Give a little bit

18 11 2015

There are days I’d like to get paid for writing, and days when I’m glad I don’t.

The past coupla’ days, I’m glad for the not-paid, because as someone who is not-paid for her writing, I’m under no obligation to give a HOTTAKE on the Yale, the University of Missouri, political correctness, illiberal liberals, Paris, Beirut, terrorism, or refugees.

Still, I’m willing to offer up a few warmed-over thoughts on the topics listen above:

*Yale: I could give a shit what’s happening at Yale, or any of the Ivies. It’s not that I think no one should care, but that I don’t.

*Mizzou, political correctness, illiberal liberals: I don’t know what it’s like to be a black student at a predominantly white university, but if I care about that experience—and I do—then I think I should listen to those who do know a li’l something about that topic.

This doesn’t mean I’ll agree a priori with the policy solutions suggested/demanded by those students, but that there’s nothing wrong with them either talking/shouting about those experiences or suggesting/demanding policy changes.

Which is to say, I view this as a political argument, and there’s nothing illegitimate with partisans taking their own side in that argument in such a way that challenges the preexisting norms of political argumentation (which are themselves the product of such argumentation).

Translated, this means that the liberal norms of how political discourse is to proceed are themselves shot through with political values. There’s nothing necessarily wrong or nefarious about value-laden rules, nor is there necessarily anything wrong or nefarious with challenging the values or the rules.

Such challenges can be irksome to those who think the rules sacrosanct or constitutive of the content of political discourse itself, just as it can be irksome to those making a particular argument to be told that their particular mode of argument-making is against the rules.

That’s politics, not the end of the world.

On a more personal note, I think there is some value to liberal norms of discourse, and that such norms can themselves accommodate apparently or even actually illiberal arguments, which is to say, partisans get to take their own sides.

There are all sorts of caveats, nuances, etc., to this interpretation, but my main sense that this is politics, and not a sign of the apocalypse, holds.

*Okay, I care a little about what happens at Yale, but that’s in spite of it happening at Yale.

*I have nothing new to say about the bombings in Paris, Beirut, and elsewhere, beyond an expression of horror, dismay, and sorrow.

As I’ve previously said, I doubt there’s one cool trick one can try to shed those unwanted terrorists, that terrorist networks might be comparable to organized crime networks, and that, like those organized crime networks, they will be difficult to root out—by whatever means.

*I think the U.S. should not only take the 10,000 Syrian refugees, I’d be fine with New York taking all 10,000.

I mean, the only downside is that we already have a housing crunch, but—and I am being serious here—if there were room in my apartment building, I’d say, Come on in!

Not to move into my apartment, I hasten to add. I do need my space.

But if I wouldn’t be your roomie, I’d gladly be your neighbor.

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If you’ll be my enemy

29 04 2015

Some of us are boundary-patrollers, and some of us are boundary-trespassers (and some of us just don’t think much about boundaries, one way or the other).

I can be frantic when it comes to personal boundaries. Yes, I share some pretty personal stuff on this blog, but there’s a lot (mostly boring, I must say), that I don’t care to share and, really, the crucial issue is whether or not I have the choice of what to reveal.

But when it comes to partisan issues, man, I am not at all interested in boundary patrol. I might think you’re a shitty leftist if you’re anti-union or not much of a feminist if you support anti-abortion legislation, but beyond that not-at-all-enforceable judgement, well, I’m not going to try to enforce anything.

It’s not that boundary-patrol isn’t necessary—it helps to be able to distinguish between x and not-x—but that I don’t think it necessary for me to engage in it. Hell, I’ll help to set up those boundaries—I’m pretty happy to draw lines all over the place—but if someone wants to wander across them, I’ll wave ’em through.

In any case, there are more than enough people out there who thrill in shrieking Halt! Who goes there? at the wanderers that I don’t worry about shirking guard duty. Or in trespassing some boundaries m’self.

I don’t know how much of a change this is for me. I could be strident when young and can be strident now, but I don’t know that I ever had much of a passion for cleaning out My Side. Maybe I did and I’ve just forgotten, but I just don’t recall ever taking on the role of Ideological Bouncer.

And I’m in no mood to start now, especially not since embracing the whole messiness thing—smudges and breaks are pretty much unavoidable. Add to that my general sense that if you’re not trying to kill/maim me, you’re not my enemy and, well, it’s no surprise that, absent an emergency, I won’t be (wo)manning the ramparts.

Makes me a pretty shitty militant, I guess (which is probably why I’m not a militant).

Anyway, all of this is a way of sidling up to our latest version of the US Culture Wars: Religion Edition.

Rod Dreher is, predictably, very upset by the rough beast of same-sex equality slouching toward Bethlehem: there are lines in Christianity and barricades in morality which simply must not be crossed, and woe the blood-dimmed tide about to be unloosed upon the land.

(You think I’m exaggerating? I am not.)

Not a few of his commenters think he’s hysterical, but what they miss is that Rod is a boundary-patroller. He’s the guy on the wall or in the bell-tower trying to protect against the hordes and to rouse his fellows—of course he’s going to be screaming all of the time.

I think he’s wrong, of course, but he’s playing a role on the right as surely as the p.c. folk are playing on the left—which means that, if I am (however grudgingly) to accept the good that may come from left-patrollers, I ought to extend that same (grudging) legitimacy to a right-patroller.

Even as I sigh and roll my eyes.





