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Jan. 19th, 2015

Dorms Are Not Supposed To Be Re-education Camps

Apparently it's now required to discuss your most private thoughts with the RA if you live on campus at the University of Delaware.

According to the article, students at the University of Delaware are being required to submit to a fairly invasive questionnare administered by their Resident Advisor f they live in the dormitories. If they refuse or do not answer the questions “properly” they can be reported to the campus police, or face other disciplinary action.

It seems that the logic behind this is to educate students on issues their peers might face. Okay, fine. But why does that need to include invasive questions about the student's sexual orientation, and why does it need to delve so deeply into the student's personal lives? My first year at university, I had a very good RA, who helped me through a difficult time after I found out that a friend of mine had died very suddenly. But I sure as hell wouldn't have wanted to discuss things like my “sexual awakening” with him. He was a good guy, but that was none of his damn business. And getting into people's political beliefs? That was of no concern to the rest of the people on my floor. I barely spoke to any of them! A few of them I strongly disliked!

I'm also pretty disturbed by the way the article states that the students were forced to act out racial stereotypes, in the name of “breaking them down.” I'm sorry, but I don't really see how that's going to demolish any stereotypes. All it's going to do is make everyone very uncomfortable.

I'm honestly quite shocked, and very glad that I moved back in with my parents. Dormitory life was just annoying, when I lived in one. At least all I had to deal with was annoying neighbors, not this gulag-type environment.

If you're a university student, and you've been subjected to something invasive like this, I would suggest that you contact FIRE, the organization this article came from. They might be able to help you better than I could. Even if you are comfortable with the questions being asked, please understand that not everyone might be. I certainly do not want to discuss my sexuality or my family life IRL with people I barely know.

Jan. 8th, 2015

La Pelouse Se Tient Avec La France

Please excuse my bad Google Translate French for the title. I never took French- I took Spanish in middle and high school although never achieved fluency, and my second language is Japanese. But after the events of yesterday I felt it important to express my solidarity with the French people.

Here in America, sometimes it seems like we’ve become too accustomed to mass murders. A lot of the time, we turn on the news and go, “another one? Where was it this time? Oh, on the other side of the country? That’s awful but at least it’s not going to impact my life,” and we move on. But when something similar happens in another country, it can be even more shocking to us. We’re used to having shooting sprees in the US, and we expect things like this from some other countries- Nigeria and China seem to have similar events relatively commonly, and incidents like this seem to happen in parts of the Middle East almost daily. But when it happens in a country that we don’t usually hear of as being prone to this kind of thing. It’s very surprising when it happens in Europe, because if you believe our news media here, either nobody in Europe has any guns so how the hell are they going to go on a shooting spree, or that Europe is a lot more enlightened and progressive than we are, depending on what channel you watch or what blogs you read. But that’s really neither here nor there- what I want to talk about is the event that took place yesterday, where 12 people were murdered at a magazine headquarters.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not really saying that the cartoons published that incited the killers were tasteful or classy. Far from it. They were actually fairly offensive to the average person (well, in the US at least- I fully admit that I’ve never been to France and know very little about what French social norms are like.). However. Civilized people do not go around murdering other people who said something they found offensive. If we did that, humanity would die out, since pretty much everyone has, at one point or another, said something that offended someone else. That’s not the way that logical people do business, and fortunately. 99% of humanity falls into the category. Most people are not going to go on a homicidal rampage because they were offended, and thank god for that. But there is still that 1% that does drastic things in the name of whatever their ideology is. 1000-500 years ago, it was the Christian religion, with the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. 70 years ago, it was the Nazis, with the Holocaust. 50 years ago, it was the Communists, with the gulags and the killing fields. Today, unfortunately, it seems like there are more and more people willing to do these drastic things, and it’s not even limited to anything in particular. Some people blame Islam and Muslims, and given ISIS, 9/11, and yesterday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo, it is easy to see why some people would think that. But let’s remember that people within recent memory have committed similar atrocities for other, completely unrelated reasons. Cho Seung-hui shot up Virginia Tech- he had no connection to Islam at all. Adam Lanza killed twenty elementary school students, same thing. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords survived an assassination attempt by a lone crazy person. The day before yesterday, there may even have been a racially motivated attack on a NAACP office in Colorado, although nothing is confirmed at this point in time. It is important to remember that there are people who are willing to murder other people for no reason, or very flimsy reasons, but most people are not like that. That goes for everyone. Most Muslims are reasonable, normal people who want to live their lives like everyone else.

