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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

As I wrote almost two years ago,

The ACLU of old is, alas, no more.  Gone is the organization so passionately devoted to civil liberties that it paid for a team of Jewish lawyers to defend literal Nazis’ right to free speech; in its place is an organ of the Democratic party whose main concern is keeping its cash flow as high as possible by parroting its primary donors’ beliefs (often in childish tweets repeating some a priori statement in all caps, over and over, without a word of justification), and never ever ever challenging those beliefs, no matter how anti-civil-rights and factually wrong they may be

Unsurprisingly, free speech is the area in which ACLU’s position has degenerated most shamefully, because it’s no longer popular with their “progressive” authoritarian base.  But fortunately, there’s a younger civil rights organization which is now expanding its remit to take up the ball ACLU has not merely dropped, but actively cast aside…and it’s doing so to the plaudits of former ACLU heavweights:

…The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is renaming itself the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression and keeping the “FIRE” acronym as it launches a drive to promote greater acceptance of a diversity of views in the workplace, pop culture and elsewhere…the group’s president, Greg Lukianoff, said…FIRE has raised $28.5 million for a planned three-year, $75 million litigation, opinion research and public education campaign aimed at boosting and solidifying support for free-speech values…FIRE’s new expansion is…a challenge of sorts to the ACLU, which has faced criticism in recent years for drifting from its unapologetically pro-free-speech roots and taking a more direct…partisan [role]…Many of FIRE’s founders and backers are former leaders of the ACLU who have grown disillusioned with the group under its current executive director, Anthony Romero, who left the Ford Foundation to take over the storied civil liberties organization in 2001.  In 2020, FIRE released Mighty Ira, a laudatory documentary film about Romero’s predecessor, Ira Glasser, focusing on the ACLU’s work from the 1970s through the 1990s.  Glasser, who serves on a FIRE advisory board, said in an interview that he “strongly encouraged” FIRE to broaden its free-speech work in part because the ACLU seems to be abdicating that role…
I’ve long admired FIRE’s steadfast viewpoint-neutral defense of free speech on campuses, and I suspect they’ll be just as dynamite in their new, larger mission.  Let’s hope their new drive brings in enough new money and talent to mount a successful war against the censor-morons dedicated to lobotomizing our society.

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If there is one succinct statement which sums up my political philosophy, it’s “Every adult individual owns themselves and absolutely nobody has the right to overrule that.”  There is no such thing as “legitimate” authority over an individual except that conferred personally by that individual for themelves and no one else, and even that can be revoked by the granter.  And I’ve stated many times that my definition of “evil” is “The attempt to impose control over an individual which that individual neither desires or requires”.  I will oppose to the death any attempt to impose such undesired control over any individual, and have done so my entire adult life; my advocacy for sex work is really only the most visible manifestation of that philosophical core.  So obviously, I’m going to provide any assistance I can to any person threatened by violent busybodies who claim the “right” to control their bodies and lives, no matter what reasons the authoritarians may claim.  With that in mind, here are just a few resources for women living in states trying to assert control over their bodies:

Medication Abortions Are Increasing: What They Are and Where Women Get Them” (NY Times)

Aid Accesssupports people with an unwanted pregnancy to access an abortion or miscarriage treatment if you are health and less than 10 weeks pregnant“.

Hey Jane provides “Modern abortion care for $249 — no clinic visit needed.  Get fast, safe and affordable abortion pills shipped to your home. Consult with a medical provider within 24 hours. Medications are shipped daily.

Plan Cprovides up-to-date information on how people in the U.S. are accessing at-home abortion pill options online.”

Las Libres provides support to “Women who wish to terminate undesirable pregnancies, offering them access to medical abortion and moral support

Reproaction offers this instructional video:

And if, Aphrodite forbid, you should get in some kind of legal trouble due to busybodies claiming control over your own body, the Repro Legal Defense Fund may be able to help.

Please link this page far and wide, and add any more resources you know of in the comments below.  Some states are attempting to criminalize those who “aid and abet” a person to get an abortion, so please feel free to pass the links on to those who may need them (anonymously, if neccesary); I’m used to being an outlaw so I don’t honestly care if Missouri or Texas or Louisiana decides to add one more to my mountanous heap of “crimes” of denying the state control over individual lives.  And if you have other sources you think I should know about directly, send them to me via this link.

