Sunday, March 22, 2015

After God Made Azealia Banks, He Broke the Mold... No One Needs Any More of That

Previously, I wrote about rapper Azealia Banks and about how she spews social justice rhetoric while failing to understand it or apply it to herself.

In an eye-opening interview with Playboy Magazine (good gawd, have they ever dropped their standards) Banks confirmed that, yes, she really is virulently racist.

But more than that, Banks confirmed another already-known-fact: that she's a blathering moron. Her comments on religion are as incoherent as they come:

"I don’t understand how someone could be an atheist. Think about God as software, right? If you were to look at God’s face, your head would explode. Because your head is a calculator, and the amount of information that would be embedded in his face would fit only on a Google-size data center. Your head cannot handle that much information. Stop looking for God."

It's almost as if someone from the mighty Google paid her to tell Playboy magazine that Google is God. Which shows what she knows. Anyone who has seen Airheads knows that Lemmy is God.

Banks isn't making many friends these days. Other rappers. White people. Homosexuals. Christians. Atheists. Middle America. None of them are people she's coaxing into her dwindling fandom.

I've listened to enough of her music to conclude one thing: she's seemingly got just one gift, and it's not music. Rather, that one gift is alienating absolutely everyone. She's finally alienated enough people that the only way she can get mainstream press coverage is to show off her birthday suit in Playboy. And apparently can't even do that without humiliating herself during the interview.

In the words of other, better musicians (most of whose catalog, oddly enough, I don't really care for): you did it to yourself.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Actually, It's About Ethics in Villainous Internal Monologues

So, did Marvel Comics take a cheap shot at #Gamergate?

This appears in the most recent issue of Loki: Agent of Asgard.
Many #Gamergate supporters are not impressed. They feel as if Marvel Comics has taken a shot at them to *ahem* avenge criticism they've faced over the new Thor.

Speaking for myself, I don't buy it.

Perhaps if this quip had come from a character such as Tony Stark that would be one thing. But the quip comes from Loki. Not only a villain, but the single most treacherous and deceitful villain in all of Marvel Comics. A character who, as he is literally the God of Mischief, would likely look at all the chaos and discord social justice warriors have sewn in the world and approve of it.

Taking character motivations into account, even if writer Al Ewing intended to take a shot at #Gamergate, that's not the message that realistically comes through.

As for female Thor: as I understand it, the objection many comic books fans have raised have less to do with the actual change, and more to do with the contrived way in which it was done.

Even then, everyone needs to relax. The idea of Thor as a woman has an interesting novelty. For a time that will drive sales, then when the novelty is gone Marvel will change things back.

Remember, this is the company that couldn't keep 90-year-old May Parker dead (bless her fictional soul).

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How Does Canada's Budgeting Process Undermine Parliamentary Democracy?

If you weren't aware of it before, in reading Brent Rathgeber's Irresponsible Government you may be stunned to learn that what could quite accurately be described as Canada's "real" federal budget is essentially self-approving.

At first glance that doesn't sound correct. After all, the federal government presents a federal budget each year. In years past the late former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty would go out and buy a new pair of shoes. There would be a short debate, a few days of acrimony from opposition leaders, then the budget would be passed.

Then the media loses interest and goes home.

And why wouldn't they? What's left to see?

For the media, not much at all. For any elected MPs who sit on a parliamentary committee overseeing a specific department, there's lots left to see: the tabling of the estimates.

If you've never heard of this you're unfortunately not alone. That so many Canadians haven't heard of this is nothing less than a cataclysmic failure of the media and other educational institutions that we count on to keep us informed.

Most simply put, estimates are each department's spending plans for the next year, laid out on a line-by-line basis. MPs have a very brief time to examine them, then 21 supply days in the house to debate them and propose a maximum of 14 amendments to the estimates.

In order to be formally adopted, however, the estimates merely have to be voted upon by the committee in question, and the adoption of that estimate reported to Parliament. But here's where the entire process becomes largely irrelevant: if the committee doesn't report adoption of the estimate back to Parliament by the deadline, the committee is deemed to have reported and the estimate is adopted.

If it sounds like the budget presented in Parliament is largely for show, there's a reason for that.