That said. I am in no way excusing what happened at Charlie Hebdo. I condemn the violence in the strongest possible terms. Free speech is very important to me. It is one of the principles that my home country was founded on, and it’s something that I hold very dear to me. Being able to say what I want (well, within reason- can’t go around threatening to murder people) is a freedom that my family wouldn’t have had if they’d stayed in their country of origin. It is a fundamental human right that I consider extremely important. Even being able to write this blog is something that I wouldn’t be able to do without fear if I was in certain other places. An attack on free speech is an attack on humanity as a whole. Being able to discuss things freely without fear of government repercussions, or crazy people murdering us, is how our species will move forward in the future. We cannot give in to people who want to silence free expression and exchange, even if we find some of that expression distasteful or disgusting. As Voltaire said, “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

It might be a good idea to begin to apply a cost-benefit analysis when it comes to expressing yourself, but in a perfect world, nobody would be murdered for what they say. While I’m not posting offensive caricatures, what if someone took offense to what I’ve written on my blog, either in this post, or in the past? Would I have to worry about being gunned down in my home or my workplace? What if I said something off the cuff to a friend, and someone overheard and got offended? Would that give that person the right to kill me? I sincerely hope not, because I like to think that, as a whole, we are better than that.

The main takeaway I wish to give to this post is that freedom of speech is important. So are your fellow humans. Do not allow justified anger to turn into attacks on innocent people who had nothing to do with the incident- it is a lesson we have learned the hard way in the United States. But also never forget that freedom of speech is one of the most important things we can have, as a species. Attack on freedom of speech is an attack on all of us. And that even despite differences of opinion, you can fight for what you believe in, even if what you stand up for is against everything else you stand for in general. One of the deceased was a police officer who’d gone to respond to the shootings. He was Muslim, and he lost his life protecting the freedom of the press and the lives of the staff of the magazine. His name was Ahmed Merabet. Do not let his death be in vain. Do not let the deaths of Frederic Boisseau, Franck Brinsolaro, Jean Cabut, Elsa Cayat, Stephane Charbonnier, Philippe Honore, Barnard Maris, Mustapha Ourrad, Michel Renaud, Bernard Verlhac, and Georges Wolinski be in vain.

Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed.

Sep. 5th, 2014

Hackergate


Since I seem to be unable to keep myself from getting into controversial topics lately... have a post on the leaked photos.

Currently, I'm taking a class on tort law, and yesterday our entire class period was dedicated to discussing this scandal. For those of you who must live under a rock, since it's been everywhere, some celebrities got their iCloud accounts hacked and their nude photographs leaked. Apparently, this is a Really Big Fucking Deal, because Jennifer Lawrence's naked photographs ended up on The Fappening. So now the FBI is involved (and really, they don't have anything better to do, like catch terrorists?) and there's talk of prosecuting everyone who downloaded the photos with sexual assault. I honestly don't think that's going to fly, unless someone downloaded the photos of the underaged girls who were included in the data breach, because the professor says that would fall under possession of child pornography. That said, she also said it would be likely for the underaged girls to be charged with creation and dissemination of child pornography, so maybe, maybe not. We'll just have to wait and see.

