Sunday, May 08, 2016

Trans Bathrooms and Lenin's Who? Whom?

One night a dear friend of mine was accosted by a mugger trying to steal her purse.  Unfortunately she fell on it and the mugger caved her face in with his boot.  It took multiple reconstructive surgeries to restore her.  For many years after she had a fear of encountering men alone that she didn't know, particularly in places where she didn't expect them. Like in the women's toilet or shower. The general name for this condition is 'Androphobia'. It afflicts both crime victims and individuals susceptible to it. Women with this condition (every bit as tragic as gender dysphoria) live constrained, limited lives - to avoid panic they avoid any situation where they might encounter strange men. Up until recently women's toilets, shower facilities and dorms were considered safe places.

I have lived in both Islamic (Abu Dhabi) and heavily Orthodox Jewish (University City, MO) communities.  There are roughly 200,000 Haredi Orthodox Jewish women and another 600,000 devout Muslim women in this country.  For both groups sustaining their faith tradition, indeed sustaining their identity requires that they avoid displaying their beauty to males not part of their families.  Their hair, their forearms and legs and feet are included in these restrictions. Historically they had no concern utilizing a public toilet or locker room.  No more. And to the objection 'but this is just religion'. To these women their faith is their identity. Every bit as much as someone with gender dysphoria.

When he was conquering Russia, VI Lenin formulated a slogan that describes the current situation well:  Who? Whom?  His point was that the important question in a revolution - whether political or social - was who would win?  Who would oppress whom? Who was on top and who was on bottom.  And because Lenin was above all a lawyer focused on law, this was a zero sum concept:  the winners take directly from the losers. Historically in America and the west  we've avoided making explicit law on gender access to facilities, instead we've had a rough community consensus. Communities have chosen to segregate 'intimate' public facilities by male/female and society has gone along.  Some places probably don't even have laws - it's simply understood and people generally enforce it informally.  This works out well because it accommodates the truly trans who have been using women's facilities since the toilet and shower were invented. They had to take care lest they be outed as men but since their goal was to be women it worked.  And it allowed the Androphobic and devout women to play along with something that was in fact, a bit of a fiction.

The problem is that the left and the Obama administration have gone Leninist.  The Federal government is mandating that law and regulation be established giving Trans legal access to intimate facilities set aside for the members of the opposite biological sex if they claim gender dysphoria.  So now the polite ambiguity and informal social consensus are collapsing into the awful majesty of the law.  And that means bright lines must be drawn and for someone to win the other side has to lose.

So it's now a battle to death between two tribes only one who can win.  Once the law is inserted it's impossible to go back to more informal relations. As has happened in so many other parts of our society the entry of law has created immense chasms between us, increasing hatred and contempt on both sides. So the Trans may win this one but let's stop pretending this is liberation...it will cost more than a million American women a part of their autonomy and peace of mind while angering at least a hundred million of their families, friends and neighbors.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention:  Orthodox Jews and Muslims - not to mention conservative Christians have almost 4 children for each couple.  Secular Americans: less than 1.5.  I don't know what GLBT childbirths look like per couple, do you? So this isn't anywhere near a permanent 'victory'. Because it's the children of the fecund humiliated that will have political power.....and long memories.

The thing that the lawyers among us keep forgetting is that life is meant to be a love story, not a rule book.  The more rules you make, the crueler and more atomized the society becomes. After all, we all have our 'rights'.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Milo's Mind

Milo Yiannanopolis is best known for mocking politically correct Social Justice  Warrior opinion. As he puts it: "I was born conservative and chose to be homosexual".

"Believing that a person’s sex, race and orientation defines the acceptable limits of the opinions they may hold is called 'identity politics.' It’s a bizarre but flourishing cult in America today that makes fools of its supporters by presenting an insultingly reductionist view of human nature."

You will hear a lot more about Milo. And will be told that to be a 'Good Person' who cares about 'social justice' you must hate him. But he's obviously right.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Yes, Transgender rights, but what about the vulnerable ones?

About 20 years ago I was walking out of my downtown office for lunch and I spied two young black boys breaking into a newspaper machine for the quarters.  It was downtown at lunch and the sidewalks were filled with people. No one - including me - tried to stop them and hold them accountable. You see to do so in inner city St. Louis might get you called a 'racist' and who wants that trouble.  If they'd been white in the suburbs, sure we would have stopped them.  But these kids were clearly damaged by our indifference - no doubt they interpreted the impunity that they had and attempted more and more audacious and serious crimes until they ended up in jail or worse.  It is quite possible that middle class, white society, through its self righteous indifference, hated those boys to death.

