[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Tuesday, 2017-09-12

The problem with ‘privilege’

Filed under: Civil Rights,Philosophy,Politics,Society — bblackmoor @ 14:39

You're not being oppressed when another group gains rights that you've always had.

White privilege“.

Male privilege“.

Straight privilege“.

It bugs me so much that the word “privilege” is used in this context. “Privilege” is something that not everyone has, and that not everyone should have. But everyone should be able to travel without fear of being stopped for no reason. Everyone should be able to live day to day without fearing for their lives if a police officer notices them. Everyone should have their accomplishments respected and accepted without questioning if they had actually earned them. Everyone should be able to go through their lives without experiencing a constant barrage of insults or “jokes” aimed at their ancestry, or gender, or sexual proclivities, or skin color.

Using “privilege” to describe these benefits says that they should be taken away, which is the exact opposite of what ought to happen. These are not privileges — they are what everyone ought to have.

The argument for this terminology is that it points out that a person belonging to group X (males, straight people, “white” people, whatever) has some benefit that those in other groups do not have, a fact of which some (perhaps most) in group X are unaware. (Although how any straight, white, American male could possibly be oblivious to their status relative to other groups is a mystery to me.)

But given the standard response when the phrase “_____ privilege” is used, this terminology fails to convey that. The response is typically, “I am ____ , and I don’t have any special privilege!” And that response is correct — they don’t have any special privileges. What they do have is the ordinary way life should be for everyone, but isn’t.

So what would be better? “Respect”? “Dignity”? “Liberty”?

Personally, I think discourse on this topic would be improved if the focus were less on what group X has, and more on the gap between what group X has and what other groups have. There is a phrase already in common parlance: “income inequality”. I think we need a focus on “dignity inequality”, or “liberty inequality” — the emphasis being not to take it away from people who have it, but to make sure that everyone has it.

To be clear (because someone will read this far and yet still somehow fail to understand this), I am not saying that the disparity does not exist. I think you’d have to be willfully ignorant or just plain despicable to claim that (and many ignorant and/or despicable people do — Google “myth of white privilege” if you want your love of humanity severely tested). I am saying that if we, people of good will, are to come together and eliminate that disparity in treatment, describing it as a “privilege” makes that work more difficult.

Sunday, 2017-08-06

Young and beautiful

Filed under: About Me,Philosophy — bblackmoor @ 21:22

No one is young and beautiful forever. As Carrie Fisher said, “Youth and beauty are not accomplishments. They’re the temporary happy byproducts of time and/or DNA.”

On the bright side, age has made me a much better person than I was 30 years ago. I wouldn’t trade that for being young and pretty again… but I would think about it.

Monday, 2017-06-05

Gene Roddenberry, optimist

Filed under: Philosophy,Television — bblackmoor @ 12:36

“The human race is a remarkable creature, one with great potential, and I hope that ‘Star Trek’ has helped to show us what we can be if we believe in ourselves and our abilities.”
Gene Roddenberry

Friday, 2017-05-19

Euphemisms

Filed under: Philosophy,Society — bblackmoor @ 12:40

I am reminded, once again, that the original Star Trek remains an example to which we can aspire. I hope that some day we will care more about people’s intentions than we do about their vocabulary.

Tuesday, 2017-05-16

Moving forward

Filed under: About Me,Philosophy,Society,Travel — bblackmoor @ 09:03

I realized yesterday that I don’t want to move to somewhere I have already lived. I think of that as moving backward. It occurs to me that this is not how most people think.

Also, I would really like to move somewhere not populated by ignorant bigots and ruled by a death cult.

Monday, 2017-05-15

The problem of “free speech”

Filed under: Civil Rights,Philosophy — bblackmoor @ 09:13

For most of my life, I have been a steadfast supporter of “free speech” — the principle that anyone should be allowed to say anything, as long as they do not cause physical harm to another person. By “allowed”, I mean legally allowed, which is not the same thing as being socially acceptable. I have opposed laws against “hate speech”, for example, even though I think that in everyday conversation, such remarks should be condemned by others who hear them.

The problem is that we have somehow become a society that does not recognize the vast gulf between “socially acceptable” behaviour and “legally permitted behaviour“. Americans have accepted the premise that anything legally permissible is also acceptable.

I’m not sure how this happened. I suspect that it is a result of our attempts to legislate against things which have been considered socially unacceptable (the American war against drug users being the most obvious example). If socially unacceptable behaviour is against the law, but ruthlessly harassing someone for being female isn’t against the law, it must be okay, yes?

Whenever challenged on their obnoxious behaviour, the worst examples of human garbage proclaim they are simply exercising their right to “free speech”. The cry of “free speech” has accompanied the rise of “talk radio” in the 1980s (which is little more than Nazi propaganda masquerading as news), the spread of white male supremacist asshat movements like “gamerhate” and “sad/rabid puppies“, culminating with the election of a vulgar narcissist as President of the United States.

How have Americans come to value vulgarity above civility and factuality? I think it is because we have placed too much emphasis on our “right to free speech”, regardless of context, content, or factual basis. It has become a sort of idol, which we worship by saying — and defending the right to say — the most egregiously offensive things possible. That is bad enough. What concerns me more is that we have entire media empires spreading fiction as though it’s news, and huge portions of the population are rejecting facts and embracing the most ludicrous of falsehoods.

