Via Mr X, Charles Cooke is entertained by a circus of competitive indignation:
As it has grown in popularity, the [anti-catcalling] video has been transformed into a blank canvas, onto which America’s brave advocates of hyphenated-justice have sought to project their favoured social theories. Evidently unwilling to let the spot stand on its own, Purdue’s Roxanne Gay wrote sadly that “it’s difficult and uncomfortable to admit that we have to talk about race / class / gender / sexuality / ability / etc., all at once.” Alas, she was not alone. Soon, the claims of “sexism” had been joined by accusations of “racism” and of “classism,” [video makers] Hollaback had been forced to acknowledge that it had upset the more delicate among us, and those who had celebrated the video [for its feminist stance] had been denounced as unreconstructed bigots.
A video that shows a Jewish woman being sexually harassed while walking on New York City streets has engendered tremendous outrage — not so much for the fact that she was sexually harassed, but because there weren’t enough white guys doing it.
Da’von Shaw, a Bedford, Ohio high school student, brought apples and craisins to school for a “healthy eating” presentation he was giving to his speech class. He took out a knife to slice an apple, and I’m sure you can all guess what happened next.
And Ed Driscoll reflects on how the New York Times became a (bad) student newspaper:
In the summer of 1992, the Times published a piece co-written by two seniors at Columbia who claimed to find all sorts of “disturbing” anti-Semitic allegories in the Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer film Batman Returns. “The biblical allusions and historical references woven into the plot of Batman Returns betray a hidden conflict between gentile and Jew,” they wrote. “Denied his own birthright, the Penguin intends to obliterate the Christian birth, and eventually the whole town. His army of mindless followers, a flock of ineffectual birds who cannot fly, is eventually converted to the side of Christian morality.” It’s some piece of work, and a reminder that calling for the banning of elections might actually not be the craziest thing that the Times has published by a college journalist eager for his first national byline.
As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.
Cathy Young on academic standards and “masculinity studies”:
When Michael Kimmel talks about men and boys – at least ones unreconstructed by feminism – it is often in a tone that ranges from ironic condescension to scolding rebuke and outright antipathy… He waxes enthusiastic about “rape awareness” measures that treat all men as potential rapists – such as “splash guards” on a college’s public urinals with the slogan, “You hold the power to stop rape in your hand.” Tackiness aside, such a stunt directed at any other group would be readily seen as “hate.” Imagine proposing that “You are looking at someone who can stop terrorism” be inscribed on bathroom mirrors at a campus Islamic centre.
The only reason that blacks are subject to fines and warrants [for traffic violations], according to the media, is that they are being hounded by a racist police force. “A mostly white police force has targeted blacks for a disproportionate number of stops and searches,” declared Time on September 1. What is the evidence for such “targeting”? Time provides none. Might blacks be getting traffic fines for the same reason that whites get traffic fines — because they broke the law? The possibility is never contemplated. The most frequently summonsed traffic offence is driving without insurance, according to the New York Times’s “exposé” of Ferguson’s traffic-fine system. Perhaps the Times’s editors would be blasé about being hit by an uninsured driver, but most drivers would be grateful that the insurance requirement is being enforced. Might poor blacks have a higher rate of driving without insurance than other drivers? Not relevant to know, apparently.
The only way to avoid what the protesters label as “racial profiling” is to stop proactive policing entirely… But if the police back off from proactive policing, law-abiding residents of minority neighbourhoods are going to be hurt the most.
I learned that there was a company in Paris that specialised in strip-cartoon propaganda on behalf of dictators. It was called ABC Groupe Média International, and it had published such propaganda on behalf of Siaka Stevens — the first dictator of Sierra Leone, from whose rule the country has never since recovered — and El Hadj Omar (formerly Albert-Bernard) Bongo of Gabon, father of the present president, and ruler and looter for 41 years. When I was in Paris one day, I visited the company’s headquarters, which, if I remember correctly, were in the rue du Cherche-Midi. Suffice it to say that they were not pleased to see me there, and said that since the publication of these immortal works the company had changed its business model.
As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets. It’s what these posts are for.
But beyond the politics of the (white) body, Penny is an elegant writer, and she deconstructs the issues of the day with an eye to how neoliberalism has filtered into our intimate relationships (“Under late capitalism, love has become like everything else: a prize to be won, an object to be attained, a commodity to be hoarded until it loses value or can be traded up for a better bargain”).
