Make Truth Self-Evident Again

Becca Demosthenes

Becca was born and raised in the Midwest, the ope is strong with this one. She studied English literature and linguistics in grad school; she taught for ten years until she gave it all up to become the ever tired servant to a tiny tyrant. Most of Becca's writing these days consists of sharing her thoughts and Bible studies on her blog as well as very random content on Twitter under @LadyDemosthenes. Given enough sleep and time Becca hopes to put together a children's book about Knowles VanderBeak, her son's stuffed owl.

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184 Responses

  1. Grung_e_Gene
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    There is no such thing as objective truth. Period. Anyone who claims they want the self -evident truth to be accepted by everyone or dismisses others’ pronouns is saying they want a traditional framework to be the dominant paradigm in the country again. It smacks of petulant fascism and a longing for pre civil rights era culture.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Grung_e_Gene
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      I love those first two sentences right next to each other.

      When a skepticism is weaponized to the point where it says “I don’t know anything and you don’t either!”

      Say what you will about Socrates, but at least he asked a handful of questions of people before concluding that they didn’t know what they were doing.Report

      • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
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        Sometimes, one’s interlocutors save you the work. Probably happened to Socrates, but those dialogs would be too dull to report.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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          Like when they open with a contradiction?Report

          • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
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            That’s one way. There are lots of other ways.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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              Is changing the subject one of them?Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
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                That’s your routine. Maybe you’d be the best person to answer that.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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                Well, I’ll just go back to noticing the irony of a disagreement about Truth opening with (and I’m copying/pasting this):

                There is no such thing as objective truth. Period.

                And, I’ll point out, that in the very statements of the disagreement the nut of the original argument is agreed with.

                Without either changing the subject or talking about the other person personally.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
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                I can cut and paste, too.

                Say what you will about Socrates, but at least he asked a handful of questions of people before concluding that they didn’t know what they were doing.

                So who changed the subject?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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                That’s discussing the subject, CJ.

                At least, I assume that the subject is Truth and our access to it (the individual’s own, other person’s, etc).

                If you think that the subject is me personally, I can see this as another case of me changing the subject and you steering us back to it.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
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                I would agree that that’s discussing the subject, though I would understand someone thinking otherwise.

                And then I responded to what you said. If you disagreed with that response, it is not apparent to a native reader of English.

                Then you suggested that beginning your argument with a contradiction counted as the interlocutor doing the work for you and, thus, avoiding the need to ask a bunch of questions before concluding that the interlocutor did not know what he or she was doing.

                I agreed with you. And added a statement that could be objected to only on the grounds that it was too obvious to be worth making.

                Then you asked about whether changing the subject counted.

                I deferred to your superior expertise on the subject. Perhaps you think that is changing the subject and a personal attack. Reading comprehension problem again?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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                Thank you for bringing the subject back to me, personally.

                But I was finding the whole starting point from a contradiction leading to an absurd conclusion to be the relevant (and even a preferred) topic.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
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                You’re the one who dragged Socrates into this. If we both agree that this was an irrelevant digression, we can all go home.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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                Nah, he showed up willingly. He enjoyed my substantive point and thought it was great that he got included in the follow-up.Report

              • Grung_e_Gene in reply to Jaybird
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                It’s nice to be correct. It’s nicer to have people realize it and throw a fit like you. Thanks Chum!Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Grung_e_Gene
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                I don’t know that you’re correct.

                I kinda suspect that you’re in a contradiction that will take you someplace absurd.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to CJColucci
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          JB’s right, this is classic will-to-power formulation of the non-existence of truth.

          Doesn’t matter how you cloak it or to what sentiments you appeal… it’s all preferred emotions backed by power. The irony is the head-fake to fascism.

          Now, my philosophical critique of the OP is that Natural Law (while perhaps ‘True’) isn’t a satisfying philosophical response to emotivism… which is partly why we are where we are.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine
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            I miss Pragmatism.

            Let’s assume X. Whether or not it’s “True”, let’s just assume it. Where does it take us?

            Let’s assume ~X. Whether or not it’s “True”, let’s just assume it. Where does it take us?

