WTF Comedy, Twitter Mobs, and the End to the Everlasting Podium

Tur, Maron, and Norton share one in common. They all have a well established media platforms to broadcast from. The democracy of Twitter is a threat to that podium. The only valid commentary seems to be one that has a lens that’s pointed out away from themselves.

Their outrage at the “outrage machine” would be comical if they weren’t trying to stifle criticism and debate. It shows an arrogance and lack of respect for their audience. After all, we’re “just idiots sitting at home.”

If you listened lately to people who have well established media outlets to speak from, pitchforks and torches are out of style. They would have you believe that the @ and # of Twitter are the new implements of mob justice.

Concerning the Twitter outrage over newly designated Daily Show Host, Trevor Noah, comedian Jim Norton said:

“[Noah] also neglected to take into account that Western culture as a whole has become an increasingly reactionary mob of self-centered narcissists who all have their own personal lines drawn in the sand. A comedian is fine unless he crosses their particular line, which, of course, in the mind of a self-centered narcissist, is the only line that matters.”

and

“I read the tweets he was ‘under fire’ for, and some were funny, some weren’t. The thread that connected them all for me is the embarrassment I feel for anyone claiming to be offended by them. They weren’t vicious or written to be harmful. And everyone reading them knows that. But knowing his tweets weren’t intended to be harmful isn’t important when people who list ‘victim’ as their occupation smell blood in the water. Because their outrage is a lie and their motives are transparent. They are simply using his tweets to get their dopamine drip.”

Comedians make a living off of outrage, mockery, and controversy. Oddly, It’s considered an outrage for comedians to be held to to account for their jokes or their words.

In an interview on WTF podcast Marc Maron said:

“That context of really following through with an earnest critique, or well founded intellectual critique, and following through with a reasonable discussion around the possibilities of the implications of what you’re saying is just fucking gone. So if you’re going to, you know, present it to the animals on Twitter, if you’re going to say “here’s some meat”, and expect anything different than a frenzy. And it’s a shame because the sort of time it takes to process and have a reasonable conversation about aesthetics or socio-political meaning, it’s very limited. It’s insulated. It’s not going to happen on Twitter, really. Twitter is all frenetic. And in those moments you don’t realize these are just idiots sitting at home. This is not some sort of structured debate on anything. And you’re dealing with a media platform that feeds on controversy.”

It’s not the comedians who say fat shaming, sexist, homophobic or transphobic jokes that are the problem. The problem, in their mind, is the common, stupid “animals” of Twitter who criticize. Never mind that it’s “just a joke” has been the justification bullies have used for centuries.

Additionally there’s an underlying suggestion that there are no boundaries to comedy. That just isn’t true. In the 1970’s it was acceptable to make ethnic or racial jokes:

Today it’s unheard of for someone to make jokes about someone outside of their own race or ethnic heritage. Ask Michael Richards what doing that in today’s comedic landscape will do to your standup career. Comedic boundaries change over time. The world isn’t humourless because of a lack of Polack jokes.

Zoe Tur, who’s recently taken the brunt of her own Twitter controversy, pointed Jamie Fox (via Twitter) to Damon Linker’s post, “The shameful shaming of Twitter’s digital mobs” at The Week:

Twitter is an ideal medium for mobs because it is so democratic. Countless thousands mulling about an agora of infinite expanse, each person given the same 140 characters with which to pronounce, denounce, show off, and shine in a glaring public spotlight. To begin with there are only one’s own followers. But there’s always the chance that a well-timed, sufficiently clever and cutting tweet will get retweeted by a follower with more and better-known followers, launching the comment into a wider circle of readers who might retweet it again, and again, and again.

According to Andy Warhol, everyone will get to enjoy 15 minutes of fame. On Twitter, everyone gets 15 seconds to ride a viral wave. It’s that promise of attention and approval that provokes so many to pounce the moment they see an easy target for humor, mockery, and abuse. It’s standard-issue one-upsmanship raised to the millionth power. If you run in left-wing circles, you’ll jump on something that offends the left. The same holds for the right, and for dozens of other political-ideological-cultural factions. It’s the world’s largest high school cafeteria, with every member of every clique vying to become the most popular kid in the group.

after Foxx made transphobic jokes at the expense of Bruce Jenner. Of course when Tur was criticised for her critical social commentary, Tur said of those who dared question her as:

“condemning any diversity of thought” and characterized their criticism as a “form of violence toward women.”