Apparently, an unsupported, question-begging claim is what now passes for elegant deconstruction. But such is Laurie’s world. She asserts so much and substantiates so little. A talent evidently shared by the reviewer, Latoya Peterson, a self-described “hip-hop feminist” and Guardian contributor, whose opening paragraph offers a shred of comfort to those missing Ms Penny’s signature hyperbole and disregard for reality:
The feminist scholar Donna Haraway defined cyborg writing as “the power to survive, not on the basis of original innocence, but on the basis of seizing the tools to mark the world that marked them as other.” That term describes so much digital scrawl on the Internet today — voices screaming from the margins, searching for connection. The British journalist Laurie Penny’s words seem to have secured her just that; she has found a devoted audience for her blog and three previous books.
By all means take a moment to realign your mind with the notion of Ms Penny as a “cyborg” writer and in some way marginalised – “marked as other” – and struggling against the pressures of not being heard. Except of course when she’s on TV, or Five Live, or Radio 4, or when airing her various and bewildering concerns in the pages of the Guardian, the New Statesman and the Independent.
Yes, this privately educated middle-class leftist, lectured at Wadham by other middle-class leftists and steeped in all of the “privilege” she so readily denounces in others, is “screaming from the margins, searching for connection.” A woman who was all but waved through the doors of Channel 4 and the BBC, our nation’s state broadcaster, by people who find her mouthings either titillating or congenial. A woman who is currently boosting her social status with a year at Harvard, studying journalism free of charge (thanks largely to petitioning by those same middle-class leftists in the establishment media), and is now sitting through lectures on “economic justice” given by middle-class leftists, while surrounded in large part by middle-class leftists. Oh yes, she’s such an outsider.
As commenter Nikw211 points out, Ms Penny is so marginalised, so suppressed by The Hegemon, a massively enlarged projection of her face currently graces the walls of the Victoria & Albert Museum, barking revolutionary instructions to the little people below. So, no establishment penetration there.
Paul Krugman and Polly Toynbee are awfully concerned by how much you earn. Themselves, not so much.
When very well-heeled ‘progressives’ decry income inequality as at the very least something to be fixed, and fixed urgently, at what point can we expect the people saying this to act as if it were true? I mean, act individually, themselves, in accord with their own professed values and imperatives. Curiously, the most typical position is to do nothing whatsoever unless the state acts coercively against everyone, thereby deferring any personal action aside from the usual mouthing. And so inevitably that mouthing looks a lot like chaff, a way to divert the envy and tribalism they’re so happy to inspire in others: “Yes, I’m loaded, but look at those people over there – the ones who disagree with us – they have slightly more, or almost as much. Let’s all hiss at them.”
Gender studies lecturer Hila Shachar doesn’t think the public should have any say in how its money is spent.
Dr Shachar is careful not to explain the “contribution to society” made by her own work, or by the humanities research projects that were highlighted as examples of non-essential spending, including a $164,000 grant for studying “how urban media art can best respond to global climate change.” Or by the boldly titled research project Queering Disasters in the Antipodes, which hopes to probe the “experiences of LGBTI people in natural disasters” and ultimately provide “improved disaster response” to gay people, whose needs in such circumstances are apparently quite different from those of everyone else. The princely sum of $325,183 has been spent on this endeavour.
The Guardian unveils its hot and sassy trainee journalists. A snapshot of the nation and its everyday concerns.
There’s Emma Howard, 26, who studied English in Leicester and Strasbourg and lists her credentials as “community organising” and “having fun with other social activists,” which, we learn, “can mean standing on the street with placards.” “I think about power a lot,” says she. Podcast enthusiast Fred McConnell, 27, is the sole male in a group of ten and tells us that, “After university I headed to Afghanistan to produce multimedia for a skateboard charity.” As one does. And there’s Hannah Jane Parkinson, 24, who “performs poetry” and whose areas of expertise are “lifestyle and pop culture.” Ms Parkinson is “from Liverpool, but moved to Russia to drink vodka and play at being Lara from Dr Zhivago.” She moved again, to London, “for a great job,” one in which she “got to look at cat gifs.” “I couldn’t be happier at the Guardian,” says Ms Parkinson. “It’s where I always wanted to work.”
As well as being a bore, a fornicator and a nincompoop, François Hollande stands accused of being a snob. His former mistress, Valérie Trierweiler, has revealed… that the man who publicly professes to loathe the rich privately despises the poor. The son of a solidly bourgeois home, Hollande apparently sneered at Miss Trierweiler’s humbler origins, and referred privately to the underprivileged as “les sans-dents”: the toothless. Miss Trierweiler finds this attitude incongruous in a leftist politician, which makes me wonder how many leftist politicians she can have spent time with.