If the media really thinks the federal budget is the most significant portion of the process they could be forgiven for being fooled. After all, there is no sequestration period prior to the tabling of the estimates during which the media may examine the estimates, then later report to the public on the plans detailed therein.

It's been this way largely since 1971: Canada, a Parliamentary democracy under the principle of responsible government, in which the executive is supposed to be accountable to the legislature, spends its taxpayer dollars in a manner not nearly as dissimilar from executive-centric France as we may have preferred to think.

Compounding the problem is that the vast majority of Parliamentarians lack the requisite skills to glean the necessary information out of these documents, and many of them lack even the motivation. So when it comes to how government spends taxpayer dollars, Parliament is effectively asleep at the switch.

So how is this problem, which Parliament doesn't even seem to recognize that it has, solved?

Well, perhaps the simplest way to solve it is not to table the estimates merely for members of each committee, but instead table them for the general public. Then, concerned citizens can contact their MP -- hoping that they've taken care to elect a good one -- to draw attention to their concerns.

If the public is engaged, Parliament will have no choice but to be similarly engaged. It may slow down the process of government spending taxpayer dollars, but do we really want a government that's in a hurry to spend our money?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

About #Gamergate, Ben Kuchera,and Gatekeeping

If Electronic Arts executives have any stones whatsoever, Polygon opinion editor has fouled up epically.

In fact, it should wind up being one of the most epic foulings up in any genre of journalism in journalism history.

Just what did Kuchera do?

Well, EA's director of digital communications, Chris Mancil, wrote a blogpost praising Breitbart UK writer Milo Yiannopolous. In passing he mentioned that Kuchera had some worthy ideas on how Twitter could better handle harassment on its site.

For this, Kurchera freaked out. He tweeted EA demanding that someone at the company intervene with Mancil to remove a link to a column Kuchera published at Polygon.

From this we can glean the full extent of Kuchera's irrationality: apparently one may not praise Kuchera if they happen to be praising Yiannopolous at the same time. And if they do, Kuchera will complain about it to that person's employer. That's how authoritarian, how stunningly eager to abuse his power, Kuchera has become.

Since his meltdown many other social justice warriors have joined Kuchera's chorus, going even further than Kuchera and demanding that Mancil be fired.

This brings us to a very interesting question: just how much power does Kuchera have? How much power do games journalists have?

At first glance,it might seem that they have a great deal of power. They're considered by many to be the gatekeepers of the industry. They have the power to decide which games get coverage, and which games don't.

So surely games developers and publishers must be sensitive to their whims and demands, right?

Well, perhaps not so much.

The relationship between the games industry and games developer is far more symbiotic than many might give it credit for. While  games journalists may have the power of gatekeeper at their end of the relationship, games developers and publishers have the same power at their end.

They have the power to refuse to grant interviews, or even release review copies of games, to journalists with whom they are unwilling to interact.

Therein just how badly Kuchera has fouled up.

It takes no more than a cursory look at Mancil's blogpost to recognize that Kuchera is being hilariously unreasonable and, in fact, unprofessional. To give in to Kuchera's demands would only reward that unreasonability and unprofessionalism from someone who writes for a publication that EA actually pays for advertising.

As an online website with no paywall Polygon literally has no source of revenue other than their advertisers. Kuchera is literally making demands of the hand that feeds him even as he embeds his incisors into it.

There's really only one way EA can respond: they must pull their ads from Polygon, and refuse to restore them until Kuchera is no longer employed by the publication. Other games developers and publishers should also recognize Kuchera's behaviour for what it is and do the same.

In other words, if Polygon will not fire Ben Kuchera, the games industry must fire Polygon.

No more ad revenue, no more review copies of games, no more access of any kind. The games industry must exercise its gatekeeping power and cast Ben Kuchera outside its gates. If Polygon insists on remaining attached to Kuchera, it should share his predicament.

If this seems unreasonable, games developers and publishers must remember: Kuchera would enthusiastically do the same to them.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Twisting Road to Victory Over the Islamic State

Even as Canada continues to reel from its first casualty in the war against ISIS, one important question must loom in our participation in this war effort is meaningful at all:

How does Canada, and how do its allies, intend to win this war?

Obviously, we intend to win it. If we didn't intend to win it there was no sense in going. Likewise if we didn't have any sense of how we were going to win it.

