Can I trust anyone anymore?

What do we say to the God of Real Life?

“Yeah, let’s have a moment today.”

I haven’t been posting on social justice much outside of occasionally working it into my Game of Thrones analysis. There are reasons for that, mostly having to do with the fact that I am a tall stack of anxieties and neuroses held together by carbs, alcohol and Twitter interactions. Making a long story short, I have to face up to the fact that I am too sensitive to be the activist I once thought I could be.

Which is not to say I’m giving up on being a good intersectional feminist writer. I still care about social justice in the real world. I also need to take care of myself, however, because if I rely on anyone else to take care of me, my needs will go unmet and my mental health will suffer accordingly, and I’m a much better contributor to society when I’m healthy. I’m gradually figuring out how to take care of myself while doing activism for the real world. I’m not there yet.

One of the hazards of Real Life is that people whom I thought were good eggs keep turning out to be awful. This is a hazard of social life from any angle, but when the social circle is built around progressive activism, it’s especially upsetting when a supposedly decent guy turns out to be a predator.

I would like you to take the time to read Heina’s post on the reality of Dan Linford, who was among my Facebook friends up until he deactivated his account.

He has behaved inappropriately in a deliberate way that lent itself to plausible deniability (a classic manipulation tactic), up to and including his confessions of sexual assault, along with the stock-standard patriarchal use of women and people perceived as women for emotional labor.

He uses autism and mental illness to excuse his behavior, but that’s not a reasonable excuse or explanation especially when many of the people caught up in this latest round are autistic and/or mentally ill themselves. Indeed, in my own case, I feel my autism made me more vulnerable to his tactics. Furthermore, his pattern of predatory behavior speaks to a level of manipulation and sophistication rather than to random social blunders or awkwardness. The dots connect into a clear picture. As of this writing, a conservative estimate places about two dozen people as having put forth personal accounts of his predatory behavior, many with eerie similarities.

That’s the beginning. Please follow the link and read the rest.

I am not among the people who were affected by Dan’s predatory behavior; I suppose I never got close enough for him to pull his fuckery on me. It probably helps that other Real Life upheavals have largely driven me away from Facebook in favor of Twitter. Anyway, Dan never did anything inappropriate to me, but he hurt others, and he got away with it for much too long.

What is possibly the most offensive aspect to his story is the part about him using autism and mental illness as distraction tactics. I’ve seen this before in the atheist/skeptical community and I’m sure I’ll see it again and again. Dan may (or may not) have mental illness, but that does not give him the right to disregard boundaries. Dan may (or may not) be autistic, and I’ve seen the “but what if he’s autistic?” derailment used to scold women away from pointing out men’s predatory behavior enough times to suspect Dan saw it as a matter of his own self-interest to be seen as autistic in this context.

Short version: I don’t know whether Dan is actually autistic, but he should NOT be able to use that as an excuse.

On that note, please read this Facebook post by Radical Neurodivergence, in which she details how “but what if he’s autistic?” is used to prevent women, especially including autistic women, from defending themselves against male violence.

STOP saying “well he’s autistic; he doesn’t know better” to excuse autistic or possibly autistic men for creepy, predatory behavior.

He does know better or he needs a behavioral aide and SOMEONE is failure. Autism and creep are not the same thing. There’s loads of effortlessly non predatory autistic men.

Also, a WHOLE LOT of these men who you are defending with this ableist crap? They are targeting autistic & otherwise neurodivergent women.

You know what happens to us?

We’re told we have to be nice and gentle because he’s autistic and doesn’t understand and don’t be mean to the poor autistic man.

We’re told that we have to send the ‘right’ signals.

Nobody ever looks at a woman who’s complaining about a man who didn’t respect her boundaries, and comes to her aid with, “Well, what if SHE’S autistic?” There’s no allowance made for women to struggle with reading nonverbal cues, or for women to have sub-par social skills, or generally to have been less than perfect in interacting with other people.

I have chronic anxiety and intermittent depression, and I’m expected to regulate myself well enough to avoid lashing out at other people, even when I’m sick. My mental illness isn’t an excuse to hurt people.

I have some neurological quirks that may be familiar to many autists, and I was rather delayed in learning social skills, but I’m still held responsible when my behavior makes other people uncomfortable.

You’re either responsible for your actions or you’re not. If not, why should anyone trust you?

Game of Snark: I’m still an asshole.

Saw this on Twitter just now:

The replies are fucking FULL of people protesting that Stannis isn’t really dead.

Okay, folks, here’s the thing: if Brienne managed to redirect her sword at the last split second and NOT kill Stannis, his survival is honest-to-fucking-Pete the best-kept secret in Game of Thrones filming history. HBO has done a better job of hiding his survival than they’ve done of hiding pretty much everything else related to next year’s season. Filming is all over, and Stephen Dillane has not been seen anywhere near the production. I don’t think they even had him show up long enough to play a corpse. Probably because you can’t get a live actor to play a headless body.

But ultimately, if you’re still thinking, at this stage, that Stannis lives, then I don’t know what’ll convince you otherwise. I’m not even optimistic that you’ll accept the Rightful King is really fucking dead if we get a clear shot of Brienne digging a grave in the wolfswood and burying his decapitated body. Even if they actually show us the body in S6, will that be enough?

So now I’m wondering: what sort of S6 are the Stannis Lives contingent picturing? Starting from the premise of Stannis being alive, what do your predictions look like? What sort of ideas do you fill into the gaps between the events we’ve gathered from filming leaks? How tangled and torturous do your explanations get when the filming leaks don’t leave room for Stannis to be alive and present and making decisions? How much of the available info do you have to explain away?


Game of Frustration: I’m not a nice person.

