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Feb. 24th, 2015

Oh Holy Shit

Yesterday I turned 23 and I was going to post about my birthday. Until I saw this insane plan to make people comment on fanfiction for a college class, and all of a sudden recounting my boring birthday celebration didn't seem all that important anymore. There is more information on this topic here

And dear god, I'm horrified by this. I'm incredibly relieved that I'm such a shitty writer that I've never gotten on the radar of any of these professor-types. And I'm glad that my most popular fic ever is written under a sock account (which I'm not going to give out here, given the circumstances). And even that is crappy enough that nobody would have ever thought to make it required reading for a college course.

Look, I am a college student. I have been a college student for five years. I am very well familiar with college students. This is one of the worst things these professors could have possibly done to fanfiction writers. College students are, quite often, tone-deaf galoots, and that's putting it politely. Trust me, I could say way more on the subject, but I'm not going to, because I'm going to assume most people know what I'm talking about. Let's just say that Accepted and Animal House were made for a reason. The idea of some of the people I go to school with barging into some poor unsuspecting author's work and leaving the sort of dumbass comments I'd expect from them is making me cringe in my desk chair. And I'm not even a well-known writer! I have like five people that regularly read this blog, maybe a few more for my old fic, and most people who know me in real life don't know I read/write fic. I've been careful to keep my two lives separate, partially out of fear of something like this happening! Well, okay, maybe not this happening, because in what universe is fanfiction considered an appropriate topic for a college class? Some of the stuff that's required reading for this class is explicit slash fic, or explicit incest fic. I would assume that would get the professor reprimanded at the very least, but maybe not. After all we're supposed to be adults...

Good lord, it's like all of my nightmares came true at once, and I'm not even involved! I can only imagine that it is much worse for the writers involved.

Nov. 7th, 2014

Bad Intentions

They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I do think that has happened somewhat in fandom. The whole current “social justice” clusterfuck that's spawned all kinds of bullshit in fandom (the trigger warning disasters, stalking and harassment of writers who don't follow the prescribed ideology of the month, and a number of other situations I could list but won't because then we'd be here until Christmas), for the most part, probably started that way. Well-intentioned people began to want to rid fandom of undesirable elements. And I'm not saying that sarcastically. If you're doing something for fun, most people don't want to run across horrifying racist invective, for example. And let's be realistic- there was some of that. But once they'd run out of really obvious, blatantly offensive things to go after, they found that they weren't satisfied so they went after things that might have been borderline. Again, that's arguably acceptable, But there wasn't as much of that as they'd like, either, so then they turned to fandom as a whole. The result has been several years of stewing resentment on both sides of the issue. The “social justice warriors” are frustrated that no one is listening to their demands (as those demands become ever more onerous and, quite frankly, ridiculous), and the writers are frustrated that they can't write what they want anymore without worrying that someone is going to jump down their throat. I've seen people lose their jobs because they posted slash fics- someone found their IRL identity, called their boss, and complained, all because they thought it was sexist that there were no women in this person's PWP slash fics. I've seen people savage a middle-school-aged kid who was writing her first story, for the reason that she gave a historical person an OC girlfriend. The reason that was so offensive and worthy of calling a middle-schooler a “homophobic cunt?” Because there's some evidence that the historical dude was gay. But overall, that's not what I'm talking about. Regardless of the original intent of these people, it's pretty clear that what we have now has become corrupted and used as a stick to whack people upside the head with.

But that's not what I'm talking about.

Recently, it has come to light that among professional sci-fi writers, someone has been lurking among them that uses these social issues as ammunition in their personal crusade, This person did not start with good intentions. This person's original intention was to fuck shit up, period. And they hurt a lot of people. People lost their jobs, someone attempted suicide, and it created a climate of fear amongst many professional authors. But because this individual used the language of good intentions (they're just trying to end racism and homophobia! They're a good person, honestly), they got a lot of people to go along with it.

Obviously I'm not a professional sci-fi writer. I'm not a professional anything. So I've been observing this from the outside. However, I do feel like it backs up what I've been thinking for a long time. Good intentions aren't enough anymore. Wanting to rid your fandom of racism and sexism and anything else is a noble cause. Doxxing people in pursuit of that goal is... not so noble. Harassing people in pursuit of that goal is... also not so noble. And you might think that you mean well, and you probably do. But your actions provide cover for those that don't mean well, and it leaves a trail of destruction behind them.

No comments on this, guys.

Sep. 2nd, 2014

People > Animals, or Racism Isn't Okay Because You Like Bunnies

You guys know me, I don't like to get involved in this kind of kerfuffle. But today, I saw something, that even though it happened six months ago now, pissed me off so much that I had to say something, I couldn't stay quiet. Honestly, I'm furious, at a whole lot of people.

It started when my mom told me about a weird encounter she had in the Sephora in the mall where we live. I had asked her to buy me some concealer. Unfortunately they were out of the kind I usually get (that works on my ghost-white skin- seriously, I'm like half a shade darker than printer paper so finding American makeup that works on me is a challenge) so she was looking at some other brands that had a wide range of colors, hoping there might be one that wouldn't look alarmingly orange if I used it to cover up a zit. One of those brands was Tarte. She was trying to decide if the light concealer was going to work for me when another customer came up to her and told her, and I quote (well, my mother's rendition of what the other woman told her): “You shouldn't buy that shit, the company's owned by a bunch of MURDERERS.”

My mom's reaction was basically “WTF.” And so she asked the other woman what the hell she was on about. The woman's response? “Oh, the woman who started the company sold it to the Japanese and they torture animals to death!”

By this point my mom was kind of weirded out, but the woman continued going on and on and on, telling my mom that she should give her her email address so she could send her some information on animal testing and how horrible it is. My mother politely declined, came home without buying anything, and told me what had happened. So I looked it up.

Yes, in March of this year, Tarte Cosmetics was purchased by Kose, a Japanese company that manufactures, among a lot of other things, cosmetics. Some of Kose's brands include Anna Sui, Paul&Joe Beaute, Rimmel, Softymo, and Happy Bath Day, all companies I own (or have owned in the past) items from.

And people went berserk, because Kose, according to Japanese laws, sometimes conducts animal tests. Apparently this is way more of a hot-button issue than I thought, because I haven't seen that much invective directed at a corporation since... ever, probably. And a lot of what I read was really disgusting- and this was on moderated pages, at that. Some of what was still there would have made WWII propagandists go “guys, that's a bit far, don't you think?” I really do not want to see what the comments that said “removed” said. And no, I will not be linking to them, I don’t want that shit on my blog even indirectly.