Tur, Maron, and Norton share one in common. They all have a well established media platforms to broadcast from. The democracy of Twitter is a threat to that podium. The only valid commentary seems to be one that has a lens that’s pointed out away from themselves.

Their outrage at the “outrage machine” would be comical if they weren’t trying to stifle criticism and debate. It shows an arrogance and lack of respect for their audience. After all, we’re “just idiots sitting at home.”

As ugly as Twitter can be at times, it’s still one of the best places for debate and critical analysis. Twitter’s 140 character limitation is only limiting discussion if your reading comprehension only goes one tweet deep.

If it’s true that Twitter can’t take a joke, social commentators like Tur, Maron, and Norton can’t take criticism pointed at them. Regardless of the cries from those of who swim in oceans of privilege and media access, Twitter and other social media commenters will continue to hold social commentators accountable for their commentary. We aren’t going to be silent and we aren’t going away.

Public Trials, Free Speech, and the Right to Name Your Rapist

A trial is a legal proceeding that judges a person’s guilt or innocence. A public accusation on Twitter isn’t a legal proceeding, it’s a public statement. Being that it’s not a legal statement, unless it’s illegal speech (libelous speech), the accusation can be ( ethically and legally) made. If it is illegal speech (libel is a civil, not criminal law), the accused does have legal recourse. But the burden of proof for a civil case is MUCH LOWER than a criminal case.

If it isn’t illegal speech, the victim has a right to publicly accuse their accuser.

As a bystander, I don’t have to have an opinion concerning the the validity of the claim to support it being made. I can also support the accused in following through on a libel claim.

Recently I was involved in a discussion with Twitter user @schnookiekins concerning people who publicly name people they say raped them. He supports Michael Nugent’s statement that:

“allegations of rape should be reported to the police, not to bloggers.”

as if it’s an either/or situation. I don’t know of a requirement that compels victims of rape, by the state, to report their perpetrators to the police. Many people have written about why victims don’t report rape, so I’ll leave that there (*smirk* though I do wonder why men don’t report domestic violence? *smirk*).

Shookienis writes:

(The %2 @schnookiekins is speaking of is the 2% to 8% rate of rape claims being false claims)

This is a very well worn argument that I’ve used in the past myself. It’s something I uttered when Sophia Banks took to Twitter to accuse Laurelai Bailey of rape. At the time I thought it was wrong for someone to accuse another person online, but my thoughts have evolved.

In reality, there’s no such thing as a “trial in the media” or a “trial on Twitter”. That line of reasoning is wrapped up in a logical fallacy (Black/White fallacy).

A trial is a legal proceeding that judges a person’s guilt or innocence. A public accusation on Twitter isn’t a legal proceeding, it’s a public statement. Being that it’s not a legal statement (but can be used later in legal proceedings), unless it’s illegal speech (libelous speech), the accusation can be (both ethically and legally) made. If it is illegal speech (defamation cases are civil, not criminal law), the accused does have legal recourse. But the burden of proof for a civil case is MUCH LOWER than a criminal case.

If it isn’t illegal speech, the victim has a free speech right to publicly accuse their accuser in any public forum they which they deem appropriate.

As a bystander, I don’t have to have an opinion concerning the the validity of the claim to support it being made. I can also support the accused in following through on a libel claim.

Am I missing something?

Am I wrong here?

Trans Women Who Want To Destroy Gender

If there is no gender, how can one identify themselves as trans anything?

I have to admit, self identified trans women who want to have a “world without gender” really do confuse me. Below is one such transwoman:PicsArt_1421276786852

If there is no gender, how can one identify themselves as trans anything? And if you do and you see sex as an unmovable binary, it would seem to me that you’d have to say that you’re a male trans woman. If you say that, aren’t you implying that gender and sex are different and that “woman” is your gender identity? Even if you claim there’s a difference because you spell it differently (“transwoman@, not “trans woman”), how is that not appropriation?

When people say they want to “destroy gender”, the same question that Cristan asked keeps popping into my head:

abolish-gender-terfs

What does abolishing gender look like? Does it look like this?

Again, how does that work? Realistically, how does one sit in a chair made of plastic, speaking into a microphone made from metal and plastic, serve up images on a plastic and metal computer, and look out of glasses made of plastic, while demonising it? How does one say abolish gender, while calling themselves a transwoman? What am I missing?