We now have the great "Transgender Liberation".  Up until now if I had seen a person that looked like a man going into a women' bathroom or locker I would have personally gone up to them and told them to get the hell out and if they resisted found enough other men to throw them out.  I have no doubt any number of seriously Trans men went in unbeknownst to me and did no harm but if I had seen someone questionable there's no doubt what I would have done.  No more.  For to do so in today's rights environment would get me punished. Now the Transgender bathroom issue isn't really a big deal for my daughter or her friends - they're upper middle class and live in communities where there are lots of responsible and vigilant civic minded people who will keep the craziness to a minimum.  But I keep thinking about those doomed boys.  And their sisters in inner city schools where misogyny and sexual violence are already endemic.  The doomed boys no doubt will interpret the new regime as giving them another form of 'fun'. And the schools will struggle to fight against it, fearing - as we did - to be brought up on civil rights charges.

So once again we may end up with a situation where middle class, progressive, white society - through its self centered, self righteousness - finds a new way to hate poor boys and girls to death.

Sexual Predators are like wolves: they adapt.

I have friends who live in Jackson Hole.  The National Parks were being overrun by an elk herd that had grown to 20,000 animals.  So the Feds introduced a timber wolf pack from Canada. In a period of years the timber wolves reduced the Yellowstone and Grand Teton elk herd to 1,000 animals.  Then the timber wolves turned their attention to private Elk ranches.  The ranches, having barbed wire and electrified fences had thought their animals were safe.  But the wolves adapted to take advantage of the new situation.  Their tastes have also become more esoteric - they found it easy to kill the somewhat domesticated elk.  My friend posted a photo of 18 dead elk - only two had been eaten on at all - they had had the fetal elks ripped from their wombs.  It turns out that the modern timber wolf has adapted to the point where it likes baby meat....and kills for fun. My question is this:  if wild predators adapt to take advantage of the opportunities that changes in their environment offer, how much more will human sexual predators take advantage of the new rules on "Transgender" to do much more of that thing that they find so fun? And when they do, who will take responsibility for the decision to make their predation so much easier and more frequent?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Progressive Paradoxes

Here are some things Progressives believe that make no sense to me. It could be that my libertarian psyche simply can't conceive of them and so I solicit good Proggos to set me straight.  I recognize that there are probably many libertarian/conservative paradoxes as well but the paradox is that the true believer (moi) can't yank the beam out of his own eye, only the others side's.  I welcome anyone who wants to outline them for me.  Now without further ado: on with the paradox(es?, paradi? hmmm).

1. Progressives hold that the US is a particularly if not uniquely sinful nation - despoiling the environment, looting the third world and funneling the wealth to plutocrats.  Yet they consider it axiomatic that the US government is the key to 'fundamentally transforming' America to heal us of our 'sin'.  Yet this government is derived from the degraded nation.  How can the product of degradation rescue that which has made it?

2. Progressives complain that capitalism concentrates too much wealth and power in the hands of a small elite, fostering Oligopoly and Monopoly.  Yet their solution to thousands of independent power centers holding too much power is to take that power and centralize it in a single Government monopoly that includes monopoly on the use of force.  How does further concentrating wealth and power at the center "disperse" and "democratize" power?

3. Progressives argue that all cultures are valid and that it is inappropriate to 'privilege' western cultural norms over those of others.  They say everyone's culture should be respected and honored as a matter of course.  Except for one:  Traditional American Christian Culture. Progressives are utterly intolerant of the older, more traditional version of American culture that still has a large, perhaps even majority following.  How can Progressives respect cultures that are far more reactionary than traditional American Culture and not do the same for the culture that most of them grew up in?

4. Progressives argue that many private or quasi private services (healthcare, banking, etc.) should be managed and controlled if not owned by the state.  But that means that resource allocation and policy choices will be decided by between 30% and 60% of the electorate voting once every two years, most voting as a tribe in utter ignorance.  Even worse, this process excludes other critical stakeholders like immigrants and our continental neighbors from having any meaningful input into policies that certainly affect them. Yet the same people that 'swing for the seats' with a few minutes of clueless voting every two years invest hundreds of times more effort and brain power in their shopping behavior giving all of them, including our neighbors and immigrants, multiple opportunities to influence myriad power centers with their economic 'votes' every day.  Given the degraded and wholly notional "control" exercised over the US Government, why do Progressives call it "Democratic"? Why isn't the market which gives everyone a say multiple times a day more Democratic and egalitarian?