But how can the war be won? The war requires an endgame. And as Canada looks ahead to discussions about the potential extension of the mission, this is a necessity that must be at the front of our minds.

So what does victory over the Islamic State look like?

In my opinion, it looks a lot like a Kurdish state.

More specifically, in my opinion it looks like Kurdistan.

There should be no question that the Kurdish people have been our strongest and fiercest dog in this fight. They turned the tide of battle from near-defeat to victory in Kobane, and are generally believed to be giving at least as good as they get.

But they're always in need. Of materiel. Of reinforcements. And to that end, we in the west are not giving the biggest, fiercest dog in the fight against ISIS as much support as they need.

In fact, at least one British woman has been arrested for planning to leave the UK to fight not for ISIS, but for the Partiya Karkaren Kurdistani -- the Kurdish People's Party. They maintain the YPG and YPJ, the people's defense forces. The YPJ, specifically, is comprised of women fighting ISIS forces.

So with that in mind you'd think the PKK isn't an obvious villain in the region. Until you keep in mind that the British government -- in fact, virtually all western governments -- consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization.

It's said that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. It's been said often enough that the phrase has nearly transcended cliche. Yet in the case of the PKK, it's an obvious truism.

Until the establishment of no-fly zones in northern Iraq following the first Persian Gulf War there was virtually no safe haven for the Kurdish people. Even after the establishment of those no-fly zones the region historically known as Kurdistan remains spread out across the states we currently know as Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria.

Turkey is a particular issue in regards to the PKK. Since 1984 the PKK has conducted regular raids into Turkey, where the Kurdish population lives oppressed.

Turkey, meanwhile, is a NATO country. Which would complicate matters greatly for the UK even if it's government was sympathetic toward the oppression Kurds suffer there. The UK -- and the whole of NATO -- could not help but recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization lest it alienate an ally.

Turkey has been touchy enough about the Armenian genocide, often threatening geopolitical consequences if its western allies dare condemn it. And that was something that happened 100 years ago. Just imagine how Turkey would react were the west to condemn something it's still doing today.

So of course the UK must continue to recognize the PKK as a terrorist entity. Nor can it even partake in a serious push to reincarnate Kurdistan as a country without risking a key Middle Eastern ally.

This situation is in no small part analogous to the conditions that fomented the Israeli insurgency following the 1939 white paper. Then it was a British government dependent on Arab Muftis who ultimately controlled the flow of Middle Eastern oil to the British war effort, and placating them by limiting Jewish immigration into modern-day Israel to only 10,000. Then it was Jews -- particularly in the post-war years -- defying British law to immigrate there illegally, all so the Israeli people could have a land in which to realize their right to self-determination.

Now it's Yazidi Britons defying British law in order to repel the hordes of the Islamic State so that the Kurdish people may have a land in which to realize their right to self-determination. Them, and non-Yazidi citizens such as Aussie Ashley Johnson, who have joined the fight and in some cases even given their lives. (In Johnson's case, it's Australian law he has defied.)

In that western governments haven't arrested western fighters upon their return is indication that we have recognized the legitimacy of the PKK, at least by half-measures. We're willing to tolerate western fighters doing battle alongside them, so long as they don't intend to join full-time.

Half-measures are not even half-sufficient. While the contributions of western nations to the fight against ISIS are undoubtedly valuable, we must recognize that they are not enough to win the war.

I firmly believe that, in the end, only the Kurds can win this war. There's clearly quite a diplomatic and legal minefield that must be navigated in order to maximize the west's ability to fully contribute to that victory, but no other path to victory appears immediately feasible.

In terms of issues on which Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson could attempt to insert some leadership internationally, there are worse places he could look. There are few signs of anyone else trying to blaze this vital diplomatic trail.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Azealia Banks & the New Nadir of Social Justice ideology

For an ideology with such lofty goals, social justice ideology certainly manages to stoop to some shocking lows. Every time you think this ideology has reached it's nadir, it manages to stoop even lower.

Enter Azealia Banks.

Azealia Banks would really, really like people to think that she's all about teh social justice. She's openly declared herself a feminist and anti-racist. (Yet she assailed Iggy Azalea under the vaguely-racist guise of "cultural appropriation.") Yet while she quickly built an audience among the LGBTQ community, she's quickly alienated them with her own ignorant behaviour.