Considering I have a lot of Japanese friends, I was... disturbed, to say the least. Comments saying that they hoped Japanese women who bought Kose cosmetics had acid dripped into their eyes were all over the place, comments about wanting to vivisect Kose customers, comments about wanting to torture the founder of Tarte Cosmetics “the way the animals would be tortured...” it was really disgusting, alarming, and truthfully, enough to probably get the comment writers on an FBI watch list. I hope they ended up on an FBI watch list, because some of them definitely seemed more than willing to go do something atrocious in the name of “saving the animals.” What I want to know is- do these dumbfucks not realize that they're talking about torturing people to death, in the name of saving some lab rats? I'm sorry, but I view threats to my friends and myself (since I own and use Kose products) to be quite a bit more serious than the fate of some rats. Do you take medication at all? Even Advil for a headache? Then you've used products that were tested on animals. The people who were ranting and raving about this call themselves “cruelty free.” Really? I'd say wishing horrible torture on women from a different culture is pretty fucking cruel.

Here in the US, we seem to be a lot more sentimental about animals than people in most other countries. In fact, in most places in the world, people would be absolutely horrified to know that Americans are slapping stuff on themselves that hasn't been tested. I spoke to many of my friends while I was working on this article and a lot of them were very disturbed at the idea that American companies are allowed to sell products that have not undergone the safety tests that are required in their countries. One of my friends, S, was very alarmed when I told him I used products that have been certified as “free from animal testing.” “You put that shit on your FACE?!” he yelled at me. “What happens if you get chemical burns or something?! How do they know it’s safe?!”

Look, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think animal testing should be conducted if it can be at all avoided- some things, like medications, really do need to go through a very stringent testing process before they can be given to people, even for testing. If the medication immediately kills the mouse or whatever, you probably don’t want to give it to people. I think, for the most part, cosmetic animal testing is unnecessary. But different countries have different laws for the safety of their citizens. There are some popular cosmetic products that are available in Asia and Europe that are not available here in the US, at least not through actual brick and mortar stores, because they would require more testing by the FDA before they could be sold to Americans. And I can tell you right now that they probably wouldn’t test the stuff on FDA employees. I think we can all agree that unnecessary animal cruelty is a bad thing. The difference is, that depending on the country of original, the standard for necessary vs. unnecessary will be different. I’m not sure where we should draw that line, either.

But I do think we should draw the line at making terroristic threats. And I’m pretty sure threatening to kill people because they use a makeup product you don’t like can fall under the heading of terroristic threats.

Aug. 22nd, 2014

That Is The Biggest “Size 8” I Have Ever Seen

So once again kid's cartoons are coming under fire from the outrage brigade. And unfortunately, I can kind of see where they have a point this time. I'm not sure how to feel about this. Last time it was Thomas the Tank Engine, this time it'sScooby Doo. Daphne apparently pissed off the bad guy and got cursed to lose what was important to her, so she went from being very thin and pretty to seriously overweight and with bad hair.

The article reports that she was supposed to have gone from a size 2 to a size 8. I haven't watched the episode in question, nor have I been able to find it online so I can't check to see whether or not that it was actually outright stated that she became a size 8, but either way, someone is being a dumbass. I'm a size 16 (and yes, I'm working on it) and Daphne in those pictures looks like she's twice my size. If that's a size 8 then I must be Godzilla or something. Daphne looks like she's suddenly become 300 pounds.

I don't really like to talk about my weight, because it's kind of a sore spot for me. My father is obese, and I've seen how miserable he is. I have gained weight over the past two years, and it's really frustrating for me.So when I see gigantic Daphne there supposed to be eight sizes smaller than me, I wonder if to other people, if I look twice as huge as she does from those images. And that's kind of a disturbing thought.

On the other hand, I've watched Scooby Doo since I was a little girl, and Daphne has always been a bit dim and self-absorbed. And let's face it, suddenly gaining 150 pounds would be pretty horrifying. Even going up a pants size can be pretty upsetting. And apparently in the end of the show Daphne learns that what she looks like and how much she weighs doesn't matter at all to her friends, which is a good message. But I'm just not sure that showing a 300-pound woman as a standardized, fairly normal “size eight” is a good thing.

I don't know. I'm really, really hesitant to agree with the outrage brigade or give any credence to the movement that is at the forefront of decrying this. But I think this time, I have to say I'm on their side. I'm not happy about it, and I really hope this is the last time I have to do it. But this time, I will join in the voices saying that this isn't cool, WB.

And now I feel like I need a shower. Thanks a lot.

Jul. 24th, 2014

This Is The Dumbest Thing I've Read All Week

Cripes, not even Thomas the train is safe anymore.

For my readers not familiar with the story of Thomas the Tank Engine and all his train friends, they are a bunch of sentient trains that live on an island somewhat reminiscent of Britain, where they work hard for their company and learn lessons about being well-behaved and how to get along with others. In other words, it's basically every other children's show out there, only with trains. I watched this show growing up, as did my brother, as do my various younger cousins and nieces and nephews.

Let's tackle the author's assertions here one by one, shall we?

First off- Sir Topham Hat isn't the “ruler” of the island of Sodor. The Mayor of Sodor is this guy. Contrast him with Sir Topham Hat. Clearly they aren't the same guy, and if I have to spell it out for you any more than that, then... well. The author complains that Sir Topham Hat makes the trains do things for him. Well, yes, he is the business owner and the trains work for him. That's kind of the point of work. But he always treats the trains fairly.

The author's next complaint is that the diesel engines are racist because they pump out black smoke from the diesel, as well as being the bad guys. Uh. Well, Diesel himself is the “bad guy” as much as anyone is the bad guy in the show, but there are other diesel trains who are nice. Mavis, Paxton, BoCo, Dart, Salty, and others are all valuable part of the team. Also, the difference between the smoke is that if a steam engine is well-run and tuned up, it will not expel anything other than water vapor, while diesel fumes are darker in color and a bit more dangerous to inhale. Have you ever been behind a Mac truck on the highway? That stuff they emit? That's diesel fumes.

Then the author complains about James being painted pink for a little girl's birthday party and some of the other engines laughing at him. But he learned that it's okay to be pink at the end of the episode! That was the whole point!

She's also wrong about the lack of girl trains. There are plenty of female trains in the show- Molly, Mavis, Emily, Belle, Lady, the passenger coaches, Rosie, and a bunch of other ones.

Clearly this author doesn't know the first thing about Thomas the Tank Engine. Equally clearly, she spent a lot of time typing up a ridiculous indictment of the super horribly offensive kid's television program.

And I typed up an entire blog post about Thomas the Tank Engine. Clearly I need a life...

May. 25th, 2014

Kaiju vs. Bakemono

My brother is out of town with his friends for the Memorial Day weekend, and I wasn't expecting to hear from him until Tuesday, when he gets back. What kind of teenager wants to talk to his strange, basement-dwelling elder sister when he's with his friends, anyway? But apparently they went to go see Godzilla while they were on vacation and they got into an argument.

Apparently, it went something like this:

Kid 1: So they called Godzilla a kaiju, but I saw in some anime I was watching that the Japanese word for monster is “bakemono.” Wouldn't Godzilla be a bakemono?

