandments monument endorses one religion or another.

ICE has a record of locking up Americans and ignoring evidence they’re legal citizens.

Lying right-wing preacher Jim Bakker claims conservatives never protested in the streets against Obama.

Ben Carson favors forcing people receiving federal housing support to pay much higher rents.

When CFPB director Mick Mulvaney was a South Carolina politician, he only met with lobbyists who paid to play.

Like many people, I once thought that eventually the conservatives nostalgic for the days of white, straight, Christian male supremacy would die off and things would improve. But there’s a new crop of young ones rising up. And they spout the same cliches such as “You should be able to say anything you want. You can’t say we’re for freedom of speech if you’re going to critique people for what they say.” Despite saying this to Milo Yiannopoulis, who routinely critiques feminists and other left-wingers, the speaker seems to think she’s making sense.

Contrary to a NYT op-ed, refusing to watch/read people because of their politics will not create a lifeless cultural world for ourselves (and as pointed out at the link, it’s not even remotely equivalent to the columnist’s comparison, nuclear warfare) . I can safely say that not reading John C. Wright because of his political diatribes hasn’t left my intellectual life sterile.

We have an anti-Muslim bigot running for Michigan governor and a neo-Nazi running for California senator. A number of right-wingers love to talk about how Hitler’s ideology was really liberal, yet somehow the Nazis always seem to run as Republicans.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has been charged with blackmail and abuse tied to an affair. Apparently he also routinely broke campaign finance laws, using the donor list from a charity he ran to solicit money for his campaign

Right-wing gun-lover Larry Pratt apparently doesn’t have the courage to say “I would sooner have kids dying in schools than restrict gun ownership” so he falls bck on lies about David Hogg. Pratt, of course, also said it was Trayvon Martin’s fault Zimmerman shot him (apparently when it’s a black kid, suddenly “having a gun would have made him safe” is not a line Pratty wants to pursue).

Some right-wing extremists are getting combat trained in the U.S. military. And white supremacists are grooming their next generation of haters.

“The Southern Baptist Convention as it presently exists was shaped and molded, guided and led” by two men, one of whom abused teenage boys, one of whom advocates women stay with abusive spouses and pray for them (and if he hits you for praying, suck it up).

Oh, and one conservative Christian wants Trump to pardon Bill Cosby — after all, it’s not like he used violence.

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If you support taxing the rich, why don’t you support redistribution of hot women? One idiot’s theory

(Title updated in response to comment below)

Following the incel terrorist attack in Toronto, George Mason University economist Robin Hanson decides to stick up for the incel movement (which is discussing online whether vehicular homicide is enough or whether they should go with rape and mutilation attacks). Lots of liberals think it’s okay to help out people who have no financial resources — so why isn’t it justified to give women to people who have no sexual relief? And since the left tacitly wink-winks at the use of violence to force economic redistribution, they should be fine with incels using violence to force women to sleep with them.

The stunned response at the link was that possibly this was one of those stupid analogies like “taxation is slavery” (of course, Hansonworks at a public university, so apparently Hanson’s fine with taxing people to pay his own salary) But even if that were true, as Echidne points out, the analogy doesn’t make sense. First off, redistribute wealth doesn’t violate the rich person’s bodily integrity. Secondly, Hanson isn’t actually arguing we should take anything from the “Chads” (the studs who supposedly monopolize the hot women), he’s arguing we should take from the women the Chads sleep with. They’re the ones who will have to put out, not the Chads. Echidne also goes into detail why most proposals to provide sex (e.g. government-sponsored prostitutes) won’t work (prostitutes can refuse customers, and incels don’t want to pay for sex, they want sex via power and dominance).

However given Hanson also believes that rape, particularly non-violent rape, is less morally bad than a cheating wife, maybe he doesn’t feel it’s so unreasonable to provide women to incel. Taxing the Chads means redistributing their women, just like any other property. Certainly he doesn’t discuss what to do about incel females (no suggestion the Chads have to sleep with them) or whether cheating husbands are equally objectionable (probably not, as the issue with cheating wives is the husband possibly not passing on his own genes).

And it’s not like Hanson’s the first professor to play these idea games. Consider economics professor Steven Landsburg, who challenged his students to show why raping an unconscious woman was wrong — why should the victim’s suffering outweigh the benefit to the rapist (as usual, Landsburg’s apology didn’t help)? And right-wing hack/law professor Glenn Reynolds once fired what he thought was a stunning putdown of Elizabeth Warren for saying businesses depend on government services (“You didn’t build that.”) financed by taxation. Warren and other women have a better sex life due to government services (they keep fit by jogging on roads built with tax money!) so the government should be able to make them have sex with people. It’s telling Reynolds’ mind went there rather than, say, suggesting we should tax hot women (which would be dumb, but not quite so creepy).

