The People Who Really Matter

Content warning: quotes the Daily Mail.

I had somehow missed this phrase of Richard Littlejohn’s in his blustering polemic against Lucy Meadows, a transwoman teacher in the UK who died recently — allegedly as a result of the press hounding of which Littlejohn’s spew was a part. Anyway, the phrase was this:

“But has anyone stopped for a moment to think of the devastating effect all this is having on those who really matter?”

Oh man. “Those who really matter” are, of course, the Children™, a tool regularly pulled out in arguments by conservatives and liberals alike. By no means, however, are the needs of actual, real children considered — such as the students of Ms. Meadows who now have to live with the fact that because they live in a society* where transphobia is rampant and whose media consider it no more than another ploy to get eyeballs and advertising dollars to mock and hound a transwoman to her death.

I hate, hate, hate the “what about the CHILDRENNNN???!!!” nonsense because not only do most adults who use it don’t really believe the actual child matters — it’s only the adults’ ideal of “childhood” they’re concerned about, as well as the face-saving status game of being someone who Cares About The Kids — as an argumentative tactic it’s not about solving any problem, it’s just about shutting up the opposition. Don’t like someone’s position on something? Trumpet “Well, YOU clearly DON’T CARE about the Children™!” Sit back in smug triumph as your opponent splutters, because in this setup the only response is “Do too!” and there is no way of not making that sound like a weak rejoinder according to the ways of Western-style debate.

The Children™ are used to shut people up, to let everyone know that the status quo will continue unchanged. It has nothing to do with real children.

Now let’s move on to the other part of that phrase that is also a lie: “that REALLY matter.” (Caps mine.) Oh I love it when white conservative Western males try to pretend they’re sacrificing themselves for the little ones. “I don’t really matter, I’m just a useless grown up, here, kill me and dine on my corpse, kids!” Does anyone believe for one minute that Richard Littlejohn, or anyone who pulls out this sobsister phrase, really believes it? “I don’t matter! I’m just thinking about the kids!” the man sobs, then he presses “send,” shuts off the computer, and goes to enjoy another childfree afternoon at the pub or golf course. I see you, Men Who Care About The Kids. I’ve got your number.

The idea that adults are just useless husks, their concerns to be considered secondary in favor of children, or infants, or in some circles, zygotes and fetuses, is horrible, but not because anyone who expresses it actually believes it, but because it’s a pretty good technique for controlling the underclasses. Poor people who ask for help from their own rich society’s government instead of starving quietly in their hovels “don’t care about their children.” Women who want control over their own bodies instead of being potential baby-making machines “hate children.” Trans* people are “selfish” and “freaks” who will “traumatize” the “children” because they’ll “confuse” them by living their own lives. As for the children, they’ll learn the lesson that having to conform to someone else’s idea of how you should live doesn’t end when you become a grown-up.

*Even though this occurred in the UK, I consider that in instances like these “society” encompasses Western society, which of course includes that of my own country, the USA.

The whole truth and nothing but the truth

TW: opinions, lesbians, the ACLU, human rights, lawsuits, lawyers, “true marriage” supporters, Catholics, family-owned businesses, conservatives, white upper-middle class liberals, married lesbians, money, Vermont, weddings, wedding receptions, Americans, modern journalism.

So there’s this lawsuit that a lesbian couple and the ACLU and the Vermont Human Rights Commission brought against an inn in Vermont whose owners apparently refused to host a wedding reception for the pair because of their (the owners) Catholic beliefs. To make a long story short, the inn’s owners agreed to settle for the amount of $30,000, of which $10,000 is going to the Vermont Human Rights Commission and $20,000 to a trust fund to be disbursed by the couple (quote from the ACLU site, excuse the borked look of the page if it looks borked — it did in my browser).

Conservatives, naturally, are disgusted. “Dear Gays, this is why people don’t like you,” comments Kathy Shaidle of Five Feet of Fury. “The price of following your conscience in Vermont is $30,000″ says Lifesite News. “Vt. government ends religious persecution of family business,” reads the first part of the headline of this article on the Alliance Defending Freedom (“for faith, for justice”) website. Basically the conservative consensus (based on those links anyway) is that once more a couple of icky gays and the bullies at the ACLU and in the godhating marriage-destroying liberal government of Vermont have attacked one of the conservative movement’s favorite big-eyed puppies: a “mom-and-pop” Christian-family-owned-and-run business.