5. If it is illegal discrimination for a business to deny services and products available to the public to someone based upon race, gender, religion or sexual preference then how do Apple, Paypal and Bruce Springsteen get away with denying everyone in a conservative, Christian, heterosexual culture like North Carolina, or Indiana access to their services or custom?

6.  How is it that progressives like Apple and Paypal boycott US states for regularizing toilet rules while they both do massive amounts of business in places like Singapore or India where homosexual and transexual acts are outlawed? How can they despise their co citizens who share their culture and are much closer to them even on issues with which they disagree, while forgiving other cultures of much worse sins?

7. Politically elite Universities are the most 'progressive' places in the country.  Yet they explicitly skim off a cognitive elite and facilitate their intermarriage, creating a self sustaining and set apart caste of elites who share their University Experience.  How do progressives in these institutions justify the reactionary results of their labors?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Appropriating cultural appropriation appropriation-wise

OK.  So let me see if I've got this straight:  If I choose to wear dreadlocks as this (remarkably pathetic looking) white man at SFSU was accosted for, then I am committing "cultural appropriation" of an 'African' hair style. Yet according to archaeologists, the first dreadlocks were worn by Egyptians.  So all people except those of Egyptian descent who wear the 'locks are in fact cultural appropriating. And while we're at it:  trousers (pants if you're a girl) were invented by horseback riding pastoralists on the edge of China.  So Big Boy pants are Chinese.  So everyone drop 'em right now, you racist, cultural appropriators, you. And of course the concept of cultural appropriation comes from the western European philosophical tradition of existentialism, post modernism and literary deconstruction. So even using the concept much less the term of cultural appropriation is culturally appropriating my culture.  So back off man! You're oppressing me.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hello

Hello.

It's such a little word. 
Just five letters, two vowels.

Yet it travels farther than any other.
Reaching across canyons that divide us.

Where we sit alone, aloof, waiting to be rescued.
By the brave ones, the ones that dare risk the jump.

We watch and wait for them, in readiness to catch -
the life preserver that saves us from ourselves.

I'm grateful for all the brave souls.
Souls who reached out to me.

Souls like yours.
Bearing a word:

Hello.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

And so it begins

Lee Kwan Yew demonstrated that you can run a successful authoritarian regime. So long as your economy is far from the innovation/productivity boundary so that it is easy to generate outsize returns. And so long as you govern a small, homogenous polity. It also helps if you have Anglo Saxon constitutionalism with its common law tradition to constrain your henchmen's impunity. And critically:  you must be brilliantly competent.

Not so a 3.7 million square mile (vs 256) 320 million (vs 4.5) person empire spread over 7 time (vs 1) and 11 climactic (vs 1) zones that is at the innovation/productivity boundary. The wrenching changes required of economies at the boundary to keep growth moving forward attract rent seekers eager to profit from or retard the changes. Decisions made far away by unfireable apparatchiks in a ramshackle bureaucracy appear  illegitimate and oppressive (because they often are). The law which once was grounded in a tradition of constraining the state is now the seen as the state's tool of oppression in service to the richest,  most lavish of the rent seekers who infest the visibly richer, plutocratic capital city that is so very far away.

It is a system that is so huge, so complex that success can only be achieved at times of unusual international and domestic stability (Clinton 1) or during the emergence of a strong national consensus (Reagan) managed by highly skilled leaders able to expertly surf the waves of change. Yet I doubt if either RWR or WJC could handle today's challenges because the state's rule is so very much more invasive and manipulative than even back then. The unfireables have so much more power in large swathes of our society with only a modest and fading democratic audit of their activities. And Barack Obama is not a competent man. Neither will Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump be up to the task. The curse of brittle centralized authoritarian empires is a string of weak rulers and we have had such a string. And there is little doubt it will continue.

And the increasingly cynical left authoritarianism of the current occupant of the Eagle throne has engendered an equally troubling backlash. Both sides have concluded that the state is far too powerful to safely entrust to their political enemies for 4 or 8 years. Both sides calculate that they cannot afford to lose and so the political violence has begun.  Verbal violence has begat street violence has begat open talk of political murder which I fear will lead to real political murders on a scale never seen before.

Only then will the arrogance and cruelty of the centralizers become clear. But then it will be too late to amicably reorder our relations into the looser, less centralized, prescriptive and bureaucratic polity that our wiser forefathers built for us. I fear the poison will have sunk so deep into our hearts that both sides will calculate that the only way to ensure their survival is victory.

And then the real killing begins. Both here and around a world shorn of its stabilizing hegemon. And the people will cry out: My God My God why have you forsaken us? And the Gods of the Copy Book Headings will reply  "We did not forsake you. In your greed and arrogance you have forsaken us".