            I think that using “True” as shorthand for “gets us closer to where we want to go” is useful enough to see why people would want to do it.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird
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              There are things to like about pragmatist epistemology… “contrite fallibilists” as a corrective to Hume and Descartes (et al.) seems useful, but I’m not sure it ‘scales’ as you once said about Virtue Ethics. 🙂Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine
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                It doesn’t scale. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to!

                Only a handful of nutterbutters care about this!Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird
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                Right ho, toil away old bean, toil away.Report

              • InMD in reply to Marchmaine
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                I think the thing that could theoretically scale and what’s really at issue in all of this is stronger spines. The creation of Tumblr has resulted in a great increase in demands that the wheel be re-invented but I’m not convinced there’s some philosophical reason it needs to be. The problem as I see it is that too many people in positions of authority have accepted the self-serving case for just letting s— go, no matter how absurd.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to InMD
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                Yes, but its the fragmentation that’s the core issue. If everything starts with ‘posit a wheel’ there’s too much work that needs doing before we can agree on where to go from here. We’ve regressed from a collective ‘here’. Or ‘here’ is everywhere. I am Here. Which is true. And, Nietzsche’s point.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine
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                “Let us hypothesize that conditionals don’t work.”
                “Okay.”
                “Therefore…”Report

              • Chris in reply to Marchmaine
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                I see no reason to believe that we don’t all have a pretty consistent (across individuals and sub/counter-cultures) ontology, epistemology, and even ethics (given the domination of Christianity culturally). The fragmentation, to the extent that things are fragmenting, is occurring along cultural and social boundaries that we (collectively) created, reified, and then claimed carved the world at its joints.

                This sort of fragmentation is not new; it is in fact an important part of historical change, and while it can be disorienting, even frightening, there’s no reason to think that the best course is to retreat to the old positions.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris
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                You should only reach that conclusion after exploring whether the best course is to run as fast as you can to the new positions or discuss the speed at which it would be appropriate to wander to the new positions, and whether the people who are going faster than you are maniacs and whether those who are going slower are jerks who don’t care about other people.Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird
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                I feel like much of what counterculture is, is people trying on new positions with the rest of us there to observe how it plays out and see how we feel about it. Sometimes the rest of us jump in too early, and ridiculous stuff becomes mainstream, but the flow of culture is pretty conservative, generally, and our premature adoption of new things as often as not results in them being little more than easily discarded fads. That, or what looks like a rapid change is in fact the tail end of a slow cultural process and we just didn’t realize where it was headed, or that it was heading anywhere, until we were there.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris
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                This would all be well and good if we could hammer out what was a matter of taste, what was a matter of aesthetics, and what was a matter of morality. (With, sure, some smearing/grey areas between this and that.)

                But this new “it’s all morality” play that the kidz seem to enjoy so much is even worse than the “it’s all aesthetics!” counter-argument given to the “it’s all a matter of taste” nihilists (which was bad too).Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird
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                I think it’s good that we’re starting to recognize the values implicit in ideology. I think we’re not very good at it, collectively, yet though.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris
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                As a former youth advocate for young earth creationism, lemme tell ya: recognizing the values implicit in ideology is something that has been going on for a while.

                Here, you’re a Beatles fan, right? Listen to this Oasis song. They’re breaking new ground!Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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                Thanks for posting a Howard Dean ad in our subdiscussion about Truth where you’re complaining about me changing the subject by bringing up Socrates.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
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                1. I didn’t complain that you had changed the subject by bringing up Socrates. Quite the contrary, I responded to what you said about him. And if there is any actual disagreement about that, it hasn’t surfaced yet.
                2. If you don’t see the relevance of the anti-Dean ad to your comment, that’s your problem, not mine.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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                Is “if you don’t see the relevance, that’s your problem not mine?” one of the baseline assumptions we operate under?

                I’d hate to think that it’s something that we only argue on our own behalf but don’t assume on the part of our interlocutors!Report

              • InMD in reply to Chris
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                I think you’re right, as long as you can’t lose a lawsuit solely for refusing to play any particular person’s version of make-believe. That’s the rubicon.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD
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                I think even that Rubicon is heavily dependent upon context. Did you simply refuse to play make-believe, or did you actively go after a person because their harmless make-believe annoyed/offended you?