She seems to love the word "faggot," and spits it with the zeal of the most stereotypical homophobic redneck you could possibly imagine.

This has led to torrents of criticism from an audience -- gay men -- that Banks seems to think she had locked up. And so in an effort to stave off the criticism, Banks has apparently chosen to shield herself from criticism of her homophobic behaviour with feminism.

"The word 'faggot' came to me from my mother. And it was never a thing about a guy being gay. It was always just a man who hates women. You can be gay or straight. You can be a straight faggot… Faggots are men who want to bring women down, fuck with their heads, control them.

I definitely think a lot of the time with the 'white gay media' – especially with female artists – in order for you to seem successful or seem feminine you have to desire their approval. I feel like a lot of times gay men can be way more misogynistic than even straight men. Even how they come to you picking at your hair, telling you you're fat, telling you all this other shit. Telling you how to be a woman. What the fuck do you know about being a woman?

To be homophobic would imply that I'm, like, 'I can't sit next to a gay man cuz Imma catch the gay, but I already caught the gay. I feel like when I use the word 'faggot,' it comes from, like, a feminist point of view, not a homophobic point of view. It's really just kinda like you feel attacked as a woman."

So to Banks it isn't all gay men she hates. It's just white gay men. The gay white devil. That's supposed to make it all better one imagines, intersectionality and all.

Of course in theory intersectionality is supposed to teach social justice advocates that oppression exists across a wide variety of identities, all of which intersect throughout the population of people who the ideology considers oppressed.

This often also leads to an almost-mathematic tallying of alleged victimhood, wherein people who consider themselves oppressed rank their oppression over the oppression of others. For example, Azealia Banks is a black bisexual woman. Allegedly oppressed as black, bisexual, and a woman. So of course she feels she may disparage those who allegedly not as allegedly-oppressed as she.

But as a general rule, feminists -- even those who believe in intersectionality -- do not accept or tolerate homophobia. So attempting to excuse homophobia by hiding behind feminism shows only how out-of-touch she is with feminism.

Of course feminism isn't the only subvariant of social justice ideology that Banks attempts to hide behind, yet is oddly non-compliant with. In a 2014 feud with Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, Banks accused her, as a white person in hip hop, of "cultural appropriation."

Banks earned any fandom she had in the gay community by absorbing influences from the sub-culture of black gay men into her music. Azealia Banks is not a black, gay, man. Ergo, she herself is guilty of cultural appropriation. You need not believe in the uniquely-bigoted concept of cultural appropriation to realize that Banks is non-compliant.

So should Azealia Banks be excused for her rampant racism and homophobia? Well, I'm not a gay man so it's not up to me to decide. But for any such person who is thinking of forgiving Banks, it seems necessary to remind them that social justice ideologues would suggest that perhaps they've internalized the oppression that is at the root of Banks' behaviour.

Unless social justice ideologues are prepared to expel Banks from under their ideological umbrella this will simply represent a new low these identity zealots have stooped to; a new nadir for social justice ideology.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

An Appendix Regarding #Gamergate and Modernity

Yesterday, I wrote what I consider to be a preface to a series of blogposts I'm going to write about #Gamergate, social justice ideologies and cultural imperialism.

This blogpost is intended as an appendix to that particular blogpost.


If we accept the idea of video game culture as a singular front of the current crisis of modernity -- regardless of whether or not we agree that the crisis is manufactured -- then we must ultimately decide what role #Gamergate will play.

Is #Gamergate to be the counter-revolution, or something else entirely?

At first glance it may seem that #Gamergate is the counter-revolution, and social justice warriors (hereafter to be referred to as SJdubs) are the revolution. But first we must consider the attributes of each group and decide whether or not a role as revolutionaries or counter-revolutionaries would be mismatched.

Is #Gamergate the revolutionaries -- who believed in a singular locus of modernity based strictly on "what has been discovered in the arts and the sciences can now be reorganized through usage, meditation, observation, argumentation" (in the words of Sir Francis  Bacon)?

Or is #Gamergate the counter-revolutionaries, who believed in a singular locus of modernity based strictly on faith?

