PEOPLE NEED TO BE ALLOWED TO PROCESS CAITLYN JENNER’S TRANSITION WITH HUMOR

The outrage machine keeps humming...
The outrage machine keeps humming…

In a development which should surprise no one, the Huffington Post fairly recently ran a piece whining about jokes comedian Bill Burr made regarding Caitlyn Jenner’s transition because of course they would.

Here’s the bit:

Most relevant to me at least was Burr’s takedown of how the PC thought police won’t tolerate anything but fawning praise:

“Then you couldn’t react. You couldn’t on any level be like, “Oh my God, what the eff?!” on any level. You couldn’t say that or you’re automatically homophobic. You shave your beard off people are like, “Oh my God, that’s your chin?! wow!!” This guy walked out a dude, came back a woman, and you’re just supposed to be like, “Oh, yes, so anyways, Caitlyn.”

Yes I get that by “homophobic” Burr mixes up sexual orientation and gender expression but to focus on that misses the point.

Along similar lines as Bill Maher explains jokes to idiots, the kind of people who thoughtlessly and reflexively sling accusations of “racism”, “sexism” and “transphobia” like candy from a parade float at anything they merely don’t like also don’t seem to understand that some people need or use humor to cope with and process dramatic changes, be it in themselves or beloved childhood heroes.

A contrast instantly came to mind when I thought of people who, without the hate, might think “what the eff” in response to to Caitlyn Jenner’s transition. First is the strikingly beautiful Nikki Araguz Lloyd, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. She has, as far as I know, been openly transgender for a number of years, and I had no clue until she told me:

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Whatever your politics, trying to argue she is a man makes you a moron…

Caitlyn Jenner on the other hand didn’t transition until she was 65, after she’d achieved celebrity/hero status after winning the men’s decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics. “Passability” isn’t relevant here even if, in my opinion, Caitlyn Jenner looks pretty good for a 65-year-old woman:

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I get why people who grew up with Bruce Jenner as an athletic hero might be stunned by who she is today…

As a cultural libertarian, I have in no way a problem with Caitlyn Jenner’s transition. I genuinely wish her the best and happiest life possible. If anything, I expect the authoritarian left to turn on her viciously when reminded she’s a conservative Republican.

Whatever the case may be, some people may need a moment to…adjust, to put it mildly and there’s nothing wrong with using humor to do that.

Comedy is sacred to me because it brings joy, brightens life, and can act as a mechanism for taking the piss out of genuinely awful things and horrible people. The insinuation that Bill Burr’s joke in any way contributes to the murder and death of transgender people is plainly ridiculous and should be openly mocked and ridiculed, which I intend to do, or at least help in doing.

Huffington Post Editor Bill Bradley quips:

If you have to say, “I’m not being a jerk,” you’re probably being a jerk.

But Bradley evidently doesn’t realize, or doesn’t care that, in an age when the public square is dominated by the professionally offended, where political correctness poses an existential threat to comedy, people feel the need to deny being a jerk because people like him will trip over themselves to make them out to be one anyway no matter what they say.

“PERSON OF INTEREST” IN CUSTODY AS HCSO INVESTIGATES MURDER OF DEPUTY DARREN GOFORTH

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Fox 26 now reports the person in custody is a “person of interest” in the investigation in the murder of Harris County Deputy Darren GoForth:

On August 28th, at 8:30 p.m. at the corner of West Road and Telge, someone walked up to a Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy while he was pumping gas into his squad car and shot him multiple times in the back and then shot him multiple times once he fell to the ground. No motive is currently known and eyewitnesses say the shooter said nothing to the deputy before opening fire.

The suspect, described as a man with a dark complexion roughly 5’10’-6′ tall and wearing a white T-shirt and red shorts reportedly fled west on West Road in a dark red or maroon Ford Ranger.

It’s difficult to come up with language to describe how to feel about this. The loss of 47 year old Darren Goforth, a ten year veteran of the force who is survived by a wife and two children is incalculable.

I’ve a buddy who genuinely hopes this is a non-random event. It does sound odd as he admits. It’s hard to find an upside to any of this but I guess it would be better than some lunatic wildly blasting people because he thinks the dog told him to. I don’t find the idea of this being a calculated cold-blooded murder any more comforting.

Whatever the case may be what’s decidedly unhelpful are wild insinuations about a tragedy in which no clear motive has even been established which hint at seemingly related events:

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I’m a leftist who actually enjoys Breitbart because I believe in reading widely, in engaging people with whom I disagree, so I wouldn’t bat an eye at writing for them. I wouldn’t be the first liberal to write for them, after all.

I have my own misgivings and reservations about the #BlackLivesMatter movement which I believe would be wholly inappropriate to get into here. I’m sure some on the right would love to hang this killing around their necks but as far as I can tell, BLM supporters have so far remained silent on the officer’s killing.

