• “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
    ― Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    To Kill a Mockingbird is the first movie in my childhood viewing experience in which a happy outcome failed to punctuate my viewing enjoyment. Instead, collective bigotry overpowered justice, and Tom Robinson, a black man in an anti-black time and place, was found guilty of a rape that his lawyer, Atticus Finch, provided compelling evidence he did not commit.

    As I grew up, I came to believe that this cautionary tale, while profound in its rendering, was unnecessary in our bigotry-fading times. Mob justice was something of which our fore-parents were guilty, not us moderners. Indeed, as I further learned about long-ago alleged witches subjected to drowning tests to see if they were witches, I recall feeling relieved that I had chosen a more just time in history to be born.

    What I did not realize was that, even though our culture had come through an impressive collection of enlightenment, we still carried the same genetic disposition towards mob justice. It is in our nature to judge others by the instructions of our emotions, assumptions, and most powerful of all, our group consensus. Most of us want to believe ourselves to be morally righteous, and so when our friends, neighbours, and activists all have their fingers pointed in the same accusatory direction, it is not easy to resist the pull of their conviction. In turn, I suspect that the many mob jurists who once convicted real life Tom Robinsons in that anti-black time and place did so not because they were amoral, but because their peer pressure and prejudiced emotions had manipulated them into believing they were protecting their society (women, in particular) from evil.

    Today, I believe the #MeToo style of justice being called for by advocates and pandered to by pundits and politicians utilizes the same emotional trickery, whereby those countering it with calls for due process are accused of being complicit in “rape culture.”

    It is not an easy charge to allay. After all, due process necessarily means that some violent criminals will not be found guilty. Until, that is, humans acquire omniscience, our justice system will forever be unable to prove every case of evil it encounters.

    Nevertheless, I thought our society was settled on the notion that it is better for ten guilty people to go free than for one innocent person to be sent to prison. And, consequently, to be considered criminally guilty of a crime, a person must be found so beyond a reasonable doubt. I believe in such a system of justice not because I don’t care about victims, but because I think our society has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that it cannot be trusted with a lower standard.

    For those with faith in our modern brains, I refer you to the curious cases of Jian Ghomeshi and Brett Kavanaugh, both alleged sexual predators, and both presumed guilty by mob jurists. In Ghomeshi’s encounter, not only was there no corroborative evidence that the former CBC pontificator was guilty of the crimes of which he was accused, the communication between Ghomeshi and his accusers post “incidents” strongly indicated that he was innocent.

    Undaunted by reason, though, a feminist mob chanted outside the Toronto courtroom (and on the streets of my own far away city) that the accusers should be believed, because, after all, they were members of a gender too pure to ever lie. And, yes, I know, mobs will be mobs: surely the society at large was not so deluded by the sexist rantings of evidence-resistant protestors. Maybe so, but many influential journalists, pundits, and celebrities (including literary legend, Margaret Atwood, and Ghomeshi’s own former bandmates) publicly helped themselves to a presumption of Ghomeshian guilt. And, even though Ghomeshi was found by the court to be not guilty, two years on, the fired radio host continues to be in public exile for crimes he is assumed without evidence to have committed.

    Meanwhile, during the recent Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings for his spot on the US Supreme Court, the Senate called Professor Christine Blasey Ford to testify that the judge had sexually assaulted her 36 years ago. Now, even if we were to adopt the feminist standard of justice where one automatically believes the sincerity of female accusers, the case would still be a daunting one to prove. While Kavanaugh and Ford evidently spent some teenaged time in nearby circles, there is no corroborative testimony from either’s friends that they knew each other. So, it is perfectly possible that the 15-year-old Ford met someone who looked like the Kavanaugh she may have seen in passing and mistook him for the genuine Kavanaugh.

    Even so, if the police were able to find credible evidence to verify Dr. Ford’s accusation, then the justice system should be free to pursue a conviction.

    However, what happened here—senators asking their questions of Kavanaugh and Ford, mixing in partisan, faith-based pronouncements of justice—was trial by political peer pressure.

    It is a token victory for due process that the Republican partisanship overruled the Democratic partisanship and approved the accused judge. But neither side, not even Kavanaugh, himself, pointed out that it was unjust for them to be guessing at the veracity of a criminal accusation.

    As many have already said, Kavanaugh seemed rather unjudgely in his avoidance-testimony of  Democratic senators’ questions about his teenaged drinking habits, and whether he was ever drunk to the point that he might have unknowingly done what Ford had claimed. His response was to ask a questioning senator if she had ever gotten black-out drunk. While this obfuscation was unfitting of a judge, the spirit of Kavanaugh’s evasive manoeuvre is understandable. It is already difficult to prove any negative—that one didn’t do something—but it is especially daunting to prove that approximately 36 years ago at an unnamed place and time, one did not do something. There was no good answer for Kavanaugh. Given that he admits he drank a fair amount in those years, he likely does have a compromised memory of the parties he attended, but if he admits that, then he’s acknowledging it’s theoretically possible that he committed the assault. That, of course, is not actual evidence that he was a sexual assaulter, but faith-based jurists don’t care. In their emotion-led minds, failure to disprove a negative is proof of guilt.

    By contrast, in courts of law where due process is in effect, there is no requirement of the accused to prove their innocence; instead, the state is obligated to prove guilt.

    So, instead of obfuscating these questions, I wish Judge Kavanaugh had answered his senate interrogators with a soliloquy on due process. That asking him to prove that it was impossible for him to have committed the crime of which he was accused was like asking a witch to prove she was not a witch. That even though alleged victims of violent crime deserved access to justice, faith in accusation without due process and corroborative evidence was a dangerous precedent that he would not stand for. That he would not answer their questions regarding accusations of a crime that should be brought before a court of law or not at all. And that if this refusal disqualified him from their confirmation, then so be it, but he would not sacrifice his or anyone else’s due process for personal gain.

    As it was, by answering the senators’ unjust questions, Justice Kavanaugh legitimized them. And so the mob jurists outside, and in the media, continued without resistance to pronounce their verdict that the system had “failed women.”

    I am envious of these advocates for faith-based justice; unlike childhood me, #BelieveWomen activists can witness To Kill a Mockingbird with a smile as Tom Robinson’s conviction grants them a happy preview of the sort of justice they are seeking.

  • Tennis mega star, Serena Williams, has titillated us with her temper on the tennis courts more than a few times in her long tenure. Nevertheless, watching Ms. Williams reclaim her position at the top of tennis after taking a year’s sabbatical to have a baby, I have considered temporarily waiving my personal embargo on the obnoxious athlete in favour of appreciating her superhuman accomplishment.

    Then this past Saturday, Ms. Williams’ took her toddler’s disposition to work with her in the championship match of the US Open versus Naomi Osaka. When, that is, Williams was displeased with a legitimate pair of code violation penalties she received from the chair umpire of the match, she unleashed at him a series of tirades.

    And yet, with magic rhetoric, Williams has subsequently convinced many that her childish behaviour was in fact the righteously passionate speech of an unjustly treated hero who is fighting for the rights of others.

    The key to Williams’ magic here is to take the incident as far away from context as she can, and to reframe her aggressive actions with minimizing, faintly true descriptors while simultaneously reinventing the umpire’s punitive response with maximizing language. And, sadly, many in her audience, including reporters and pundits, are unable or unwilling to recognize Williams’ simple tricks of language.

    So let me put the incident back into the context Serena Williams is hoping we’ll forget:

    (1) The Coaching Controversy

    Early on in the match, the American struggled with her Japanese counterpart, but Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, had a strategic idea that might help, and so he made a fancy hand gesture towards the star.

    In tennis, strangely, such expert in-game assistance from one’s team is against the rules, and so chair umpire Carlos Ramos charged Williams a code violation warning for her coach’s attempted influence. After the match, Mouratoglou admitted he was coaching, but he argued that such infractions occur frequently without penalty, “…so,” he said, “we have to stop this hypocrite thing.” ESPN analyst, and tennis legend, Chrissie Evert concurred, “Every coach does it, so you need to re-address that rule.”

