Harpers Letters Section – letter and rebuttal, and comments about the signatories which I’ll finish later

July 7, 2020
The below letter will be appearing in the Letters section of the magazine’s October issue. We welcome responses at letters@harpers.org

Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial.

which…. the fuck … institutions are you referencing???

from Wikipedia

cultural institution or cultural organization is an organization within a culture/subculture that works for the preservation or promotion of culture. The term is especially used of public and charitable organizations, but its range of meaning can be very broad. Examples of cultural institutions in modern society are museumslibraries and archiveschurchesart galleries.

Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts.

So the cultural institution you’re actually referencing in the first line is really…. the cops? Are you fucking kidding me? or no, cultural institutions in this case are academia, a racist cesspit of sheltered and overgrown egos, journalism WHICH HAS BEEN BUTCHERED by right wing billionaires buying up every independent newsroom and news provider they can get their mitts on, philanthropy, the method by which billionaires deflect opprobrium, and the arts, which, fuck, I’m a creator and I know ‘zackly how bad shit is.

But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity.

This is the FUCKING TONE ARGUMENT once again are you shitting me Cthulhu. And by cracky if you think the leftists I hang with on twitter are ideologically conforming to any gatdam thing – at all – BESIDES the notion that none of us have read enough – literally the only thing any of us agree on – you’re obviously someone grand and stupid enough to have signed this limewater screed.

As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second.

So marginalized voices pointing out exactly how, and by whom, they are being marginalized get to run their ideas past you now? IN WHAT FASHION IS THAT NOT CENSORSHIP.

The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy.

Okay, thissssss is the point at which the cheese and the cracker separate, to the peril of the cheese. Because instead of calling what Trump and his supporters enact ‘fascism’, which it fucking well is, look it up, they call it illiberalism, which is what you say WHEN YOU ARE TOO MUCH OF A FUCKIN’ COWARD TO CALL FASCISM BY ITS NAME.

But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting.

YEAH, why don’t you give an example for the folks in the back rather than doing the academic equivalent of the noted folk saying, “Everybody knows –––”

The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

Now just a corn-poned second there, Sparky, there’s a BIG DIFFERENCE between the ‘intolerant climate’ for white Christians and Black Muslims; white Trump artistes and Indigenous moms, anybody who voted for Steven Harper and me. For a couple of examples. The lived experience of marginalized peoples is herein magically made equivalent to that of gun totin’, mask scoffin’ fuckwits of all races and genders. IT IS NOT. The discourse of American Black men, who have a 1 in 1000 chance of being shot to death by police over the course of their lives (and even higher odds of dying in custody, should they survive arrest) is not the same as the discourse of a young white rapist caught in the act and protected by a judge who says his whole life is in front of him. The intolerant climate has set in on ONE SIDE. That’s fascism, pushing the middle to the right and people who long for justice to the left WHETHER WE WANT THE SHOVE OR NOT.

The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.

Well, it’s a good fucking thing I’m not listening to people like this, because the free exchange of information and ideas is expanding in my universe; if it isn’t in yours it’s because you aren’t humbly seeking the wisdom of people who aren’t, uh, white. Perhaps you think your moral universe is sufficiently large. I have my doubts.

While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.

I do not show intolerance to opposing views. I show hatred, scorn, contumely and my entire ass in all its jellied glory to any ratfucker who tells me that it’s an acceptable viewpoint to detest and wish to end, stop the existence of or kill trans women. That the Indigenous ‘got beat fair and square and it’s white land now LOL’. That Coulten Boushie asked to be shot by that asshole SK farmer. That Cindy Gladue asked to have her private parts paraded through court after she’d been murdered. That slavery was two hundred years ago, get over it. That cultural artefacts 40000 years old should be destroyed in international mining operations because who gives a shit what a bunch of blackfellas and their mob want.

What kind of blinding moral certainty are you talking about?

We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.

Let’s just pause for a moment and look at the signatories. Given that Steven Pinker is caught up in the whole Epstein-Maxwell-pedophile-Rape_Island mess, don’t you think it’s telling as hell how he raced to sign anything that tries to position THE LEGIT QUESTIONS OF PEOPLE WHO SURVIVED RAPE AND TRAUMA AT EPSTEIN’S HANDS AS ‘severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions’? ‘Perceived’ because they haven’t had their day in court I suppose. I prefer to believe survivors, which in this case means that I’m part of the retribution for perceived transgressions squad, la me.

More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms.

Oh how sad for those being punished. They figured the good times would roll forever and then some 18 year old ‘bitch’ goes to the press about being repeatedly fondled by a prof at Uni. Can’t she take a joke? Can’t he get his day in court?