And it’s telling the NYT’s Ross Douthat thinks Hanson has a valid point.

I think I need to wash the stink of sexism off me now.

 

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Pundits begging us to mock them

Remember Kevin Williamson? The right-wing twerp currently seething with outrage that Atlantic denied him a columnist slot just because he says women who get abortions should be executed? Ed Kilgore of New York asked Williamson what punishment he really believes appropriate. Williamson’s response? Duck the question because it’s an evil liberal trap!!! No, it’s a valid question, Williamson just doesn’t want to answer. Oh, he also whines that offered to air his views in an essay for New York, for free, but the liberal fascists said no, having  seen “as much on the subject of your views on this matter as we want to publish.”

That’s not a first world problem, that’s a first-world right-wing bullshit artist problem.

*I can’t comment on Jonah Goldberg’s new book, having not even read an excerpt but I have read David Brooks’ gushing column about what a game-changer it will be (given Goldberg’s body of work, I’m unconvinced). According to Brooks, Goldberg’s thesis is that 300 years ago, Europe adopted (and America embraced) the belief that “each person is to be judged and respected on account of their own merits, not the class or caste of their ancestors.” And this worldview, which gave us democracy, equality and capitalism, lasted until the left got into identity politics, the right reacted and now we’re sliding back into tribalism. As noted at the link and in comments, any book that argues America treated all races and genders equally until social justice warriors started demanding identity politics is bullshit.

Brooks adds Goldberg’s only mistake is missing that the real problem isn’t tribalism but Brooks’ personal bugaboo, too much individualism! Brooks has always been nostalgic for the days of traditional morality, when white, male Protestants imposed a social order on everyone else, individual choice be damned. As Echidne of the Snakes says, why doesn’t he just move to Saudi Arabia where that kind of top-down social order is still a thing? As a couple of people noted in comments, it’s very easy to believe that even a rigged system is meritocratic — just assume that by definition, white men are more meritorious.

Over at Harper’s, an editor says he was fired  for opposing a Katie Roiphe piece on the #metoo movement. As LGM says, a piece commissioned to be contrarian (everyone things fighting sexual harassment is good — let’s say it isn’t!) rather than a serious investigative piece was probably a bad idea in the first place. Particularly from Katie Roiphe.

And then we have The Federalist. California is considering a bill to ban gay-conversion therapy. Conservative fake news claims the state will ban the Bible, Snopes says no — so Snopes is fake fact-checking right! A Federalist pundit argues that while, no, obviously it’s not going to ban the Bible, but you can’t tell gays “Jesus can make you straight!” (this being The Federalist, I wouldn’t trust that to be accurate) and that’s exactly the same thing!

Oh, and for bonus annoyance, Charlie Rose, having lost his TV show due to charges of sexual harassment has proposed a new talk show where he’ll talk to powerful men accused of harassment. No way that could go wrong.

And for double bonus, annoyance, the very serious journalists horribly offended over Michelle Wolf’s routine at the White House Correspondents’ dinner.

To compensate for subjecting you to all that, here’s Mr. Squirrel trying to get into our bird feeder and failing.

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Createspace hackers, copyright and other writing links

Hackers are now targeting author accounts on Createspace.

Atomic Junk Shop on the way current fiction treats smart people.

How to keep writing when life is hard on you.

Camestros Felapton on quoting people who don’t want to be quoted. I’m solidly on the side of “you say it, it’s quotable” unless “off the record” is attached. But having had one couple that spoke in a public meeting threaten to sue me if I quoted them (I quoted them. They didn’t sue), I’m not surprised this is an issue.

Fred Clark of Slacktivist has been critiquing the Left Behind series of Christian apocalyptic novels (taking place, if you can’t tell, after the Rapture has swept up millions of people) for several years. In this post he looks at how slapdash and illogical the author’s world-building is.

Maggie Maxwell on balancing minority villains with positive portrayals. I’ll make the added observation that if every nonwhite in your book is bad (like the entire population of Little Tokyo, USA in the movie of that name), throwing in one good Japanese-American isn’t balanced.