    I accept Evert’s expertise, but this wasn’t a subtle piece of coaching that an umpire could pretend not to notice; it was a blatant signaling from coach to player. So, if Ramos saw it as clearly as the ESPN cameras did, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect him to ignore it on the grounds that the opposing coach was probably also breaking the rules.

    Williams, meanwhile, also couldn’t support the chair umpire’s decision, and she politely explained to Ramos that, “[Mouratoglou and I] don’t have any code, and I know you don’t know that. And I understand why you may have thought that was coaching, but I’m telling you it’s not. I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose.”

    Ramos’s reply is not legible to me on the tape, but he seemed to acknowledge her concern, and she replied, “Okay, thank you, because I’m like, ‘I don’t cheat’… Yeah, so thank you so much.’”

    So all seemed fine in love and tennis.

    (2) The Racquet Demolition

    A while later, Williams lost a point, which she would have preferred to have won, and so she released her irritation by smashing and destroying her racquet against the court. Once again, Umpire Ramos had his eyes open and spotted the unsporting gesture, and so, per tennis rules, he supplied Williams with her second code violation strike, which meant that she was to be automatically docked a point in the next game of the match.

    This did not please our hero. Williams apparently had thought she’d clarified with Ramos that she did not deserve that first code violation, and so had continued in the match under the false apprehension that she still had a free code violation warning available to her for any desired racquet-smashing.

    (3) The Tirades

    Less politely this time, Ms. Williams returned to Mr. Ramos and explained, “I didn’t get coaching. I didn’t get coaching. I didn’t get coaching. You need to make an announcement that I didn’t get coaching. I don’t cheat. I didn’t get coaching. How can you say that?… You owe me an apology. You owe me an apology. [Now shouting.] I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter, and I stand for what’s right for her, and I have never cheated. You owe me an apology.”

    Now, I can understand Ms. Williams’ frustration that she would be punished for her coach’s behaviour (especially if she was being honest that she wasn’t aware of it). But, unfortunately for Serena, one’s coach is part of one’s team, and so, just as she gains from his expertise, she is also subject to his mistakes. (In fact, my ESPN pundits tell me that the “coaching” penalty is not a measure of whether the athlete received it, but whether the coach sent it.) Regardless of how offended Serena claimed to be, it is not reasonable to expect a referee to overrule what he witnessed just because an athlete insists that they wouldn’t be a party to it.

    Nevertheless, given both the significance of the moment and Williams’ conceivably understandable frustration at being blamed for the actions of her coach, I could forgive her a brief rant towards the umpire. Instead, though, the superstar binged on her anger, and unleashed a series of hostile sermons against Ramos, while Ramos replied only with politeness and calm.

    “For you to attack my character,” Williams continued, “is something that’s wrong. You’re attacking my character. Yes you are. You owe me an apology. You will never ever ever be on another court of mine as long as you live. You are the liar.”

    Now—whether or not Serena Williams actually has the influence to control umpiring assignments—from my umpire’s chair, her threat against the official’s livelihood ought to have earned her a code violation for abuse of official.

    But Umpire Ramos—with the most patient of expressions—nodded and turned away from his accuser when she seemed done. But Ms. Williams still wasn’t satisfied and called his attention back for more: “When are you going to give me my apology?… You owe me an apology. Say it. Say you’re sorry. [Ramos declined the invitation.] Well, then, don’t talk to me.”

    Ramos complied, and turned away once more, but Serena had a little left in the tantrum tank:

    “You stole a point from me. You’re a thief, too.”

    That was finally sufficient for Umpire Ramos, and he provided Williams the long-earned “Abuse of Official,” code violation, which—being the Williams’ team’s third code violation of the day—meant that she was now to automatically receive a one game penalty in the match.

    (4) The Magic Rhetoric

    Soon after, tournament referee Brian Earley arrived to try to calm the waters, but that is when the bully of our story turned into a magician and pulled a rabbit out of her tennis bag.

    “I know the rules,” she explained to Earley, “but I said a simple thing like ‘thief,’ because he stole a point from me. [Now crying.] There are men out here that do a lot worse, but because I’m a woman, because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me? That is not right. And you know it. And I know you can’t admit it, but I know you know it’s not right.”

    I was baffled by the audacity of the trick. Did Williams really believe that after all the abuse she had launched at Ramos that anyone would see her as the heroic victim here? Apparently so. During her post-match press conference, Serena-dini tried the trick again.

    “I’ve seen… men call other umpires several things, and I’m here fighting for women’s rights, and for women’s equality… and for me to say, ‘thief,’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark. He’s never [taken] a game from a man, because they said ‘thief.’”

    It was a beautiful rhetorical trick by Williams. Technically, yes, her accusation that Ramos was a “thief” was the final denunciation that had cost her a game, and out of context, that single word doesn’t seem so bad. But neither does “received coaching” sound so terrible without context, and yet Williams had used it as a catalyst for repeated demands for an apology. So let us play in context, shall we, Ms. Williams?

    When we place the “thief” accusation back in the context of a prolonged collection of demands, accusations, and even a threat towards the umpire’s career, and remember that Ramos did not penalize Williams a game for the culminating insult, but instead simply charged her a third code violation, which in conjunction with the two others that she had already legitimately received, added up to the large penalty.

    But the mesmerized reporters present weren’t going to interrupt their favourite magician in the middle of a trick, so Williams continued with exasperated confidence. “For me, it blows my mind, but I’m going to continue to fight for women… The fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions and that wants to express themselves and they want to be a strong woman, and they’re going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person.”

    At the point in the press conference, some of the reporters on duty were inspired to applaud the teary-eyed Serena and her heroic characterization of her behaviour.

    The reporters’ apparent inability to spot Williams’ sleight of blame is baffling. They had watched a person unfairly berate another person, and somehow they had now decided to cheer on the aggressor because she was “expressing herself” as a “strong woman” as though all female exposition, no matter how hostile and unreasonable, is a virtue.

    The reporters’ empathy gap was showing. If this controversy had been the result of the world’s greatest male tennis player telling a female umpire she would never work one of his matches again, and that she was a “liar” and a “thief,” and not to talk to him until she apologized, I doubt the journalists would have been so appreciative.

    (5) The Alleged Double Standard

    This argument that female assertion is dismissed—more often than men’s—as excess emotion is a common complaint (and not only from biased feminists), and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some truth to it in our general society. (Although, as ever, with every double standard against women there is usually a mirrored double standard against men; I suspect, for instance, that female tears call upon our society’s compassion more quickly than male tears.) But, if indeed there are double standards in our general society against female assertion, that differential is not necessarily applicable to all subcultures. Tennis is well-stocked with fiery female athletes, and so umpires with instinctual expectations to the contrary may well have updated their gender anticipations. In fact, I have witnessed many female tennis stars assertively argue their cases on court without retribution from the chair umpires.

    Nevertheless, if there is evidence that female tennis players on average are sanctioned more harshly than their male colleagues for unsporting behaviour on the court, then that should certainly be corrected, and not just for the sake of fairness to the ladies, but also for the gentleman. (If it’s true that the unruliest tennis women get away with less aggression than the unruliest of tennis men, then simultaneously the most courteous male players are having to put up with more of the intimidating distraction than the most courteous female players.)

    If indeed there is evidence of a double standard, my etiquette-cheering amendment would not be to allow the women’s side more abuse of officials, but to level the playing surface by reducing the amount of abuse tolerated on the men’s side. Ms. Williams, though, argues to rectify the alleged problem in the opposite manner, by increasing the abuse women are authorized to direct toward umpires.

    Adding more baffling commentary to the flames, retired tennis great, Billie Jean King, argued on Twitter, “When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical,’ and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same thing, he’s ‘outspoken’ & there are no repercussions. Thank you @SerenaWilliams for calling out this double standard.”