Editors are fired for running controversial pieces;

RACISM ISN’T CONTROVERSIAL. It’s a fact of life. Running a piece that says that Black people have it good in Amerikkka and they should quite whining and start working is racist, and you should get your ass fired.

books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity;

Cultural appropriation DOESN’T EVEN GET NAMED. So if you steal something but you’re soft and kind in your words to the people that you stole from that somehow makes it better. Every Indigenous person reading the above words is likely getting sour sour stomach.

journalists are barred from writing on certain topics;

Isn’t it funny that what really happens is that marginalized people ask TO BE CONSULTED when an article on, say, #CripTheVote or #BlackLivesMatter or #MMIW is commissioned and when they weren’t, they drop a twitterbomb on the writer and editor and given that they’re marginalized WHAT DID YOU EXPECT. They’re going to go for cheap and available.

professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class;

Yeah, he said the n-word seven times during a single lecture with such relish that even the white people in the class felt queasy, and do you really have to do that while teaching Twain.

a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study;

which has since been retracted because right wing assholes keep quoting it and misconstruing the conclusions and the data;

and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes.

Hey, I didn’t find out until the last possible second that my leading light academic was a multiply accused rapist. Despite the mountain of complaints. Too busy drinkin’ at the Faculty Club, fuck all y’all.

Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal.

If you’re going to be a public figure and support racism, misogyny, transphobia, Islamophobia, the right of white men to run Canadian academia in perpetuity because they are naturally better at it, ‘if you’re not doing anything wrong you don’t need to fear the police’ constructions of public safety, and other little lapses in judgement, reprisal is coming, sorry chuckles.

We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.

YOU NEEDN’T BE RISK AVERSE IF YOU CONSULT THE PEOPLE YOU’RE WRITING ABOUT AND TAKE CRITICISM WITHOUT BEING A WHINY ASS CLOWNBAG.

This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time.

RIGHT, because Climate Justice really needs to take the feelings of the rich into consideration. and because justice for descendants of enslaved Africans really needs to take the needs of racists into consideration, and trans women need to take the feelings of JK Rowling into consideration, and Indigenous women need to take the feelings of serving RCMP officers into consideration. Because if they are stifled then ALL OF DISCOURSE OH MY GOD will be destroyed and ‘the most vital causes of our time’ will fail because angry, disenfranchised people aren’t being nice enough to the people oppressing them WHILE CLAIMING that that isn’t what is happening, nope, not at all.

an extension of the tone argument is still the fucking tone argument

The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society,

So when Tucker Carlson or Rex Murphy does it it’s okay, since he’s neither the government nor society? I AM SO CONFUZZLED.

invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation.

You are too stupid to protest, let us do it. We can’t be trusted either, but at least we’ll sound prettier while we meep from our academic publications, twitter platforms and walled garden journals and newspapers.

The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away.

I’m not wishing anything away. I’m pointing out that it’s bullshit, and not even bullshit fit to dress flowerbeds with.

We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other.

I refuse to believe that a long list of famous rich people signing what is essentially a ‘white tears apologia redux’ (even though BIPOC signed) can make any real contribution to either justice or freedom. The false choice they’re asking me to make is to be a bad and mistaken and unjust and unfree person or agree with them, and they can **** ** ***** * ****.

As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes.

But when you signatories make mistakes, YOU DON’T OWN THEM! I’m looking at you Bari Weiss and JK Rowling but Noam Chomsky and Greil Marcus are also getting SIDEEYE

We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences. If we won’t defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn’t expect the public or the state to defend it for us.

It’s not good faith disagreement they are wanting to preserve. It’s freedom from consequences when they say something that limits the freedom of others and that, my chums, I will not abide.

a few notes about the signatories. They aren’t all white, they aren’t all men, they aren’t all conservatives. Some of them appear to have been pressured socially into signing. Some of them shouldn’t have done that since it doesn’t reflect their beliefs.

These are people who have money, respect, awards, positions, titles, and WIKIPEDIA PAGES. This is the ‘liberal establishment’ talking. And they are shootin’ poo.

Elliot Ackerman

Noted, decorated US Veteran and supporter of the draft dob April 12, 1980

Saladin Ambar, Rutgers University

Professional academic and Mario Cuomo biographer Married to the President of Oberlin College  —-dob 60s-ish

Martin Amis

Noted Islamophobe dob 25 aug 1949

Anne Applebaum

Journo & Editor, possibly one of the least self absorbed of the signatories dob  July 25 1964

Marie Arana, author

Noted self-hating Latinx editor and author of historical works

September 15 1949 (exactly same age as Paul)

Margaret Atwood

Ah, Pegster, your treatment of Indigenous writers and your complete inability to take any criticism of your public utterances and work at all is legendary in its pettiness and cruelty

dob Nov 18 1939

John Banville

I have no idea why an otherwise relatively blameless Irish writer got dragged into this bullshit

dob 8 Dec 1945

Mia Bay, historian

Black woman historian @ UPenn

dob in the 70s

Louis Begley, writer

dob Oct 6 1933. Avoided dying in the holocaust as a child with forged papers. So this Jew escaped fascism but wants you to mind your tone.  Fuck …

Roger Berkowitz, Bard College

Director Hannah Arendt Centre. Into Heidegger. DOB not available
Paul Berman, writer