But because everyone has been freaking the fuck out about this, some even potentially bigger issues have gone completely unreported. Well, not completely. Back from my days in the IT world, I already knew about a website called Data Breach Today which chronicles important things that have been hacked. Have you heard about the Home Depot credit card information breach? Unless you read IT news or follow the business pages, probably not, because everyone's been lamenting the photographs. Did you know about the HealthCare.gov hack? Again, probably not, because while everyone has been hooting and hollering about Jennifer Lawrence's nudes, theyv'e ignored other things.

Hacking is bad, guys, don't do it, and don't go download stolen photographs. But I will be honest- I am more concerned with the credit card thefts than I am with the photo leaks.

Sorry if this post doesn't make a lot of sense... I've been having an allergy attack for the past few days and I can barely see straight. I took some medicine that's made me really loopy and it's kind of hard to type logically.

May. 26th, 2014

Conspiracy and Disrespect

I wasn't planning on writing about this, because I don't usually cover this sort of thing, and I think a lot of the coverage that is given in these events is extremely disrespectful to the victims. However, I've come across some things that are far more disrespectful than anything I could write for this post, so I'm going to do it.

On Saturday, a severely disturbed man named Elliot Rodgers went on a rampage in California, killing seven people (including himself). He was lonely and bitter, and blamed society for his inability to get a girlfriend. His plan was to kill an entire sorority of girls who he felt rejected him, and then kill anyone he came across on his way to his family's house, where he would kill his stepmother and younger brother. He was narcissistic, sociopathic, and misanthropic. He blamed quite literally everyone except himself for his problems, and planned to take revenge on humanity as a whole. He was bitter about still being a virgin in his twenties, refused to seek help from a psychiatrist (even though his family was concerned about him), and especially hated happy people in romantic relationships. In his manifesto, he blames World of Warcraft for his inability to connect with other people, his parents for divorcing, his father for not teaching him how to form romantic relationships with women, and his mother for not remarrying a rich man. He was racist, sexist, and probably needed to be institutionalized years ago. None of this is in dispute. The man was very seriously disturbed- skimming over his manifesto (which I will not link to), I was reminded quite a bit of American Psycho.

What is in dispute is the way that people are rushing to judgment, indicting everything in the world other than Elliot Rodger himself. People have blamed everything from capitalism to Reddit, from World of Warcraft (apparently not realizing that Rodgers blamed WoW himself) to men's rights activists, to 4chan to Youtube (where he uploaded a lot of his barely-coherent ranting). As usual, when something like this happens, people have begun to blame America's gun laws, and started calling for stricter gun control. People are blaming the men's rights community and are calling for the people involved in that to be all rounded up and interviewed, if not quarantined. I've seen calls for all of Reddit to be shut down, despite the fact that it's not been proven that Rodgers even ever visited Reddit. I've seen articles blaming capitalism, although even after reading them I'm still not entirely sure what they thought the solution would be. In the Soviet Union, there were also spree killers, so communism isn't going to solve anything, I don't think. But that's not really what this post is about. If you want to look for things discussing Rodgers' motives, you can go to the Washington Post or the New York Times, or even /r/news, if you want commentary rather than articles. You can find plenty of people on the Internet dissecting why he did what he did. And that's part of the problem.

Personally, I feel like the pages and pages of meta discussing potential motives for why this guy went on a homicidal rampage very disrespectful to his victims. These people have not even had funerals yet and there's individuals out there going on and on about how they were killed because the murderer... apparently subscribed to capitalism, watched too much Youtube, played too much World of Warcraft, or spent too much time on the Internet. Really, anything other than “this guy was severely disturbed and angry at just about everything” is speculation, and I find it in incredibly poor taste to try to come up with potential motives other than what has already been established. Stop trying to lay the blame on outside factors that probably didn't even know the guy existed. World of Warcraft did not make this guy murder his roommates. Reddit did not drive him to want to kill an entire sorority full of blonde girls. Money did not whisper in his ear that the reason he was lonely was because of everyone else. The man blamed everyone but himself for his problems.

Do not blame everything but Elliot Rodgers for what Elliot Rodgers did.