A recent piece on Clinton voters (the mirror image of those Meet Trump Voters pieces) got lots of flak, after which the author declared it was satire. If that’s the case (I’ve seen other writers pull It’s Humor when it obviously isn’t), as noted at the link, it’s a very poor satire.

The implications of a copyright ruling in a case involving Redbox.

Remember the copyright case over a monkey taking a selfie with a photographer’s camera? An appellate court has ruled that US copyright law gives zero rights to animals.

Olivia deHaviland sued over the TV movie Feud on the grounds her portrayal in the film wasn’t accurate. The judge’s ruling: deHaviland’s “right of publicity” (to control how her likeness and name are used or marketed) doesn’t give someone the right to censor inaccurate portrayals.

Walmart had streaming before Netflix. How come the Vudu service never exploded the same way?

A new bill would get creators paid when streaming services play their music … or would it?

The Mary Sue argues Lara Croft has never been just eye candy for guys.

Several women say Native American author Sherman Alexie harassed them. Other writers say Alexie wielded his status in the white publishing world as a club against the competition.

You want wild ideas? How about plans for a Godzilla vs. Batman movie back when the Adam West show was on the air.

Thanos creator Jim Starlin on his love-hate relationship with Marvel.

 

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The Republican Ponzi Scheme, speaking freely and court evangelicals

No More Mr. Nice Blog looks at the repeated Republican predictions they’ve finally got the goods on Hilary/Obama/Democrats — they’re going down and doin’ time! Only the dirt never pans out. NMMNB suggests we should think of it as a kind of ponzi scheme.As long as they keep promising a new conspiracy, a new big reveal they can keep the anger going.

Next, on free speech: a Fresno State English professor tweeted that the late Barbara Bush was a racist (for some of her comments about Katrina victims) and the mother of a war criminal (true, though I don’t think W’s actions are her fault). Fresno State ‘s president says that while the professor was speaking as a private citizen, she will be investigated. As LGM says at the link, don’t expect conservatives who say they’re outraged at liberals supposedly repressing free speech on campus to rise up and defend her. Free speech is only important there.

Right-winger Kevin Williamson, having been fired by the Atlantic for his views on abortion (women who get them should hang for murder), is now milking his status as a free-speech martyr, lynched by the Twitter mob. Although Williamson doubled down on his original tweet repeatedly and made it clear he stood by it, he’s now parroting the arguments many of his supporters made — liberals picked one off-hand comment and made it sound like he really meant it (much as Alex Jones is now insisting he shouldn’t be blamed for promoting Pizzagate and Sandy Hook)! Judging by his own words, he did; but for the moment there’s more fame in martyrdom.

Back at Williamson’s old home in National Review, everyonef is horrified that people think the recent Starbucks incident (a manager called the cops on two black men waiting without ordering for a third man to arrive), might think it has anything to do with racism. And OMG, the corporation apologized, and it’s giving staff diversity training! How oppressed those employees are!

Speaking of Starbucks, one black conservative mocking Starbucks for taking the issue seriously is a raving anti-Semite (who’s behind identity politics? The Jews!)

Now, “court evangelicals.” This is the term some people use for the conservative Christian pastors kneeling down to worship Trump in the hope he’ll give them a kingdom in this world. It compares them to the court prophets of the  Old Testament who told the bad kings of Israel whatever they wanted to hear (in contrast to the good prophets who called shitty kings out). Said court evangelicals are very very adamant that as a recent liberal evangelical gathering didn’t include them it’s obviously not worth discussing. How can you say these evangelicals represent anyone when they oppose great, god-chosen Trump! How dare they be “trying to steal the microphone from those who support Trump” (as described in one report) — as if the “microphone” of evangelical Christianity belongs to them.

Perhaps they do think that. Of course, Trumpites are hardly without a mike (just look at this guy), but if other people get to the mike too, that might undermine the court evangelicals efforts to paint Trump as the true Christian leader. It’s telling that while they’re concerned about the Stormy Daniels scandal, the concern is about how to convince evangelicals to ignore Trumps adultery and keep voting for him.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that millennials are dropping out of evangelism.

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Witch hunters are way worse than witches

The tagline for the 2014 TV series Salem was that “There’s something worse than a witch-hunt: a witch.” Which as slacktivist Fred Clark has pointed out, is bullshit. Witchcraft and black magic don’t kill people. Witch hunters have killed hundreds, maybe thousands. And they’re still destroying lives in the modern world.