Kid 2: No, dumbass, there was that other movie where the giant monsters were called “kaiju” too!

Kid 1: But I swear to god the Japanese word is “bakemono.”

Kid 3: Hey, Kaboom's Brother, your sister speaks Japanese, right? Call her and ask her!

So that's how I ended up on speakerphone with a bunch of teenage boys last night at like 11:30, giving an impromptu Japanese lesson. Because this is apparently a fairly common confusion, I decided to repeat it for the blog.

Technically, both kids are right. Both 化け物 (ばけもの、 bakemono) and 怪獣 (かいじゅう、 kaiju) can be translated as “monster,” but there's a bit of a different in the connotations. “Bakemono” usually refers to something like a ghost or spirit (the yuki-onna, for example, is considered a bakemono) while “kaiju” usually refers to a Western-style monster or a giant creature of some sort. Godzilla, therefore, is a kaiju. Mothra is a kaiju, as are the critters in Pacific Rim (and those are actually called Kaiju in the movie itself). Traditional Japanese spirits like the namahage or the yuki-onna are usually referred to as bakemono. For Western mythological monsters, it tends to depend on the creature, and it depends on the translation. Don't take this as Absolutely The Way It Is Done, because my Japanese really isn't perfect, and I certianly haven't seen every movie ever in Japanese, but from what I can tell, vampires tend to be referred to as bakemono, while werewolves seem to be kaiju, at least when they are in their werewolf form.

But if you have any more questions you should probably ask someone whose first language is Japanese. It's quite possible I'm missing some nuances, but in case you were wondering about Godzilla, he's kaiju. :)

英語で"化け物”と”怪獣”は違いがありません。あの言葉は”monster”です。幽霊は”ghost”です。ゴジラはとても有名な怪獣です、でも、アメリカで、”怪獣”は一般的に知られていないです。アメリカ人はゴジラが知ります、でも、別なモンスターはあまり知りません。私たちは怪獣の映画を見ません。ここで、怪獣の映画一般的ではありません。

May. 24th, 2014

This Should Have Been Settled A Decade Ago

But apparently it's not. How many fucking times do we have to go over this? I remember why I stopped hanging out on the website this came up on in the first place, too- too much of this kind of shit.

Why someone preferes to read and write slash (as opposed to het or femslash) is none of your fucking concern. It's their business. Not your business. Theirs. Not yours. You dig?

It does not mean they hate women. It does not mean they have hangups with their own sexuality. Maybe it's just what they prefer.

But Longcat almighty, this seems to pop up at the weirdest times. I was on an anonymous commenting board and someone was talking about the new fic they were planning, which was a very long slash novel-length fic. Almost immediately, someone jumped on them to demand what their gender was and their sexual orientation, and that if they weren't a gay guy they hated their own gender.

This shit has been going on since I've been in fandom, which is getting on 10 years now. And it never stops coming up.

Everyone who keeps dredging this up (and yes, this probably includes me) needs to get the fuck over themselves. Does it really matter what someone does as their hobby? I don't care what you do in your spare time as long as it's not something like, I dunno, eating people or whatever. It's just not my concern. Unfortunately, the rest of humanity hasn't seemed to catch up to that yet.

May. 18th, 2014

Trigger Warning: University- Part 3

It's not going away...

I've already written in depth about this in the past, so I'm not going to rehash all the arguments I've made except to reiterate that I think this is a stupid idea. I understand that professors may make use of disturbing content for their classes, and if they choose to warn, then that is fine and I would encourage that. But these special precious hothouse flowers are demanding trigger warnings for the goddamn Great Gatsby and other things. Like the one professor towards the end of the article says, this could have a chilling effect on professors and could make them scared to actually teach their subject.

The fact of the matter is that if you're in university, you're supposed to be an adult. If you can't handle things that upset you like a mature adult, then you have no business being in university. If you have a concern about something in the syllabus might be upsetting for you, then go talk to the professor. Believe it or not, they're actually not going to screw you over. If you're concerned, let them know, and they may give you an alternate assignment, or warn you ahead of time.

In the adult world no one is going to hold your hand and protect you from everything. It's time these undergrads learn that before they get out into the workforce.

I'm not saying this to be cruel, either. I understand the use of trigger warnings for people who have truly experienced trauma. But let's face it- the majority of people who are clamoring for these warnings are not trauma survivors. They want to be protected and coddled from their big bad scary class assignments. I've seen trigger warnings on the Internet for the most inane things, too- will that be expected to become part of university syllabi too? I would feel scammed out of my tuition if I showed up for class and my professor handed out a syllabus that had trigger warnings for toast.

Hopefully this will eventually die down, because if it doesn't, I'm worried about what the value of a university education will become.

Mar. 7th, 2014

Trigger Warning: University: Link Roundup

The whole debacle is still ongoing. I've already made my thoughts on the matter known, so I'm not going to rehash them. That would get boring. However, there's been discussions of it all over the Internet. Some I agree with, some I don't, but they've all been pretty fascinating to read, so I'll link to them here.

This post is from a university professor who is extremely uncomfortable with the idea of this, because it infringes on academic freedom. Please note the link goes to an archived snapshot, done because the website itself was making my antivirus software go bonkers. But I think it's worth reading anyway, so here you can avoid any potential virus problems.

This goes to a thread on Fail Fandom Anon. It's kind of all over the place with regards to opinions so you can read it and form your own.

This goes to the Feministe article/comments section, as linked to by the above thread. I just want to say, though, that by linking to Feministe I don't necessarily endorse anything you might find on that website. This is the first time I've ever visited that site and I have not vetted the rest of it, so don't take this as any sort of endorsement of anything other than “the article I linked to on this particular topic might be of interest.”

And here I break one of my own rules and link to Shakesville. Please note that I absolutely do not endorse anything written by Melissa McEwan at all. Ever. The only reason I'm including this link is because it's on topic for this infodump. Also, for the love of god, do not comment over there saying you came from here. I'm not up for dealing with McEwan's poodles flooding my poor Lawn. I don't think IJ's servers could take it either. I mean it, no poking the beehive. And make no mistake- that website is a beehive. That’s why this one is an archived link, to discourage any beehive-poking and to avoid any pingbacks that might bring any of her commentariat over here.

This link goes to Student Activism defending the practice, which I found very interesting- it takes a slightly more preventative view towards the whole debacle than I do, but overall I think this is a more logical way to deal with the issue than a lot of people have been proposing. At least it recognizes that there might be some problems inherent with the whole trigger warning model., but understands that some students may need the extra heads-up.

This post touches on some of my least favorite words- seriously, if someone tried to tell me that “this thing we’re studying is problematic” I’d probably head-desk. But, again, other than that, this writer seems to be logical about the whole thing, with regards to teaching things that could be upsetting for the students.