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Says the man hiding behind a pompous title who would totally send cops to destroy the lives of many people on Twitter if he knew their government names.  The concept of a “real name”, as promoted by authoritarians, is asinine.  Try Googling “William Henry Pratt” and see what pops up.  Which is his “real” name?  If you Google “Maggie McNeill” you get pages and pages of stuff relating to me, including books, pictures, videos and a huge number of essays.  If you Googled my government name, you’d get a couple of property tax records and maybe a 17-year-old arrest record.  Which is my “real” name?  Here are a few more “real” names:

Marion Morrison
Robert Zimmerman
Neta-Lee Herschlag
Farrokh Bulsara
Maurice Joseph Micklewhite
Demetria Gene Guynes
Reginald Kenneth Dwight
Krishna Pandit Bhanji
Caryn Elaine Johnson
Marvin Lee Aday

Calling the name on government records “real”, rather than the name by which people are widely known, the name they chose for themselves and built a career on, is a sickening obeisance to the State.  Anyone who uses the term unironically can be safely dismissed as an authoritarian stooge.

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You know you’re way beyond the looking-glass when a judge overturning the diktat of an unelected bureaucracy is declared “power-drunk” and “undemocratic”.  This has nothing to do with whether one agrees with either the judge’s decision or the diktat she overturned; it has to do with the fact that under our Constitution, 1) only legislators can legally make laws, and 2) it’s judges’ job to put brakes on the actions of government actors.  If anything, it is the judiciary’s collective failure to restrain government power (especially the power of unelected state actors such as cops) for decades that constitutes a shameful “brokenness”, not one of the rare times it actually does watchdog the creatures it’s supposed to.  Unfortunately, neither of the authoritarian “wings” has anything resembling philosophical consistency any longer; both change their political positions more often than a nomad changes his residence, and both cheer government actions which reinforce their beliefs du jour and attack those which undermine those beliefs, regardless of whether they approved of the exact same actions in other cases.  The whole “wing” nonsense became totally arbitrary in the US right around the time they moronically assigned the color traditionally associated with nationalism to the “left” and the color traditionally associated with the “left” to the “right”.  I don’t believe the mis-assignment caused the individual elements of dogma to become unmoored from any coherent philosophical framework, but it’s an interesting coincidence nonetheless.

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I used to like hoaxing on April Fools Day, until it stopped being fun; five years ago, in “The Rule of Fools“, I explained why:

…the…media are positively riddled with idiotic nonsense about “sex trafficking”, the “War on Cops”, supposed “epidemics” of things that are actually less common than they’ve ever been, and other tall tales that could be easily debunked by ten fucking minutes on Google if reporters actually cared to practice journalism rather than stenographically reporting every moronic, impossible and self-serving lie vomited out by cops, politicians, prohibitionists and all the other bipedal vermin who glut themselves on others’ suffering and profit from human misery.  Mathematically-impossible, scientifically-illiterate and sociologically-absurd poppycock too ridiculous for a ’50s science fiction B-movie is routinely presented as fact even by “respected” sources like The New York Times, and politicians base laws on fantasies roughly as credible as the contents of Malleus Maleficarum, complete with penalties that would’ve found approval from those who employed that book.  Clowns are widely presented as objects of terror (and are the subject of a recurring moral panic), which perhaps makes sense given that our rulers are themselves violent clowns who send forth armed thugs in clownish costumes to terrorize, rape, rob and murder the populace based on excuses Caligula himself might recognize as mad.  And their cringing subjects attempt to impose order on a world gone completely insane by artificially dividing their overlords into teams, swearing fealty to one of those teams and then obstinately ignoring all the evil done by “their” leaders while blaming the other side for everything no matter what the facts show.  In short, we live in a world in which the highest points are all occupied by professional full-time fools, and it seems pointless for a sane person to even attempt to compete with them.