                All sorts of grey in there…Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Chris
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                I’m not a retreat the the old positions guy… the most liberating lesson I ever learned from MacIntyre was that Aquinas was just a waypoint… and while another Aquinas might not come along for a couple more centuries, a new synthesis will come.

                I am, I guess, a little surprised at your sanguine appraisal of the cultural domination of Christian ontology, epistemology and even ethics… that’s where I honestly don’t think we’ve had the necessary baseline since, well, William James.

                Also, I’m not sure I agree that the fragmentation is ‘social’ I think it is genuinely epistemological – and that’s driving real ethical increasingly ontological changes.Report

              • Chris in reply to Marchmaine
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                I think it’s the ethics where Christianity still dominates. It’s difficult to see, because it’s the basic fabric of our ethical world, but it’s there. I see it mostly because it dominates so many leftists’ thinking in a way that is completely incompatible with their other theoretical/ideological commitments . The result is a sort of Marxist liberalism, either in the current American political sense, in which there are people who have a Marxist critique of capitalism an otherwise American liberal political ideology, or in the classical sense, and they become social anarchists. The injection of Christianity into Marx is much lamented in left literature, for this reason. Ironically, in a way, it’s the Christianity, not anything distinctly leftist, that produces so much of what conservatives hate about what they (comically) label “cultural Marxism”, then.

                The ontology and epistemology parts are a bit more complicated, and where you see a real diversion from Christianity. That is, that’s where the death of God is clearer.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Chris
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                I see; I agree that it’s the defacto legacy ethical framework. I just don’t see that appeals to the framework can withstand challenges to the framework – as your comment also seems to suggest.

                Reminds me of Marsden’s book on how the Ivies went secular: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief.

                Which is why I’m not a retreat to, say, Natural Law, or appeal harder to our shared Judaeo-Christian framework… not as a public rhetorical strategy anyhow. Not anymore.Report

              • Chris in reply to Marchmaine
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                Part of the problem is that the basic ethical framework makes very little sense in the current sociopolitical framework (late capitalism). In fact, the ethical framework is rendered absurd by the sociopolitical one, and the latter is a much more powerful driver of our reality. We cling to the ethical framework, I think, entirely to mask the cold, brutal, inhuman reality of the sociopolitical one.

                Which is, of course, why it’s so frustrating when that ethical framework leaks into left critiques of that sociopolitical framework.

                It’s also why the other major western critique of late capitalism comes from the only people on the right who regularly critique capitalism: tradcaths.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Chris
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                Heh, if we could just clear out the mushy middle of late capitalist bourgeois moralists you and I could hammer out the stuff that matters. Or die trying.Report

              • InMD in reply to Marchmaine
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                As much as that’s becoming the de facto world we are living in I think you’re giving too much credit to the nihilists. This isn’t to say that none are intellectually formidable but I see a lot of the wins as coming from no one ever demanding they show their work. Like is your average person who accepts these premises really capable of defending them if pushed? I doubt it.

                Maybe I’m just an idiot talking about élan while the Germans cross the frontier but I see more of a choice not to fight than some totally inescapable circumstance.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD
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                “…from no one ever demanding they show their work…”

                Reminds me of that essay with the premise that a person is not entitled to their opinion, they are only entitled to that which they can successfully defend.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to InMD
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                Heh, you’re probably right but I don’t have the stomach for these kinds of fights, so I’m just playin’ it safe hanging out in neutral Belgium.Report

              • Pinky in reply to InMD
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                It’s been argued that the American counter-culture of the 1960’s (which is still dominant today) merely lived out the loss of principles which began in the 1920’s. Our society can function as is if people believe in that sentence from the Declaration, or agree to treat that sentence as a legal fiction. If a large enough percentage of people refuse to live that way, our society might not be viable.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to InMD
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                If it helps, I think Nihilist is too 19th century; emotivist is too 20th century; Narrative is the 21st century Nietzsche descriptor and battleground.Report

          • CJColucci in reply to Marchmaine
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            You seem to share the misapprehension that I am disagreeing with Jaybird’s substantive point, such as it is, on the OP. I simply did not address that. Rather, I addressed the throwaway line on Socrates. That has been laid out in already excessive detail above.Report

  2. Chip Daniels
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    If one person asserting they are non-human freaks you out, wait til you find out the percentage of people who think the last election was stolen.
    Or just how many people are followers of the Q Anon cult.