This one’s fairly snarky, but does accurately describe what I think a lot of people were thinking when they first heard about this. People want fandom-style warnings for their college classes now? Seriously? Special snowflakes! The blog owner is quite a bit more conservative politically than I am, however (and considering that compared to some of the other blogs linked here *coughMelissaMcEwancough*- I’m essentially the second coming of Rush Limbaugh, that’s saying something).

Salon had what I would consider a profoundly simplistic reaction to the debacle- no nuance whatsoever, but I’ll include it here because the next article references it. And you’re all big boys and girls, you can make up your mind on the article itself.

The Daily Banter’s response to the Salon article, which I personally find more useful than the Salon article, but again, you can make up your own minds.

There’s a whole lot more about this out there, but this is what I’ve had the time to read. Like I said, you all are smart- if you weren’t you wouldn’t be reading the Lawn. You can make up your own minds, and you don’t have to agree with anyone who wrote these articles, or even me, if you don’t want to.

As I mentioned before, in the previous post, I will continue to use warnings for my fiction and any blog posts that contain things that are particularly graphic- any future articles about Michael and Debi Pearl, for example, will contain warnings. However, I’m not going to put up trigger warnings for anything anyone could conceivably find offensive, nor am I going to put in warnings for individual words or non-graphic descriptions of things. “X shot the guy” doesn’t get a warning, but a more graphic description of X shooting the guy would.

And even though I come off as kind of prickly in these posts, if something here on the Lawn legitimately triggers you, it is logical, and you let me know, I’ll edit the post to put a note up. 9 of 10 times, if you can logically make your case to me, even if it’s something idiosyncratic, I’ll put a note or something up. The 1 time I won’t, likely it was something conveyed to me abusively (calling me a stupid triggering cunt isn’t going to endear you to me, let’s put it that way) or was just so out there that I wouldn’t even begin to know where to start with the warning. Put even more bluntly, if I somehow forget to tag graphic violence, suicide, or assaul.t, or it slips past me, go ahead. I’m not going to put up warnings for office supplies, though.

And hopefully that’s the end of that, although I kind of doubt it. Seems like the trigger warning debates flare up every six months or so.

Mar. 4th, 2014

Trigger Warning: University

And here I thought the online warnings debate was getting out of hand. Now, apparently, the trigger warning debacle has gone into university classrooms. (Please note: link is to an archiving site because the original is behind a paywall after reading a handful of articles. I can no longer access the original but someone put up an archive link, so that's what I'm linking to here).

Let me preface this by saying that I have no particular objection to trigger warnings. I use them on my series about Michael and Debi Pearl, because those articles contain graphic descriptions of child abuse. I wasn't ever abused like that, but on a bad day, reading the base articles for those posts can make me shaky and feeling sick to my stomach- someone who went through what the Pearls recommend could be much worse affected than I am. I know several military veterans who get flashbacks to the wars they were in when fireworks go off/they see trash by the side of the road/a plane flies overhead/etc. But this is truly getting out of hand.

I have no problem warning for the major stuff on my blog and on my fiction, as do most people. But when people are going into fanfiction writing communities and demanding trigger warnings for random things (like parrots, which I actually saw the other day), this is getting absurd. As the article says: people have wanted trigger warnings for things as varied and bizarre as small holes and animals in wigs.

Warnings for graphic violence, child abuse, suicide, and sexual assault are the ones I'm willing to accommodate, unless someone can give me a damn good reason to add another. I might warn if, for some reason, I was going to link to something really blatantly racist or sexist or something, but because I don't really do that, it's never come up before.

The thing is, triggers are not something that hurts your feels. Triggers are a very specific psychological thing. Someone who has PTSD will get triggered, and they will flash back to their trauma. And truthfully, it's very rarely caused by reading some words on the Internet. I have a relative who was in the Vietnam War who gets extremely tense every time he hears an airplane fly overhead. I have an acquaintance who freaks the fuck out if there's trash on the side of the road because in Afghanistan, where he served, terrorists liked to hide IEDs in trash piles on the side of the road. I've also heard of rape victims being triggered by the smell of the cologne their attacker wore, or hearing a specific song that was on the radio during their assault. Rape victims can be triggered by graphic descriptions of sexual assault, while veterans can be triggered by graphic descriptions of war violence, but a single word, or a non-graphic sentence? Please, people, you're watering down the concept beyond all help. Trigger warnings were originally invented to help people with PTSD. Not people who get in a twist if someone in a story calls someone else a slut, or makes an allusion to something else that upsets you.

I'm willing to believe there's probably at least one person out there who could be legitimately triggered by some of these things, but it is literally not possible to potentially warn for every potential trauma trigger a person could possibly have. It's just not feasible. The whole world would have to have trigger warnings on everything.

It strikes me too, that professors wouldn't appreciate being made to put trigger warnings on their syllabus. I had to watch a movie for one of my classes that had an incredibly graphic scene of actual violence filmed while it was taking place- we're not talking Quentin Tarantino levels of ridiculous graphic violence either where people explode and shower the room in unrealistic bright red goo , this was the legitimate thing, and it actually happened. It was so disgusting a few people threw up, and I spent the rest of the day utterly shaken to my core. The professor warned us going in that it was graphic, and that he would understand if we had to step out, but we were not allowed to skip class just because a potentially upsetting film was going to be shown. That was the best example I can think of that would even warrant someone being allowed to skip class for their potential triggers, and we weren't even allowed to do that. The professor just told us that the film was very graphic and he warned us before the scene came up in case anyone needed to step outside. I'm pretty sure everyone wishes they'd done so, but that's neither here nor there. People being allowed to skip class because a topic of discussion may be upsetting for them? What the fuck is the point of going to university in the first place? If you can't handle people discussing sexual assault, then maybe don't take the women's studies class entitled “The Politics of the Rape Culture” (which is a real thing at my university). I would think that would be common sense, but apparently not. Apparently my generation is incredibly dim when it comes to this sort of thing. Maybe it's all those warnings spelling out every single word of the post before they actually read it on the Internet.

I'm not opposed to trigger warnings, and I think they are, in fact, quite valuable when used rationally Putting warnings for everything under the sun that might make someone somewhere a bit sad or uncomfortable? That just dilutes the term's usefulness for people who need them for PTSD. And being offended is not a symptom, nor a cause of PTSD.

Feb. 8th, 2014

Extremes

So, the Olympics in Sochi started today (well, technically yesterday), and there have been a lot of problems- unfinished hotels, water unsafe for consumption, and a bobsled team athlete getting locked in the loo and having to bust his way out through the door- as well as some issues that have been bothering a lot of people for quite some time, like Russia's human rights abuses. We've all seen the news stories about how Russia has some pretty serious issues with homophobia and other human rights violations. Obviously that's bad, and I really shouldn't even have to say that.