For some reason, though, I felt dissatisfied, like some part of this story wasn’t being told. $30,000 isn’t chump change, and if the business really was a tiny mom-and-pop that amount of money could ruin them. The narrative, of course, is that the ACLU and their homosexual lackeys are bullies who Don’t Care, and who want to destroy all businesses anyway because Communism and it’s all part of a Plot to turn the country into a giant re-education camp where heterosexual marriage will be outlawed and children will be raised in dormitories to be loyal drones of the State. Be that as it may, the ACLU might have huge coffers, but they probably don’t want to waste time going after every pipsqueak homophobe in the land without good reason. There is such a thing as conservation of resources. Also, despite claims to the contrary, they’re just as sensitive to bad publicity as any other large activist organization.

What I’m saying is they had to have some reason stronger than the humiliation of a couple of lesbians to back them up, and to bring in the Vermont Human Rights Commission. (Which, by the way, is a real government body, not just some self-assembled group of local social justice warriors.) Private organizations are one thing, but state bodies are supported by taxes, and they can’t just go do whatever they feel like, despite what anti-government libertarians et al like to believe. In the government every penny has to be accounted for. That’s why it’s such a pain in the ass getting anyone in the government to do anything. It’s not like they can just write a check. Don’t you remember all those scenes in The X-Files with Mulder getting bitched out for driving an FBI car across the country to chase another alien space ship? Have you ever had to fill out an expense account at your job? What about a government job?

Anyway, something about this “tiny Christian family business attacked by  gay SPECTRE” didn’t satisfy me. I wanted to know what really went on between the couple and the inn and why it resulted in a lawsuit and settlement instead of a “fuck them” and an unfavorable review on Yelp. I decided to look things up. A-googling I went. The first thing I found was the ACLU article I linked above, but it was too painful to read due to the page not displaying properly in my browser for some reason.* So finally I found this in an article on the Chicago Tribune website:

The Vermont Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act prohibits public accommodations from denying goods and services based on customers’ sexual orientation.

The law applies to inns, restaurants, schools, stores and other businesses that serve the general public. Exceptions are made for religious organizations and small inns with five or fewer rooms.

OH. And here is the description of the Wildflower Inn, from the same article:

The 24-room, dog-friendly Wildflower Inn, which sits on 570 acres of picturesque terrain, promotes itself on its website as an ideal spot for romantic getaways, among other things.

Bolds added by me. Please see the previous quote where it says the exceptions are, among other things, “small inns with five or fewer rooms.” The Wildflower Inn might be a family-owned business, and it might not be large, but it’s got almost five times the amount of rooms that would allow them to kick out the gays. But that’s not really my point — there’s the fact that there was already a law in Vermont prohibiting the inn for discriminating against lesbians or anyone else who didn’t follow Catholic marriage practices, and the inn’s owners knew it, and that’s why they settled.

Now you might think this anti-discrimination law is unfair, or ungodly, or stupid, or unnecessary. You might also think that gays shouldn’t go around suing people who discriminate against them even if there are laws supporting their lawsuit because it’s frivolous, a waste of the court’s time, makes people dislike gays even more, is petty, and so on. But that’s another argument for another day. As long as this law is on the books, businesses have to follow it. They can, of course, consciously resist, but it doesn’t seem as if the owners of the inn were interested in doing so, or else they wouldn’t have settled. It could be they decided to settle knowing that the Christian conservative part of the internet would rally to their defense anyway with the predictable “ACLU gay bullies!” cry, but that I don’t know. I do know that I was not satisfied that I was getting the whole story, and I think I can see why. The situation looks less like a tiny Christian ma-and-pa getting devoured by unreasoning gay lions and more like a successful business paying the price for screwing up. They have my sympathies, but so do the ladies who got treated badly. (If you don’t think they got treated badly, you try putting yourself in the shoes of someone getting refused service they’re willing to pay for because of what they are. Sound familiar?)

*Update: here’s a link to another, more detailed article on the situation on ACLU.org that also displays properly in Chrome. If what is in this article is true, the inn’s behavior towards the couple and other non-traditional couples as well was even more douchebaggy than I thought. Sample: “It turns out Wildflower Inn had a policy of not responding to initial inquiries or phone calls about wedding receptions if it was clear that the reception would be for a same-sex couple. In other cases, the owners of Wildflower Inn admitted they would discourage same-sex couples from using the facilities by telling those couples that hosting the reception would violate their religious beliefs.” Not cool, innfolk.

You’re all worthless and weak

In light of the fun message we’ve been getting from people like Missouri senate guy Todd Akins, Mike Huckabee, et al, I have a message for our Republican congressdudes which you can extend to white American guys in general but for right now, let’s focus on the GOP. It is this:

SHUT UP.

I’m serious you guys, you need to close your mouths. Do not say another word. Do not even issue a statement through some poor flunky. I’d say don’t even think but I believe that little problem has been taken care of some time ago. But just, as a (not) friendly suggestion, please

SHUT THE FUCK UP.