I hope the survivors recover quickly, and that the families and friends of the deceased can find peace.

No comments on this, guys. I don’t get comments all that often anyway, but I really don’t want half-assed attempts to pin the blame on things that only have a tenuous connection to the situation. I’ve seen other bloggers discussions about this same damn thing get derailed by some clown linking to the “blame capitalism” article, and after I just spent like 800 words explaining why that’s bullshit I don’t want that here, either.

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.

Apr. 30th, 2014

Do you like the Lawn?

Do you like the Internet in general?

Do you like freedom?

Then please sign this and help protect Net Neutrality.

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.

Dec. 30th, 2013

Simple Grammar Error or Actively Malicious?

So, one of the most important contributors to open-source computer science has been harassed to hell and back, causing him to drop out of the projects he was working on. His crime? Not realizing that in English, you can use a singular “they” as a pronoun and have it be grammatically correct. He did not think that changing a use of “he” to “they” in his code documentation was a big enough deal to make a fuss out of, and as a result, it set off this shitstorm.

Now, I might not be in CS anymore, but I can tell you one thing: if the documentation to some software said “he” instead of “he or she” or “they,” I most likely wouldn't even notice it, because if I'm reading documentation, I care more about what it is I'm reading than social justice linguistic issues. It's also worth noting that the guy who wrote the documentation does not have English as his first language. In many languages, it is impossible to use a non-gendered pronoun in singular, because it doesn't exist. In others, it is possible, but your writing would be incredibly confusing. In English, it is possible to use “they,” but it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility that someone who is ESL wouldn't know that.

Even some people who do speak English as a first language don't know that. I got into trouble in a university-level English course because I used “he” as a generic pronoun. Well, I was taught in elementary school that using “he or she” is clunky, and “they” as singluar is grammatically incorrect. Now, I do use “they” in most of my writing, but it took a little time to get used to it. And English is my first language (well, for all intents and purposes it is). I do not have to try to overcome my first language's grammatical rules for this sort of thing, although I do when I speak Japanese or Spanish.

Unfortunately, this is not going to help the impression of women in technology. All it's going to do is waste time, energy, and piss off people who are actually doing something useful. It also reflects poorly. So you found a minor grammar error that could be construed as sexist, or, more likely, was the effect of someone who's first language isn't English, or even who was taught that singular “they” is grammatically incorrect. Simple logic dictates that the error was more likely unintentional rather than malicious, and the response of “why should I have to go back through all of my documentation to change one minor thing?” was more likely confused frustration than any actual malice. Now, did the guy handle it well? Absolutely not- he probably should have just changed the word without making a fuss. But I can understand why he did. As a woman, my first thought about the whole thing was "who cares about a damn pronoun in software documentation? I don't!" The reaction, on the other hand, was completely over the top and uncalled for.

Both sides come off badly here, but one comes off worse than the other. One side comes off as vicious and petty, while the other comes off as simply stubborn and kind of confused as to where all the vitriol came from.

Nov. 18th, 2013

Moral Bankruptcy in Blogs


I have been feeling rather ill since I stumbled across a certain website. I was researching something for my geology class, and I (rather stupidly) put only the guy's surname into Google. There was also some feminist theorist who had the same surname as the geologist, and was more notorious. Being half asleep, I clicked on the first link that came up on the Google machine, and suddenly, I found myself falling down the rabbit hole into the dark world of radical feminist separatism.

I don't want to post a direct link to the blog because the blogger obsessively follows trackbacks, and I do not want this psychopath on my Lawn. There is a very real chance that she would attempt to dox me, so I'm not going to put a clickthrough. However, if you Google “FactCheckMe” you'll find the blog.

The blog is quite literally so extreme that it's on a terrorist watch list, and is blocked through filtering software in the entire country of Russia.