    But this is a bit different than what the author is speaking about.
    Her essay takes umbrage at private individual acts of self-declared truth where people assert some inner revelation.

    I don’t find this to be troubling nearly as much as the other kind, which is the product of propaganda, the deliberate misinformation and disinformation and outright lies spread by powerful people for malicious ends.Report

  3. Kristin Devine
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    Great piece! Thanks for sharing it with us.Report

  4. Greg In Ak
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    I’m a Pro Pronoun person. I’ll use whatever people ask and don’t have a problem with it. If a woman said she was actually a tree I’d call her what she wants and privately think she is a weirdo and/or mentally ill. Same thing I would thought about someone 35 years ago. Who cares?

    I know you are using an anecdote to prove a point but I don’t think you are proving your point at all. Always have been weird people or those in a very different reality.

    On 1776 people very much did not all share the same reality. Slaves and indigenous people did not see things the same way white british/American did.Report

    • Chris in reply to Greg In Ak
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      It’s hard not to think that this conservative freakout at the mainstreaming of countercultural ideas among the youth is no different from that of the 60s, or the 80s, or the 90s, or whenever. Perhaps the only difference now is that with social media, a bunch of people who would have been otherwise completely shielded from it within their sheltered little world now have access to the full range of human diversity, and it scares the shit out of them.

      It’s always amusing when someone in a sheltered little world thinks that world is the be-all, end-all of the “objective” universe, though.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Greg In Ak
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      Speaking of alternate realities, who won the 2020 presidential election?Report

  5. Rufus F.
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    I have become deeply concerned for the next generation. I know that every older generation is concerned for the one that comes next, but I just finished watching a TikTok video…

    And I’m going to stop you right there!Report

    • JS in reply to Rufus F.
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      I pretty much tuned out after that too.

      You can cherry pick Tumblr, Twitter, Tik-Tok, whatever, and find whatever you need to “prove” a point. Of course we all know it’s cherry-picked nonsense, but for some reason people keep doing it.

      “Look what someone with 22 followers said on Twitter! He said exactly what Joe Biden and all Democrats are secretly thinking! It’s right there in black and white! Therefore, you must now prove Joe Biden doesn’t plan to break up America into 4 nations based around their elemental bending styles!”

      Jeebus.

      I love the way it was tied into pronouns. The subtext is pretty clear to read: “This one person identifies as a fae. Therefore, anyone who isn’t cis is just a product of being coddled as a child. Their precious safe spaces have let them not grow up so they’re stuck playing pretend, instead of accepting the reality that there are two genders, and what’s between your legs defines them”Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to JS
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        Thing is, in my experience, the only people who have actually compelled me to believe something that went against the evidence of my senses were evangelicals and, even there, as an adult, I feel free to let them have their beliefs and keep mine and it’s really no skin off my nose.

        Honestly, I can’t imagine a world in which someone told me they were a tree and I was in any way forced to agree to that. Maybe I’d think it wasn’t worth arguing and leaf them to their notions, so to speak. But it won’t happen anyway.

        As for transpeople, I’ve known a staggering total of two during my life and I knew them when they were one gender and after they transitioned to another and they seem happier now. Big whoop. I think we all survived with out reality prinicples intact.Report

        • JS in reply to Rufus F.
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          How many people do you meet that want you to treat them as a tree? In real life? Zero?

          But you met trans people. And when they said “I’ve changed my name, I’m transfem/transman now, please use the proper pronouns” you didn’t care. It wasn’t a big deal.

          Because calling someone by the name they tell you, or using pronouns for the gender they identify with, is common effing courtesy.

