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Fear of Witches

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.10.18

I 100% buy this argument - There's fear, and then there's fear of witches:

Fear motivates you towards self-preservation.
Fear of witches motivates you towards... anything. Whatever you want to do anyway. Seize land, drive people out, get elected president, set people on fire. Whatever. The woman who called the cops on another woman who was waiting for a rideshare is claiming it's not racism that motivated her, but autism. She has an extreme fearful reaction to strangers outside her house.
If this were fear -- real fear, not witch-fear -- then she would have been relieved when the other woman's ride showed up and she left. But she wasn't. She tried to cajole her into staying to face the cops, telling her it was a crime if she left.
Witch-fear. She did not want to escape a threat, she wanted to inflict consequences on someone.

This part is especially important:

And, I mean, they do make themselves afraid, those who fear witches. But it's motivated reasoning, motivated feeling. They make themselves afraid to justify what they want to do anyway.

She also talks about Darren Wilson's fear of Michael Brown.

The reason fear is so perfectly manipulative is because it shuts down many of the other person's responses. You're forced to either call bullshit or indulge it. Calling bullshit is aggressive and polarizes third parties into sides, and will definitely not change hearts & minds. Indulging the fear implicitly validates the scariness of the scary thing. The actual correct response is what you say to a three year old: "I can see you're having big feelings! But look, it's just a pile of shadowy clothes on a chair," and it sounds condescending, which it kind of is, but fuck them and their fear of non-white people.


 

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Guest Post - Chores

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.09.18

Witt writes: I thought this article was reasonably interesting, but I came to a screeching halt when I read this:

Boys are also paid more allowance than girls for doing chores, according to a recent analysis of 10,000 families that use BusyKid, a chore app. Boys using the app earned twice what girls did for doing chores -- an average of $13.80 a week, compared with girls' $6.71.
Boys are also more likely to be paid for personal hygiene, like brushing teeth or taking a shower, according to BusyKid. Girls are more likely to be paid for cleaning.

Parents are paying their sons to brush their teeth and shower? And they are tracking it on a CHORE app? Have words lost all meaning?

(I can actually think of situations in which a parent with a special-needs child of any gender might actually want to do such a thing, but the gender split still seems insane to me.)

Heebie's take: We should probably have our kids do more chores. It's such a royal pain in the ass to enforce.


 

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What happened?!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.08.18

Just to complain: I hate not knowing how someone died, especially when their death comes as a shock. I know it's none of my business, I know the needs of the grieving come long before my curiosity, and I will accept not knowing and not do anything rude or unsupportive, but I still hate not knowing.

I don't want to know every last detail - the phrase "after long illness" is the amount of categorization I'd like. I don't like taking gossipy backchannel routes to mutual friends. I just wish there were more broad categories that had codewords that were publicly released. (And then, that would still fall apart, because there'd be circumstances that didn't lend themselves to codewords, and so you'd either have a glaring omission or you'd put more strain on the family, which is exactly what all of this is trying to avoid.)

STILL.


 

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Guest Post - SF Street Fair

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.08.18

JRoth writes: Taking Photos Without Consent is Like Unwanted Touching. This seems like a good topic for discussion (I feel like the FSF has come up before, but not this aspect). I don't have much to say, except to note that the line from the organizers at the end is lame and weasely.

Heebie's take: It's a BDSM festival:

Folsom Street Events' street fairs are on public streets, and even though the streets are closed to traffic during the events, the area is still a public place. On the flip side, nudity is prevalent during the extremely "not safe for work" street fairs, so it's a situation in which expectations of privacy collide with First Amendment rights to shoot photos in public places without permission.

I don't know why I have to solve everything around here, but clearly you run an eruv around the block and call it "inside" for the day.

Anyway, the PSA is to get people taking photos to ask permission first (which I thought was legally required anyway for people in the press in California? Isn't there a thing about chasing down people who wander through the background of crowshots and having them sign consent forms to be on TV or else you can't use the footage?)

The PSA says:

"Gear is not consent. Nudity is not consent. Ask first before photographing or touching someone. No means no."

and the controversy is whether the PSA is claiming that unwanted photographs are like sexual assault. I'm going to stake out my position here, which is: the PSA is fine. It's stating what it intends to communicate, no more and no less. Sexual assault is the most famous situation which is prevented by stopping to get consent first, but not the only situation.


 

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Guest Post - Why be a heretic? For the mineshaft

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 08.07.18

Nworb Werdna writes: I have a small theory to account for the occasional outbursts of popular interest in theological questions. The reason this needs explaining is that most of the time religions get on perfectly well without theological coherence. Anyone who has spent time in a congregation of any sort will know that its members believe all sorts of crazy things entirely unrelated to, or contradicting, the official teaching. It is very rare, for example, for the members of American evangelical churches to be able to name the ten commandments, however biblical they consider themselves to be.

On the other hand, there are times and places where people do take a passionate interest in apparently wholly theological questions: is the sacrifice of the Mass a blasphemous fable? Or, was Mohammed the last prophet? They will kill and die in huge, tribal groups over such questions even though a common sense view would suggest they are unanswerable.

I believe it is precisely this undecidable quality which makes the questions seem urgent in these situations. The long form of my argument is over here. The short form is that at times when resources are contested by groups, so that your success, indeed survival, depends on which group you belong to, religious innovations offer a means to build coalitions that cut across the traditional boundaries. The first to work like this is proseletysing monotheism, invented by the Jews (before a sharp revision of the doctrine after 70AD), and then carried on by Christians and after that Muslim.

Once "Israel" had been reimagined, not as an ethnic grouping, but as an idea or a spiritual reality, the new religion, Christianity, could function as a solvent of the old divisions, replacing them with new ones which might well be advantageous to losers under the old dispensation. The same pattern can be seen in Islam, and, later in Mormonism.

The examples of this kind of disruptive religious coalition building that I am familiar with come from Christian history. The appeal to slaves, both in the ancient world and in 19th century USA was in part that it gave them a link with some members of the slave-owning classes which was stronger than class solidarity. I'm sure there are others.

But what happens when the new religion has converted everyone? How can the loser classes change up to a new coalition then? This is where heresy comes in.

Heresy is obviously, in this interpretation, only possible in literate, credal monotheisms. You can't be a heretic in Hinduism, or Shinto, or classical paganism. Probably not in contemporary California, either. But in sixteenth century Europe, or sixth century Byzantium? Feel free.

In a situation where everyone is notionally part of the same monotheistic system, the only way to reproduce the coalitional realignment of the original spread of monotheism is to split the monotheism itself on doctrinal lines. This process generates two political groupings united in opposition to each other on a subject that both consider sacred. "Sacred" in this context means "beyond rational valuation" or "worth more than life itself". And that sets up the conditions for a ruthless and eliminative political contest in which the winners get to take all. It's the mutual and simultaneous manufacture of outgroups, not just the scapegoating of a minority.

Although it may seem that I think this is the result of some directing intelligence, I don't. I don't think anyone sets out to start a schism. I think that it's a pattern which emerges from lots of small-scale local interactions, like the tragedy of the commons. Once the process starts, it it self-sustaining. Neutrality becomes impossible. No one can afford to lose and no one can afford not to play. There are situations where fair shares just aren't enough to go around.

Heebie's take: I'm pretty sure you can be a heretic in contemporary California! "I think sustainability is for chumps," maybe, although my ear for Cali may be pretty tinny. "I feel neither strongly for nor against Elon Musk."

What's heretical Unfogged? "You know, when talking heads really get going on their 24 news cycle, they really are more likely to hit some good points," maybe but not particularly funny.


 

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