Here's a quote:

Well it’s rather hard to answer your questions FCM, but I’ve studied martial arts, and I don’t fear men. I have decided in advance that I’m going to beat the heck out of any man who bothers me. I just have a brutal rage and a total contempt for men. Also, I really hardly spend any time with them, am in women only organizations. Women are either going to have to train to be at war with these monsters or nothing is ever going to change. I am aware that lesbians are raped and brutalized, but I also know that I have done battle with men, gotten a tooth knocked out, smashed them back, taken a baseball bat to attackers, shoved the football jock jerk down a flight of stairs for grabbing at a girls’ butt.
I just accept the fact that I’m an amazon, that my ancient traditions are warlike, and that I assume all men are enemies. I just don’t waste time with this. It amazes me that all women aren’t getting black belts in karate, and that women still mix in places with lots of creepy straight men. I’d rather go down fighting, I’d rather just brutalize the monsters. I have no mercy, no feeling for them, have been known to kick teenage boys in the head for calling girls bitches, I just don’t give a damn. Sure I’ve suffered injuries etc., but my hatred is so extreme, my contempt so completely total, that this fuels a rage very few men experience from women. I battle men constantly, shove them, grab them by the throat— remember I absolutely hate them with such passion that I delight in making their lives a living hell. So if women want freedom, women are going to have to declare war on the pigs and monsters, you’re going to have to kick them out of your houses, your lives, and you’re going to have to stop having male children. It’s really as simple as that, and if women can’t summon the rage to destroy these porn dogs and creeps, well, we’ll continue to have them rule our lives, terrorize our daughters and make cities unlivable.
Hatred tends to cast out fear. I just don’t have the deferential socialization that most straight women display day in and day out. I’ve been a radical separatist for so long, I can’t even imagine the worlds straight women live in. And I have to be very brutal with straight women — no baby pictures, no husbands, no boyfriends… with me, you don’t impose men on me. They are never welcome, never tolerated and that’s that.
When women really learn that they are at war, and that patriarchy must be overthrown like any other colonial power, we’ll get somewhere. You can’t negotiate with these monsters, they are inherently evil, that’s who men are. So if you believe this, you don’t fear them, you wish for their death, you celebrate every man killed in war, in car crashes and by women who have had enough.
I can’t explain this further, it just is my world. Most women are pretty freaked out by it, but again, they are male pleasers and door mats, they have no real desire for freedom, they believe they can placate pigs. And if women don’t rise up and realize what this is all really about, they will be raped and killed anyway. The real truth is that at least you have fought back. All women can find men who are weaker… some puny little idiot uses the word bitch… well, that’s easy, a fist to the face quickly, a swift and sharp kick to the ribs, and down they go. A boot on their face, well placed spit and pure hatred for any insult they level at women. Teenage boy, age 10, calls a woman a bitch, smack! I have no mercy, compassion or feeling for men and boys… just get them out of my way, and shut them up.


Someday this psychopath is going to piss off the wrong person, or punch in the face a person with a concealed weapons permit. Even me- I don't have kid of my own, but I have a very strong “mother grizzly bear” instinc when it comes to kids. If some psychotic bitch tried to beat a little boy in my presence I'd attack her myself. And these people wonder why they're on fucking terrorist watch lists. No shit you're on a terrorist watch list, you just advocated murdering 10-year-olds for calling you a bitch. That is not compatible with a civilized society... or even really an uncivilized society. Hell, I'm pretty sure even monkeys don't behave like that.
So, that's why I haven't really been posting a lot lately. I shouldn't have read that shit, because it's stuck with me to a disturbing degree. I've been having nightmares about it- a psychotic, screeching harpy murdering my brother, my father, my friends... it's a recurringnightmare since I found that blog. I've tried to disengage, not think about it, but almost every night since I read that shit, I've had similar dreams. Last night, in fact, I had a dream that an enormously fat woman with a baseball bat bashed in the head of a little kid, while I stood there, powerless to stop it. I woke up in a cold sweat.
I seriously encourage everyone to not search for this blog- you'll end up with nightmares. I honestly can't remember the last time I had this bad of a reaction to something I read. It's absolutely nightmarish, is what it is.
Hey, NSA? Instead of watching me, why don't you watch these fucking lunatics?

