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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.

Aug. 2nd, 2013

Religion and Aliens: A Perspective

Most of you who read this blog know that despite the fact that I am an atheistic agnostic, I'm very interested in religion. Specifically, I'm interested in crazy religion- the kind of stuff that leads to extremism, because that's one of the things that I fear the most. I've always figured that the more I know about it, the better I will be able to protect me and mine if it comes down to it, which it hopefully never will. In my travels around the Internet, I have found some horrific things based in religious worldviews- Michael and Debi Pearl, Dominionism, Christian Reconstructionism (essentially the Taliban, but American and not Muslim)- and that's just scratching the surface. But in my research, I've also come across incredibly intelligent, well-spoken, thoughtful religious people, the kind of people I'd like to invite to have dinner with me.

The Wartburg Watch is one of these sites. Actually, my father was the one who found it, while he was looking up something my mom had been talking about, and he sent me the link to it. Since then, I've found the discussions that take place there incredibly illuminating, and sometimes very disturbing. I have learned from this website that corrupted versions of religion have spread further than I had previously thought, and it's infecting all kinds of things, from politics to the workplace, and it's starting to prey on society's most vulnerable. It's quite hard to read sometimes, as it can get extremely graphic. Part of the reason I have such difficulty doing the Parenting for Sadists series is because Michael and Debi Pearl make me feel physically ill. Some of the things that this website has reported on take that up to eleven. If you decide to check out the rest of the website, I would strongly advise readers not eat before looking at any of the Sovereign Grace Ministries articles- they deal with some absolutely horrific allegations of child sexual abuse. I actually did throw up after reading the lawsuit briefs- some people deserve to be drawn and quartered, and that's all I'm going to say on the matter.

But that's not the only thing this website discusses. The owners are Christian, and they often discuss things from a moderate religious perspective, which is very interesting to me. The article I'm linking to today talks about aliens, life on other planets, and what it would mean for their faith. As far as the blog's authors are concerned, it has no effect on their beliefs, and would actually be really cool. Some of the commentors, however... well, they're not as thoughtful and like to rant about demons. But it really is a very interesting look at the hypotheticals of alien life from a perspective that you wouldn't think would be obvious. In my experience, many religious people don't believe in aliens, or if they do they think they're demons, but this is a very thougthtful perspective. If you are interested in religion, or exobiology/xenobiology, or even if you just like Star Trek, this is definitely worth a read. While you might expect an article like this to be all "ALIENS! ZOMFG! DEMOOOONNNZZZZ!" it's not like that at all. I am trying to think of a way to phrase this that won't come across as offensive, but it's fairly rare that I read something from the religious corner of the Internet that doesn't leave me wondering exactly what kind of crack the writer was smoking when they typed it up. And there's no Scientology-like discussions of Xenu or whatever he's called here, either- it's just good old-fashioned thoughtful prose.

Mar. 16th, 2013

Learn Me A Link #1: Bingo Cards vs. Actual Discourse

Welcome to a new Lawn feature- Learn Me A Link! Occasionally I will read an article that is so good, it puts my writing to shame, and I realize that even if I was to write my own article on it, I would fail tremendously in comparison to this. While it won't be as regular as the fic recs, I think it will probably be a bit more common that the Parenting for Sadists series- mainly because I can write these articles without wanting to projectile-vomit all over the computer.

First off, for this one, I want to disclaim that I don't agree 100% with everything in this article. I state that because while I do agree with about 75% of the article, the author does go off on a bit of a tangent and I'm not entirely sure what their point was in regards to the rest of the article. But overall, it's pretty good, especially with regard to the whole “bingo card” thing.

If you've been in an argument online over the past, oh, three or so years, and it's been on a relatively controversial topic, you've probably come across some of those “bingo cards” people pull out to make their opponent look stupid. In case you've not seen them, or you have but I'm not describing them very well, here's a few examples.

This is in response to a controversial tech conference presentation that pissed a lot of people off. Apparently the (female) presenter had included images of herself and some of her coworkers goofing off in lingerie to add “spiciness” to the presentation.

Fat hate bingo. I actually showed this one to my father, who is morbidly obese, and he just about hit the roof. “WHAT THE FUCK PEOPLE THINK IT'S ACTUALLY HEALTHY TO BE LIKE THIS?!” Yeah. My dad is kind of pissy about this sort of thing.

Here's a conservative one, complaining about Obama.

Angry vegan bingo. This one, along with the feminist bingos, are the ones I probably see the most often. It's also probably the most baffling- at least you can logically make an argument for why feminism extends to all of humanity. Veganism, on the other hand, is a completely personal choice that affects no one but yourself.

And, for a non-political (and actually kind of offensive) example, Wal-Mart bingo.

This is just a small sample of these sorts of things- I could literally devote an entire article to them. But I don't want to. Which is where this article comes in. It was written by a user from Livejournal, where s/he explains the inherent problems with the cheapening of the discourse down to bingo cards, as well as reducing people's arguments to memes.

Overall, s/he has a very good point. By reducing the discourse down to bingo cards, you cannot actually have a good discussion, and people start to resent other people. And then they make their OWN bingo cards. Nothing good is going to come of this, I can tell you that much.