    Again, if Ms. King has evidence of this double standard in tennis umpiring, I support her call for correction. However, this is not the case from which to launch the inquiry. The supposedly sexist crime that Chair Umpire Ramos committed here was to charge Williams with a single code violation for abuse of official, which would have amounted to simply a warning if she hadn’t already smashed her racquet, and her coach hadn’t already been caught breaking the rules.

    Even if some male tennis players have sometimes been forgiven abuse of officials that most female tennis players wouldn’t have, we also know that some male tennis players have been sanctioned for less than Williams’ prolific offering here. According to Wikipedia, the now demonized-as-sexist Umpire Carlos Ramos has called several controversial code violations against superstar male players, including Andy Murray who was penalized after calling out Ramos for “stupid umpiring.” So, to accuse Ramos of sexism for drawing a line after several doses of hostility from Williams is a hefty strain on credulity.

    What we have here is a superstar bully, who has called upon “women’s rights” to magically justify her bad behaviours. She is self-aggrandizing a temper tantrum, and we should tell her, “No.”

  • SETHICS 19.08.2018 4 Comments

    I’m jealous of the progressive journalists, pundits, and their hybrid offspring who roam the airwaves of my intellectual nemesis, CBC Radio. The public broadcaster has constructed a safe zone for progressive ideas to run free without fear of contradiction. In this protected environment, the broadcaster’s journalists and pundits cheer on any progressive notions which claim to be combatting racism, sexism, and other notorious isms.

    I’m jealous because I too am opposed to bigotry and so I would love to enjoy the good feelings that come with allying oneself with all programs that promise to overpower prejudice; but, sadly for me, I suspect that many progressive policies (such as, say, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s gender quotas in his government) are ethically dangerous, themselves.

    I do not mean to suggest that my skeptical conclusions are always right, nor that modern progressive thinking is always wrong, but instead that, by affixing their anti-bigotry labels so confidently to their tunics, progressive advocates and pundits have relieved themselves of the obligation to critically consider the consequences of their favourite ideas. Sometimes they may be right, and sometimes they may be well reasoned, but there is no requirement of those features in order for them to dogmatically present their views on CBC Radio, where their faith-based resolve will never be tested.

    Last month, for instance, the Montreal Jazz Festival cancelled its musical production of Slav in belated response to protests regarding the race of the presenters not matching the race of the black slaves they were depicting (five of seven singer/performers were white).

    In celebration of this artistic reduction, CBC Radio’s curator of cultural conversation, Q’s Tom Power, interviewed musician, Pierre Kwenders, one of the vanquishers of the unusual production. As ever, our Mr. Power refused to signal anything but progressive virtue as he gently asked his guest for a report of his feelings about his censorious achievement.

    While my instincts sympathize with the protestors’ criticism of the production’s strange casting, I am unable to cheer on the halting of art (even when people say they are offended by it). Thus, in deference to the skeptical inquiry that I (jealously) wish were present on CBC Radio, I offer my best impression of an artistic freedom fighter here in another edition of SethFM.

     

  • SETHICS 02.07.2018 8 Comments

    Once again, I call upon Oscar Wilde to set the scene.

    “The artist,” says he, “is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.”

    I wonder what Wilde would have thought of our society’s current preference for the opposite. As our 2018 moral consensus runs, if a person is accused of a crime or witnessed saying something deemed offensive by the Twitter intelligentsia, then we accuse the offender’s art of guilt by association, and erase their work from further consideration.

    I do not mean to suggest that such a moral argument is ridiculous; I can understand the impulse to exile the work of bad people to avoid the perception that we approve of their bad behaviours.

    Nevertheless, I contend that the separation of art from the bad deeds of its engineers is essential to an enlightened society. Just as we would not tear down great works of architecture due to the personal failings of architects, we must let art stand for itself.

    Perhaps I am wrong about this, but what scares me is how easily our society has given into the dogmatic puritans who insist that good people do not enjoy the artistic output of bad people.

    Thus, I offer the following sprinkle of resistance to the storm via my affiliate Seth at SethFM.

     

  • Welcome to The Anti-Misandry Blog within SethBlogs! Confused? Click here for The Anti-Misandry Blog Introduction. Intrigued/enraged? Click on the “Anti-Misandry” link in the CATEGORY section to the right of this post for further episodes.

    THE ANTI-MISANDRY BLOG: EPISODE XVI

    My argument in the DOUBLE STANDARD OF DOUBLE STANDARDS is that mainstream feminist academics, advocates, and journalists are adept at pointing out possible double standards against women, but they are not as keen to discuss equally as compelling and numerous cases where men might be encountering a double standard.

    In this essay, I shall illustrate that phenomenon by pointing out what I perceive to be a chief feminist strategy that allows this double standard of double standards to go unscrutinized. The feminist policy is simple: when you’re searching through our many layers of human social interaction, stop any time you find data that could indicate a glass ceiling (or glass wall), and then claim that this single level of inquiry tells the whole story.

    Consider the woman’s legal advocacy group, West Coast Leaf, which argued in 2017 to the BC Supreme Court that the use of solitary confinement was unconstitutional because it “disproportionately affected female inmates.”

    CBC Radio’s feminist-hugging show, On the Coast, was eager to hear about that, and so host Gloria Macarenko asked WCL’s Director of Litigation, Raji Mangat to tell us more.

    “Obviously,” Mangat said, “prolonged solitary confinement has a negative, deleterious impact on anyone. The focus of our group is on the gendered impacts of solitary confinement, and that’s because disproportionally to male inmates—who make up the vast number of the population of people in prison—…women are at an increased risk of being put in solitary confinement for their numbers.”

    Now, some might think that, given the greater total population of men in solitary that maybe it is men who are more significantly harmed by the policy than women.  But, if you’re a feminist advocate who comes across a layer of data that makes it seem like men have it worse, you must keep digging. Thus, WCL ignored the surface level of information which would have pointed their concern at men, and dug until they landed on their per capita finding, at which point they immediately stopped the search. They had the glass they were looking for.

    “Part of that [the overrepresentation of per capita women in solitary confinement],” Mangat continued,  “comes from the fact that many women who find themselves in prison in Canada are folks that have had some traumatic experience, some history of physical, emotional, psychological, violence in their past, and that’s only exacerbated and made worse by placement in solitary confinement.”

    The gendered implication here is that, whereas men in solitary confinement are cold-blooded villains with no excuse for their evil deeds but their own psychopathy, the women are victims of those same men, and so eventually resort to crime as a coping mechanism.

    I doubt that the distinction between villain-without-a-cause and victim-turned-villain is as gendered as Mangat implies, but let’s assume that women-inmates are much more likely than men-inmates to have been abused into their life of crime. It is still likely the case—given how many more male inmates we have—that a higher number of men than women in solitary confinement are former victims of the sort for which WCL is expressing concern.

    In fact, sociologists tell us that the highest per capita population of Canadian inmates in solitary confinement are First Nations men. As a “progressive” organization, I wonder if West Coast Leaf is comfortable with their implication that those indigenous men are all born anti-social psychopaths with no trauma that nudged them towards criminality. But, worry not, Mangat didn’t have to answer that inconvenient question, because her interrogator didn’t ask it.

    Indeed, without any resistance from her gentle interviewer, our glass-seeking advocate was able to triple down on her gendered outrage by attempting to prove that those women in solitary confinement are suffering psychologically more than their isolated male counterparts.

    “Women,” Mangat said, “also have higher incidents of self-harm and suicide ideation in prisons. Again these are factors that result in an exacerbation of pre-existing conditions to be put into solitary confinement knowing that there is this makeup of the female offender population.”

    I don’t distrust Manga’s data here; after all, women outside of prison are also more likely to self-harm and report suicidal ideation. But our noble pundit neglected to point out to our admiring interviewer that, in spite of women’s higher rate of reported suicidal ideation, is it men who complete 80% of suicides. Indeed, if our advocate weren’t so blinded by her search for glass, she might have noticed the obvious conclusion that it is the men (with their higher suicide rate multiplied by their higher solitary population) who are most likely to die while in solitary confinement. But that was not the data we were looking for.