Oct. 16th, 2013

Grinch Watch 2013: Equal Opportunity Grinchiness

Yesterday was the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha. I hope all of my Muslim readers had a great holiday and spent time with their family and friends.

Unfortunately, it seems that the Grinch Brigade is no longer happy with throwing fits about how secular Christmas has become, it seems that now they're targeting other holidays, including Eid. In Montgomery County, in Maryland, about forty-five minutes outside of Washington DC, Muslims in the area have been trying for about a decade now to have the schools closed on Eid so that their kids don't end up missing class for their holiday. Their arguments are sound- Montgomery County school district closes down for Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter. All three of those are Christian holidays. They also close down for the Jewish High Holidays. But they don't close down for Eid.

Personally? As a former student? I would say HELL YEAH to getting the schools closed for Eid. I love holidays! If I could get away with it, I would celebrate ALL THE HOLIDAYS. And seriously, Eid isn't like some random, teeny little cult's holiday. There's about a billion Muslims in the world, and according to the news article, several million Muslims in Montgomery County alone. That's a significant number of kids and teachers who are going to be out of school/work on that day. So shut the school district down. Muslim students and teachers get to have their holiday, and everyone else gets the day off from school. I don't see a reason to argue with that!

However, some people do not see it that way. I hesitate to offer links, because some of the rhetoric is mind-bogglingly offensive. However, you can get sample of it in the comments to the USA Today news article. But you would not believe the vitriol this has inspired in certain parts of the Internet. While I was Googling for the article (that wasn't behind the paywall I read it in first), I accidentally clicked on the Free Republic link. I do not want to give them page hits, so I won't link to it, but I'll give you a few samples of the comments from the site here, underneath the cut. Please do not click on the “read more” if you do not want to see this. I tried to pick some of the less obnoxiously racist ones, but... less obnoxiously racist than the rest of that website doesn't mean much. Please realize that these are in no way my opinion whatsoever and are 100% the words of their writers only.

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. 23rd, 2013

All The President's Pets


So you want to criticize Obama? Okay, that's fine. There's a lot of things you can criticize him for, like the NSA spying on everyone's emails and phone calls (and to the agent reading my blog- can you go pick me up some Chipotle? I'm hungry!). Or you can criticize the president for authorizing those drone strikes that seem to blow up everything except the terrorists. You can even criticize him for having the government eliminate 90% of its system administrator positions out of paranoia of another Edward Snowden. Which, for the record, is a stupid thing to do, since the system administrators are the ones who help stop the hackers from getting in. Depending on your political views, you can criticize him for his views on gun control, Obamacare, the potential government shutdown... I won't judge you even if I disagree with you. Politics is a very fraught issue (especially in my family- remind me to tell you some of those stories someday).

But you know what I will judge you for? If you complain about the Obama family not adopting a pit bull as their new pet. And yes, that link leads to an actual factual, real-life editorial written by a woman who thinks the President needs to send a message with the kind of pet he has. And to do that, he should adopt a pit bull from a shelter.

There's a couple problems with that: firstly, either Sasha or Malia (or possibly both) have animal allergies. I know a lot of animal lovers don't believe animal allergies can be a debilitating problem, but my father is violently allergic to anything with fur or feathers. If we are going somewhere where there might be animals of any kind, my dad has to take a prescription histamine blocker so he doesn't go into shock. Portuguese Water Dogs are about as hypoallergenic as an animal can be: they still wouldn't work for us because my dad's allergies are so severe. However, I am also allergic to dogs (although to a much, much lesser extent than my father is) and I am alright around most curly-haired dogs, including Portuguese Water Dogs. Assuming that Sasha and/or Malia's allergies are more like mine than my dad's, a Portuguese Water Dog is a good choice for them.