That there are angry, bitter misanthropes out there with a chip on their shoulder about having to cook is not significant. What is significant is that this outlook gets taken seriously and finds a home and a ready audience on the left. What’s significant is that there is a constituency out there that is ready to complain about each and every basic requirement of human life, to resent the effort of taking responsibility for it, and to denounce as tyranny any expectation that life is supposed to be about work, effort, and striving.
[According to Marcotte,] if person A is unable to access the ideal of a home-cooked meal, by circumstance or choice, then home-cooked meals are articles of privilege to be either provided by The State or shunned as a vestige of a bygone culture best left upon the heap of history.
And Jeremy Duns on the return of former Independent columnist and chronic fabricator Johann Hari:
[Hari] has received some extremely impressive endorsements for his book, from Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Elton John. Bloomsbury have big promotional plans for it in place. They have, it seems, decided not to inform potential readers of Hari’s troubled past. The Amazon page for the book lists all of Hari’s awards but for the returned Orwell Prize, and features a quote from the Daily Telegraph: “Perhaps the most influential journalist of his generation.” Yes, blurbs are often taken out of context, but this is one of the most extraordinarily dishonest examples I’ve seen. That quote is from a Telegraph article about his plagiarism.
As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments.
From Monday the Guardian is handing over control of its features content to 10 young trainee journalists… Here they describe the topics they want to explore and debate – the media, sex, food, employment, globalisation and more.
Thrilling, isn’t it? All that exploring and debating by the titans of tomorrow as they probe “the issues that matter to us and why.” They have a mission statement and everything:
We are all members of Generation Y – those born between the early 80s and early 00s.
And this, in itself, is somehow fascinating and a basis for applause.
Like every generation, we think we see things differently from the ones that came before us. Also like every generation, we face rapid change that we don’t fully understand – for instance, are we really digital natives, or just magpies collecting shiny things? Are we doomed? Is our future a dystopian IRL news feed of being screwed over by landlords/elected officials/ill-judged sexts?
With such pressing questions in mind,
For one week, we will share our perspectives on the media, globalisation, sex and pop culture,
Media, globalisation, sex and pop culture. Wooh, yeah. Can the system cope with this avalanche of intellectual boldness?
These are some of the pieces we will be bringing you:
Buzzfeed’s Beastmaster explains the cat thing.
Everything you wanted to know about trans sex lives and were rude enough to ask.
Why Clueless defines Gen Y better than any other single cultural artefact.
As you can see, it’s “a week for everyone,” brought to you by an “eclectic mix of voices that have yet to be heard.” And so let’s meet some of these eclectic debaters and explorers, this hot and sassy new Guardian team.
Quotas are intrinsically divisive and discriminatory (in the worst possible sense) because the number of categories into which humanity can be divided is infinite: only some categories, therefore, can be favoured, leaving others resentful and liable to seek political redress as their supposed salvation. Quotas therefore not only politicise life but embitter political life itself. They formalise favouritism, thus reinforcing the very problem they are meant to solve. They necessarily inflate the role of government, for someone has to enforce them. Before long, the demand for equality (of a kind) undermines freedom because private associations are no longer able to make the rules they wish, a necessary condition for a truly liberal society in which government is not overweening or preponderant. The imposition of quotas is founded on the belief that everyone is a bigot unless forced by administrative fiat to be otherwise.
On a similar theme, Thomas Sowell on “fairness” and cultivated idiocy:
The front page of a local newspaper in northern California featured the headline The Promise Denied, lamenting the under-representation of women in computer engineering. The continuation of this long article on an inside page had the headline Who is to Blame for This? In other words, the fact that reality does not match the preconceptions of the intelligentsia shows that there is something wrong with reality, for which somebody must be blamed. Apparently their preconceptions cannot be wrong.
One of my constituents once complained to the Beeb about a report on the repression of Mexico’s indigenous peoples, in which the government was labelled right-wing. The governing party, he pointed out, was a member of the Socialist International and, again, the give-away was in its name: Institutional Revolutionary Party. The BBC’s response was priceless. Yes, it accepted that the party was socialist, “but what our correspondent was trying to get across was that it is authoritarian.”