But there's also a disturbing trend of people being equally vitriolic about random Russian people and people who are watching the Olympics. I went to a sports bar yesterday to pick my brother up from a team meeting, one that's well-known for showing every major sporting event whenever it comes on. People gather around and drink and cheer for their favorite teams, at the Olympics, the World Cup, the Super Bowl, and probably other sporting events I can't think of off the top of my head. I noticed that the television was tuned to a random soccer game instead of coverage of the Olympics. My brother wasn't ready to go yet, so I had some time to kill. I asked the owner of the restaurant why the televisions weren't tuned to NBC, and he told me very seriously that he had gotten death threats for trying to show the Olympics, some he believed might be credible. I also saw in the newspaper that a very, very famous gay bar in the next town had the same issue, to the point where the police were stepping up security around the place because the proprietor had been hyping the events for months (apparently he's personally friends with one of the bobsledders and has been planning to do a big thing for those events). I've also seen a lot of vitriol over the Internet for random Russian people- not the government, but just random people. I even saw some people talking about how they'd like to murder the little girl that was in the opening ceremonies because “she's probably a homophobic Russian bitch anyway.”

People. This is incredibly fucked up, knock it off right the fuck now. Threatening to murder people because they're watching televised coverage of an event the entire world takes part in is fucked up. Wanting to murder 10-year-old girls because they represented their country, which is hosting a major sporting event, is exponentially fucked up. You don't have to like the Russian government. You can believe the Russian government is incredibly corrupt. But random Russians aren't the problem, it's their government that's the problem. People are not their government. There are things that the US government has done that I find absolutely horrific. But I had nothing to do with it. There's nothing I could do to stop it. I am not the government. If I was, things would either be better, or things would be going to hell in a handbasket even faster than they are now.

Knock it the fuck off. Sending death threats to bar owners and little Russian girls doesn't make you look enlightened and supportive of social justice, it makes you look like a goddamn psychopath, and it will probably make you end up on an international terrorist watch list.

To my Russian readers, since my flag counter thingie says I have a few: good luck to you guys at the Olympics! The Opening Ceremonies were impressive- I especially liked the Tron segment.

Nov. 1st, 2013

Movember is Offensive Now?

As today is the first day of November, all around the world there will be men shaving off all their facial hair to grow a mustache for Movember. For those not in the know, Movember is a fundraising drive for prostate cancer awareness and research that sprang up on the back of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which happens in October. During the month of November, guys grow a mustache and collect money for research on prostate cancer. Women can participate too, by helping to collect money as well. Sometimes they'll draw eyeliner mustaches on themselves while doing the collections and fundraising.

Until recently, I never thought there would be people who have a problem with raising money and awareness for cancer research. Cancer sucks. The sooner we can find a cure the better off humanity will be. But with the Susan G. Komen disaster last year, I started to realize that maybe all of this fundraising wasn't as good as it seemed to be. Still, though, I never in a million years would have thought to tell anyone that they shouldn't try to raise money for a cause like that.

And then, this morning, one of my relatives posted this link on Facebook with the caption: “WHAT THE FUCK.” Which pretty much sums up my thoughts on the matter.

In case you don't want to click the link, it's an article about how Movember is offensive. Apparently, it is offensive because only cisgender men (as in, not transgender) can grow mustaches, and that it leaves out transgender men. Which, okay, fine. But transgender men can't get prostate cancer. Because they don't have prostates. And you don't have to be a cisgender man to participate in Movember. You might not be able to grow a mustache, but there's no law that says you can't help raise money or participate in other ways. Prostate cancer doesn't care what your gender identity or sexual orientation is. If you have a prostate, you can get prostate cancer.

Secondly, the author goes on to say that Middle Eastern men can't do Movember because of racial profiling. Now, I'm not saying that racial profiling is not a problem, but last year, I knew a number of Middle Eastern men who participated. In fact, in one of my classes, I was in a group project with a guy from Saudi Arabia who ended up raising almost two thousand dollars in November, and he donated it all to research.

I seriously don't get what the writer of that article hopes to accomplish by hating on a charity that helps to combat a serious illness. Would she rather people died of prostate cancer? Would she rather that nobody really cared, and that this disease continued to kill people? I don't want my dad or my brother or my male friends to die of cancer. I don't want anyone to die of any kind of cancer.
If you don't like Movember, don't participate, don't donate money. But don't cause problems for the people who are participating, either.

Aug. 30th, 2013

Mutually Assured Destruction

So, apparently Califorina's been having a problem with exes posting “revenge porn” online of the person who dumped them, and is considering making it illegal. Revenge porn, for those of you who don't know, is the practice of releasing nude photographs/sex tapes/the like of the former partner after the relationship goes south.

My take? Obviously you shouldn't be posting private videos and photographs of people without their permission. I think it's a pretty clear-cut invasion of privacy, especially when identifying information accompanies the photos (name, address, phone number, employer, bank account information, stuff like that). It is especially bad when the subject of the photo or the video is underage. In that case, the distributor should be prosecuted for creation/distribution of child pornography. In most cases, though, that already happens- at least it does where I live. It seems like every week there's another story in the news about some dumbass teenagers who decided to put their girlfriend's nude photos on the Internet and then they get arrested.

But I wonder, about the adults involved in this. Weren't they ever taught that you never let anyone do something to you that they're not willing to have you do to them? I thought that was pretty much common sense. But then again, common sense seems to be anything but common these days. It's the idea of “mutually assured destruction.” There's a reason countries don't send nuclear weapons flying at countries that also have nukes. It's the idea of “you nuke us, we nuke you back.” Mutually assured destruction. If your partner wants to take nude photographs of you, then you should only agree if they let you take photos of them first. If they end up posting them on the Internet? Then you post the ones you have on the Internet too. I guarantee the problem with disappear within six months.

Aug. 10th, 2013

Letter To A Younger Fic Writer

And yes, I'm aware of how pretentious this is, but after seeing a high school freshman get excoriated for the unbearable sin of writing a less-than-politically-correct fic, I couldn't help myself.

To the attackers- people, back the fuck off. That fourteen-year-old who you just tore apart for putting a supposedly gay historical dude in a straight relationship, in the background of a fic set in a historical canon? Congratulations on making your side look bad. Seriously? I don't know the sexual orientation of every single historical dude out there, and if the situation made sense for the plot (which it did, according to you), then what's your problem? It's not like the historical dude is going to sue, he's been dead since 18-whatever. Especially since I went to Wikipedia and looked up the guy in question- he was married to a woman (granted, it was a very brief marriage, but he was still married to a woman, which shoots some holes in your argument right there). And what you, as adults, consider to be “common knowledge” might not actually be common knowledge to anyone younger than your demographic group, or outside of your chosen profession. I don't expect everyone to know what a Linux kernel or bash shell is, because that's just not reasonable.

Also, seriously? Picking on a kid? Didn't your momma ever teach you to pick on someone your own size?