Talking ’bout what everybody’s talkin ’bout

27 01 2015

There’s an awful lot of shit about which I have opinions (informed and otherwise) that I think about writing about but end up not writing about because I am lazy and I’d rather not write uninformed thoughts which others who are informed have said better but mostly, mostly, because blogging is not my job.

It’s too bad, in some ways, because I’d really like (but not enough to do much about: lazy) to write for a rent check or two, but in other ways, saves me—mainly, from having to have an opinion about what everyone else is opining about. I get to say ehhhhh. . . in response to GamerGate or the NYPD or what that one guy said that time about a thing.

Again, I have opinions oozin’ out me pores, but most I get to save for an enjoyable session of barstool bullshitting rather than having to labor to turn them into something coherent enough for a blog.

No, that may not be a high standard, but it’s one I try (most days) to reach.

Anyway, all of this is a prelude to/apology for commenting on the the Jonathan Chait anti-p.c. piece. It’s not very good, but it is long, so. . . there’s that. Jia Tolentino, Amanda Marcotte, Angus Johnston, and Lee Papa all have good responses, so in the spirit of laziness non-repetition, I, uh, won’t repeat their arguments.

But, in the spirit of value-added, I will, uh, add this: JESUSHCHRISTTHISISSOOLD STOP STOP STOP!

Not enough value? How about: this whole p.c. thing has been around for so long—not the twenty years Chait complains about, but at least thirty—and that’s just using the term “politically correct”: as Erik Loomis pointed out on another LG&M thread, “such circular firing squads have existed for the entire history of the left.”

And yeah, the p.c. of my experience was indeed a lefty phenom—a term used by some leftists (who needed to work  or sleep or go to class and thus couldn’t turn out for every fucking rally) to mock those who’d condescend to those who needed to work or sleep or go to class and thus couldn’t turn out for every fucking rally as insufficiently committed to The Cause (it doesn’t matter which one), and who (the condescenders, not the rent-payers) didn’t shower, to boot, and. . . where was I?

(Can you tell this is a post written under the influence of Wonkette?)

Oh, yes: it was a term of mockery of the left-pure by the impure-left.

Guess which side I was on?

At some point, apparently, “p.c.” became a sincere rather than a snarky tag on the left, which was unfortunate, as it allowed those on the right to pick up those snarky remains, rearrange them, and turn what had been a dart into an axe. Good for them, I guess.

In any case, I don’t want to criticize the sincerity of those who worry about microagressions or trigger warnings or whatnot, but, like Papa, I don’t have much use for those worries, either. I also don’t see the problem with having some folks worry about microagressions and trigger warnings and whatnot, because sometimes the folks who worry about things which are often dismissed are right to say, “hey, wait a minute!”

And, yes, sometimes they’re wrong, and when they’re wrong, one has the option of ignoring them or refuting them or mocking them—just as the worriers have the option of ignoring or refuting or mocking the dismissers.

This is what the bloggers, above, note—so, yes, I guess I did repeat what they have to say. But I also want to extend this, to note two more things:

1. A lot of this is coming out of campuses and college-age students, which is unsurprising.

College is the time of boundary-setting and boundary-trespass in terms of ideas and identities, and often in quite extreme ways. This is the age and the setting in which someone can be utterly and completely given over to a cause (of whatever sort) and, importantly, find that cause in common with others.

You can be passionate and not alone, and for a fair number of students, this is the first time in their lives that they don’t have to choose between the two.

That’s an astonishing moment, a kind of coming-into-oneself during which one is finally free to see where and how far she can go. After a time, some of us go through this moment, some go too far into or beyond it, and some, having found themselves in that moment, decide to remain right there.

Most, I think, pass through in some way or another—grow up, sell out, burn out, whatever—so freaking out about twenty-year-olds freaking out about boundaries—their own and others’—is pretty much akin to Grandpa Simpson yelling at clouds.

2. To extend something which Tolentino, et. al.  point toward: a lot of those bitching about the p.c. boundary patrol are often powerful in the ways that the patrollers themselves are not.

Chait worked for The New Republic and now works for New York Magazine. Hanna Rosin writes for The Atlantic and Slate, and Sullivan, well, is Sullivan. They get to be irked by others taking issue with their words—who isn’t?—but to say there’s a right way and a wrong way to criticize is its own form of boundary patrol, and one most often deployed by those with more power against those with less power.

This is something which staunch free speech advocates (and it’s always “staunch”, isn’t it? never “rigid” or “unbending”)—and, sure, I’ll count myself among them—too often overlook in their defense of words: that words matter.

Of course, they get that “words matter”—hence the defense of words—but words can have more or less juice to them, depending upon who’s speaking or writing them. Pointing out microagressions or tone policing might be annoying as all get out, but they’re also ways to poke holes in those juiced-up words, to drain them of a bit of their power.

Or, more to the point, to poke holes in those who supply the juice, to drain them of a bit of their power—over others.

Again, annoying (especially if you don’t recognize yourself as having power over others) but not illegitimate on its face. It is, in fact, a fight about the rules of the fight, which those who are used to setting the rules would rather not have—and certainly not with such ardent critics.

And, again, as a tits-forward kinda gal and a rigid free-speecher, I think there are all kinds of criticisms to be made of p.c. policing, and all kinds of arguments to be made in favor of loose words.

But you can’t just bitch about having to make those arguments—you gotta actually make ’em.

~~~

*h/t Scott Lemieux and TBogg