I have nothing to accuse this person of, except sheer folly in signing this. Was once sued by Michael Moore, who used the money to make Roger & Me, and I guess we all know how that turned out dob 1949

Sheri Berman, Barnard College

Classic small l liberal academician, refuses to give her dob

Reginald Dwayne Betts, poet

November 5 1980. Black, award winning poet. A talented gent, he will likely regret until his corpsification that he signed this screed

Neil Blair, agent

dob late 60s early 70s

heavily invested in supporting Rowling seeing as how she was responsible for most of his wealth

David W. Blight, Yale University

dob March 1949

Historian of Black lives including Douglass, multi award winning and whiter than I am
Jennifer Finney Boylan, author

dob June 22 1958 She is a trans woman… I don’t know how the trans community is going to deal with her being a cosignatory with Rowling, but hoooooo lassie I just checked on twitter and SCORCH AI YI

David Bromwich

dob December 15 1951 He wants to be loved by conservatives but he mostly trends left in his public announcements, so this is hot garbage for his rep
David Brooks, columnist

out as a conservative commentator, he was born in Toronto but makes his bones in US media

dob August 11 1961
Ian Buruma, Bard College

dob december 28 1951

He’s the ratfondler who published Jian Ghomeshi’s sad little self defense in the NYRB (the one I got published in for yelling as hard as I could type about it) and as far as I’m concerned his meeping about how he was censored and fired for it is the reason this letter was published.  WAH WAH WHITE TEARS
Lea Carpenter

Epitome of well-connected well born white liberal woman who refuses to give her dob
Noam Chomsky, MIT (emeritus)

NOAM YOU ASSHOLE dob? God’s younger than he is
Nicholas A. Christakis, Yale University

dob may 7 1962

a mensch, how he got dragged into this bullshit is like ????

Roger Cohen, writer

dob 2 Aug 1955

supported the invasion of Iraq, enough said

Ambassador Frances D. Cook, ret

dob sept 7 1945

a trailblazer among women in the foreign service of the US she currently runs a merchant bank with evvvvvverything that implies

.
Drucilla Cornell, Founder, uBuntu Project

June 15 1950

she’s worked to undo the damage of apartheid and is a noted feminist scholar

Kamel Daoud

June 17 1970 once had a fatwa out against him but the Algerian courts but the imam in jail for it How he feels about cosigning with Martin Amis? Mighst all Critey

Meghan Daum, writer

dob 1970 Essayist & Guggenheim ‘fellow’
Gerald Early, Washington University-St. Louis

april 21 1952 Black essayist, academic and culture critic

Jeffrey Eugenides, writer

Dexter Filkins
Federico Finchelstein, The New School
Caitlin Flanagan
Richard T. Ford, Stanford Law School
Kmele Foster
David Frum, journalist
Francis Fukuyama, Stanford University
Atul Gawande, Harvard University
Todd Gitlin, Columbia University
Kim Ghattas
Malcolm Gladwell
Michelle Goldberg, columnist
Rebecca Goldstein, writer
Anthony Grafton, Princeton University
David Greenberg, Rutgers University
Linda Greenhouse
Kerri Greenidge, historian
Rinne B. Groff, playwright
Sarah Haider, activist
Jonathan Haidt, NYU-Stern
Roya Hakakian, writer
Shadi Hamid, Brookings Institution
Jeet Heer, The Nation
Katie Herzog, podcast host
Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College
Adam Hochschild, author
Arlie Russell Hochschild, author
Eva Hoffman, writer
Coleman Hughes, writer/Manhattan Institute
Hussein Ibish, Arab Gulf States Institute
Michael Ignatieff
Zaid Jilani, journalist
Bill T. Jones, New York Live Arts
Wendy Kaminer, writer
Matthew Karp, Princeton University
Garry Kasparov, Renew Democracy Initiative
Daniel Kehlmann, writer
Randall Kennedy
Khaled Khalifa, writer
Parag Khanna, author
Laura Kipnis, Northwestern University
Frances Kissling, Center for Health, Ethics, Social Policy
Enrique Krauze, historian
Anthony Kronman, Yale University
Joy Ladin, Yeshiva University
Nicholas Lemann, Columbia University
Mark Lilla, Columbia University
Susie Linfield, New York University
Damon Linker, writer
Dahlia Lithwick, Slate
Steven Lukes, New York University
John R. MacArthur
, publisher, writer