To the kid- I know it sucks, starting out writing in today's hyper-sensitive environment. By the way, your story was very impressive- much better than anything I could have ever hoped to have written when I was your age. But, there is one thing you need to be aware of- today's fandom climate, especially in certain fandoms, is sort of like a pack(?) of piranhas. They will eat you alive if you do something that they determine to be against the collective. It's a tricky situation to be in, especially if you post your work on tumblr- which you do. To be honest, that's probably why they found you in the first place. Tumblr is a fascinating website and it can be a lot of fun, but there's some definite problems there. The site's format makes it very easy for one person to take offense to something, and then broadcast it to a lot of like-minded people. I will bet my paycheck for the next six months that's what happened. My advice to you? Get off tumblr, or at least don't put your fic there. Move it to AO3 or FF.net. I would advise avoiding LJ/Dreamwidth fandom communities, though, because the same sorts of people that like to lurk around on tumblr lurk around there, as well.

However, and I do kind of hate to say this, it might be simpler for you if you do a bit more research next time. Yes, I know the guy in question was married to a woman for a while, but people get extremely touchy about this sort of thing. And with good reason, in a lot of cases. No, I'm not saying that this time was good reason, but now that you've seen what they'll do, I hope you'll take that into consideration in the future. I'm not trying to discourage you from writing, but these people can be absolutely fucking vicious. I've seen people lose their real life jobs because they pissed off the wrong person. I cannot stress enough how important that is. You are young, but you won't be in high school forever, and people do carry grudges. I feel really bad telling you this, because the last thing I want to do is discourage you, but maybe in the future avoid writing romances with actual historical people in them. I know, the guy's been dead for over a hundred years, but he was still an actual guy, you know?Just watch your step in the future. Again, I'm not saying this to scare or discourage you, but I also don't want to see you get drowned in an endless sea of rage.

I really feel sorry for younger fic writers just starting out. Back in my day, we wrote whatever the hell we wanted and no one gave one good goddamn about what we wrote, unless it was a Mary Sue. Today, it must be a minefield for someone just starting out.

(Note: I am turning comments off on this, and no, I will not be providing a link to anything. The writer has gotten enough shit already, the last thing I want is to direct more haters at them, or for them to somehow stumble across this and see even more hate)

Jul. 20th, 2013

Armpits4August

Along the lines of Movember there's now a new no-shaving campaign for PCOS in August (PLEASE be aware that the subject of the photo at the top of the article is... quite hairy, and her outfit is very revealing. I do not advise clicking if you're at work).

On one hand, I can respect the reason they're doing this. I have endometriosis, which is somewhat similar to PCOS, although it doesn't have the same symptoms (you usually do not gain weight from endometriosis itself, although the medicine they put you on is another story, and you don't really get hairy). So I can understand why these women are trying to bring attention to it. PCOS is a painful, embarrassing condition- an acquaintance of mine who has it once told me she has to shave twice a day because if she doesn't she'll turn into a giant fuzzbucket.

But I just don't see how growing out your armpit hair is going to make a difference. The whole point of Movember was to raise awareness for prostate cancer, and the mustache thing makes sense in that context. A guy's face is a very visible part of his body, and most people are going to notice if Bob from accounting shows up at work one day with a mustache that he didn't have before. “Oh hey Bob, you grew a mustache!” That is a perfect excuse for Bob from Accounting to tell his colleague about why he grew the mustache.

But armpit hair?

I don't know about you, but I don't really make a point of going around showing off my armpits to the general public. And there's just something intrinsically horrifying to me about people making a big deal out of their body hair. Head hair I can deal with. But making a big deal out of your armpit hair, or your leg hair, or your chest hair, or your pubic hair? Eurgh. No thanks.

At least this campaign is about PCOS, which makes it more understandable. In the past, campaigns of this sort have centered around people's right to be as socially unacceptable and unhygienic as possible. Last November I read an article, penned by an activist, who was not only not shaving for the entirety of the month, but was refusing to even use a shower for thirty whole days, supposedly to “fight against oppressive patriarchal beauty standards.” I was not aware that taking showers was now considered oppressive, but whatever. I hope she at least had the decency to do the laundry and wear deodorant, but somehow I can't imagine she was particularly popular with her coworkers, friends, family, acquaintances, people on public transit... blergh.

So, my advice to you, if you're participating in Armpits4August, is: shave, don't shave, do whatever you want. But for the love of god, at least maintain normal patterns of bathing.

Jul. 3rd, 2013

PSA for Professors

Don't tweet stupid shit.

Last semester, for my sociology class, I wrote a paper discussing trends of social media use in the United States and Japan. One thing that was common to both countries was that people who make ill-advised postings on social media websites sometimes end up bringing down the wrath of god on their asses. Earlier this year, there was the Donglegate incident. Last year, according to Asahi Shinbun, a woman who was part of a BL doujinshi circle accidentally posted some of her drawings to the Facebook account she had under her real name, and she lost her job because of it.


I'm not going to go into whether or not the professor in that story should be fired for being sarcastic about fat people- I have a feeling that no matter what I say it's going to upset someone, but anyone who has read my blog for any length of time probably knows my thoughts on the matter. I like free speech and a free Internet- three guesses and the first two don't count. It is incredibly dumb to so blatantly put your controversial views out there connected to your actual name. There's a reason I am careful to not connect my fandom or blogging activities to my actual name- it would be bad for my jobs.

I'm not going to try to stop you from thinking things that are less than politically correct. Longcat knows that the second you tell someone not to think about something, they're going to think about it. I get intrusive thoughts sometimes- it's a side effect of the paranoid personality disorder. As such I tend to be a bit susceptible to unwanted thoughts popping into my head, especially if someone brings it up. It can be terrible in the cases of when I have to deal with obnoxious customers as well- “don't think about that person don't think nasty thoughts about that person... GODDAMN SHE'S BIGGER THAN MY FUCKING CAR!” But I have the presence of mind to not broadcast them to everyone who happens to pass by (with the exception of this instance). You can't always control your thoughts, but you can control who you tell them to.

I also want to bring up something that came up in the comments of that article. Apparently when the mayor of New York City tried to ban soda, Sarah Palin and some other people got up in arms about it. That's not trying to win the votes of fat people, that's trying to win the votes of people whose first thought about that was “fuck you I won't do what you tell me!” And honestly, if someone told me I couldn't have soda anymore, I would definitely tell them to take a long walk off a short pier, and any politician who tried to ban it would not be getting my vote. GOTTA HAVE CAFFEINE!

May. 17th, 2013

Caveat Lector

I cannot believe I am diving into this cesspit once again, but it's really getting on my damn nerves, and I even use them on my fanfiction most of the time. I am, of course, talking about trigger warnings.