    Meanwhile, during a BBC debate on how women are treated in the workplace, a sociologist was asked for verification of the feminist claim that “manterrupting” (i.e. men interrupting women disproportionately) is a problem.

    “Well,” our feminist expert said  (approximately, as I haven’t yet been able to find the debate on youtube), “in terms of raw data, women interrupt men more than the reverse, BUT what we found was that men interrupt women more often when women are saying something important.”

    So, while technically the assumption of men-us interruptus wasn’t true, that spirit of it—that men are talking over women too much—was, by our researcher’s estimation, valid.

    Now, I don’t know how this researcher defined what counted as important conversation points that should especially not be interrupted, but let us assume that she had made a cogent distinction. The results of her findings, if she were an objective examiner of them, ought to have been one of ambivalence, wherein she pointed out that both generalized genders might have a beef with their counterparts depending on where you focussed your lens. But once again our researcher skimmed over the level of analysis that seemed to vindicate men, and didn’t stop digging until she found the glass for which she was searching.

    Clearly, feminists prefer to identify general results—and not details—when those meta-facts match their accusations. So, since there are more total men than women in STEM, politics, and board rooms, feminists know that those places are all currently societies of unmitigated anti-female sexism. No further study required. However, any time the numbers go the other way, and women are more populous on the happy side of a distinction (university participation, the medical profession, longevity), we must dig for nuance until we find something—anything—that could show that women are the victims in those arenas. As Hilary Clinton infamously put it, “Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat.”

    Moreover, if men are more likely than women to do something positive for society, the feminist glass diggers will begin calling for intervention even if there is no evidence that those men are excluding women along the way. For instance, our friends at CBC Radio have reported to me a few times on the “problematic” fact that Wikipedia writers (who are volunteer contributors) are more often men than women; this, according to CBC Radio, is a troubling result that requires intervention to support women to feel more included in the work.

    In contrast, if it were women who were leading this voluntary project—and even if they had openly discriminated against men in the process—they would have been lauded as heroes for their inspiring work. In fact, CBC Radio recently celebrated a story of exclusively women scientists going to the North Pole to figure how to save the environment. This baffling feminist double standard would be amusing if it weren’t so successful.

    Indeed, given that most Western media (save for the occasional right-wing outfit, such as the National Post and Fox News) treats feminist advocates as impartial bystanders on our society’s goings on, we have little defence against their one-thinking-fits-all.

    When women-first feminist pundits are interviewed, for instance, on CBC Radio (a daily occurrence), I do not recall any of them ever receiving a single skeptical question about the premises or conclusions of their arguments. Instead, it is assumed by both “expert” and interrogator that we are living in a society that desperately needs gendered recalibration, and that the negative imbalance is always in the direction of women.

    In contrast, in the last few years I can only remember hearing two critics of feminism on CBC Radio, (A) Camille Paglia, a second-wave feminist who criticizes third-wave feminism for what she claims is man-hating and female infantilization, and (B) Cassie Jaye, who—as a feminist—created what she intended to be a documentary hit piece on her natural enemy, the men’s rights movement, only to discover along the way that their arguments were niggling away at her sense of fairness to the point that she renounced her feminist label, and is now a friend to men’s rights advocates. Now, I’m proud of CBC Radio for talking to these two critics of feminism, but notice that—far from receiving the unlimited agreement that women-first feminists are treated to—these two pundits each encountered a bounty of critical questions from their interlocutors.

    And that’s good. Skepticism, as I’ve argued many times, is the best nutrition for our arguments. However, the lack of similar skepticism for women-are-always-victims feminists is dangerous.

    This not to say that such feminists are incapable of presenting us with concepts fit for consideration. If, for instance, there is evidence of a significant sexual harassment problem in Hollywood, that’s worth investigating. But, by virtue of its no-critical-inquiry-allowed principles (such as #BelieveWomen), the #MeToo movement has become an anti-due-process, faith-based, guilt-by-association, misandrist, nuance-resistant mob (or a collection of “MeCarthyism” as pundit-comedian Bill Maher described it).

    As ever, in order to stop women-first feminists and their narrowly-focused ideology from overtaking us, our media, academia, and governments must be willing to openly question them. And one way to do that is to occasionally ask feminists about the other items they find in the area while they are searching for glass.

  • Dear NHL:

    As your leagues’ game theory is currently constructed, the teams that collect the fewest points in the first two thirds of your regular seasons—and so are unlikely to qualify for your playoffs—are better off faring even more poorly in the final third of their regular seasons. After all, if they fall to the bottom few spots in your league, they will be rewarded with the highest chance of attaining a future star in your weighted draft lottery.

    I appreciate your reason for rewarding your worst teams with high draft lottery odds: you want to give them a chance of rejuvenating themselves relatively soon so that their fans don’t look elsewhere.

    However, this noble sporting welfare system has an obvious and troubling consequence. Some below- par teams may purposely stub their own toes so that they can get access to your best services.

    Indeed, you may recall that the similarly constructed NBA recently fined Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban for admitting to telling his players to “tank” the rest of their season. Well, yes, that was wrong of him as it was very unsportsmanlike, but it was also right of him from a strategic point of view.

    I doubt any NHL owners actually tell their players to take a dive; however, their general managers are able to take the dive on their behalf. As you know, every year at your trade deadline, two thirds through the season, your lesser teams will trade away good players near the ends of their contracts for future prospects. I understand that sometimes a future asset is worth more than a current one, but it seems that some teams are a little too eager to part with players who are playing well for them only to get back questionable value.

    So, dear NHL, I have an idea. Please stop incentivizing losing. Instead, give those teams something to play for so they have good reason to try to win as much as they can.

    Here are two ideas:

    (1) Increase the number of wildcard teams who are given entry into your playoffs by adding in a short wildcard playoff round. This would mean that there would be more teams on the bubble or near the bubble of making those playoffs. These teams would thus have less reason to throw away their seasons.

    (2) For the teams that don’t make the playoffs, instead of rewarding the worst-faring teams with the best chance of winning the draft lottery, invert that, and give the best-faring non-playoff teams the highest chance of landing the next star. Consequently, the rest of the season will have value to the subpar teams and their fans as we’ll be fighting for our future even if we’re out of the playoffs.

    I see your objection to the second suggestion. If we don’t help out the very worst teams with draft lottery rewards, you worry that they’ll never get out of the league cellar. I understand your point. However:

    (A) There’s not that much difference between the worst teams and the next-to-worst teams, so you’ll still be helping out bad teams first no matter what happens in the draft lottery. And, since it’s a weighted lottery, you could still give the very worst teams a reasonable possibility of winning the lottery, just not quite as good a chance as they’d get if they’d fared a little better in their games.

    (B) With this new system, by reducing the incentive for the bad teams to give away “rental” players to the good teams, those playoff-bound teams could still try to acquire players at the trade deadline; however, they would have to offer a lot more to entice the losing teams to give up their end-of-contract players. This new incentive plan would benefit those lowest teams who would only give away good players if the future considerations offered were of high quality.

    And, with the notion of purposely tanking now obsolete, your game theory will be repaired.

    Sincerely,

    Your fan and (unpaid) advisor, Seth McDonough

  • There’s a very sweet-seeming Olympic ad campaign from P&G visiting our TV screens presently, which I must admit causes my gullible hairs to stand on end as various kid-athletes struggle against alleged bias in their lives. I feel like a truly devilish advocate to question such a compassion-claiming sentiment, but my ever-tedious brain niggles away at me every time the campaign interrupts my Olympic curling.

    So here goes. (May Darwin strike me down.)

    As far as my Olympic viewing can tell, there are five main stories featured in this “anti-bias” campaign, each serenaded by a warm, motherly voiceover singing, “Child, things are going to get easier.”