Susan Madrak, writer
Phoebe Maltz Bovy
, writer
Greil Marcus
Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center
Kati Marton, author
Debra Maschek, scholar
Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois at Chicago
John McWhorter, Columbia University
Uday Mehta, City University of New York
Andrew Moravcsik, Princeton University
Yascha Mounk, Persuasion
Samuel Moyn, Yale University
Meera Nanda, writer and teacher
Cary Nelson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Olivia Nuzzi, New York Magazine
Mark Oppenheimer, Yale University
Dael Orlandersmith, writer/performer
George Packer
Nell Irvin Painter, Princeton University (emerita)
Greg Pardlo, Rutgers University – Camden
Orlando Patterson, Harvard University
Steven Pinker, Harvard University
Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Katha Pollitt
, writer
Claire Bond Potter, The New School
Taufiq Rahim, New America Foundation
Zia Haider Rahman, writer
Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, University of Wisconsin
Jonathan Rauch, Brookings Institution/The Atlantic
Neil Roberts, political theorist
Melvin Rogers, Brown University
Kat Rosenfield, writer
Loretta J. Ross, Smith College
J.K. Rowling
Salman Rushdie, New York University
Karim Sadjadpour, Carnegie Endowment
Daryl Michael Scott, Howard University
Diana Senechal, teacher and writer
Jennifer Senior, columnist
Judith Shulevitz, writer
Jesse Singal, journalist
Anne-Marie Slaughter
Andrew Solomon, writer
Deborah Solomon, critic and biographer
Allison Stanger, Middlebury College
Paul Starr, American Prospect/Princeton University
Wendell Steavenson, writer
Gloria Steinem, writer and activist

Older than my mother. nuff said

second wave feminist whose ongoing issues with racism need a more settled mind than mine to review and who only apologized for her bullshit views on trans women in 2013. Any modern feminist should be on guard against her, she’s always a day late and dollar short in 2020.
Nadine Strossen, New York Law School
Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., Harvard Law School
Kian Tajbakhsh, Columbia University

Jan 25 1962

Spent years in jail in Iran so he knows from fascism…. and yet
Zephyr Teachout, Fordham University

Lawyer actor politician academic dob October 1971
Cynthia Tucker, University of South Alabama

March 13 1955
Adaner Usmani, Harvard University
Chloe Valdary
Lucía Martínez Valdivia, Reed College
Helen Vendler, Harvard University
Judy B. Walzer
Michael Walzer
Eric K. Washington, historian
Caroline Weber, historian
Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers
Bari Weiss
Sean Wilentz, Princeton University
Garry Wills
Thomas Chatterton Williams, writer
Robert F. Worth, journalist and author
Molly Worthen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Matthew Yglesias
Emily Yoffe, journalist
Cathy Young, journalist
Fareed Zakaria

WW need WOC to hold their hands

It really shows. Anyway, I have seen white women trail around after various on line activists looking for ‘cookies’ which are tokens of appreciation for not being racist. Five years ago I was aware of it but now I don’t question WOC when they point it out; they are the ones sensitive to micro-aggressions and the subtler manifestations of overt racism, not me. It is their expertise I need, their voices in my ear as I interrogate the gently steaming structures of colonialism and capitalism. But I DON’T NEED THEIR ATTENTION. That’s the demand that kills.
In the first place, there are SO MANY not authentic humans on line that a WOC doesn’t know whether she’s dealing with a bot, or a paid bad actor in Romania or Russia or China. Why should she literally haul herself out of her bed, where she’s been weeping for half an hour because a family member’s been diagnosed with coronavirus, to straighten out the time-wasting misconceptions of a person who doesn’t even exist? White women assign the emotional labour of being forced to explain themselves to women of colour without a second glance while bots simultaneously chase after them with the tools of bad actors in cyberspace, everywhere. Men do it to women, too, but that’s not where I am right now.
In the second place, so many genuine humans do not look at the available information about WOC.  If she says she’s a PhD in some aspect of space science, and her blog has a list of her awards, which are borne out on her UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR PAGE, coming into her twitter feed and telling her how to suck eggs as a grad student is jenyoowine GROSS. DO THE RESEARCH IF YOU’RE REAL.
In the third place, emotional self-regulation about racism should not dissolve into a puddle of fucking tears, demands for ‘civility’ or better ‘tone’, blocking in the middle of a discussion, etc. Not one WOC owes one WW her time. At all. Ever. If she shares her expertise, honour it.
In the fourth place, emotional self-regulation about racism should not make demands on WOC that are textbook examples of WW failing to understand any of this. I have now seen it happen with my own eyes so many times that EVEN IF A WOC turns out to be a big ass fraud, a besmircher of honour, a dingus, wildly unscientific and a rape apologist HULLO NAME REDACTED I SEE YOU, I take no part in the internet mob; I’ll block or mute and pass on. The communities that surround women of colour will uphold or scold them and half they time I can’t even understand the terms the scolding is delivered in and I spend half my morning on Urban Dictionary trying to figure out if that means what I think it does. But at least I’m not asking a Black woman who’s a disability activist ‘exactly what she meant by that’ when I was never supposed to be part of the discussion.
In the fifth place, WW want to control the discussion (its course, tone, subject-matter, how speedily people answer, it’s just fucking gross, watching it) most of the time and I’ve learned that it’s puerile.
Too Long? Busy this AM?
Hey white gals: regarding women of colour, bring money, material support, respect or silence.
Do basic reading and corrective thinking without a metaphorical shepherdess.

Don’t ‘piss your woes out’ over WOC.