And that having been said, here’s my second (not) friendly piece of advice:

GO AWAY.

Yes, go away. Leave the stage. Leave public life. Cease and desist all political activity. None of you so far have displayed the governing ability of warm sand. You act like you’ve never talked to another human being in your life, except for maybe your golfing buddies. Since it’s a requisite in this fine modern democratic individualistic (cough cough cough sorry got some irony stuck in my throat) land that anyone who wants to get anywhere in politics has to be married with at least 2.5 children you must have touched a woman at some point in your lives, but you don’t seem to have ever had a conversation with one. You act like you have no idea what these mysterious uterus-having beings are like. Why should  you be allowed to be anywhere near any position of power? I’d be hesitant to hire you as Walmart greeters — instead of saying “Welcome to Walmart” you might end up blurting out “Hey, that’s not legitimate rape!” And then you’d get torn to pieces and I might get blood on my cheap Walmart pants. That would suck. (Blood on my clothes, that is; I couldn’t care less if you were fed to wolverines and it was all shown on Pay-per-view.)

So. Leave office. Leave the public eye. Leave town. Go off into the wilderness and found that Christian community of righteous-living sexist racist pigs you seem to want to live in. Just go away.

(Note: this can, as I said above, be extended to many who are not in the GOP. Plenty of white male Libertarians, Democrats, Socialists, and “independents” are like this. So this goes for you guys too. And for those of you Republicans who protest you’re not like this, well good. Run these guys out and clean up your party.)

The Butchering: I Read Changes, Book Something Or Other of the Harry Dresden Files

So there’s this popular fantasy series about a “wizard detective” called Harry Dresden. I’d never read any of the books before; I don’t particularly care for “urban fantasy” — i.e., fantasy set in the more or less modern world. While I might have loved it when I was younger (and some of the fantasy I read in my teens and twenties had elements of what is now a fixed subgenre, namely magical things happening in the “real” world), now it strikes me as a subgenre suited for children and adults who never grew out of the childish desire to have magical things happen while never having to leave the comfort and safety of their bedrooms. You know, like wanting a tame dragon to be your pet, or a handsome rich vampire to marry you and settle down with you in a nicer neighborhood in your home town. But anyway, I was given the chance to read one of the books of this series, called Changes. I’m a couple chapters in, and frankly already I’m bored.

I’m also pissed off. Jim Butcher is an American dude, you can tell by the way the only thing his protagonist seems to care about is the fact that his ex-girlfriend didn’t tell him he had a daughter until said daughter was kidnapped by some of his enemies. Oh yes, the plot: Harry the Wizard gets a phone call (because despite the effects of his wizardly powers on computers, somehow he can get phone calls without the things fritzing — oh yes he talks about “receivers” and “the hook” but those old-fashioned things had electrical parts and computer bits in them since the 70s, and this story is not set in the 70s). Anyway he gets a phone call from his ex, who left him for Tragic Reasons (tl;dr: she was half-vamped by an enemy of his, and she’s okay only as long as she doesn’t drink any more blood, so she ran away south of the border so as not to be tempted to drink her boyfriend’s blood, and also to become a vampire fighter), and she tells him they had a daughter and the daughter’s been kidnapped by his vampire enemies. Anyway, you can tell that Butcher is an American male because he has his hero spend precious thinky time moaning about how awful it is he was never told about this daughter, even though as his ex has to point out (because hurt male ego and reason can’t share space in Harry’s head) they are both involved in dangerous evil-creature fighting which leaves no time to take care of a kid, so she had the kid fostered by a “normal” family. I will point out I can understand his ire but the question of just what can two vampire fighters with dangerous enemies do with a kid is left sort of hanging. I mean even if they retired until the child was grown, they’d always have to be in hiding… I dunno.

This fucking thing is longer than the Silmarillion so I’m just going put the rest under a more tag. You have been warned:

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The Free Market Is Not A Free-For-All

Original thing I was going to post on has been canceled because this happened: in a comment thread about a publishing company’s follies, one of the commenters told a story about a coffee shop that failed because despite the nice decor and cookies, the coffee was lousy. I thought something was missing from the story so I asked:

Didn’t anyone tell him his coffee tasted like sock water?

I got the following reply from another commenter, not even the one who was telling the story:

He’s running the business. It’s nobody else’s responsibility to keep him in business.

Okay, I admit I blew my stack (and at first mistook the second commenter for the one who told the story, I was that mad). Because, what the fuck, you hear a story about someone whose business is failing because of some simple thing (in this case, bad coffee), and your answer to a question as to whether or not anyone had ever told him what the problem was that there was no reason to tell him because “it’s nobody else’s responsibility to keep him in business“????