I Get Trans Regret

This morning I read an excellent post over at Crossdreamer’s Tumblr blog about transition regret (also a great post by Brynn Tannehill) . I’ll say up front that I don’t regret transition, but I do understand it. From the post:

“Some of the male to female regretters have clearly been caught up in some very restrictive ideas of what it means to be a woman.”

and:

“I should add that this does not mean that all regretters detransition because they believe in sexist stereotypes.

Given the complexity of sex and gender, the fact that all transsexuals have been raised as the gender they were assigned at birth, the social pressure to conform and the bigotry of others, I am surprised that there are not more stories of regret. But the fact remains that no more than 1 to 4 percent regret transitioning.”

I’ve always tried to live authentically, as opposed to trying to emulate one side of the gender binary. I don’t have cis-privilege. Cisgender means not transgender, and cis-privilege or “passing privilege”

“speaks to how perceived gender/sex alignment means not having to think or address topics that those without cisgender privilege have to deal with, often on a daily basis.”

I’ve always identified as a trans woman. I don’t think of myself as non-binary necessarily, unless your idea of what a woman is very stereotypical, much like the regetters in the post. But my authenticity has come at a cost. I was never passed over for a job before transition, but now I’m on about my 30th at work. The quality of my work hasn’t changed, I’ve never received a bad review, and I have excellent references. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to hazard a guess as to why I suddenly am not worthy of a job I have good references for and  a solid work history.

I know plenty of truly wonderful trans women that are in the same position as I. They struggle at work. They struggle to find companionship. They just fucking struggle. Truth be told, as much as people talk about cherishing diversity, the people that succeed and are held up as successful live within the binary.

I don’t regret transition, but I understand why some do. Cis people can make transgender people’s lives pretty awful. Kelsie at the Huffington Post nails it:

“There is a de-facto hierarchy under the umbrella, whereby those who identify with a binary gender have become the primary focus of our outreach and advocacy and therefore fare better than those who not. I am not going to dissect the past 20 years or so of activism or discuss the reasons why. It does not matter why this has happened, the numbers gathered by NCTE shows that this just simply cannot continue to be left unchecked. While the data on trans binary individuals shows unacceptable incidence of harassment, assault, attempted suicide, joblessness, homelessness and murder, the data for non-binary transgender respondents in the NCTE study shows HIGHER rates when compared to those with a binary trans identity. Often staggeringly so.”

Because I didn’t win the biology wheel of cis-fortune, I’m living a hard life. It’s an authentic life that I cherish.  I’ve come to know and value myself in a way few people do, but I’m always aware of the cost of being me.

Suicide, Leelah Alcorn, and Living Openly Trans*

I’ve kept quiet much for the last few months because I’ve been mourning a loss, the equal I can only compare losing my father at age 11. I’m not going to share the particulars of this loss because it doesn’t really matter in the context of this post, and secondly because it’s extremely personal. But emotionally I’ve been hampered a bit in just getting by day to day. I’m just trying to work out a plan for my future and try to do all the things people do when they’re mourning a huge loss. Trying to move on when you don’t really want to.

The holidays haven’t made it any easier. My circle of friends in Madison, Wisconsin is small. This is the first Christmas without my partner. I’ve just been putting my head down, going to work, and trying to make it through.

And then I read the suicide note of a trans teen, Leelah Acorn. Her parents tried Jesusing the the trans out of her to the point she killed herself. Some cis-gender (not trans*) people (especially those people that can’t bring themselves to call trans women, women but feel the need to call them “penised individuals“) have suggested that it’s irresponsible to post Leelah’s suicide note.

This is thorny territory for me personally. When I read it, it did trigger me. I’ve been pretty much staying away from social media the last few days because of her suicide. In her suicide note she said:

“I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.

That part of her note pierced through me like a knife. I understand her pain, because I feel like I am the embodiment of the comments of her future. I’m a visibly trans woman that struggles every day. As I said to a friend after this story broke:

“I’m not clinically depressed or having suicidal ideation. I’m currently mourning a loss and been having dysphoria related issues lately. Basically I’m the person she said she didn’t want to live to be. That was a huge punch to the gut.”

and

“I’m not saying it for hugs or attention (but thanks for the love), but that it’s just hard. Especially what she said about it not getting better. If you don’t have cis-privilege, life is fucking hard being openly trans.”