In the five years since, the situation has only grown worse.  The mad emperor had at that time barely even begun his Carnival of Crazy, and the powerful deranging effect he had on minds still harboring some childlike faith in government had only begun to show itself.  The American political stage soon became a Punch and Judy show writ large, and everyone was too busy watching it to pay attention while their hollowed-out rights were reduced to paper-thin facades; a plague of snitches spread across the land; “sex trafficking” hysteria began its implosion in a more spectacular fashion than I had anticipated; another, more literal plague gave tyrants and control freaks the best excuse for a power grab they’d had since 2001; censorship became wildly popular among all those who believe the most terrifying fact of the world is that others beside themselves have free will; and those in power gave up all pretense of even attempting to make their lies resemble some rough fascimile of the truth.  In short, the lunatics are running the asylum; every day is Fools’ Day, and the joke is on us.

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One of the titles by which the 20th Century will no doubt be known to future historians is “the Prohibition Era”.  The concept of Prohibition first started to take root in the diseased brains of control freaks in the late 19th century; it was an outgrowth of the broader “Progressive” philosophy which held that ordinary people cannot be trusted with our own lives, and must therefore be ruled by “experts” who decide for everyone how the human race should be “improved”, and enforce their diktats with violent thug armies whose actions cannot easily be reconciled with the concept of civil rights.  The first prohibitionist laws date to the late 19th century, but it was in the 20th that the concept not only reached full flower, but also successfully penetrated the minds of the general public so thoroughly that most took it for granted that for governments to tell people what they could consume, what they could own, and even what thoughts they could have while agreeing to consensual sex, was not only normal, but desirableFull alcohol prohibition lasted barely over a decade, but it left in its wake a patchwork of local prohibitions which have only very gradually eroded (and in some ways worsened again toward the end of the century).  And the failure of this one form of prohibition to thrive probably has a great deal to do with the fact that virtually no other country was willing to follow the American example; in most other cases, prohibitions which started in the US (such as drugs and prostitution) spread like a plague over the rest of the world.

But as the 20th century recedes into the past and the number of adults who can’t even remember it grows with every passing year, what Josephine Butler called “the fatuous belief that you can oblige human beings to be moral by force” has gradually become less popular.  The once-global “War on Drugs” is beginning to wind down, and the full or partial criminalization of sex work is increasingly recognized as an abomination by those with healthy minds and respect for human rights.  New South Wales decriminalized “prostitution” in 1995, followed by New Zealand in 2003; many other countries at least loosened their laws on the subject around that same time.  Unfortunately, the prohibitionists recognized the trend before it could snowball, and began a propaganda campaign to convince the world that adult women are universally too weak-minded and spineless to be allowed to run our own sexual affairs, and that phenomena which had previously always been recognized as the pragmatic sexual decisions of individual women were in reality the result of the machinations of a vast cabal of “sex traffickers” abducting hundreds of thousands of “children” into literal slavery.  But moral panics have a very limited lifespan, and this one is already long past its heyday of the early ’10s.  It is now in the process of imploding in a rather spectacular fashion, and opposition to the continued criminalization of sex work has become a safe position even for US politicians.  The temporarily-delayed process of decriminalization got rolling again over the past few years; Australia’s Northern Territory decriminalized near the end of 2019, and Victoria state followed suit just a few weeks ago.  And now the first country outside of Oceania is set to join them:

The official green light has been given to Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne’s proposal to reform Belgium’s sexual criminal law…[by] remov[ing] sex work from the penal code…The Federal Parliament still has to approve the proposal but that is not expected to be more than a formality.  “This is a crucial leap forward. We are finally giving sex workers what they are entitled to: recognition and protection. Something they have been asking for decades,” Van Quickenborne said…Under current regulation, sex work is allowed, but third parties involved with sex workers are committing a crime.  The law [cl]aims to target pimps but in practice impacts other people…from book-keepers and web designers to drivers, landlords and even banks…

The importance of this move is difficult to overstate; the “sex trafficking” myth has provided a convenient cloak for Europen racism, and European chauvinism made decriminalization easy to ignore as long as it was strictly a “Down Under” practice (the same chauvinism has given the toxic “Swedish model” undeserved credibility).  But if Belgium follows through, Europe can no longer dismiss recognition of the sexual rights of adult women as a provincial abberation, and it’s entirely possible others may follow its example.

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I didn’t know anything about building careers. Somehow I still have a career.  –  Sally Kellerman

If you don’t know the name, enjoy this video of the first percussion-driven #1 hit in Billboard history.  The links above it were provided by Jason Kuznicki; Yasmin Nair; Clarissa; Mike SiegelJesse Walker; and Cop Crisis (x2), in that order.