See, this is why so many people are against capitalism and the “free” market. Because they see this sort of “fuck you, I’ve got mine, I don’t care if you starve” attitude from too many of its proponents, this attitude that even if you do everything right one tiny mistake OR EVEN unforeseen shit happening like a hurricane or other natural disaster wiping you out means your business should fail and you should crawl off into a hole and die, this dog-eat-dog nasty-ass treatment of other people, and of course they start looking at socialism, communism, anything communitarian that seems to promise a system where people won’t be treated like disposable garbage. What the fuck do you expect? I mean seriously, what the fuck?

Check out you and your female privilege!

TW: rape, internal misogyny, me being cranky about it.

I’d like to thank Dean Esmay over on the Twitter for pointing out this blog post, The Female Privilege Checklist, to me. He may not be so thrilled with me by the time I get done with it, though. Oh well, gotta blow up some eggs in the microwave to get me to clean it, or something. (Actually, that’s what happened this morning: my roommate forgot to put one of the parts of his four-part microwave egg-cooker on when he assembled it this morning and I woke up to asploded eggy microwave.)

Anyway, to this fellow woman’s post. I’m going to skip all the part where she goes on about how POCs and other complaining about privilege are just taking part in a victimization contest because I don’t want to be here all day (though I’ll just say this: if you think being a victim is some sort of prize in a contest, maybe you need to rethink your ideas about life). I’m just going to get to my favorite thing, a list — namely, the list she provides of things that I, as a woman, are supposed to be privileged with. Warning: this is a long-ass thing, so I’ve put it behind the cut:
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Big Brother is Us

We Americans have a tendency to go about describing ourselves as being citizens of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, and bragging about how courageous we are, yadda yadda. Well it’s not true. It hasn’t been for quite some time. While some of us may be courageous as individuals, as a society we’re a mass of scared babies. We’re obsessed with safety, and every other phrase out of someone’s mouth when the subject of crime or terrorism or traffic fatalities or fat people or “those people” comes up is “the government should do something!”

I live here. I hear these conversations. I participate in some of them. I know what I’m talking about.

So when the powers that we have put into place start acting like Big Brother, who is to blame? I’m in a (rather one-sided) twitter discussion about yet another fun incident at an American airport with hostile gate security personnel harassing travelers. The thing is, the TSA and its shenanigans did not happen in a void. They were not imposed on us out of nowhere. We asked for more security, we asked for more protection, we asked that the government do everything in its power to prevent anything like the attacks on 9/11/01 ever happening again. We Americans tend to be quite naive about just how much power our government has thanks to our tendency to ask it to do more and more things for us. We’re finding out, and we don’t like it one bit, do we?

That’s not the only problem, though. The thing is, we’ve given our government not only too much power, but too many things to do, and many of these things are contradictory to the other things we want it to do. So we want to be made safe, safe as houses–but we also want to have ultimate freedom to travel within our borders and to be left completely alone to let our freak flags fly because this is By God America Land of the Free and Individual. Also, we want to be loved and admired by everyone in the whole wide world but we do have some problems… so we demand that our government show complete fairness to everyone regardless of race creed color freak flag whatever, and to Not Notice anything at all different or weird about anyone, because that’s prejudiced and ableist and racist and unfair. The problem is this is a setup for the comedy of errors that is airport security in the USA. We want to be made “safe” but don’t want to lose any of our freedoms. But you can’t be both safe and free–some dead white guy in our past did say something to that effect, didn’t he? Well never mind.

On the other hand, I can’t get too sad when the object of the affections of the TSA personnel is a middle-class, middle-aged white male. Most of the problems in this country can be laid at the collective feet of this passive-aggressive, partisan-politics-playing, exploitative-sports-and-tv-watching, all-of-the-privileges-having demographic. You hold most of the power in this country, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Males. You can take a little of the discomfort and pain you’ve been meting out to all “THOSE people” in the past. Maybe it will open the eyes of some of you to what it’s like to not have all those “freedoms” you take for granted, but I doubt it. So far all I have been seeing are cries for their guy to be put in power and maybe by some sort of magical vote magic he’ll (yes, it will be a “he”) make all the TSA stuff go away or just bother those strange dark foreign people who come here who are obviously terrorists. And then when their guy shows no more intention of giving up even the tiniest crumb of government power over our lives, any more than any previous guy, they’ll just start campaigning for the next guy. Because they are about as foresighted as pigs who can’t see past the trough where their slop is poured. Grope on, TSA!