 

palate cleanser

Image

 

IP yip yip

Look at me, all brave. Stealing the IP of Kenan Malik. Or is this the property of the New York Times? Gosh, it’s so hard to tell who owns what these days. Anyway, below is a defence of cultural appropriation typed by Kenan Malik. By the time I’m done, my blood pressure will be up twenty points and I’ll look like an idiot in public, but I suspect I’ll look less idiotic than Kenan Malik. For this witless motherfucker has done the classic, classic, classic bait and switch on the topic. He says we’re all richer for cultural mixing. He’s wrong. Having your cultural markers stolen for profit makes somebody richer, and wanting to prevent that is not gatekeeping, it’s survival. He says that all cultural practices are up for grabs because anything else may prevent the privileged from having compassion for the underprivileged, which is a narrow case of special pleading aka bullshit. And he skates by colonialism as if it isn’t the SINGLE BIGGEST ISSUE facing all content creators these days; it’s the issue that palimpsest-wise underlies his argument, and he avoids it the way a cab driver just doesn’t see you when he’s booking off shift.

LONDON — It is just as well that I’m a writer, not an editor. Were I editing a newspaper or magazine, I might soon be out of a job. For this is an essay in defense of cultural appropriation.

yeah, well fuck you. You start out from a position of privilege and you want more.

In Canada last month, three editors lost their jobs after making such a defense.

yeah, well fuck you. They were unprofessional, racist and FUCKING STUPID <<<<<<—– the way elites never get how fragile their blessed state is ——-> and gloriosky, they lost their jobs.

The controversy began when Hal Niedzviecki,

A man with a history of racism and stiffing writers, oh yes. …. gosh, is this a trend? A trans woman of colour told me he stiffed her for solicited writing. It wasn’t much money, but honey, when a first nations content creator thinks she’s selling me something I FUCKING PAY FOR IT. SO … right off the top, a racist asshole with holes in his pockets is represented as being ‘besieged’ ‘beleaguered’ and ‘besmirched’ for having a problematic opinion in public. Will Robinson is getting the danger page from his puckering butthole at this point, at least in the universe I inhabit.

editor of Write, the magazine of the Canadian Writers’ Union, penned an editorial defending the right of white authors to create characters from minority or indigenous backgrounds. Within days, a social media backlash forced him to resign. The Writers’ Union issued an apology for an article that its Equity Task Force claimed “re-entrenches the deeply racist assumptions” held about art.

OKAY LET’S JUST STOP RIGHT HERE. What Mr. Malik, administering his homeopathically weak smackdown of this ‘defence of racist writers for getting shit wrong’ aka ‘horrible censorship event’ fails to mention is ANYTHING LIKE CONTEXT. THE WRITE ISSUE WAS SPECIFICALLY AN ISSUE ABOUT INDIGENOUS WRITING. Okay, let’s go again. THE WRITE ISSUE WAS SPECIFICALLY AN ISSUE ABOUT INDIGENOUS WRITING. He could have put his feelings in his blog. He could have penned it for another publication. That would have been gruesome, but in the era of Doubledown Douchenozzledom, Racist Edition, he used a position of privilege to kick the living snot out of the people who were being represented in the mag. Gosh, folks, you should have seen my twitter feed when this all went down. Indigenous activists and writers were foaming, and justifiably so. Niedzviecki knew up front he was going to get shit, and for the first little while he laughed at the shit he got. Then he went OH SHIT, which is what you do when that college kid “just for a lark” smirk gets wiped off your face by real life.

Another editor, Jonathan Kay, of The Walrus magazine,

A man who, ha ha, is well known as being a Joseph Boyden supporter (another riproaring case of mighty whitey, writing himself into native history with his very well reviewed (by whites) book “Orenda”). He only writes about native issues to talk about how racist natives are, let’s just skip all the decolonializing reasons Mohawk peoples might want to get white people off their land on Canada’s dime. Here’s the link. http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/jonathan-kay-the-one-place-in-canada-where-racism-is-still-tolerated-native-reserves. Now that’s not inflammatory at all. He could be talking about any kind of racism that happens in Canada. He could talk about how the city of Thunder Bay has more racially motivated hate crimes per capita than any other place in Canada; the hate crimes are overwhelmingly committed by white people on FN people. But the most racist place in Canada is a reserve. No hon, the most racist places in Canada are not reserves. They’re prisons. But I’ll stick the ‘and in conclusion, fuck you’ pin in that for the time being. WHY IN THE EVERLOVING FUCK would we want to take this asshole seriously about race issues, SPECIFICALLY about First Nations. The multiple appropriations of land, language, people, culture have no emotional content for him; FN are just getting upset because they’re special snowflakes. No hon, you’re the special snowflake, thinking Canada is 150 years old and that makes the First Nations 150 years old too. This kind of racism I call “Measuring the universe with a tapeline the same size and shape as you.” It’s another example of “I’m not racist but we should talk about how all injuns are alcoholic jailbirds,” but tidier… prettier… publishable by the Capitalist Choir of Discordant Twaddle responsible for the National Post.

was also compelled to step down after tweeting his support for Mr. Niedzviecki. Meanwhile, the broadcaster CBC moved Steve Ladurantaye, managing editor of its flagship news program The National, to a different post, similarly for an “unacceptable tweet” about the controversy.