But I don’t think it’s irresponsible to publish her note. I think it’s wise and compassionate to warn people with “trigger warnings”. But for someone that routinely fights for the right to exclude trans women from “female only” spaces without one shred of evidence that trans women are a threat (regardless of their genital status), I find Ditum’s words to be both disingenuous and oppressive.

Irresponsible? That would be the Philadelphia Gay News publishing a story about an underage child’s genitals. Irresponsible would be the Statesman asking a TERF who openly mocks trans women to write a piece on a trans child’s suicide.

The answer to transphobia that leads to suicide isn’t more transphobia. The answer to transphobia isn’t silence. Not talking about it isn’t going to make it go away. Trans reparative therapy isn’t going to suddenly go away on its own. It needs to be talked about and people need to know how awful and destructive it is.

She says:

“Trans lives matter. We know that transgender people are at particular risk of suicidal thoughts. So why are people endorsing and sharing material that, if it has any effect at all, is likely to be the catalyst for a trans youth to attempt suicide?”

Ditum’s pity feels a lot like the pity trans people get from Focus on the Family. She knows that trans people are at particularly at risk for suicidal thoughts, but never seems to ask why. I’m suffering every day as a visibly trans person, and it’s not because I’m mentally ill or because I’m diagnosed with any sort of depression. It’s because being visibly trans in this world IS A HARD LIFE. It’s because there are people that other us, disrespect us, and objectify us on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis.

The answer isn’t silence, it’s education. The answer isn’t fear mongering, mis-gendering, or “gender nerd snark“, it’s treating trans people with respect and human dignity. It boils down to just letting trans people live their lives authentically without being attacked for who they are. Ditum and folks like her aren’t part of the answer, they’re part of the problem.

Is Wall Street Disconnected from Main Street?

“It all makes me wonder if the stock market hasn’t fundamentally changed in the past 15 years. It seems like it’s no longer a safe place for an average Jo to put their money.”

image

I’ve recently (since June) started putting back money for my retirement both in a 403b and a bit of money in some individual stocks. Seeing my portfolio see-saw back and forth, and at best maybe breaking even,  I have to wonder who makes money in this market? I’m not moving what I have, but it all makes me wonder if the stock market hasn’t fundamentally changed in the past 15 years. It seems like it’s no longer a safe place for an average Jo to put their money.

Media Barr Roseanne From Criticizing Cosby, But Trans Women HELL YES!

Apparently the media think it’s news that Roseanne Barr has made some rather lewd comments about Bill Cosby, who:

“Several women in recent weeks have come forward to claim the comedian drugged and raped them or touched them inappropriately in past decades.”

But when Roseanne said some really horrible stuff about trans people? The media was and is silent.

What did I learn today? The same thing I learn most days. Trans people’s lives aren’t worth much at all.

A Green, Green Thumb: Help the Newbie!

So I thought I’d spruce up (and help the air quality) of my apartment by buying a houseplant. So I traveled down to my local store and bought this:

IMG_20141127_091557

There have been a few problems with this plant (right now I’m not sure what type of plant it is):

the previous occupant of my apartment put hooks in the ceiling next to my windows (6 windows, a hook in front of each one):

IMG_20141127_085033

but the hooks are currently over my futon:

IMG_20141127_085033-001

and my computer desk:

IMG_20141127_085104

This poses a problem. Watering is a bear. With the current plant I have, when it’s watered it will drain on the futon if I were to water it where it is at (because of the design of the pot)

IMG_20141127_095223

I’d like to keep this plant, and get more. But to water this plant I have to take it into the bathroom and water it in the bathtub and let it drain then hang it back up.  So my question to you more experienced green thumbed people:

  1. I’m thinking of buying a new hanging planter for this plant, but I don’t want to have to go through this process of watering. I’d just like to be able to water it in my living room without worrying about spillage onto the furniture or floor.
  2. Can I re-pot this into another planter without killing it? How do I do that?
  3. I’d like to buy more hanging plants for my apartment so that all six hooks can be used. Any tips on which plants to get? My windows have a southeastern exposure.. I’m currently painting and getting new curtains, so plants that can survive with irregular direct exposure are best.

Thanks for any help!

Why I’m Angry at Conservative, Corporate Media

In a Twitter discussion with LBC radio presenter, Julia Hartley-Brewer asked me:

I AM angry. I’m angry because corporate conservative media outlets are engaging in a propaganda war against the poor. She and her station posted this:

and

I posted a response, saying that I thought this was just an attack on the poor. She responded by saying:

Since her housing benefit is .0003% of the benefit budget, the problem isn’t one of impact. In America we call this dog-whistle politics.