Whether the number is 15 or 19, the fact that this many so-called journalists from outlets as influential as CBS, ABC, CNN, Time, the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times want to work at the very same administration they are supposed to hold accountable, is not only troubling, it also explains a lot. Why would anyone enamoured enough with an Obama administration they want to go work for, do anything that might make a potential employer uncomfortable — you know, like actually report on ObamaCare and the economy honestly, or dig into Benghazi and the IRS?
Thomas Sowell on the problems of a minimum wage. Parts 1and 2:
Advocates of minimum wage laws often give themselves credit for being more “compassionate” towards “the poor.” But they seldom bother to check what are the actual consequences of such laws. One of the simplest and most fundamental economic principles is that people tend to buy more when the price is lower and less when the price is higher. Yet advocates of minimum wage laws seem to think that the government can raise the price of labour without reducing the amount of labour that will be hired... As for being “compassionate” toward “the poor,” this assumes that there is some enduring class of Americans who are poor in some meaningful sense, and that there is something compassionate about reducing their chances of getting a job… Most working people in the bottom 20 percent in income at a given time do not stay there over time. More of them end up in the top 20 percent than remain behind in the bottom 20 percent. There is nothing mysterious about the fact that most people start off in entry level jobs that pay much less than they will earn after they get some work experience. But, when minimum wage levels are set without regard to their initial productivity, young people are disproportionately unemployed -- priced out of jobs.
If you are one of the concerned, caring, and vastly indignant activists behind this strike, I’m here to tell you that your social-justice problem has a simple solution. Take out a loan (or put together the money from your like-minded activist friends), buy a franchise from one of the chains, and hire workers at $15 an hour. There, that was simple, wasn’t it? You’ll make money hand over fist and demonstrate to all those eeevil corporations that they can too pay a “just wage”; they just don’t want to because they’re greedy. Or…maybe not.
Racial preferences are not just ill advised, they are positively sadistic. Only the preening self-regard of University of California administrators and faculty is served by such an admissions travesty. Preference practitioners are willing to set their “beneficiaries” up to fail and to subject them to possible emotional distress, simply so that the preference dispensers can look out upon their “diverse” realm and know that they are morally superior to the rest of society.
And BenSix considers the artistry of Mr Robin Thicke:
It is customary in pieces such as this for their author to insist that he or she is no prude. I will respect this tradition and offer credentials: I have wallowed in low culture to an unhealthy degree, from cage fighting to B movies to French literature.
As usual, feel free to add your own links and snippets in the comments.
This weekend the Sustainability Centre in Hampshire will be home to Uncivilisation 2013, which describes itself as “a gathering of people searching for answers to questions about our collective future in a rapidly changing and depleting world.” About 400 people are expected to attend sessions including a wild-food foraging workshop, a talk on moving beyond a monetary-based economy, and a ceremony of singers and storytellers leading the group in a “liturgy of loss.”
And who here could resist a congregation of climate catastrophists and unemployed poets – sorry, “artists and thinkers” - who tell us their words “will be elemental” and will “weave reality,” and who also tell us they will write these elemental, reality-weaving words “with dirt under our fingernails.” These brave People Of Tomorrow™ will gather in tepees and fiddle with twigs, while
awaiting the end of capitalism and bourgeois decadence. They will dine on halloumi
burgers and Fair Trade carrot cake. Women will blossom in a “creative making and conversation space.” Men will be helped to “reconcile their
polarities.” Oh, and there’ll also be a scything workshop. Poetry and scything
is clearly the way forward.
Which do I leave first: Facebook or Twitter? I’ve been mulling that question for about a year now, but it always seemed theoretical.
You see, users of Twitter include some obnoxious idiots and “it will be a disaster if Twitter becomes dysfunctional.” Yes, “the stakes are high.” And so something must be done. Something “radical and collective.”
Who wants to make speeches about sewage when you can stride manfully around drilling rigs in a hard hat and a yellow jacket?
Fracking, it turns out, “is not about jobs. It’s not about securing energy supplies. It’s not even about the money.” Brace yourselves, readers. The truth is shocking: “The government’s enthusiasm for fracking arises from something it shares with politicians the world over: a macho fixation with extractive industries.” Yes, “extraction is an ideology, gendered and gendering” and “wherever there are resources to be extracted, you can see this testeria at work.” Damn those alpha males and their strutting and extracting, ruggedly impressing the womenfolk with their “stiff backs and jutting jaws.” And their testeria. Don’t they understand that the world could be saved if all men were more like George?
Yes, I know. It’s almost a miniature psych profile.