    All five stories star a mother watching her child struggle against bias and supporting him or her through it; each mom’s eyes glimmer as she sees the best in that kid. And the maternal performances are lovely and sometimes coax a tear out of my eye. Each story is then emphasized with supposedly inspirational text, such as:

    “When the world sees labels, a mom sees love. #LoveOverBias”

    Or

    “When the world sees differences, a mom sees pride. #LoveOverBias “

    Or

    “Imagine if the world could see what a mom sees. #LoveOverBias. Thank you, Mom. P&G PROUND SPONSOR OF MOMS”

    So, amidst such positive-seeming messages, I must apologize because I have two blasphemous criticisms:

    (1) I wonder why we are celebrating mothers instead of parents, in general.

    Is the campaign suggesting that mothers intrinsically care about and support their children more than fathers? Now I may seem oversensitive here, but I remind you that this campaign is applauding love over bias. And we live in a society that still treats motherhood as more valuable than fatherhood. From a biased court system in favour of mothers’ rights over fathers’ rights, to the government opening shelters for single mothers instead of single parents, to the mainstream media’s lack of criticism of such mom-centered programs.

    I would have thought that the LOVE OVER BIAS people might have considered avoiding such widespread preferential treatment. Instead, while the LOVE OVER BIAS folks are pretending to be subversive by questioning our societal biases, they are actually as conventional as ever as they merely criticize the biases that the mainstream media has identified as bad.

    (2) Now, while the LOVE OVER BIAS people are incapable of seeing anything but the correct biases that one is supposed to see, that doesn’t mean that those biases are not worthy of discussing. And four out of five of the biases seem like fair comments to me. We have a boy missing a leg trying to ski, a Muslim girl receiving sideways glances from her competitors, a poor kid putting on cheap skates and getting laughed at for it, and an effeminate boy with a black eye tossing away his hockey skates in favour of what looks like plans to figure skate. My hopeful sense is that these stories are a bit out of date, but I do think that bullies—conventional thinkers, themselves—do tend to focus on those whose cultures and situations seem different from the norm.

    But our fifth story inadvertently features not bias from the population surrounding the kid in the story, but bias from the mom in regard to the population. In this case, a girl who dreams of being an elite skier is merrily jumping up and down on her bed in preparation for a ski trip, but her mom watches on and shakes her head with concern as the warm lyric once again touches our ears, “Child, things are going to get easier.” You see, the girl is black, while the posters on her bedroom wall feature the superstar skiers of her time, who are all white. And that, according to the ad, is an obstacle to overcome.

    This notion that it is psychologically daunting to have role models who are of a different colour than you is a highly conventional claim about race that I hear frequently emphasized in the “progressive” media. CBC Radio, for instance, loves to talk about the challenge of being the only blue jay in a sea of problematic doves. Now, if that blue jay suffers bigotry from those doves, then we certainly have something to be concerned about. But what I’m referring to here is the additional claim that, even when there isn’t bigotry per se, the very feeling of being a different colour than one’s peers and/or one’s role models is, by definition, suffering a racial indignity.

    Now, I can’t prove such prejudice to be incorrect. Maybe it is difficult to be have a different skin tone than one’s cohort and/or one’s role models, but I see no evidence for this unfortunate assumption, and my experience tells me that it’s wrong.

    When I was a youngster, my first sporting love was football, and my three favourite players were Roy Dewalt, Keyvan Jenkins, and of course “Swervin” Mervyn Fernandez, who were all black (while I was white). My appreciation for these non-white athletes had nothing to with me being a racially progressive kid, but instead had everything to do with them happening to be the three best players for the BC Lions. And, since my parents didn’t tell me that that those star athletes’ racial difference from me was significant, it never occurred to me to be troubled by it. Instead, I planned to be a professional football player when I grew up just like my heroes.

    A year earlier, my family had moved to Bella Bella (a predominantly First Nations village in Northern British Columbia) where my mother had gotten a job as school principal. But my parents didn’t tell me in advance that being of the racial minority would be a problem for me so I wasn’t troubled being one of the only white kids in my class learning the Heiltsuk language from the elders. If only my parents had told me that I was experiencing a hardship, I might have thought to be wary of my classmates, but instead once again, my parents made it seem as though kids of all races are just like any other kids. So I forgot to notice that I wore a different flavour of skin from my new peers, and I even made a friend or two. Indeed, throughout my childhood, I had friends of various races, nationalities, and religions, and I didn’t think I was special for it. I just liked to hang out with the kids whom I liked and who liked me back.

    My lack of racial phobia is not the result of me possessing a wonderful colour-blind soul, it is merely the consequence of having good parents. They never seemed concerned with race, so neither was I. Not that my brain doesn’t see colour, but in the absence of bigotry and CBC Radio’s insistence that race always matters, race really is only skin deep.

    (Ironically, I notice that “progressive” pundits now describe people of colour as “racialized minorities.” I’m sorry, but it’s you, racially-obsessed pundits, who are most often racializing people these days. It seems to me that most of us in Canada agree with Morgan Freeman and would like you to treat people as individuals. But, sadly, I notice that as an adult, I see race much more than I did as a kid, because the alleged progressives keep telling me that it’s important that I always pay attention to race.)

    In the case of LOVE OVER BIAS’s young black girl excitedly planning her skiing career, the grin on her face while she dances in front of posters of the white role models suggests that she’s not at all troubled by her differently-coloured heroes. It is clearly her mother who assumes that there is something lacking in those theoretical mentors, so it is she who is imposing an impediment on her daughter where one may not exist.

    Racism is terrible. But so too is racism.

    No white “progressive” would object to being surrounded by people of a different colour (as they shouldn’t), so why do they assume the opposite is an intrinsic hardship even where racism isn’t shown to be present?

    Indeed, when British Columbia basketballer Steve Nash looked out at the NBA when he was growing up he would have seen a league whose stars were mostly of a different race than him. Quite rightly, no pundit would ever claim that the white Nash overcame a racial indignity as he made it to the NBA and won two league MVPs. So why is conventional thinking so quick to assume that black kids automatically need us to tell them they are at a disadvantage when they decide to pursue a passion featuring souls with a different colour wrapping than they have?

    If there is racism in a particular discipline, please provide evidence for it so we can criticize it. And, if there is sound research that suggests that being racially different—even without bigotry—is daunting, and/or that my parents’ racially-blind parenting was the wrong way to go, let’s hear it. Otherwise, LOVE OVER BIAS people (and your “progressive” muses), it’s time to let go of your bias about what constitutes bias, and stop racializing people.

  • After my rant last week versus CBC Radio and their use of an unreliable moral compass, the broadcaster has been kind enough to immediately vindicate my accusation. In particular, CBC Radio Vancouver’s The Early Edition—which brands itself a champion of anti-racism—cheerfully interviewed an alleged anti-racist, Masuma Khan, who had helped herself to a race-based criticism of white people, and now defended herself by claiming that it is impossible for someone of colour in Canada to be racist against white people.

    Now, it may seem that I am enjoying a bounty of low-hanging fruit by taking on such a silly notion that only certain races can be racist. However, I have accepted the challenge because this “can’t be racist” argument is catching on with certain “progressive” groups who enjoy essentializing race. More importantly, I notice that our hoped-for-defenders in the mainstream media rarely point out the obvious troubles with defining racism by race. As ever, I find this lack of critical response to be worrying: without interrogation, bad ideas surely have a better chance of flourishing.

    And so my fingers ranted out an email to CBC Radio’s Early Edition criticizing both Ms. Khan for crimes against the dictionary, and her interviewer, Rick Cluff, for not raising a single eyebrow of skepticism towards her creative vocabulary.

    As usual, I have not received a response from CBC Radio to my criticism, so I publish it here.


    Dear Rick Cluff:

    On November 28th you interviewed University of Dalhousie Student Union executive member Masuma Khan who had been accused by her university of racism after she had publicly used the term “white fragility.” She defended herself in your discussion by arguing that:

    (1) She cannot have been racist, because “We know… racism [against white people] doesn’t exist in a North American context.”