In the Satanic panic of the 1980s, innocent people went to jail for years on charges they’d abused small children in Satanic cults, operating through daycares. Part of the problem was inept therapists believed that if you demanded toddlers tell you they were abused, they’d refuse unless it was true (this is inaccurate. At that age, they’ll say whatever the grownups want to hear). And police and prosecutors who proceeded to accept this at face value, even when the tales got more outlandish (the cult killed my dog, then brought it to life!) or accused people in law-enforcement of being in on the cult. Like the investigation of the Massie rape case, the problem wasn’t just a false accusation but the police refusal to say Stop.

Author Judy Byington claims the existence of a Satanic cult indistinguishable from the lies Mike Warnke told 40 years ago. And of course, it’s now spilling into politics as conspiracy theorists Liz Crokin and Alex Jones, among others, make the same claims (which segue into paranoia about The Storm) only focused on Clinton (and whoever else is in their spotlight) as one of Satan’s agents, just as they and their listeners and Trump are in the crosshairs.

Evidence? Schmevidence. Slacktivist again writes about Alice Tallmadge, who recounts how her entire family swallowed one relative’s claims of being abused by a cult. Evidence? The complete lack of evidence just shows how the cult is so subtle and powerful it covers up everything! As Slacktivist points out, it would be easy to check whether Tallmadge’s niece had actually suffered some of these tortures, but the family didn’t.

As Clark says, some of the people promoting these theories are undoubtedly hucksters, no different from the peddlers who once offered pieces of the true cross or vials of Mary’s breast milk (yes, seriously). Some of them are gullible or religious enough to believe it; I’ve known people who could have a perfectly serious discussion about how their friend’s recent accident was obvious Satan tampering with his brake line (but his guardian angel saved him from serious injury).

 

And others make up the kitten-burning coalition: they want to believe, because if there are evil Satanic cults molesting children, committing human sacrifice and trying to take over the country, just by opposing them they prove their own virtue. Supporting Trump isn’t simply racist or knee-jerk Republican, it’s fighting to protect little children from Satan! In that context, nobody wants to worry about evidence. Evidence would spoil their fun. Or interfere with what they “know” is true.

I don’t think this is a new thing. If the people who heard Mike Warnke confess to being a Satanist priest or read his book The Satan Seller really believed him, they’d have to believe he was a willing participant in human sacrifice — a murderer. So far as I know, that never stopped him being acceptable in good Christian circles, nor did anyone suggest investigating. Five seconds research would have proven Warnke couldn’t have been a freedom rider in the late 1960s, as the Freedom Rides happened in the Kennedy years.

At some level, as Clark says, maybe they don’t believe, but they just excise those inconvenient thoughts. They’d sooner believe in a world run by Satan in which they’re champions of virtue than a world in which The Other isn’t all evil. And as the Satanic panic shows, that can have ugly consequences. A couple of times recently I’ve heard a TV show or movie say that no witches were burned at Salem — they were all hanged. No. No witches were hanged, either.

#SFWApro. Image from Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights

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How not to write women

A couple of years back I linked to Kate Elliott’s post about omniscient breasts — writing from a woman’s POV but still using the male gaze. For example, the woman is constantly aware of her awesome breasts and how good they look, as if she were a man checking herself out. Well here’s some really bad omniscient breasts. More notable because the dude (unidentified) claimed his book proved men could write women well. Protagonist refers to herself having “a nice set of curves if I do say so myself,” and  “pants so impossibly tight that if I had had a credit card in my back pocket you could read the expiration date.” (I’ll link again to Foz Meadows’ discussion of writing hot women).

Another female author discusses a male author (unnamed) who insists his book has been rejected because of the feminazi conspiracy in publishing.

Molly Ringwald looks back at the sexism of John Hughes films.

In defending the hiring of now-fired Kevin Williamson, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg said he wanted Williamson as “an excellent reporter who covers parts of the country, and aspects of American life, that we don’t yet cover comprehensively.” Take it from a local city government reporter, Mr. Goldberg, covering “parts of the country” means writing about things like new developments, local elections, school events. It does not mean writing conservative articles about the evils of abortion or the horrors of black inner-city areas. Those parts of the country may agree with Williamson, but by no definition is he covering them.

Copyright kept a film about Martin Luther King from using his speeches.

“historical accuracy” is not a good reason for writing about rape. Unless you’re also writing about cholera, dysentery and the like.

Amazon may be stripping rankings from erotic books to avoid legal issues.

 

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