I don’t suppose you’d care to guess what format this unacceptable tweetstorm took. A whole bunch of well-known, well-connected, mostly white writers and journalists, gathered ’round their beleaguered fellow lickspittle to mock the people who took offence and to pledge money for a “Cultural appropriation” writer’s prize. Steve was up for giving $500 but one thing I know about these folks is that they’re faster to pledge cash than cough it up, so I can well believe the fucker was kidding and I’ll give him my brightest and shiniest hall pass for that.

It’s not just editors who have to tread carefully. Last year, the novelist Lionel Shriver generated a worldwide storm after defending cultural appropriation in an address to the Brisbane Writers Festival.

Mr. Malik fails to provide the context, again. Shriver played the clueless and hectoring old white guy (surprise, she’s an American woman) in front of a group of people who mostly thought she was right on. Strangely, indigenous people and people of colour in the audience were horrified, oh puhleez. Them coloured folks and their identity politics, getting all mad about sombreros and such. They didn’t find her arguments about how white people should have unfettered access to all cultural traditions (so they can get the last word in, steer the narrative, drown out indigenous voices and get the fat stacks) convincing, mostly because saying that you mean well when you’re handing out the cultural equivalent of smallpox blankets just doesn’t go down as smoothly as it did two hundred years ago, who knew. Of course fiction is ‘fake’ Shriver but that doesn’t meant it isn’t real, and representation matters if the people being represented are being lied to and about

even more than when you get it right.

Earlier this year, controversy erupted when New York’s Whitney Museum picked for its Biennial Exhibition Dana Schutz’s painting of the mutilated corpse of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American murdered by two white men in Mississippi in 1955. Many objected to a white painter like Ms. Schutz depicting such a traumatic moment in black history. The British artist Hannah Black organized a petition to have the work destroyed.

I would have been happy with the painting not being publicly displayed, but I’ve read Hannah’s letter and I understand where she’s coming from.

Other works of art have been destroyed. The sculptor Sam Durant’s piece “Scaffold,” honoring 38 Native Americans executed in 1862 in Minneapolis, was recently being assembled in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. But after protests from indigenous activists that Mr. Durant was appropriating their history, the artist dismantled his own work, and made its wood available to be burned in a Dakota Sioux ceremony.

Which is a fine response. Works of art are destroyed by their creators all the time. I’ve torched my own shit, and why not, it was shit and it was mine.

What is cultural appropriation, and why is it so controversial? Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University, defines it as “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission.” This can include the “unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.”

It’s not just the permission. It’s the context. It’s the taking as if the act of taking ‘makes you native’ or ‘makes you black’ or ‘honours the traditions’ when it patently, replicably and reliably does not.

Appropriation suggests theft, and a process analogous to the seizure of land or artifacts. In the case of culture, however, what is called appropriation is not theft but messy interaction. Writers and artists necessarily engage with the experiences of others. Nobody owns a culture, but everyone inhabits one, and in inhabiting a culture, one finds the tools for reaching out to other cultures.

But the messy interaction is one-sided. Members of the dominant culture, with law, language, media and custom on their side, interact with the traditions of indigenous and creolized and ancient cultures from a mixture of fear, hatred, stark envy and jealousy, and call it art. Sure art’s theft; but it should also be thought made visible, and the thinking that’s made visible is DOMINANT CULTURE CAN STEAL ANYTHING IT LIKES AND IF YOU COMPLAIN you’re WHINY LITTLE BASTARDS WHO DON’T UNDERSTAND THE BROAD SWEEP OF 2500 YEARS OF COLONIAL HISTORY. Urk.

Critics of cultural appropriation insist that they are opposed not to cultural engagement, but to racism. They want to protect marginalized cultures and ensure that such cultures speak for themselves, not simply be seen through the eyes of more privileged groups.

The tone here is like Saruman chiding Gandalf in The Two Towers. To be chastised is one thing. To be told that your feelings are going to go in a big stew of rhetoric and come out normalized and standardized… part of the dominant culture, acceptable…. yeesh.

Certainly, cultural engagement does not take place on a level playing field. Racism and inequality shape the ways in which people imagine others. Yet it is difficult to see how creating gated cultures helps promote social justice.

Everything is mine to steal and my theft promotes social justice. Fucking breathtaking, isn’t it? Nobody creates a gated culture to start out with, but it may end up that way if anything you leave lying around gets stolen by white assholes – who tell you they’re doing you a favour by popularizing your cultural ideals, and then laugh in your face when you want to get paid. He wrote more, but since I don’t want to quote any more from this masterwork of spineless sucking up to thieves and monsters, I’ll just take my blood pressure off someplace else now. Okay, last questions. Why do members of the dominant culture have so little going on in their own minds that they must appropriate someone else’s marginalized culture in the first place? What failure of imagination is this, and why does Malik get so exercised in its defence?

today’s non-events

Got into a beatdown with a bunch of one of the most self-righteous pot activists (like there’s another fucking kind) on twitter today.