Their critics however are in full force, and haven’t wasted any time exploiting this tragedy to take shots at BLM supporters, warranted or not.

This is not a night in which I care much about any of that. I don’t care about which side to take in political spats. Don’t be that person tonight.

Be safe folks…

Update: Katie McCall of Fox 26 reports the suspected gunman has been apprehended:

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ADDICTING INFO’S “BEST DEFENSE” AGAINST MASS-MURDERERS WILL GET PEOPLE KILLED

It’s no secret many that my fellow liberals/lefties hate guns. This is misguided at best, but it’s also incorrect to assume that the right completely owns gun rights as an issue no matter how hard left/liberal publication try to reinforce the stereotype:

Under. No. Pretext…

Nonetheless, liberal blog Addicting Info evidently runs anything that nurses their  bias against firearms, and in the wake of the attempted massacre in France reaches so far as to astonishingly assert that yes, it’s somehow completely reasonable to expect the best defense” against a gunman wielding an AK-47 is to have unarmed people charge a would-be mass-murderer.

The bravery of Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos can’t be understated, for which they were awarded the Legion of Honor, France’s highest decoration. But as Chris Hernandez (known for his defiant stance against the lunacy of “micgroaggressions” and “trigger warnings”) puts it, they were lucky and because of that, has to set the Addicting Info types straight on why expecting this outcome to be normal is ludicrous and lethally stupid:

Having said that, and I’m in no way detracting from their bravery or heroism, but they got lucky. Many factors gave them the opportunity to rush and take down the attacker. As a combat vet, former active shooter response instructor and longtime cop, when I heard about the attack and the Americans (and others) who stopped it, my reaction was, “Those guys are incredibly brave,” followed quickly with “And it’s a damn good thing they’re still alive, because they could have easily lost.”

I think most of us with a tactical background understand this was something of a fluke. Generally speaking, you don’t bring a nothing to a gunfight and expect to win. It can happen, but you don’t make “use your bare hands to take down a guy with an AK-47” your Plan A. I know this because I have training, experience, and a brain. The blithering idiots at Addicting Info, however, looked at this fluke, consulted fellow blithering idiots who know nothing about lethal force, and published an article titled Proving The Best Defense Is A Good Guy WITHOUT A Gun, Unarmed U.S. Soldiers Foil French Gunman.

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/08/21/proving-the-best-defense-is-a-good-guy-without-a-gun-unarmed-u-s-soldiers-foil-french-gunman-video/

I’m pretty sure Addicting Info’s writers are literally the dumbest people on earth.

I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting those who think people should be unarmed in the face of danger to actually rise to the occasion and defend the lives of themselves and others when called to by circumstance.

This is, after all, their assertion in an age in which people retreat into hug-boxes to feel morally superior about watching and letting someone die from being stabbed to death on a subway car full of people. Perish the thought of stopping it with a firearm.

People who think like this should have their heads examined, before some criminal, lunatic, or terrorist blows it off.

Agustin Santillan January 16, 1948 – August 8th, 2015

11866330_1164929346867512_3855582974842388135_nAgustin Santillan, father, brother, son, friend and United States Marine passed away at home Saturday, the 8th of August 2015, at the age of 67. Mr. Santillan was born on the 16th of January 1948, to Jose and Genoveva Santillan. He served as a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and is a recipient of the Purple Heart Medal for injuries sustained in combat. After the war Mr. Santillan returned to Houston raising a family and dedicating 40 years to a career with Southwestern Bell and AT&T. Mr. Santillan was preceded in death by his wife, to whom he was deeply devoted, Joellen Santillan, also a native of Houston. He is survived by his two children, Jacob and Sarah Santillan. Special Thanks to all who have offered their condolences and support. Mr. Santillan’s final resting place is the Houston National Cemetery located at 10410 Veterans Memorial Dr. Houston, TX 77038

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Thanks for everything Dad.

~Jacob and Sarah

The Curious Case of Laura Kipnis

Republished from Free Press Houston

By Blake Jones
Illustration by Blake Jones

We’re I a betting man, the smart money would be on the notion that you, dear reader, have at some point in your life, contributed to the countless flame wars, Facebook fights, and Twitter spats which are a staple of life on the Internet.

Maybe you do it to sharpen your mind? Maybe you do it to prepare for your obnoxious conservative uncle who’s had a few beers too many at Thanksgiving dinner and regurgitates the latest line from Fox News while you hope he doesn’t regurgitate dinner.

Maybe you enjoy being contrarian for it’s own sake?

In any case, the struggle is real.

I am certainly no stranger to discord and controversy. I frequently court them and one cardinal rule I have for debate is “attack the argument, not the person”.