Generally, I will put the warnings on my fics, mainly because I know several people with PTSD who enjoy fandom, and I don't particularly want to send them into a flashback. If someone asks me to put up a warning on something, 9 of 10 times I will if you're not being a twat about it. The other time is probably because I just don't think it's necessary or graphic enough for it, and that's only in extreme situations. I once had someone ask me to put a trigger warning on a goofy- G-rated Akatsuki fic I wrote in high school. I don't remember what they wanted me to warn for, but I do remember it was pretty ridiculous, considering that fic was probably the most “clean” thing I've ever written/..

But anyway.

I know that the warnings fight has been going on for a while, but I thought that it had finally settled down with people acknowledging that there are writers who, for whatever reason, refuse to use the warnings or dislike them for other reasons. It is common for them to use the “choose not to warn” option. I thought that was universally accepted as the compromise. People who either have PTSD-related triggers, squicks, or are just easily butthurt, can avoid the fics that say “choose not to warn,” and people who don't really care can just click on whatever they want. It's been like that since around, oh, I don't know, 2009 or so. Back when I was a tiny little Kaboomlet just getting into fandom, there wasn't such a thing as “warnings.” It was considered polite to warn if your story contained non-con or graphic violence, but that was it.

These days there's a laundry list of warnings that certain people expect. I'm not going to name names or post links, but there's a certain fic meme out there on LJ that has gone completely overboard on the required warnings. Last time I counted there were 31 things you were required to warn for, which ranged from the fairly clear-cut “graphic violence” and “non-con” to things as vague and subjective as “sexism.” How in the hat are you supposed to warn for “sexism?” I mean, I understand the concept behind it, but when you have people out there whose definition is “having a character use the word 'bitch' in passing, even if it's canonical,” where do you draw the line? I'm sorry, but I'm not going to use a warning for one fucking word in my fic, one that's not even all that foul. MAYBE if I was going to drop some specific words I would use a warning, but for something like “bitch” or “crazy?” Hell no. That is also the sort of thing that “choose not to warn” can help to avoid. If you are not sure exactly whether or not your story contains things that could reasonably upset a reasonable person (and I'm using that phrase very loosely, because anyone who goes bonkers over in-character use of swear-words is not a particularly reasonable person), using “choose not to warn” helps.

But now, apparently that's not enough. Every single paragraph, every single sentence, has to be analyzed with a fine-tooth comb looking for potentially upsetting material. And that's just not on. If you're that sensitive, I sincerely and honestly encourage you to seek help, because that's not healthy. If you're on that much of a hairtrigger, there's something very wrong there and you need to get help, because you're not going to be able to function in life.

I will continue to do as I have always been doing, but seriously- if you ask me to put a warning on my work for something stupid, or if you complain if I choose not to warn, I am probably just going to laugh at you, and no, I don't feel too bad about it. You're the one asking me to label my work for minor things.

I would like to stress, however, that if I do forget a warning for something like graphic violence or non-con and you point it out to me, I will fix it as soon as I can. Because believe it or not, I'm not that much of an asshole, really. What I mean by the above statement is if you want me to put in warnings for swear words or snarky commentary that's 100% in character.

Apr. 15th, 2013

Regarding Today's Attack

By now everyone is probably aware of the bombing that happened in Boston earlier today. It is critically important that if you are in Boston that you stay inside and do not congregate anywhere in large groups. The government is reporting that this is a terrorist attack, and large groups of people make good targets for the terrorists. It is also important that if you live in or near any major cities, and not just American ones, that you be extra careful over the next few days. I know London is already stepping up police presence in case something happens there.

But even more than that, I have two more things I want to say. If you live in Boston, their communications networks are experiencing periodic outages due to the high volume of people trying to use the cell phone bandwidth. I normally would not suggest this, but because it is an emergency and there are many people who are still waiting to hear from their friends and family that they are alright, consider unlocking your Wi-Fi so that people may be able to use it. If you are not comfortable doing that, and I can understand your feelings, at least tell the password to anyone who asks. You can change it or set it back up later, but right now I highly doubt that anyone in Boston is going to be going around war driving at the moment, you're probably okay to drop the WEP key. And in this case it could help people get in touch with their friends and family.

Secondly, while the government that is reporting that this is a terrorist attack, it is incredibly important that no one jumps to conclusions, and/or starts to panic. To use a very cliché phrase, if you panic, the terrorists win. That's what they want- they want to scare the shit out of people. By carrying out these attacks, the people they kill are not actually their primary target- they want to incite panic, although they don't give a fuck about anyone they kill in the process. Several news outlets have prematurely reported that there is a Saudi Arabian man in custody with connection to the attacks- this is false. There was a Saudi Arabian man who the Boston police and the FBI were questioning... because he said he'd seen something. He was not a suspect. Please do not jump to conclusions regarding the ethnicity, race, and motives of the attackers. I have already seen a lot of people pinning the blame on groups like Al-Qaeda. From what I heard on the radio, it is unlikely that Al-Qaeda is behind this, because they usually immediately release statements after any attacks they carry out. It is also important to note that this day has some significance for Americans. Today is Tax Day, when all Americans are required to file their income tax returns with the government, and is historically a day when extremists attack. It is also an important day in Boston, for reasons other than the marathon- it is a municipal holiday called Patriot Day, commemorating the American Revolution. Today also happens to be the birthday of the late Kim Il-Sung, former dictator of North Korea. Tomorrow, April 16, is the sixth anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting. In four days, it will be the 20th anniversary of the Waco, Texas siege, and the 18th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. Of course, today could also have just been an arbitrary date chosen by the terrorists with no significance whatsoever. We don't even know if this was done by domestic terrorists, or foreign ones.

There are a lot of crazy people out there in the world. Whatever happens, whoever or whatever group is revealed to be behind the attack today, it is important that no one give into fear, because the terrorists win.

Mar. 19th, 2013

On Objectivity

This particular topic has been on my mind a lot recently, but I wasn't sure how to explain it. After letting this roll around in my head for a while, I think I've finally figured out a way to phrase my point logically and coherently without being any more offensive than normal.

Being able to look at a topic objectively is extremely important when you're trying to discuss it.

I think this is a huge, huge issue with our political system today. When an issue has become so polarized that it's almost impossible to look at it from a distance, or without immediately going into a frothing rage, trying to actually figure out a solution to the problem becomes impossible. Take, for example, the issue of abortion. Now, please bear in mind that these are not necessarily my views on the subject. I'm going to plead the Fifth in that case, because I don't need rabid pro-choicers or angry pro-lifers camping out on my Lawn. Take this as it is supposed to be- a thought exercise.

In the issue of abortion, the two opposing sides are at a complete impasse. On one side, you have the pro-lifers viewing the pro-choicers as murderers. In their minds, you cannot possibly make an argument for abortion that will change their minds, because to them, the procedure equals murder of a baby. There's no way around that fact- abortion doctors, women who get abortions, people who support abortion- they're all murderers or murderer apologists. That is what the man who assassinated the Kansas abortion doctor thought- his defense was even something along the lines of “well, wouldn't YOU shoot Hitler?”