    (2) The criticism she received demonstrates a double standard against her because of her race: “freedom of speech,” she said, “has been all too selective, and… freedom of speech really only counts for those who are privileged.” And:

    (3) Since her “fragile” commentary, she was threatened on social media, and this proved the very insult that started the controversy. “White folks…” she explained, “they just showed how fragile they were with the way that they responded to my message.”

    I understand that your interview style is to be polite to your guests and rarely to challenge them, and I appreciate that easy-going presentation. However, I think that, as a publicly funded broadcaster, you have a duty to ask a skeptical question or two of someone who advocates race-based criticism, and yet denies not only that she participated in racism, but also that she could ever be a racist because her race makes it impossible.

    Those are some extraordinarily claims that should not be taken on faith. So, for the record, I would like to provide a few counterarguments to Ms. Khan’s.

    (1A) The stated notion that it’s impossible to be racist against white people [in North America].

    In the week before this friendly interview, you spoke with a farmer who said that he and his cohort were having trouble with thieves who, he surmised, probably think it’s no big deal to steal from a big farm. And you replied, “But theft is theft.”

    Theft—the taking of something [without permission] that is not lawfully your own—is indeed theft. That is the fact of the word. Of course, such thieves might argue that stealing from a farmer, or better yet, from a big corporation, is not as bad a type of theft as, say, helping oneself to the wares of a small convenience store. Indeed, in spite of repeating your aphorism, “But theft is theft” several times, you asked the farmer if he thought perhaps some of the thieves took from his bounty because they “needed to.” So you were making a distinction regarding the level of moral failing based on the possible poverty of the thieves. Yet, you did not relent from your insistence that theft is theft. And I submit that, in spite our society’s celebration of mythical figures like Robin Hood who steal from the rich to give to the poor, most of us, like you, are unwavering in our insistence that we call a thief a thief. This I believe is because we realize that if we start claiming that stealing is only stealing if it’s particularly harmful then we will find ourselves at the top of a slippery slope that may send us into moral and legal (not to mention linguistic) chaos.

    By that same instinct, I am bewildered by your unwillingness to gently question the equally untenable notion that certain races cannot be racist towards others. Racism is racism. Ms. Khan criticized a group of people on the basis of the colour of their skin and so, I’m afraid, the racism app has, by definition, been activated.

    Now, as with ranking the wrongfulness of different types of theft, Ms. Khan is welcome, if she likes, to argue that racism against a “historically privileged” race is not as harmful a brand of racism as that which insults a race whose member faces do not tend to decorate our money. But that cannot negate the fact that demeaning a particular group of people on the basis of their race is racism. To argue otherwise—without any hint of push back from an interviewer from Canada’s publicly funded broadcaster—is to bring us closer to Orwell’s warnings against doublespeak, where “war is peace,” “freedom is slavery,” and now “racism is anti-racism.”

    (1B) The implied notion that it’s not a moral flaw to be racist against white people.

    Ms. Khan is attempting to ridicule her cake and eat it, too. She wants to criticize a particular race of people without having to wear that annoying label of being a race-based critic. It is an intellectual cheat that we would not allow in any other context:

    “Hey, you just punched me in the face.”

    “No, I didn’t. I’m smaller than you, so we know for a fact that it is impossible for me to punch you in the face.”

    I refuse to give up my dictionary so easily, and instead I would like to respond to the claim Ms. Khan is trying to hide within her doublespeak: that racism against white people isn’t so bad because, after all, white people are privileged, so they can surely handle the occasional slur and still have plenty of advantages left over.

    I cannot deny that modern anti-white racism in Canada is currently insignificant when compared to, say, Jim Crow segregation laws formerly in place in the United States. Yet, if we allow racism against white people to go not only unchecked, but unacknowledged, we are playing with a flammable agent. We already live in a world where the NDP who lead British Columbia and the “Liberals” who lead Canada discriminate against white candidates for office. You’re of course welcome to defend racial quotas based on what I assume is your moral position that governments should look like their citizens, but the problem is you didn’t need to make any argument to defend those racially discriminatory practices. The Canadian media has asked almost no critical questions about this renunciation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “dream” of “a nation where his children would “not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

    It is not my contention that white people experience more racism in Canada today than other races do, but I am noting that racism against white people is not only mainstream (“Oscars so white”), it is systemic (“Preference given to candidates of colour”), and vicious: we often hear comedians and pundits merrily dismiss many important (and diverse) thinkers because they are “Dead white men,” or if such men are inconsiderate enough to still be alive, “Old white men.” Such essentializing is a powerful manoeuvre in the game of racism, as it reduces complex beings to a single supposed flaw (in this case, that white minds are antiquated). Such demonization of a particular race keeps our compassion for its members at bay, and allows us to expand our dislike for the lot of them without the discomfort of guilt.

    (2) The notion that Ms. Kahn experienced a racial double standard against her freedom of speech.

    Despite my contempt for Ms. Khan’s race-based arguments, I support her calling upon her right of free speech to defend herself against her university’s attempt to discipline her. Unless Ms. Khan was bullying individual students in her charge and/or discriminating against them in action (i.e. excluding them from participation in events), elected university student leaders should be free to express whatever opinions their electorate will tolerate. And the university’s attempt to quash her for expressing morally suspect notions is worrying: if universities are not a place where ideas can be freely expressed, where can such open dialogue occur?

    But, while I defend Ms. Khan’s right to free speech, her claim that she was treated worse by her school because she is not white baffles incredulity. I was, I admit, surprised to see a Canadian university (usually a stronghold of “progressive” politics) hold to their misguided “hate speech” restrictions even though it was against a person of colour. But they still eventually dropped their claim. Mr. Cluff, can you really, within the deepest honesty of your heart, believe that if a white Student Union executive member had uttered a race-generalizing remark towards people of colour that he or she would have made it to the end of their sentence without being removed from office?

    If you’re struggling to accept the obvious answer, please ask yourself this: if you were to describe people of colour with any negative word on CBC airwaves, do you think—in today’s climate where just criticizing the racially “progressive” notion of “cultural appropriation” is taboo on CBC—you would have a job the next day?

    In contrast, you gave a sympathetic interview on Canada’s public broadcaster to a woman who openly uses the phrase “White Fragility,” and, correct me if I’m wrong, but your livelihood remains intact. This isn’t to say that I think you should lose your job for being nice to Ms. Khan, but I do contend that Ms. Khan’s claim of a mainstream double standard against her brand of racism is self-evidently false.

    (3) The notion that threats by individual white people says something about white people in general.

    I am sorry Ms. Khan received threats: she did not deserve them.

    Violent threats against anyone for their choice of language is, of course, morally disastrous. However, if you speak with Ms. Khan again, could you please let her know that receiving threats is not uncommon for people who are publicly controversial (it happens, I’m afraid, to people from every corner of the political rainbow). Nevertheless, such violent language against Ms. Khan no more redeems her racism than white nationalist Richard Spencer was redeemed by the so-called anti-Nazi who punched him the face.

    The good news is most people do not threaten those with whom they disagree; unfortunately, it only takes a small percentage of citizens to use violent language to make one feel as though we live in a violent society. But I hope Ms. Khan can take some comfort in knowing that most Canadians—even those who don’t like her choice of language—do not approve of the violent rhetoric she received.

    Regardless, Ms. Khan’s contention that those threats “from white people” prove the very fragility she was accusing white people of, is more racism. She is generalizing from the bad acts of individuals to accuse the racial group to which they (allegedly) belong. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you surely would have condemned such generalizing bigotry if it were aimed at people of colour, so the fact that you did not question Ms. Khan’s anti-white generalizing once again disproves her argument that there is a double standard in Canada against her version of racism.

    My hope here is not to persuade you to blacklist the Masuma Khans of our society. I think the public discourse would benefit from CBC Radio talking to more people with controversial opinions. And I’m not suggesting that you change your style to a more combative one that argues with your guests; however, I do contend that, as a publicly funded broadcaster, you ought to at least put forward these most basic of counter arguments when you’re speaking with those who are attempting to renovate not only our moral compasses but also our dictionaries.