From the Archives

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Some of you have trouble understanding this, so I’m going to spell it out: you are not stupid.  You have a brain, and it allows you to weigh data and make judgments for yourself.  You don’t have to do it alone; you can consult the opinions of people you trust, people who know more about a given topic than you do and, as far as you know, have never lied to you.  But to do that, information must flow freely; beware of those who say, “I have all the information you need, and those who express different opinions from me should be silenced.”  And most of all, beware those who rely on your unquestioning acceptance of their claims to increase their own power; they are not your friends.  Accept no source as an absolute authority, especially when they demand you should.  No church, no government, no prophet or politician.  Thoughts and ideas in themselves are never your enemy, even if they are silly, stupid, misinformed, or dead wrong.  Those who want to stop you from hearing, thinking about, and weighing those thoughts and ideas for yourself are your enemies, especially if they claim to know best for you.  And no, the ideas you personally dislike are not an exception.  Neither are your favored “authorities”.  Not the Pope.  Not your “leaders”.  Not Marx.  Not any Prophet.  Not me.  Not the entertainers you like.  Not journalists.  Not podcasters or bloggers.  There are no absolute truths.  And lest you be inclined to be a smartass: yes, that includes everything in this thread.  Accept it or reject it for yourself as you please.  But you have no right to impose your preferences and beliefs about this subject, or any other, on anyone else.

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Silly modern hair-splitting of barely-different sects of authoritarians might as well be based upon what brand of laundry detergent they use for all the difference in their observable behavior.  The two main differences between US authoritarian brands are 1) who they want running the show; and 2) which individual rights and liberties they deem threatening to the state; the only personal freedoms any sect of authoritarians embrace are those deemed incidental, unimportant, or unthreatening to the state or collective.  Different groups of authoritarians create different pseudointellectual excuses for “why” they want to control individuals, and their varying hangups and issues cause them to fixate on different groups of individuals.  But all authoritarians want collectivized control of individuals because their fragile minds feel out of control of a world of billions of individuals being individual.  There is no intellectual process involved, merely primitive emotional ones; all excuses for authoritarianism, no matter how academic and impressive the wording they use to justify those fixations to the cognitively-lazy, are nothing more than the moans of frightened cave-children cowering in the dark at night-noises outside.  Actual civilized adults are comfortable with individuals being individual, without any sick need to target them with violent attempts at control.

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After Hereticon ended a week ago today, I flew into New Orleans to visit old friends; since my first visit was scheduled for Friday, I decided to go down to the flea market in the French Quarter to see my friend Solomon, an Ethiopian man whom I’ve been buying Indian dresses from since I was a stripper in the late ’90s.  Due to delays in picking up my rental car I arrived fairly late, after most of the vendors had already packed up and gone for the day; however, since Solomon was a friendly and popular guy who’s been a fixture in the market for over 20 years, I asked one of the few who was left about him.  And when I was told he had died just a few weeks ago, I was unprepared for how very sad I felt.  It’s not like he and I were drinking buddies; I never even knew his last name.  But he always had kind words and compliments for me, and never failed to recognize me; everyone in the market liked him, and for my part I never even considered buying my dresses from anyone else.  And when I heard the sad news, I couldn’t help crying; it was as though a part of New Orleans itself had died.  Perhaps that’s part of why I was so sentimental for the rest of the visit; it did my heart good to hear the local accents, to see the displays of king cakes at the doughnut shop where I bought my breakfast, and even just to drive the streets I once knew so well.  I even took some time to go to a branch of the grocery store chain where Grace and I used to shop, and bought some things that just aren’t available in Washington; of course I had to send them home by priority mail so the TSA couldn’t steal them by belching out the magic word “liquid”.  Later that afternoon, my friend Olivia contributed to the nostalgic mood; when it was time for dinner she said, “I made gumbo; I hope that’s OK.”  Nothing could’ve been better!  Because even though I do love my little farm and all my Seattle friends, and have absolutely no regrets about choosing to relocate, one long root of the tree of my life will always be inextricably embedded in the swampy soil of south Louisiana.

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