          Except, apparently, with some people. Who, if you made a Venn Diagram of them and the “Gay marriage means beastility will be legal” people, would make a circle.

          Which makes me pretty darn sure their problem isn’t pronouns, or the rando on Twitter claiming to be a tree, because that really wasn’t their problem before. And it isn’t now.

          Of course they also tend to lean on pictures of pre-transition transfemmes with “DO YOU WANT HIM IN THE WOMEN’S BATHROOM” and strangely never show post-transition transmen with the same caption.

          It’s just…gay panic. Still. Again.Report

          • CJColucci in reply to JS
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            On the odds, which is more likely, that the Tik Toker, was actually asserting that she does not identify as human and, therefore, wants to be addressed by certain pronouns, or that this was a spoof?Report

            • JS in reply to CJColucci
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              I mean there are the….otherkin? But that’s a community about as big as the one in Japan that runs around dressed like Grease was done as an anime.

              Again, social media makes everything look big, and allows people to reinforce their biases by saying stupid stuff Gervais’ “I identify as an attack helicopter” stuff.

              I cannot stress this enough — the people freaking about about bathrooms and pronouns are literally the exact same people (and politicians) who claimed gay marriage would legalize bestiality. They haven’t changed.

              it’s simply that outright bashing gays and gay marriage gets them more backlash than they want to deal with, so they complain about trans people instead. And even THAT gets them so much backlash that they’re dancing around it, with stupidity like…this.Report

              • veronica d in reply to JS
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                Otherkin aren’t that rare. I know perhaps a dozen, and this is in meat space. The thing is, most otherkin I know are fully aware that they are human. They just claim a kind of spiritual connection with “something else.”

                They vary to the degree they think it’s “really-real.” In the end, however, they’re no more annoying than astrology believers or Christians. In fact, they seem on average way less defensive about their beliefs than astrology believers or Christians.

                Next time I’m at a real keyboard, I’ll tell you all about this one dude I met who went to goth clubs every weekend hoping to get turned into a real vampire. Whereas most nerdy dudes would settle for pining after the proverbial “big tittie goth gf,” this dude set his aim far higher. He would settle for nothing less than blood drinking eternity.

                As far as I know he never got his wish, on account of the fact that vampires are make-believe. That said, he did get to hang out with attractive people and dance to cool music, so it wasn’t a complete loss.Report

              • North in reply to veronica d
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                Yeah, I’ve run into no small number of otherkin types and the really big take away is that, by and large, they don’t -matter- from a policy perspective. Ok maybe you have a dude who asserts he is a werewolf or a lady who feels a romantic connection to a bridge but there’s no policy ask. Government doesn’t need to do anything but treat them like any other person.

                Same with most trans stuff. The asks from trans people are mainly pretty zero sum free: just treat them like who they are and everything is fine. There’s a couple of rocky areas*, especially around subjects where trans issues collide with feminism and the very prickly matter of trans identifying kids but the majority of trans issues are really… well… easy. Just be a decent human being to them. That’s part of why the screaming over it is so loud- the stakes are so low for most people (who aren’t themselves Trans).

                *And, in the spirit of ecumenical comity I can admit that there may be a few minor areas where the left is waaaay out over its skis like trying to impose top-down changes on general language.Report

              • veronica d in reply to North
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                *And, in the spirit of ecumenical comity I can admit that there may be a few minor areas where the left is waaaay out over its skis like trying to impose top-down changes on general language.

                As an amateur linguists (meaning I’ve read a few linguistics texts), I think neo-pronouns are unlikely to catch on. I’d be happy if they did, on moral grounds, but pronouns change very slowly and you literally cannot force this top-down. This isn’t a matter of ethics or policy. It’s just how language works.

                That said, singular-they is already baked into English. Those who argue against it on “amateur linguistics” grounds are being bad at linguistics.

                (It’s very common for people who argue against singular-they to accidentally use singular-they in their own argument. This is the same kind of irony where every time some “how to write” guide tells us not to use passive voice, they use passive voice in the very paragraph where they argue we should not.)

                Anyway, I think enbies will need to accept “they” pronouns. It’s already baked into English. Most do.