Well, here's where the lines cross and become more obscure. Revolutionaries are, typically, challengers. In the discursive battle over video game culture, #Gamergate is not the challengers. Rather, #Gamergate arose in response to corrupt video games journalists who were in league with the SJdubs who set out to declare video game culture oppressive as a means of covering their own corruption. It's the SJdubs who are the challengers.

Yet it's the SJdubs who have adopted the faith-based modus operandi of the Renaissance-era counter-revolution, telling people that they must "listen and believe," rather than observe and consider. So if we agree that #Gamergate is the counter-revolution of this modern discursive battle over modernity, then we must also understand that the specific roles are very similar but reversed.

Must #Gamergate accept the role of counter-revolutionary?

If #Gamergate is to accept and adopt the role of counter-revolutionary, it will have to re-make that role. During the Renaissance, within the Catholic Church in particular, a prominent tool of counter-revolution was the Inquisition.

Admittedly #Gamergate is neither as powerful as the Catholic Church, nor (hopefully) as dogmatic. But there appears to be a direct corollary between harassment complained of by many SJdubs -- whether real, fabricated, or attributable to third-party trolls -- and the culture of intimidation and fear created by the Inquisition.

Even if one doesn't fully believe the stories of harassment told by SJdubs, many people do. What is perceived as real can be very real in its consequences. Even if it's not within the power of #Gamergate to completely dispel this fearful environment -- remember that no one controls a third-party troll (perhaps not even themselves, really; I find third-party trolls to be deeply-disturbed individuals, and suspect many of them may be severely mentally ill) #Gamergate can at least stymie it by refusing to participate in the harassment.

To #Gamergate's credit, the vast majority of its members (at least by my personal estimation) refuse to participate in harassment. It must also be noted that this refusal cannot be applied across a social media-based movement, and so it will be up to individual supporters to refuse, to stand up to those who do harass.

If this resembles the status quo to you, there's good reason for that: it's because this reflects the current state of affairs quite accurately.

In fact, the so-called "revolutionary" SJdubs have adopted the methods of the Renaissance-era (and later-era) counter-revolutionaries for themselves; conducting witch hunts for game developers and game journalists who don't echo their views, seeking to banish them from the establishment, and threatening them with blacklisting.

These tools may seem overwhelming. Renaissance-era counter-revolutionaries certainly used them to devastating affect. But as we can see by examining the result of that discursive war, the tools of the revolution ultimately prevailed.

Speaking for myself, I would urge #Gamergate to accept the role of counter-revolutionary, but use the tools of the Renaissance-era revolutionary. Therein lay the tools to victory.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Anita Sarkeesian, Jonathon McIntosh and the Battle for the New Modernity

I'm sure this thought has occurred to Gamergate supporters from time to time as they ponder the contributions of Anita Sarkeesian and Jonathon McIntosh -- or, more specifically, the ideology they represent -- to the unethical mush that has become video games journalism.

At times some have certainly even wondered: do these two matter at all?

For my part, the answer is yes. But the threat these two pose to reason itself -- yes, to reason itself -- looms far greater than the quality of their academic work justifies. But in order to show this to be true, first the shortcomings of their work must be laid bare.

I'm certain this is another thought that has occurred to Gamergate supporters: just what is their problem, anyway? Why are they doing this?

The answer is both simpler and more complex than you may think: their problem is with modernity.

Just what is modernity? Perhaps most simply described, modernity is the prevailing ideological construct shaping the way in which we see the world around us. It's a combination of the technological, scientific, religious, intellectual and philosophical state of the modern world. Essentially modernity is what is modern.

Under no conditions is it, or should it be, static. In their book Empire, Thomas Hardt and Anthonio Negri explain how modernity evolved through the Renaissance into the Enlightenment, and beyond:

"Modernity is not a unitary concept but rather appears in at least two modes. The first mode is the one we have already defined, a radical revolutionary process. This modernity destroys its relations with the past and declares the immanence ofthe new paradigm of the world and life. It develops knowledge and action as scientific experimentation and defines a tendency toward a democratic politics, posing humanity and desire at the center ofhistory. From the artisan to the astronomer, from the merchant to the politician, in art as in religion, the material of existence is reformed by a new life.