    Sincerely,

    Seth McDonough


    SETHBLOGS NOTE: If you’re interested in reviewing the source material for this essay, I have set up my transcription of Mr. Cluff’s interview with Ms. Khan as the first comment on this post. You can currently also listen to the interview on The Early Edition‘s Archives starting at 2:20:49 on November 28th.

  • SETHICS 13.11.2017 3 Comments

    In my cranky opinion, our friends at CBC Radio are unprincipled. They will, that is, trade their favourite principles for their antitheses any time political correctness is in need.

    For instance, CBC Radio is assertively opposed to drug addiction stigma. This is demonstrated by their many gentle interviews with advocates who inform us that drug addiction is a disease and never the responsibility of the addict. CBC Radio makes an instant moral switcheroo on this position, though, the moment the addict is a public figure (especially, it seems, if they’re a rich, white male), such as, say, the former mayor of Toronto.

    Now, I don’t mean to suggest that one principle must always fit all situations: distinctions between cases and/or moral hierarchies can leave us with alternate answers in different scenarios.

    For instance, maybe the reason CBC Radio is pro stigmatization of celebrity drug addicts is not because CBC Radio is bigoted against rich white males, but instead because they believe we cannot afford a buzzed driver at the wheel of major affairs.

    My criticism of CBC Radio, though, is that, when they trade principles, they never seem to point out a nuanced distinction that justifies the alteration. Instead, like a flipped switch, they go from all in to all out the moment a principle yields a politically incorrect result.

    I’ll provide three examples to justify this accusation.

    1. FEAR

    Two of the guiding moral positions of CBC Radio are that when there is an Islamic terrorist attack (A) we must not give into fear, and (B) we must be careful of blaming all Muslims for the cruel actions of a few.

    To my mind, both are understandable values. If we allow fear to rule our attitudes and public policy, we may diminish some of the great achievements of our free society.

    Nevertheless, I also empathize with fear-based policy because I do believe there is something significant to fear here. And the value of better protecting ourselves from terrorism (whether that’s giving in to fear or not) is at least worth considering. Ultimately, all safety measures are fear-inspired, so the question is not whether we yield at all to what scares us, but instead how much we weigh and protect our individual rights along the way.

    That does not mean that I dispute being wary of letting fear take us into an Orwellian apocalypse. However, my objection to CBC Radio is that they do not consider these moral questions from the principled position that they claim for themselves (always weighing rights over fear). Instead, they value human rights and freedoms when they align with PC tastes, and they ignore them when they don’t. Consider when a mass killing is committed not by an Islamic terrorist, but by a Westerner. Suddenly, far from cautioning us against letting fear intervene upon our freedoms, CBC Radio is open to discussing not only how we can change laws to protect us, but also the flaws in our culture that may have provoked the violence.

    Indeed, if there is a murderous attack on a mosque by a Westerner, CBC Radio will convene a panel on Western Islamophobia (after all, we Westerners are complicit in provoking an individual zealot to act). In contrast, if there is an Islamic terrorist attack on Westerners, CBC Radio will also convene a panel on Islamophobia (after all, we must remind ourselves that most Muslims are peace-loving).

    I don’t object to either sentiment in principle. Checking our culture for bigotry is worthwhile. And reminding ourselves that not all members of a group are guilty of the worst acts of individuals is also worth doing to reduce the above bigotry. But why does CBC Radio always seems to treat Western culture as guilty of the crimes of its worst citizens, and Islamic culture as separate from its members’ worst actions? Is there not some nuance available in both cases?

    As ever, there may be legitimate distinctions between the types of fear CBC Radio does and does not approve for motivating public policy. However, once again CBC Radio never dwells on such intricacies. Instead, they take their seemingly fundamental principle of “not letting fear influence us because we can’t let the bad guys win” and they turn it off any time that fear is oriented in a politically correct direction.

    2. DUE PROCESS

    CBC Radio shares a hotel room with the progressively correct movement “Black Lives Matter” (or BLM), which contends that the United States (and BLM Toronto and BLM Vancouver claim Canada as well) has a significant police racism problem against black citizens.

    I don’t know if BLM is right or not. Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer offers us research which shows that black people are more likely per interaction to be handled aggressively by police, but also that white people are actually more likely per previously non-violent encounter to be shot. Neither of these points proves BLM right or wrong just yet, but they do indicate to me that this is a complicated issue worthy of further study.  And, if CBC Radio had any true principle, they would look into BLM’s claims with an open, but skeptical mind. But for CBC Radio, any questioning of a claim of racism is racist, itself. Consequently, whenever CBC Radio interviews a pundit who supports BLM, they treat the commentator as a prophet for due process and anti-racism whom they shall not trouble with critical questions.

    However, amazingly CBC Radio once again drops the principles of due process and anti-racism in cases where the accused is not of progressive concern. For instance, if a white police officer is accused of mistreating a black suspect, CBC Radio treats the police officer as guilty, by definition. And, if the alleged victim of a crime is female, CBC Radio substitutes the principle of due process for the progressive notion to automatically “Believe Women.” This faith-based system of justice allowed CBC Radio and other morally vacant media outlets to shame Toronto police and prosecutors into charging Jian Ghomeshi of crimes for which there was neither physical nor circumstantial evidence.

    CBC Radio’s anti-due process sentiment is especially evident in sports where the broadcaster has signed onto the baffling argument that athletes accused of crimes should be suspended by their teams without proof of guilt. (As I wrote in THE SEPERATION OF WORK AND STATE, I’m opposed to athletes being suspended even if they are found guilty of crimes, but I’ll settle for a moratorium on suspending employees on accusation alone.) In fact, the NFL has suspended several black athletes accused of violence against women in the last couple of years. But strangely neither BLM nor CBC Radio has raised a finger of concern.

    3. FREEDOM OF SPEECH

    In the last year, several black NFL players endorsed BLM by kneeling during the American anthem before games. Ever shy, US boss Donald Trump then criticized those athletes, stating that it would be grand if NFL owners would fire them for their anthem antics.

    Consequently, numerous NFL players and many pundits argued that the president was threatening the players’ freedom of speech. I’m not sure if Trump’s customarily brash argument was technically suggesting a limitation on freedom of speech. When one is at work, one is not necessarily free to express anything one likes in the same way that one is when off duty. Nevertheless, as a free speech fan—who has become worried lately about this vital resource—I was pleased to hear free expression discussed and defended in the media, including on CBC Radio.

    Nevertheless, I once again noticed that CBC Radio only seems willing to positively discuss free expression when the speaker in question is supporting an ideal that CBC Radio already favours. Far from Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s ideal, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” CBC Radio apparently prefers to think of free speech as a conditional. If a citizen says something CBC Radio deems worthy, the speaker can have all the speech they like; but, if the speaker crosses CBC Radio’s righteous opinion, then he or she must accept the suppressing consequences.

    For instance, a few months before Trump ascended to his thrown, Canadian singer Remigio Pereira, a member of the group The Tenors, added the phrase “All Lives Matter” to a pre-game anthem performance in the US. This was clearly intended to contrast the “Black Lives Matter” argument. While I didn’t object to Pereira’s dissent, I also had no quibble with his bandmates firing him for making such a controversial statement during a performance without their consent. They were hired to sing the national anthem, not to make a political argument while on the job.

    But I notice that CBC Radio—who currently claims that it is paramount to allow pro-BLM athletes (and now pro-BLM anthem singers) the right of free expression even when they’re at work—felt no inclination to defend the opera singer’s right to sing his mind. Quite the opposite: they cheered on his fall from the podium as the karma-inflicted consequence of his “racist” utterance.

    As with all of my examples, I’m happy to hear arguments that suggest a distinguishing factor between these cases. But I am ever dismayed by CBC Radio’s apparent lack of awareness of these seeming contradictions.

    I recognize that CBC Radio has gone too far down the rabid hole to be neutral on these issues, but, if they would consider acknowledging a smidge of complexity when commenting on ethical quandaries, maybe they could find a way to bring some enlightenment to the moral questions of our time. And that’s a principle that even CBC Radio could stand behind.