On the other hand, you have the pro-choicers who view the pro-lifers as being virulent misogynists. According to them, the pro-lifers don't actually care about the babies, they just want to torture women and punish them for having sex. In their eyes, it's not possible that the pro-lifers might have reasons beyond “FUCK I HATE WOMEN!” for their beliefs. They will even go so far at times as to deny the potential risks that the abortion procedure carries, even flat-out denying that there is any potential for it to go wrong. All surgery carries inherent risk- even getting a damn tooth pulled out can have detrimental effects on the person whose tooth is being pulled out.

If we were to actually look at this issue logically- the abortion debate- the country would view the evidence with an objective eye. Don't be stupid- abortion is a medical procedure. All medical procedures carry inherent risk. But pregnancy has an inherent risk as well. Now, as to which is inherently more risky, I have no idea, but I do know that certain types of the procedure, and the time-frame in which it is done, can be more problematic. Clearly, a procedure that removes a zygote is going to have a different risk factor than a procedure that removes a third-trimester fetus. That much is just common sense, but because the issue has become so polarized you can't even say that without being accused of... something... by either one of the warring factions here. You'd think something as basic as “different procedures will have different risks” wouldn't be in question, but apparently people, in their desire to cling to ideology like it's a pool noodle, will ignore basic common sense.

Let's use a different analogy. Getting your appendix removed and getting a brain tumor removed are both surgeries. However, the brain tumor removal is inherently more risky because they're operating on the brain. One wrong move and the brain is damaged, which will likely kill the patient. Getting the appendix removed can be dangerous as well, but the margin for error is more forgiving. An abdominal injury, while serious, is less life-threatening than a brain injury, within reason. Again, there's all sorts of different factors that add into this, but looking at it objectively, the brain surgery is more dangerous than the appendix surgery.

Adding complexity to the abortion debate, however, is the strongly-held belief of many people that the fetus is a human being. Some people cannot get past that mental block- by removing the fetus they are killing a human being. For these people there is simply no arguing with the murderers who would do such a thing. And said murderers view the people who hold the opposite view are only in it to torture women as punishment for having sexual intercourse.

But if we step back, it's obvious that the issue isn't so black-and-white. Like everything else in life, there are varying shades of gray. And it's not always as simple as “ZOMFG you have abortion because you don't want to be pregnant anymore!” There are situations where, unfortunately, something goes seriously wrong with the pregnancy. Anencephaly is a situation where the fetus does not properly develop a brain, and assuming it survives to term, it is very unlikely it will live much past birth, and during that time it will probably be in serious pain. In that case, it probably more humane to have abortion. In the case of fetal death, the mother needs to have an abortion if she does not go into miscarriage, because if she does not, she could be subject to tissue necrosis or sepsis, both of which can be life-threatening. There can also be cases where the baby will be fine, but the mother's life is in danger.

On the other hand, there are cases where the baby survives a late-term abortion. Gianna Jessen survived a saline abortion attempt, which left her permanently disabled. There is also the case of the Oldenburg Baby, who also survived a late-term abortion. Unlike Jessen, however, he had been diagnosed with Down syndrome- which was what caused his parents to seek the abortion. However, it is believed that the abortion attempt left him more disabled.

I do not write this article in order to argue for or against abortion, or for anything else. In fact, I could have written it about any number of things, the topic of abortion simply happened to be on my mind recently, as I (unfortunately) was required to participate in a class discussion for one of my courses, and spent about an hour and a half listening the president of the university’s Feminist Student Union having it out with one of my classmates, who is part of the Campus Catholic League. I simply want to impress upon my readers the need for everyone to take a deep breath, take a step back, and think logically. Obviously no one is going to change their minds on any issue based on my stupid-ass rants, but you also shouldn't be making your decisions on the issues based on whoever yells the loudest.

And that's all I'm going to say on the matter for now.

Feb. 11th, 2013

But where's the atheism?

You might not know this, but I sometimes lurk about a bit on Reddit. Not too much, mind you- staying on there too long will cause your faith in humanity to decline extremely rapidly, but today someone linked to this thread on what is allegedly an atheist forum. But when I think “atheist forum” I think Fundies Say The Darndest Things. Not... whatever this mashup of Tumblr-style activism and pseudo-intellectualism that this thing is.

After going through several different topics, I could not find a single one that had anything that was more than tangentially related to atheism. For a website that is called ATHEISM plus, it is woefully short on the atheism.

Now, I'm not an atheist, I'm an agnostic, but even as an agnostic, I can tell you with certainty that atheism/agnosticism isn't about who can yell about being offended the loudest. In the thread I linked up above, the original poster of the thread goes on about if someone starts yelling at you for doing something offensive, you're not allowed to ask why what you said/did was offensive, because it puts the onus on the offended person to explain why they are upset.

Which is how logical, rational people engaged in conversation, or at least that's what I thought.

Look, I'm a pretty nice person and I don't usually purposely go out of my way to offend people. I've got better things to do with my time and I generally have enough respect for my argument partner to not immediately fly off the handle and start cursing people out and shrieking .If I say something that is legitimately offensive (which I have done in the past) and you haven't done anything to provoke me to that point (ie- you haven't been the one who ratcheted up the invective in the first place), let me know and I'll apologize and offer a retraction. I've done it in the past. You can even do it somewhat impolitely. But if you come in here with guns blazing, shrieking about what a horrible offensive person I am, and then you'll refuse to explain what I did or said that was so goddamn bad, then odds are I'm going to laugh at you. But I'm not a mind-reader, and my diction tends to be a bit on the prickly side, especially on certain issues. If, for example, you were reading an article in the Parenting for Sadists series and took offense at my language, I'd need you to clarify. The Pearls really do incite the invective from me- do you object to me calling Michael Pearl a “cactus-fucking dumbfuck” or is it the fact that I called Debi a “child abuse-supporting twat of the highest order?” You'd have to explain. And I'd disagree.

But even if I disagree that what I did was so bad, I'm not going to go out of my way to be a bitch to you- provided that you don't go out of your way to be a bitch to me first. I am willing to have an open dialog. But, as I have mentioned multiple, multiple times here on the Lawn, I don't like extremists. I don't care what sort of extremist- I don't like them, period. Extremism breeds hatred and intolerance, and hatred and intolerance breeds the things that we should be working to stamp out from our world.

There's nothing wrong with mixing your personal ideology with your religious beliefs. Catholic Charities, as you can probably tell, combines their Catholicism with their desire to help the poor. And that's just the one that I can think of off the top of my head. The Humanist movement combines atheism with the desire to help people.

But what I see at Atheism Plus is probably closer to what I've heard sarcastically referred to as the “Chairforce,” a bunch of people who bang on keyboards to rant about the injustice of it all, all day, every day, but ultimately do nothing, except suck up bandwidth and piss off everyone they come into contact with, through their over-zealous preaching. Not too different from the fundamentalists they claim to hate, really.

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