I have few exceptions.

For example, a “family values” politician or preacher who thunders about sexual propriety, who parades his family before the cameras like show horses while building a career out of making life more dangerous and miserable for LGBT folks, who then gets caught on his knees in an airport men’s room makes himself fair game. Other than that, a typical moment of victory for me is when someone else goes ad hominem, when an opponent attacks the person, not the argument. That’s the point where someone admits they no longer have any valid counter argument.

Disagreement and debate take many forms,  different tones, and varying levels of intellectual honesty and vitriol. Some organize themselves in debate societies with various customs, courtesies, and clearly delineated boundaries of acceptable behavior and methods of debate. Nothing is learned, nor any mind changed when debates degenerate into screaming matches. One method I’d not anticipated but should have is that of using historic legislation designed to combat sexual discrimination against someone for writing an article in a national publication someone doesn’t like, which brings me to the curious case of Prof. Laura Kipnis.

Prof. Kipnis is a feminist professor at Northwestern university who wrote an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education, entitled “Sexual Paranoia has Struck Academe”, protesting what she saw as her school’s excessive regulation of sexual conduct, specifically the prohibition of university professors dating or sleeping with their own students. This of course angered campus moralizers who so frequently behave like the intellectual and emotional equivalent of human veal at the slightest hint of disagreement, or a dissenting opinion so naturally they petitioned the school administration to issue official condemnations of Professor Kipnis, underscoring their displeasure by carrying mattresses and pillows during various protest marches in reference to the infamous “mattress girl” case of Columbia university.

As a general rule I don’t think it’s appropriate for college professors to sleep with their own students. For example, if you’re a political science professor, you shouldn’t date or go to bed with a political science major. There’s a conflict of interest there which I personally think is professionally inappropriate. That aside, assuming they’re consenting adults, I don’t have any objections to professors sating or sleeping with students who will never cross paths academically. In short, I’ve no interest in defending her original article.

Defending her became a moral imperative, at least for me, when two female grad students filed Title IX complaints against her, alleging that the article, and a tweet she’d posted related to it, amounted to retaliation the complainants. How they amounted to retaliation is my guess as much as it still is Prof. Kipnis’

For those of you wondering what Title IX is, it’s a historic piece of legislation enacted in 1972 to combat gender discrimination, more specifically in institutes of education which receive federal funds. This applies to virtually all universities in the U.S. since federally backed student loans count as the receipt of federal funds. With total  student debt load having ballooned to roughly $1.3 trillion, it’s easy to see why. Title IX is most commonly thought of as applied to university athletics programs whereby universities must provide equal opportunities for men and women to participate in various athletics programs, however it applies to all educational activities for such universities. It also demands that such universities implement and execute policies to combat sexual harassment and assault. In this case, the two female grad students decided to use Title IX against Prof. Kipnis because she wrote an article they didn’t like.

“It’s the harbinger of what we’re afraid is a new era of colleges deciding that they’re going to launch Title IX investigations whenever anybody says something that be construed as sexually discriminatory regardless of the situation. Title IX has never been  interpreted to cover op-eds in national newspapers like the Chronicle of Higher Education to the extent that it’s being used to regulate speech in a free press, that’s really problematic.” says attorney Robert Shibley, Executive Director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, also known as FIRE. FIRE’s stated mission is to protect the rights of “freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience” on university campuses. I suspect that the terms “religious liberty” and “sanctity of conscience” may rub you the wrong way because it’s frequently the language of social conservatives. Hold that thought because it was a red flag to me too at first. More on that later.

That Kipnis couldn’t publish an opinion publicly without someone subjecting her to a Title IX inquiry is a horrific sign of the state of debate in American universities. Don’t want to be bothered to counter speech with speech? Just file a Title IX complaint to try to intimidate and silence people. One riposte I’ve heard to try to downplay the significance of filing a Title IX complaint against someone for an opinion piece is that it isn’t a big deal because such an obviously ridiculous complaint will certainly be dismissed and at least it sets a precedent. So why does it matter?

“The reason it matters is that in situations like this the process becomes the punishment when you don’t have a procedure for eliminating frivolous complaints at the very beginning of the process as you have what we’ve had here, which is a professor who has been sidetracked for 72 days worrying about whether or not she’s going to be proclaimed as someone is engaged in discrimination for simply writing an article for a newspaper. That in itself has an extremely noticeable chilling effect on expression on and off campus, particularly on Northwestern’s campus  where the other professors would say ‘you know what, I’d like to weigh in on this issue but is it really worth two or three months of hassle even if I’m going to be cleared at the end of it?’. [Kipnis] never even really got a clear statement of exactly what she violated with her column or how, so it’s a huge burden on the people who are being investigated.” Says Shibley.