  • Welcome to The Anti-Misandry Blog within SethBlogs! Confused? Click here for The Anti-Misandry Blog Introduction. Intrigued/enraged? Click on the “Anti-Misandry” link in the CATEGORY section to the right of this post for further episodes.

    THE ANTI-MISANDRY BLOG: EPISODE XV

    I watched Wonder Woman last week, and I’m pleased to admit that I enjoyed it. The film featured plenty of humour (albeit standard, fish-out-of-water comedy, as in Wonder Woman being awestruck by her first encounter with ice cream), back story (which is my favourite kind of super hero story), 3-Dimensional characters (although, I saw the movie in 2D), and an unusually clear rendering of action (in fact, Wonder Woman and her fellow Amazonians had an inventive fighting style that was entertaining to my non-video-gamed eye).

    Most impressive of all, the movie was not overrun by an infestation of “Girl Power.” This may sound like a contradiction since Wonder Woman is a girl with lots of power. However, by “Girl Power,” I mean the “Because I’m a girl” attitude that is exhibited increasingly often in movies (and advertising) these days where a person of female persuasion is treated as extra powerful by the very definition of her being a girl, as opposed to her particular circumstance and character having led her to that powerful place. In the case of Wonder Woman, her position of power is not parachuted in by her gender, but instead is explained by her supernatural back story and training.

    And, while the film occasionally panders to its feminist godmothers (comparing a 1910’s female secretary to a slave), it is not as blatant in that gendered agenda (“agender,” if you will?) that so many rival mega action franchises are today. Consequently, I found it to be relatively refreshing.

    Nevertheless, the media portrayal of this movie has been much more Girl-Powered than the movie, itself. For instance, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin Texas decided to have a women-and-girls only showing of the film on opening night (and women-only staff of it), and when a few equal-gender-defenders criticized the policy, they were dismissed by many mainstream pundits as sexist simpletons.

    I believe the following soliloquy from a Mashable.com commentator fairly sums up the pro-women-only argument:

    “Sounds like a good idea, right? Women getting together to celebrate a strong, empowered, three-dimensional female superhero on the big screen. Of course. It makes perfect sense. But, as we all know, we can’t have nice things… The Drafthouse received hundreds of comments from angry men who felt ‘excluded’ from the event… Of course there were also many people who loved the idea who understand that this film is a celebration of women finally being included in the world of superheroes and finally being represented on the big screen. Let’s hope these dudes can get themselves together…”

    I’m happy to hear arguments in favour of the discriminatory screening, but it is daunting to listen to such smug commentary, which seems to imply this controversy is merely about whether countering perceived injustice is worthy or not. Such “of course it makes sense” pundits are either unwilling or unable to consider the possibility that direct discrimination based on sex, no matter how noble it may be in intention and platitude, is an ethically dicey enterprise.

    It’s not obvious to me whether men or women on average deal with more real-world discrimination in the West today, but it is indisputable that men are the only sex that is currently the victim of open discrimination for which there is no recourse. I recently attended a BC Human Rights workshop in which I learned that it is illegal to discriminate in the workplace against a person on the basis of sex (and other irrelevant traits), unless of course you’re working on a special project to uplift a group that is historically disadvantaged. And, since we all know that the official gender policy of our society is that it is only women who have ever been disadvantaged (forget about wars, coal mines, and parental custody disputes), that means you can discriminate against men so long as you provide clear evidence that you stated that you were empowering women in the process.

    Political parties are doing it, too. From Justin Trudeau’s quota-based promoting of women to cabinet positions “Because it’s 2015,” to the BC NDP limiting the number of men allowed to run for office, it is clear that our society not only wants to ensure equal access to powerful positions, but also to discriminate against men along the way. The defenders of such policies, as well as those defending the Women-Only screening, seem unable to consider the possibility that a principle of discrimination might be dangerous even it is supported by a pleasing symbolic message.

    Indeed, my neck hurt from shaking my head as the hosts on a local Vancouver radio show, “Steele and Drex,” could apparently not comprehend why anyone would have any issue with a fun opportunity for women and girls to celebrate their potential.

    Thus, I penned the following letter to those local pundits, but as ever, I did not get a reply, so I am posting it here. Some might see my argument as melodramatic and overstating the impact of a tiny incident, especially as I ponder a hypothetical autistic man who might’ve been excluded from the theatre. However, as our modern, anti-“privilege” discrimination unveils new examples each day, I think it’s vital that we at least consider the possibility that by leaving people out because of their sex, race, or sexuality (even if they are of the demographic that is presumed to be advantaged), we are playing with ethical fire. Despite our best intentions, when you tell any person that they are less worthy because of what they are, instead of who they are (to paraphrase Youtube star, Sargon of Akkad), we are setting a worrisome precedent.

    As it is, not only do our mainstream pundits not consider the downsides of “affirmative” discrimination, but also, when they do learn of dissenters, they accuse such skeptics of being cranially-challenged bigots. So the counter conversation is not just ignored, it is ostracized. Perhaps I’m wrong in my assessment that the current level of popular discrimination is dangerous, but if we do not openly discuss this delicate subject now, how will we know when such exclusion has gone too far?

    And, with that, I give you me in epistolary form:

    Some friendly wonderings about the Wonder Woman Policy:

    Dear [guest host] Jody [Vance] and Drex:

    I wonder if you would consider a friendly counter argument to your analysis yesterday regarding the appropriateness of having a women-only screening of Wonder Woman (hereafter the “The Wonder Policy”).

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but you both seem to be arguing that a business restricting its audience to women for one occasion is benign, and just a fun thing to do given the circumstance of the movie being about a female superhero.

    Personally, I dislike the Wonder policy on principle, not because I’m opposed to fun and creative ways to take in movies, but because I’m opposed to discrimination based on sex (even if that sex is male). I suspect that most defenders of the Wonder policy would be less willing to support a men-only screening of Superman, and the distinction they would likely make would be that it’s okay to discriminate against men in this way because they are the historically privileged group.

    For the record, I do not think that assumed truth is as clear cut as we’re told; it seems to me that both men and women have been discriminated against in multiple different ways for a long time. For instance, women got the vote later than men, but it is only men who were drafted into wars.

    Nevertheless, even if it were clear that women have been significantly more oppressed than men throughout history, are you so sure that is still the case today? There are many categories today in which men are more often doing worse in North America than women (for instances, homelessness, workplace death, suicide). That does not necessarily mean those men are oppressed, but it does mean that the question of “male privilege” is more complicated than most gender scholars will allow, especially given how many more resources, advocacy groups, and scholarships are currently focussed first on women.

    But, even if I were to stipulate that in North America today, men are privileged, I still find the women-only movie viewing to be ethically suspect. The Wonder Policy is not just saying, “Yay, girls!” It is implying that the experience of seeing Wonder Women for the first time would be losing something if the boys were there, too. Every time you say, “X People Only,” you are saying, “Y People are NOT welcome.” And, while it may seem fun and benign in the moment because we generally don’t think of men as victims of discrimination, if you look for it, you can see male-excluding language and sentiment has become ubiquitous today in politics, advocacy, academia, and even the media (examples available upon request). The Wonder Policy is just one more pronouncement that it’s okay to discriminate against men because, well, there’s something different about them that makes it okay to exclude them.

    Maybe there’s an autistic man who’s loved Wonder Woman since he was a kid, and wants to attend the movie on opening night with his best friend in the town where the Wonder Policy is in place, but he’s going to be turned away, because he has the incorrect gender for that viewing. Are you sure such a scenario doesn’t make you question for a tiny moment whether the Wonder Policy is morally correct?

    I don’t anticipate that I have convinced you, and that’s fine if we have differing moral codes on what constitutes unethical discrimination. But I wonder if you would be willing to consider the possibility that, just because someone has an ethical objection to the Wonder Policy, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a sexist. Maybe some of us, on principle, think the policy is sexist, and would equally object to a hypothetical Superman Policy.

    Yours in Wonder,
    Seth

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