Secondly, pit bulls can be dangerous. This is not true of all of them, but the fact remains that they are bred to have their jaws lock onto whatever it is they bite. Several people in my city seem to die every year in a pit bull attack. This is not to say that they are all dangerous: Sharky the Pitbull is a friendly dog that loves kittens, children, and baby chickens. At the end of this post I'll embed a video of him playing with some of his little friends, because it's very cute. But Sharky is also very well-trained. His owner got him as a puppy, and she was able to train him well. A lot of the pit bulls in shelters are adult dogs, and often they were trained for dog-fighting, or neglected and abused, and that does not make for Sharky-like pit bulls. A friend of my family works for a no-kill animal rescue, and she is one of the few people who is authorized to work with the pit bulls they end up with, because she can control them. She's a fairly large woman, 6'2” tall and 250 pounds, and she is extremely strong. She has also been bitten quite a few times and hospitalized twice after being attacked worse than usual. She loves dogs, but if you were to ask her about whether or not a family with kids should adopt a pit bull, she would tell you “fuck no.” I have seen the scars she has gotten from work, and I have to say, any dog that can do that to a woman that size probably could do a lot worse to anyone smaller. She would be the first one to tell you that you can have friendly, sweet pit bulls, but she would also tell you that adopting an adult one from a shelter is probably not a good idea unless you're specifically trained to handle them, like she is.

Again, this is not to say that all pit bulls are dangerous maniacs: Sharky is a great example. However, that sort of thing does need to be taken into account if you're going to get a dog.

Thirdly, and this might just be cultural baggage showing, but at least where I'm from, there is a huge stigma attached to the idea of suggesting that an African-American family get a pit bull. Where I grew up, the stereotype is that pit bulls are “criminal's dogs,” that people who own them are more likely to be in gangs, or drug dealers. To me, suggesting that the Obamas get a pit bull pings me as really blatantly racist. Again, this could just be a local culture thing from where I grew up, but... I don't know, it's pinging me as offensive. I remember after the election in 2008, when Obama told his daughters they could get a puppy, I remember some “haw haw I bet they're gonna get a pit bull, lulz!” from some unpleasant individuals who seemed to have less of a problem with Obama's policies and more of a problem with his heritage. It does just come off as offensive to me, suggesting that the president get a pit bull.

I realize that I might not be the best person to discuss this topic, because in all honesty, I don’t particularly like dogs. I’m actually quite frightened of them, unless I know the specific dog quite well. I don’t exactly dislike them, but I don’t particularly like them, either. Maybe someone else who has more knowledge about dogs would be better to write this sort of thing, but hey, I do what I can.

Anyway, that's enough of that. Have some Sharky, because he really is cute.



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!

Jul. 1st, 2013

THIS is the news I get?


When this kind of stupid shit is reaching me when I'm on the opposite side of the planet, something is very, very wrong. I can't even get fucking CNN here, but when people are getting outraged about a magazine cover featuring Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street watching the news, supposedly in reference to DOMA (which I didn't realize had been struck down until, oh, twenty minutes ago), AND IT MAKES IT ALL THE WAY TO JAPAN, you are doing something really wrong.

What am I talking about? A little while ago, one of my friends here asked me to explain why Americans were mad about the Muppets. My response? “Wat.” So then, she showed me some links that a friend of hers had shared on the Japanese social networking site Mixi, on a sub-group for learning English. The sub-group often posts videos from kid's educational television programs (like Sesame Street), because they're more fun to watch than some random old guy standing up there ranting about English grammar. Sometimes, the group's owner will link to interesting things in the news, or blogs, as well, especially if they're connected to one of the videos that they put up. It's supposed to help the readers learn English, and to find out more about non-Japanese cultures. It's actually pretty interesting. Anyway, the group's ownerhad posted some articles with a request for anyone who understood English better than they did to explain what was going on, since all they had managed to get out of it was that people were upset about a picture of the Muppets Bert and Ernie on a magazine cover.

