One reader's rave

"Thanks for the newspaper with your book review. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this terrific piece of writing. It is beautiful, complex, scholarly. Only sorry Mr. Freire cannot read it!" -- Ailene

Help the Honey Badgers in their fight for freedom of speech and thought!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Identity in Conflict: What Omar Mateen May Have in Common with Geert Wilders

Pondering the increasingly paradoxical information coming out about the Orlando shooter reminded me of something I read a while back about Geert Wilders (which I unfortunately can't locate at the moment). This article had argued that the virulence of Wilders's anti-Muslim position arises from his having a divided identity resulting from his own immigrant background (his mother is Dutch Indonesian), resulting in insecurity about his own belonging in Dutch society.

Omar Mateen may have faced something similar, with even more of an element of double bind: encountering hostility from other Americans because of his Muslim-ness, and at the same time struggling with a sexual identity that he'd been taught to see as antithetical to his ethnic and religious heritage. The experience of Islamophobia might only have intensified his sense of guilt over his same-sex attractions, seeing these feelings as betrayals of an identity especially in need of defense.

I suspect he made no serious plans to evade police after committing his crime. His self-loathing was likely such that he felt he deserved to die anyway.

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Tip: Don't Get Your Health Advice the Same Place You Get Your Waffles

It's evidently too much to expect that someone as set in his ways as uncritically-thinking Joe Sbaraglia, who writes "The Waffleman" column for the Philadelphia Public Record, would mend his ways after a couple of nudges. I've previously written him a couple times when he repeated false rumors, especially ones of a medical nature, but he just keeps at it. This time I've directly written the editor:

Dear editor:

Please stop allowing Joe Sbaraglia to repeat unsubstantiated, and sometimes downright false, health claims in your newspaper.

In his latest column, he cites a long list of purported benefits of bananas, introducing them with the statement, "The following material comes from" It's dismaying that someone who presumably knows the purpose of that website -- to clear up which rumors are true and which aren't --  doesn't grasp that people who are capable of passing on information without fact-checking it first, will likewise fail to check whether the information actually comes from Snopes. It'd be easy enough for him to do so himself, yet he evidently doesn't, since many of the claims he repeated either are not to be found on that site, or are pronounced false there.

Such carelessness is perhaps harmless enough where so-called "fun facts" are concerned, but it's absolutely irresponsible to repeat, or to publish, false information about medicine and health.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Trump's New Appellation

I have a new name for Donald Trump: the Dark Side of the Farce.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

An Anal SJW in the Philadelphia Gay News

Some remarks in PGN's latest "Family Portrait" illustrate the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do hypocrisy of some "social justice warriors."

I have no issue with much of what Jayme Campbell says in the interview, but this really stuck in my craw:

A gender-based example [of a microaggression] might be when people complain, "It's just really hard for me to get your pronouns right because you don't look like a boy (or girl)." So you're saying I don't deserve respect because I don't meet your idea of what a boy or girl should look like?

No, you idiot, it doesn't mean that at all.

A few years ago, I inadvertently misgendered a trans woman friend while in conversation with her and others. Immediately realizing what I'd done, I felt acutely embarrassed and apologized. Obviously, the reason I felt embarrassed was that I do respect her. But respecting her didn't magically negate my conditioning from infancy to gender people based on their appearance.

I didn't say something like what Campbell cites because I didn't want to sound like I was making excuses -- but if I had said it, it would have been true. And what it would have meant was not that I didn't respect her, but that I felt embarrassment over my error and, for that reason, a need to explain myself.

To do as Campbell does here -- take a statement that actually reflects a person's regret over their mistake and instead call it an "aggression" -- is really quite abusive.