Fortunately, the Title IX charges were dismissed — albeit after a 72 day ordeal under conditions of which “Kangaroo court” would come to mind for good reason. That nothing came Title IX complaint against Kipnis isn’t the point either. That anyone thought it was even remotely appropriate to use Title IX inquiries as a tool of intimidation or retaliation against people for voicing opinions they don’t like is a development that’s more than slightly alarming to me. It’s alarming because if there is one place in this country where the unmentionable can and should be mentioned, that tough ideas should be introduced and challenged it should be the American university.

OBJECTIONS ANTICIPATED

Remember when I said that I suspect that you might be suspicious of FIRE’s defense of “religious liberty” and “sanctity of conscience” because it’s frequently the language of social conservatives? I originally mistook FIRE as a conservative organization for this very reason. They frequently manifest as the language of draconian abortion restrictions, discrimination against LGBT folks, and “conscience clauses” which allow pharmacy techs to refuse to dispense birth control, so I understand the raised eyebrow.

They’re in fact highly non partisan and very sincere about that fact. While the organization does count conservatives as its members, FIRE’s President, Greg Lukianoff, is actually a liberal Democrat. The reason I bring this up is that while FIRE was not directly involved in Prof. Kipnis’ case, they have has come to the defense for the above mentioned rights of people from across the political spectrum on American universities. This is important because Prof. Kipnis’ ordeal is not simply a Left/Right issue.

“Most academics I know — this includes feminists, progressives, minorities, and those who identify as gay or queer — now live in fear of some classroom incident spiraling into professional disaster. After the essay appeared, I was deluged with emails from professors applauding what I’d written because they were too frightened to say such things publicly themselves. My inbox became a clearinghouse for reports about student accusations and sensitivities, and the collective terror of sparking them, especially when it comes to the dreaded subject of trigger warnings, since pretty much anything might be a “trigger” to someone, given the new climate of emotional peril on campuses.” Says Kipnis in her article about her ordeal “My Title IX Inquisition”. Granted, this is in her own words, so take it with a grain of salt if you like.

DON’T BE A “STEPFORD STUDENT” – DO YOUR OWN THINKING

While Kipnis is one example out of many, FIRE has an extensive documentation of cases which resemble these. The concept of free speech is often wrongly conflated with the First Amendment, though they are related. This leaves the door open to pro-censorship weasel arguments which state in one way or another that “it’s only censorship when the government does it”. The First Amendment applies to the government yes, but free speech is a universal value.

When it comes to the defense of free speech rights I have a personal “viewpoint neutrality” whereby I’ll defend, with very few exceptions, not the content of someone’s speech, but their right to it. I don’t agree with Prof. Kipnis’ article protesting Northwestern University’s ban on faculty dating their own students; I think it’s quite reasonable. I do defend her right to pen that article. The fact that students thought they should use Title IX to retaliate against her for it invariably reminds me of the experiences of Brendan O’Neil, Editor at Spiked, who describes the rise of the “Stepford Student”, himself a victim of them when an abortion debate at which he was supposed to present the pro-choice argument was shut down simply because both debaters were men.

Stepford Students are, as he puts it, the “students [who] are far more interested in shutting debate down than opening it up.” In the UK, they demand the “right to be comfortable”, to never be confronted with any challenging idea, uncomfortable opinion. Here in the US, Stepford Students bang on about the need for “emotional safety”. In both countries, Stepford Students hide behind risible buzzwords such as “microaggressions” “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” to install such petty tyrannies which encourage the kind of climate which spawned the alarming notion that it’s perfectly acceptable to use Title IX against someone because someone else doesn’t like or agree with an article.

“The increased calls for sensitivity-based censorship represent the dark side of what are otherwise several positive developments for human civilization. As I will explain in the next section, I believe that we are not passing through some temporary phase in which an out-of-touch and hypersensitive elite attempts — and often fails — to impose its speech-restrictive norms on society. It’s worse than that: people all over the globe are coming to expect emotional and intellectual comfort as though it were a right. This is precisely what you would expect when you train a generation to believe that they have a right not to be offended. Eventually, they stop demanding freedom of speech and start demanding freedom from speech.” Writes FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff in his essay “Freedom From Speech”

Indeed the kind of mindset behind the Title IX complainants, and those like them, demands precisely that — freedom from speech. It’s incredibly infantilizing because it never applies only to them; they essentially signal that they should get to dictate you what you get, or don’t get to see, read, and hear for yourself. If someone personally wishes to deny themselves the opportunities exposure to new ideas may bring, they can be my guest. I trust that you, dear reader, are better and stronger than that, both mentally and emotionally. Never allow moralizing whingers, hand-wringers and authoritarians of any stripe infantilize you.

Most of all, never let anyone intimidate you out of doing your own thinking.