This new emergence, however, created a war. How could such a radical overturning not incite strong antagonism? How could this revolution not determine a counterrevolution? There was indeed a counterrevolution in the proper sense of the term: a cultural, philosophical, social, and political initiative that, since it could neither return to the past nor destroy the new forces, sought to dominate and expropriate the force of the emerging movements and dynamics. This is the second mode of modernity, constructed to wage war against the new forces and establish an overarching power to dominate them. It arose within the Renaissance revolution to divert its direction, transplant the new image of humanity to a transcendent plane, relativize the capacities of science to transform the world, and above all oppose the reappropriation of power on the part of the multitude. The second mode of modernity poses a transcendent constituted power against an immanent constituent power, order against desire. The Renaissance thus ended in war— religious, social, and civil war."

The counter-revolution prevailed and the vanquished paid the price. Copernicus was forced to recant his heretical claim -- in time proven true -- that the Earth orbits the sun, and was imprisoned regardless.

But though the conflict was over the ultimate result had yet to be decided. An Enlightenment was coming.

The cultural conflicts that marked the Renaissance had to become the Enlightenment somehow. As Negri and Hardt explain, what was needed as a mediatory measure:

"The ontological dualism of the culture of the ancien regime had to be replaced by a functional dualism, and the crisis of modernity had to be resolved by means of adequate mechanisms of mediation.

...Nature and experience are unrecognizable except through the filter of phenomena; human knowledge cannot be achieved except through the reflection of the intellect; and the ethical world is incommunicable except through the schematism of reason. What is at play is a form of mediation, or really a reflexive folding back and a sort of weak transcendence, which relativizes experience and abolishes every instance of the immediate and absolute in human life and history. Why, however, is this relativity necessary? Why cannot knowledge and will be allowed to claim themselves to be absolute? Because every movement of self-constitution of the multitude must yield to a preconstituted order, and because claiming that humans could immediately establish their freedom in being would be a subversive delirium. This is the essential core of the ideological passage in which the hegemonic concept of European modernity was constructed.

The first strategic masterpiece in this construction was accomplished by Rene Descartes. Although Descartes pretended to pursue a new humanistic project of knowledge, he really reestablished transcendent order. When he posed reason as the exclusive terrain of mediation between God and the world, he effectively reaffirmed dualism as the defining feature of experience and thought."

It was with reason acting as the arbiter between science and religion that humanity was able to move beyond the fractious revolutionary/counter-revolutionary conflict of the Renaissance, and adopt what would eventually evolve into contemporary modernity.

That was a wordy paragraph. Allow me to simplify it, if more for my sake if not for yours: ultimately however you may see the world around you, you see it that way because Rene Descartes was successfully able to advance the idea that the best way to settle debate was to think about it rationally.

Centuries later that seems so intuitive. Yet when Descartes originally posed this idea it was threatening to a great many people still.

Descartes was considered to be the definitive figure in how this conflict would be settled. His mode of mediation endured for a very long time indeed.

But with the rise of post-modernity there are those who have sought to cast off the Cartesian intellectual order, so that arguments rooted nigh-entirely in emotion can be advanced over those who prefer rational thought.

The locus of intersectional ideologies which belched Anita Sarkeesian and Jonathon McIntosh represent the tip of the metaphorical spear. They and their academic progenitors have come to see nearly everything about modernity in its current form as intolerable, and so they have done whatever they to portray its very existence as a crisis. Wherever they have found evidence of such a crisis they have exaggerated it. Where they have found no evidence of such a crisis they have fabricated it.

Where Sarkeesian's and McIntosh's generation of activists largely differs from their forebears is in their revolt against reason. To listen to the discourse of third-wave feminism is to be assaulted with a continual barrage of the importance of feelz over realz.

In other words: how they can make people feel about a particular claim is more important about whether or not that claim is actually real.

A specific example: Sarkeesian's claim that video games normalize violence against women. There's no evidence for this whatsoever. In fact, the evidence openly defies this claim, as rates of violent crime have declined precipitously across the board.

But in presenting scenes of violence against women in video games, Sarkeesian wants you to feel as though this is a bad thing, with catastrophic consequences, and be angry about it even if the evidence -- what can be confirmed as real -- contradicts and disproves this.