Come ON I smoke, but I don’t smoke and blow smoke in the faces of the allergic and the elderly, and they’re announcing it’s their RIGHT, because this is VANCOUVER, home of TOLERANCE. Yeah I’ll believe that when Canada gives back the unceded lands, you unregenerate failure of logic. I’m like a homophobe for harshing their mellow. Srsly. Got accused of equivalency to homophobia for objecting to people dousing the entire west end in pot smoke for their stupid fucking 420 festival (which leaves heaps of trash mounded everywhere and they’re all cryface because they didn’t get a fucking permit.) F*ck me!

I realized that when you put asterisks in f*cking swearwords you’re putting a leedle asshole right in the meedle of the word and since when you’re swearing there’s usually an asshole involved, it’s mesmerizingly poifect.

I love Buster, he’s an amazing cat. And he loves me too, I know it. I don’t think Miss Margot cares if I live or die, but Buster does.

My latest piece of fanfic smut has more than five hundred likes (it’s cute and hot, so there)

I’ve written a BDSM scene in the same ‘verse but I’m not happy with it yet. I had to put in about 200 words about how the scene is ‘necessary but non-consensual’ which kinda blows (or not!) since scenes need consent if they’re to resonate with me writing, at all. So it’s like “We’ve talked about this – I hate it when you want me (and need me) to top you but I’m s’posed to read your mind – and topping when you’re angry at your partner is a bad bad bad idea” followed by “Do what ya gotta, man, just hit me really hard.” Oh, and there are minor children in the house while this sh*t’s going down, just to make it even more like real life, and our heroes must deal with the domestic consequences of Daddies fighting. I LOVE A CHALLENGE. After all, continuing to have interesting sex after kids *is* a continuing challenge in real life. People want carefree smut? they can look elsewhere; to me smut always has a cost. Who bears it depends on who’s being responsible, or not.

Not that anybody wants to know, but I’m really not into any of those behaviours in real life. Nagging at volume is sort of where I max out, ask any of my exes.

Continuing to have the poly life discussion with someone. It’s painful. Really painful. I feel like I have my nose up again a particularly interesting window. I can smell bread baking. But no. G*ddamned heteronormative uncommunicative bushwah (on their end, not mine.) But at the same time there’s NO F*CKING POINT to becoming an elder if you don’t understand that real life takes time, opportunities for growth don’t wait, and if you don’t consider who’s going to be impacted by your decisions, your years, your grey hairs and and your learning means squat. I am still 22 in some corner of my persona, for my enthusiasms still have all the joy of my youth; I just can’t write everyone affected by my behaviour out of the script any more. I do from time to time, but not all the time.

Fortunately, since I’m pushing 60 with a broom, I can contemplate my greed like the gorram caged bear that it is. Still here, but not running the show.

Katie is still having a rough time and she and Alex are both sick again.

I am not having a rough time. I feel pretty good, all things considered. I have another two weeks of full time work. If that changes, I’ll deal with it. I actually have a plan to deal with it that I think will make almost everyone happy, at least temporarily.

Rogue One is a fucking fantastic movie. Getting eaten by Disney was the best thing that ever happened to the franchise.

Now to check if my money transfer has come through.

Malcolm Gladwell quote

People are so insecure and neurotic about their ‘material.’ It’s not your material. You got it from a thousand places, the person who uses it is going to take it in a thousand directions. Everyone should just chill out. I thought that Jonah Lehrer was sloppy and made mistakes and all that, but the real question is: Did you read his books and learn something from it? If you did, who cares whether the Dylan quote had that precise wording or had a slightly different wording? I don’t know, I just don’t have the strength and patience for these kinds of intramural arguments that writers have about whether this precise use of words matched this precise use of words. I’d just much rather answer the question of whether something is being learned, or something interesting is happening.

 

word

Colonialism rant

The crowning achievement of colonialism is how it has tapped into the human genome to recycle itself. The finely woven threads, the self-repairing structures of racism and sexism, fear of the other, the urge to destroy that which is experienced as diseased and loathsome, they all belong to colonialism, which I am now going to conflate with the human tendency to devalue other human beings based on feelings of disgust rather than facts. Now science brings us the truth behind the experience of conservatism, that it is based in physical disgust.

This disgust results in things as various as the relentless offering of young men to death in warfare, and old men fighting against young women guarding their fertility as they see fit in consequence. Generation after generation of old powerful men, in whatever culture and of whatever colour, offer young men into the maw of war and conquest, having dragged them from their parents’ arms and essentially from the mother’s womb. Kind people on the sidelines weep with loss as this happens generation after generation.

I have been struggling all my life with this fundamental flaw in human nature, the place where the sociability of human beings, which is quite remarkable, breaks down. Now I see it. It is in the rock-crusher of our capacity to feel deep, emotional, physical disgust that we are broken into pieces and fed into colonialism. It seems circular, and it is. There is a constant value, circulating in the human genome, of persons who feel disgust more readily, inbuilt and coiled in every cell. They will, being of a certain neurotype, congregate, and then they will amass resources and make of their disgust a common, noble reason to make war on anybody on the outside of the group.