Here are some examples of what the group's creator was talking about. Apparently sometime last week the United States Supreme Court made a ruling on marriage equality (I guess? I can't get very good news here thanks to the university's Internet filtering software, it blocks most websites that have video streaming, which is... most English-language news sites), and the New Yorker magazine put a picture of Bert and Ernie watching television together on the cover. And apparently people are outraged- OUTRAGED, I tell you! by this. One of the complaints is- “it's trivializing and infantilizing! Why can't the New Yorker put an actual picture on the cover?” Because, doofus, the New Yorker has never put an actual photograph on the cover since its first issue- all the way back in 1925. How do I know this? My grandfather has every single issue of the magazine dating back to 1947 and I've seen the covers. They're also available on the Internet.

This whole thing is ridiculous. Seriously people, if your nitpicking is out there enough to end up on a Japanese-language website, you need to step back and reassess your priorities, because they are seriously out of whack. Lord love a duck, you guys are fighting about a picture that has Bert and Ernie watching television. Yes, in the context of what is happening in the world it implies that they are gay. But... if you can't handle that, then what are you doing on the Internet in the first place? Longcat help you if you ever come across Rule 34.

Apr. 16th, 2013

Fuck the Westboro Baptist Church

I don't think I can get any more blunt than that. To call them scum is an insult to scum everywhere, and I completely, totally, 100% support Anonymous' warning to them.

It has barely even been 24 hours and these subhuman filth-lickers are already planning on how they can disrespect the dead even more than they already have. Between this and their attempt to picket the funerals of the kids who died at Sandy Hook, there is no possible way that my hate for them can grow any more.

I know it makes me a terrible person, but one of these days these people are going to cross the wrong group of people or end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's also telling that they never go anywhere where they might be in any danger- they don't go to DC, they don't go to Chicago, they don't go to Detroit. Why? Because they're fucking cowards. One of these days they're going to piss off someone who you really don't want to piss off, and when that happens I won't be surprised if they end up on the business end of a different IED.

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. 21st, 2013

Grinch Watch 2013: FFS, IT IS MARCH!

While most of the time, this blog focuses on just random things I feel like writing about, I do have some recurring features- some which are written more regularly than others. The fic rec, for example, barring any extenuating circumstances, is posted once a month, while other features, such as the series I write dissecting Michael and Debi Pearl's teachings, is posted whenever I feel up to actually trying to wade through their crap.

But I never thought I would be writing up a Grinch Watch post IN MARCH. Jesus H. Gundam Christ, you can't even let three months pass from the past year's Christmas before you lot start ranting on about how Christmas is under attack from secular forces? I mean, the first Grinch Watch post of 2012 was in NOVEMBER! At least that's somewhat more reasonable of a time frame. I mean, seriously, wait at least until stores start putting their Christmas crap up for decoration. Which... should probably be sometime in July if recent trends have been anything to go by, but that's neither here nor there.

The strange time-frame of this announcement notwithstanding, it gets even crazier. Oh no, my friends, this is no ordinary grumpy Grinch. This is everyone's favorite former vice presidential candidate from Alaska- yes, that's right, Sarah Palin is getting in on the Grinchiness.

While, in fairness to her, the book is scheduled to be published sometime in November of this year, the press release was given several days ago. Ironically, she claims, and this is directly verbatim from the article:

"Amidst the fragility of this politically correct era, it is imperative that we stand up for our beliefs before the element of faith in a glorious and traditional holiday like Christmas is marginalized and ignored," Palin said in a statement released through her publisher. "This will be a fun, festive, thought provoking book, which will encourage all to see what is possible when we unite in defense of our faith and ignore the politically correct Scrooges who would rather take Christ out of Christmas."


Bit ironic, really- the only Scrooge I see here is Palin, dredging up the old War on Christmas zombie.

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.

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