“Dog-whistle politics is political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup.”

“You should be outraged that lazy people are getting over on hard working people!” That’s the dog-whistle that British conservative media are sounding. If you actually read the story, the woman has lived in the area for 5 years and the reason rent is so high is because the housing market changed around her, not some special deal she has received. This does anger me, because this kind of political propaganda has an agenda, and that agenda is to incite class division. It’s done to mask real issues that matter, instead blaming the poor, immigrants, and the disabled. The most vulnerable people are blamed for the ills of Britian, but as I said in my previous post:

You can logically argue what banking practices caused the financial crisis in 2008 that still haunts the global economy, but you can’t say it wasn’t the fault of bankers.

The underlying push by conservative corporate media is that the economic collapse that happened in 2008 was due to immigrants, or the strain of the housing or employment benefit budget. I asked Hartley-Brewer what the percentage of the benefit budget housing is and she said:

But data from The Guardian will help put that amount into perspective: Public-spending-on-Benefi-001 Around 20 billion? According to the Guardian data, it’s more like £16 billion, but why quibble (if I was going to quibble, she still doesn’t give a percentage)? By my crude math, that’s about 12% of the total benefit budget. Pensions are about 44% (£74 billion) and paying interest on the debt is around £48 billion. If Julia is right, and the housing benefit is “huge”, then you’d have call pensioner’s pull on the economy as “gigantic” or “massive”. With that being true, why doesn’t Hartley-Brewer/LBC dedicate more time to pensions and debt reduction? I’m guessing they push immigration reform and benefit cuts for the same reason that UKIP pushes a false narrative about immigration. It might not be true, but it sure pushes buttons of angry, frustrated people. That in turn, brings listeners/voters. Talking about pensions and the strain they put on the budget would especially alienate (mostly older) conservative listeners/voters. Why do I care? Because the people who are the most vulnerable are used as scapegoats, while the rich and blameless continue to receive corporate “benefits”/”welfare”.

Oligarchy lives.

That is why, Julia, I’m so pissed off.

update: (10/30 1800 GMT)

Because oligarchy media scapegoating has consequences:

Fullscreen capture 10302014 121026 PM

Above is what British people think, verses what the reality actually is. Who is at fault? I’m looking at you, corporate, conservative media….

update November 09th, 2014:

Cost of benefit as a percentage of GDP:

 

costofbennies

Scroungers, Benefit Cuts, and the Tory Media

This morning I was listening to LBC radio and the radio presenter, John Stapleton (who was sitting in for James O’Brien), took a call from someone that said the Tories don’t care about benefit cuts and people in poverty:

Stapleton called the caller “harsh,” then parroted the government line. I had a brief conversation with him on Twitter, of which there was little response. I’ve noticed that when callers hit pay dirt on talk radio, the presenters don’t like to talk about it.

You can logically argue what banking practices caused the financial crisis in 2008 that still haunts the global economy, but you can’t say it wasn’t the fault of bankers.

When I read Howard Zinn’s “The People’s History of the United States of America”, I often wondered how people could be duped into supporting policies that actually suppressed them. I now understand how that can happen, because I’m seeing it happen globally today. In the United Kindgdom some will blame the floundering British economy on immigrants, some will blame the fiscal malaise on the NHS budget, but still others will blame the UK benefits system. The media willingly promotes this myth by producing shows like Benefits Street, that seek to build a narrative. But that narrative is simply fiction when applied to the majority of people claiming benefit. If you look at the benefits pie as a whole, a solid majority of it goes to pensioners. Do you see UKIP/Tories going after pensions/pensioners? If they really were concerned about the economy, they’d focus on the majority of the burden. But that wouldn’t win them any elections. Pinning immigrants against the poor, has always been a tool of the wealthy ruling class to keep the lower classes busy. This war is no different.

It’s hard to form policy around the actual data that shows the rich will get richer, and the poor will get poorer, because that won’t fire many people up. It’s all rather glum. It’s a much easier task to blame those who can least defend themselves. The poor, disabled, and the disenfranchised don’t have friends in places of power to advocate on their behalf, but the rich do.

Apparently they also have their mouthpieces in the media, as well.

Update:
Another example of this use of poor to forward an agenda:
image