Jesus God.

Unsettled arguments

Porn has permanently altered the relationship between men and women in North America.

Jeff is under the impression that research (most of this is non scientific precis) here, here, here, here, here, (showing how public health problems arise from porn familiarization) here, and here, (part of this research is more about how young women are affected by partners’ porn use) and cultural commentary like this is of no consequence.  My observation that men are experiencing sexual dysfunction in eyebrow raising numbers and women are being forced to emulate porn stars just to keep the interest of their partners is dismissed by Jeff as anecdotal.

If it wasn’t for porn, why have stats on word frequency for certain sex acts skyrocketed in the last thirty years?  If it wasn’t for porn, why would Brazilians be so popular?  If it wasn’t for porn why would women and men my kids’ age tell me about how porn and hookup culture have come winnowing through their lives like tornados, leaving busted relationships, shame, sexual dysfunction and very bad vibes in their wakes?  And let’s not forget the contribution of porn to misogyny.  Some poor schmucks watched their way through a lot of contemporary porn, and 90% of the sex acts depicted had the men verbally or physically or sexually abusing the women while the women either stayed blank or appeared to enjoy it.  Young men are often (and yes, anecdotally) surprised when the women they have sex with object to having their faces ejaculated on, or don’t want to have unprotected anal on the first date.  You can say this is poor socialization.  I think it’s porn. Porn changes behaviour.  Monkey see, monkey do.  Monkey do, monkey think.

Let’s get our feet under us, shall we?

I am a pro porn feminist.  I like and consume some forms of porn, and have publicly discussed my porn preferences on this blog, although it was a while back.  There is evidence to suggest that porn availability has dropped the rape stats; that legalization of child pornography decreases child sexual abuse; that pornography can be liberating, enjoyable and a perfectly fun part of whatever the hell it is that passes for a normal sex life in these parlous times.

I do think there is enough evidence to suggest that the inescapability of porn is harming the brains and manners of young people, and that an activity that’s really designed for adult brains is injuring young ones.  I’m not going to try to ban it or bag at the people who make it.  I am going to say that we are, as a culture, participating in a large scale uncontrolled social experiment about the effects of porn, and I predict the long term results for the sexual health of a hefty percentage of Canadians is going to be really, really shitty.

Jeff, given that your contention that porn isn’t a problem for men’s sexual health, would you care to provide the evidence that supports this?

22 ways rapists hurt men

  1. They reduce the number of women interested in sex.  Then they blame women for not being available.  They drag you along for that ride.
  2. They damage women physically and sometimes give them long term health problems which your taxes help pay to ameliorate.
  3. They spread diseases.
  4. They make men who don’t rape look bad by association.
  5. They use men who don’t rape as camouflage.
  6. They can sometimes leave psychological damage resulting in some women have a hard time being open and honest about their sexuality.  Some women vomit, cry or go limp during consensual sex because they’ve been raped.  If they won’t tell you why, it can leave you devastated about your own sexuality.
  7. They are convinced that women deserve to be raped, and con younger men who look up to them into believing the same thing. That younger man could be you, your brother, your son.
  8. They mess with your reality, your life, your future and your trust by raping women you love and continuing to be your ‘friend’. THIS HAPPENS WAY MORE THAN MEN REALIZE.
  9. They are the men who invented the friendzone, and try to convince you that the way out of the friendzone is rape.
  10. They tell women you love that no-one will believe them as they rape them, with the end result that the women you love will lie to you about what’s happened to them, by omission.
  11. They hurt people and spread the blame across all men.
  12. They expect you to stick up for them if they are caught.
  13. They trick you into agreeing if they say she deserved it, so you can be reduced to their level of selfishness.
  14. They gloss over how much of rape is rape PLUS child abuse PLUS mental cruelty PLUS messing over the reproductive futures of the women they rape, and possibly, as a consequence, you.
  15. They honestly believe that what they are doing is merely ‘having sex’, ‘getting laid’; their inability to feel remorse or consequences mars the relationships between and among men.
  16. They prop up the notion that sex is something women have that men want, rather than sex being a continuum of desire / consent / ability / availability.
  17. They misuse science to prop up their belief systems and turn up the volume when they are repeatedly proven wrong, to the point that any evidence that rape is not a ‘natural state of affairs’ gets shouted down.
  18. They turn men who don’t rape into faceless villains.  It’s hard to be the hero in your own life when you’re the bad guy in literally thousands of other lives.
  19. They kill the ability to be sexually spontaneous in some women, one of whom may end up being your partner.
  20. They rape your sisters, daughters, mothers and friends.
  21. They kill discourse by threatening rape to women who say things that irritate or refute them.
  22. They make it possible for human trafficking for sexual slavery to occur by making rape part of the breaking in process, hurting every close family member of the victim.