It’s the very last day of filming Game of Thrones S6, I’m having a tedious December, and it’s not going to get any better until post-Christmas at the earliest, so I could use some amusement. Imagine my anticipation when Winter offered us a little teensy Brienne-related SPOILER. Or maybe just a bit of speculation fodder. Anything along those lines would’ve been nice.

Instead, we get a lesson in fuzzy logic. To wit:

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Well, there’s your problem, SXSW.

You may have heard about a panel on online harassment getting cancelled by SXSW because the conference was getting harassed about the panel. Not exactly a surprising turn of events. The anti-feminist brigade is constantly demonstrating to us why we need feminism.

The note went on to explain that “[f]or this reason, we have also cancelled other sessions at the 2016 event that focused on the Gamergate controversy.”

By “other sessions” SXSW actually meant only one other session, a putative discussion of “the Gaming Community” featuring a panel of Gamergaters.

The panel on harassment, while featuring Gamergate critics/targets Randi Lee Harper and Katherine Cross, was not intended to be an anti-Gamergate panel as such, but a wider discussion of harassment online.

If we’re just talking about the fact that they cancelled the panel, I understand that much. You get threats of violence against your conference, you might want to eliminate the locus of those threats, even if it means the terrorists win in the short term. Terrorism can be effective that way. That’s why terrorists keep on terrorizing.

Here’s where they go off the rails, though. It’s the statement they released to explain the cancellations:

[P]reserving the sanctity of the big tent at SXSW Interactive necessitates that we keep the dialogue civil and respectful. If people can not agree, disagree and embrace new ways of thinking in a safe and secure place that is free of online and offline harassment, then this marketplace of ideas is inevitably compromised.

Oh, it’s that “big tent” again. I’m all in favor of big tents, when implemented appropriately. But here’s the thing: there is no tent big enough to accommodate both harassers and their targets. The prevalence of online harassment has already established that some people are not interested in civil and respectful dialogue. There’s no “marketplace of ideas” with sufficient space for, say, feminist women writers, and those who think feminist women writers are scum who should be bullied off the Internet. There’s no middle ground between, “We belong here and we deserve a space to share our ideas,” and, “no, you’re garbage and we will keep on hounding you until you disappear.”

If your “big tent” is an enabler of harassment, then you need to take a side.

Follow-Up on Snark

Regarding last post: take a look at this article by Dan Selcke at Winter is Coming, supposedly making a case for TV!LSH being not-impossible, as an example. This is the sum total of what I see used as evidence for Lady Stoneheart appearing on the show: “Riverlands exist! Therefore Stoneheart!”

Meanwhile, I’ve made a minor hobby of analyzing the ways the show has handled some storylines differently from the books. Some characters have been cut. Sometimes the differences don’t entirely make sense, but that’s what they filmed. There are plenty of ways the Game of Thrones writers could handle a return to the Riverlands, and a follow-up on the Freys, without inflicting Undead Catelyn Stark on us. All the context around her presence in the books has already been changed to make her unnecessary. The evidence for her TV appearance needs to be better than, “Look! Riverlands!”

Gun Violence, Correlations, and State Lines

One of the talking points from the pro-gun side is that the states with the strictest gun control laws have the highest rates of gun violence, the implication being that so many people are getting shot because too many law-abiding citizens are unarmed.

First off, I haven’t seen these statistics that show a correlation of strict laws and higher prevalence of violence, so I haven’t run the numbers to see whether this correlation exists. I can totally believe it, though, and I can see how it happens. The problem we’re seeing is, approximately, in three steps:

1. Some states have higher gun violence than others, because gun violence does not happen in isolation from other types of crime, and some states have different social problems than others. For example, the higher the population density, the more opportunities there are for people to shoot each other. Anyway, some states have higher body counts than others due to sociological factors.

2. Therefore, those states with the higher rates of gun violence pass stricter gun control laws as an attempt to get their body counts under control. Unfortunately, these gun control laws do nothing to address the drug wars, gang rivalries, wealth inequality, and other dysfunctions that tend to surround gun-related violence. Situations continue to arise in which people decide to spray bullets.

3. Meanwhile, those states with the strict gun control laws share borders with states with little or no gun control at all. And it’s not like we have border patrols on our state lines, nor should we. The practical upshot is that literally any asshole can buy a gun or several in, for example, Virginia, load them into the trunk of a car, and drive them into Maryland without incident. Sure, there may be penalties if you get caught carrying a weapon without a license, but that’s only if you get caught. Getting the firearm, in itself, is not difficult. Bullets: same thing. Once the ammo is procured, it can be transported anywhere on land.

This is why, for gun control laws to be effective, they need to be nationwide. Transporting anything smaller than large livestock across state lines is no trouble at all.

Therefore, the causation behind the correlation is that higher rates of gun violence lead to stricter gun control laws. It is NOT that the presence of more bullets leads to less shooting.

Cargo Cult Social Justice: You’re Fooling No One

I’d like to talk about the rhetorical tactics on display by these forced-birth women claiming to be feminists:

According to Murphy, “the central tenement of feminism is equality for human beings regardless of sex, gender, orientation, race, religion,” and that concept should extend to unborn children. “To devalue the preborn life simply because of their location or of their dependency is an act of discrimination,” she said. “In what good society does improving one side of human rights involve harming and causing violence to other human beings?”

The word you want is “tenet,” not “tenement,” for fuck’s sake.

This type of argumentation is what I call “cargo cult social justice.” It’s where regressive social movements—and opposition to legal abortion is absolutely regressive—appropriate the language of progressive movements and think it works the same way. Ms. Murphy’s use of social-justice-derived language to support the cause of forcing women to have babies is especially transparent, but she’s far from alone in this.

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