Frankly, I think it’s too late to fix it. The avalanche of lies has started, and it’s too late to stop it. We elevated “free speech” to a religion, and we are paying the price.

But I have a suggestion for the survivors of the next revolution, when they begin writing the next set of sacrosanct documents by which they will chart their destinies:

Limit “freedom of speech”. Prohibit the promotion of discredited scientific theories and outright falsehoods, and give serious thought to prohibiting language that encourages the victimization of any category of people. Somehow, make it clear that there is no need to “tolerate intolerance”. Tolerance is not a moral absolute: it is a peace treaty.

Maybe if the next civilization extols civility, factual accuracy, and scientific inquiry, rather than “free speech” and “freedom of religion”, they can avoid our mistakes.

Monday, 2017-05-01

Still really trying to promote what I love etc.

Filed under: Comics,Movies,Philosophy,Television — bblackmoor @ 12:08

It’s really hard to “promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate” when what you used to love (Star Wars, Star Trek, Mystery Science Theater 3000, mainstream superhero comics, etc.) has been turned into crap by people squeezing every last dime they can out of it.

sigh… But I’m trying. I really am.

Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate

Saturday, 2017-04-29

Five acceptable responses

Filed under: Philosophy,Society,Writing — bblackmoor @ 15:44

This is a public service message.

When someone† posts, “Here is something I like!”, there are five acceptable responses. I will list them here.

1) “Tell me more about this thing you like!”
2) “Did you know this fun‡ fact about the thing you like?”
3) “I like that, too!”
4) “The thing you like reminds me of this other thing, which I like!”
5) (silence)

Now you know.

† “Someone” means “Someone who is not a full-blown Nazi, sexist scumbag, or overt racist.”
‡ “Fun” means actually fun — not mean, snide, derogatory, or judgemental.

Monday, 2017-04-24

Tipping is bullshit

Filed under: Fine Living,Food,Philosophy,Politics — bblackmoor @ 21:05

Tipping is bullshit. American “tipping” has created a whole class of beggars. People who work on my car work just as hard as the people who bring me food, but they’re not dependent on the kindness of strangers to pay their damned bills. And how much my mechanics get paid doesn’t depend on the cost of the part I have them install, or whether they’re young and cute.

I tip well, because I can (this was not always so), but I would much prefer that businesses actually pay their employees to do the job they were hired to do, so that the price I am quoted when I place my order is the price I actually pay.

“Tipping” should be abolished. It’s unfair to the people who pay, and it’s insulting and unfair to the people who receive.

But with the current political trends in this country, I suspect that most Americans will be depending on “tips” to survive before too long.

Thursday, 2017-03-30

In the event of my death

Filed under: About Me,Philosophy — bblackmoor @ 16:32

My death is inevitable, and there is a reasonable chance that someone I know will outlive me and have some interest in my passing. As such, these are my wishes for the treatment of my remains and memory upon my death and for a short time thereafter.

First and most importantly, I won’t be there, so it really doesn’t matter what I want. Take my corpse to Nags Head and parade me around like Terry Kiser, and I won’t know any different. But if you care what I wanted, here you go.

  1. No viewing. Don’t bother putting my dead body on display. I wasn’t all that great to look at when I was alive, and I seriously doubt I got better looking afterward. Personally, I think putting dead bodies on display is grotesque.
  2. No prayers, no platitudes, no religious balderdash. I’m not in a better place. My death wasn’t part of some divine plan. That’s all bullshit. As far as the universe is concerned, my death matters as much as a light bulb burning out. I was alive. Now I’m not.
  3. No obituaries. Don’t waste money announcing my death in the newspaper or anywhere else. Anyone who cares if I’m dead already knows.
  4. Keep things cheap. My remains don’t need a fancy headstone, casket, funeral service, or anything else. Dispose of them in the cheapest, simplest way possible. Use my bones, skin, corneas, and various organs if you can, and toss the rest in a landfill, for all I care. Cremation and resomation (alkaline hydrolysis) are probably the most cost-effective means of disposal. And for pete’s sake, don’t keep the leftovers. Throw them away.
  5. Throw a party, preferably somewhere you don’t have to clean up afterward. Have an open bar, and invite the handful of people who actually care that I’m dead. I doubt it would be more than a dozen people, plus my family.
  6. No eulogy. I’m gone, and it’s too late to assign any meaning to my life. If you feel an uncontrollable desire to hear yourselves talk, here’s an activity for you: each person raises a toast to my memory, says one good thing about me, and one bad thing about me, and then everyone drinks. Both the good thing and the bad thing have to be sincere, and they have to be something no one else has said yet. If the person whose turn it is can’t think of one good thing and one bad thing, then they just say, “To Brandon!”, and everyone drinks.
  7. Try to find a place for my various pet projects before my web sites expire. I hereby declare everything I wrote during my life to be given to the public domain after my death, not that I think anyone actually cares about a word of it.
  8. If Susan’s dead, find a loving home for our cat. Use as much money as needed.
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