Another example: the harassment Sarkeesian says she's received. She wants you to feel as though this is real and be angry about it even if she's never managed to produce convincing evidence of credible threats. Indeed, the alleged threats made against Sarkeesian -- particularly prior to a scheduled speech at Utah State University -- were deemed by police to not be credible.

Feelz over realz. Listen and believe. And reason be damned.

Anita Sarkeesian and Jonathon McIntosh are by no means the sole standard bearers for this anti-Cartesian shift, but for the time being they are the ones on whom I shall focus.

Consider this but the introduction. There is a long journey ahead of us.  It's dangerous to go alone.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Thawing the Nuclear Hellfrost of Social Justice Ideologies

If you've seen a photo of Reece Eber lately, there's a reason why he looks like a scared little bunny.

And if you've never heard of Reece Eber until just now, there's a reason why you're not alone. Then again, there's also a reason why you might only be hearing of him just now.

There can be no doubt that for the last several days Eber has been living in fear for his life, as news exploded that Eber desecrated the grave of "Dimebag" Darryl Abbot.

Eber is formerly the lead singer of a band named "Nuclear Hellfrost." (If you've never heard of them before now there's a reason for that as well.) Nuclear Hellfrost is based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. But a recent post on the band's Tumblr blog -- now deleted -- revealed that during a December tour through Texas, the band paid a visit to Abbott's grave.

There, they spat on his grave. That's the least of what they did as a group. According to Eber's account, he lingered behind after his bandmates departed and attached a note to the plaque covering Abbott's grave simply reading "fag." According to his initial account he also stole a pair of cowboy boots left by the grave.

He even took pictures of his work, and posted it to his Instagram account, with the following explanation:

"I HATE pantera…with a passion. and so does the rest of my band. so on tour going through texas we paid douchebag darrell a visit, we spit on his grave, stole a pair of cowboy boots, and i wrote fag on his grave… in not a homophobe but i hope the panturrrra fans see this… buncha racist hillbillies."

Well, Pantera fans saw it. And now Eber is at least pretending to see the error of his ways. But does he really?

Despite having used a homophobic slur, Eber insists that he is "not a homophobe." But even more disturbing is the final slur uttered on his Instagram posting, which seems to stand apart almost as if offered as justification for his actions:

"Buncha racist hillbillies."

I've listened to the entire catalogue of Pantera's work countless times over. Never have I heard a single lyric that would suggest the band is racist. I'm aware of no racist remarks ever uttered by a member of the band.

But even if it were true that Pantera, or Abbott himself, were racist, does that justify desecrating a gravesite?

Only under philosophical conditions that treat only people who hold requisite political or social beliefs as being worthy of even the most basic moral consideration.

It's become no secret that Nuclear Hellfrost considers themselves an "anti-racist" band. Even if they don't adhere to the other requirements necessary in order to be included under the banner of identity politics-based social justice ideologies -- and spewing homophobia is certainly a failure to adhere -- they clearly consider themselves to be adherents of social justice ideologies. As with all such ideologues, they seem to grant themselves infinite "free passes" for violations of that same ideology.

Moreover, their asserted adherence to that ideology -- even if they don't actually adhere to it -- grants them a free hand to heap all manners of abuses on those who don't adhere to it. Alleged racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other violation can be invoked by such individuals as justification for any kind of moral act they may wish to commit.

In the final analysis, they treat themselves as uniquely privileged to decide, on such basis, who is or is not worthy of moral consideration.

There's a phrase that describes this attitude: moral authoritarianism.

Moral authoritarianism has become as much a landmark on the landscape of left-wing politics as social justice ideology; such metaphorical monoliths grow evermore in size, import and prestige the further one moves toward the far-left.

This is why social justice ideologies are uniquely toxic. The ideologies, their teachings and their methodologies should be rejected anywhere and everywhere they appear in favour of means that actually pursue actual social justice.

Here's a general rule of thumb: people who actually pursue actual social justice will not do so by doing things that are unjust, as Reece Eber and Nuclear Hellfrost have done.

Not that Nuclear Hellfrost matters much. Their hatred has not only extinguished any meaningful humanity in themselves, but now also their musical careers.

Simply put, they're not a big enough band to afford the amount of security they'd need to keep themselves safe at a metal concert.