                I once had two friends who were dating, both enbies who preferred neo-pronouns. One took “zie/hir” and the other “zie/zir.” They each had a strong preference.

                I did my best, but seriously, it’s a lot to keep track of. In other words, neo-pronouns are a bit much, particularly when no one can agree on which neo-pronouns to use, even when dating.

                I once spent some time with a person who insisted on “it” pronouns. Yes, they wanted to be called “it” (or should I say it wanted to be called “it.” Yeesh.) It also turns out they were into Nazi cosplay. They were trans and into Nazi cosplay.

                I met them at a Jewish wedding.

                Every detail of this story is true.

                Anyway, there are some odd people in the world.

                Personally I find it very difficult to call a human being “it,” even a Nazi cosplayer. I’ll respect their wishes, I suppose. I’ll do my best, but seriously, that some awkward shit.

                I’ve met one person in real life who wanted truly weird pronouns.

                (Audience: wait! The “it” person doesn’t count as truly weird? About which, well you have a point, but at least “it” is an actual English word.)

                Anyway, I’ve met a “fae/fir” (or whatever) pronoun user in meat space. I’ve seen quite a few online, but have only met one irl. I never got close to them. I don’t have a problem with it, in theory, but language really doesn’t work that way — I say donning my amateur linguist hat.

                In principle I don’t mind calling such people “fae/fir” (or whatever). But I might not always remember. Honestly, singular-they is a far more reasonable ask — and in fact is what most enbies are asking for.

                Sure, you can find very weird people online, particularly if you follow right-wing cringe media who will seek them out for you and present a nicely curated list of weirdos for you to hate at. You could do that. Or you could choose not to do that.Report

              • North in reply to veronica d
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                Oh yes, I don’t think pronouns are necessarily all that whack, even the whacky ones. I suspect that other linguistic changes have even less odds of being accepted than pronouns. Birthing person instead of mother, for instance, strikes me as not only an unsuccessful attempt but a foolishly unsuccessful attempt in a way that is going to hurt the cause long term.Report

              • JS in reply to veronica d
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                Fair enough on the otherkin.

                I mean lord knows I’ve met plenty of people who, bluntly, are really into dogs, horses, cats, etc and build a huge identity around how much they relate to animal X.

                They don’t call themselves otherkin, but I can see similar roots to what you’re describing.Report

      • veronica d in reply to JS
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        Therefore, you must now prove Joe Biden doesn’t plan to break up America into 4 nations based around their elemental bending styles!”

        I wanna be in water nation! Please tell me I can be in water nation!Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to veronica d
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          The Most Serene Republic of Venice will gladly have you.Report

          • veronica d in reply to LeeEsq
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            I think Venice really needs to hire some earthbenders.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to veronica d
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              I think it’s cool that an (out of left field) kids show from Nickleodeon from over a decade ago has so infiltrated cultures around the world that people know what earth and water bending is.Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to veronica d
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              Watter-benders aren’t doing much to keep the sea under control and that is their bailiwick.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq
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                A handful of earth benders and you don’t need this:
                https://travelindustrytoday.com/holy-moses-venice-tests-dike-on-demand-flood-barrier/Report

              • veronica d in reply to LeeEsq
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                says:

                [Warning, nerd mode]

                I don’t think we can expect the water benders to control rising sea levels. From the show, it seems that water benders can only temporarily control water, and only in a limited region. They can’t hold back an ocean, at least not in a sustained way. As soon as their bending power stops, the water will revert to its nature and flow. By contrast, earth benders can shape earth, and when they are done it will stay in place, which is the nature of earth, at least the nature of stone.

                In the case of Venice, presumably a significant number of earth benders could, with great care, raise the city, after which it would stay raised. A similar number of water benders could hold back the water, but only for as long as they continue bending. It would not stay held back.Report

              • North in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                *puts on fellow nerd hat*
                I agree with Veronica. It’s not a coincidence that Water Benders dwell predominantly in polar ice regions. The cold lets them “fix” the water for permanent dwellings in a manner that they’d otherwise be unable to. Ice bending doesn’t seem to be terribly hard for them, I suppose it’s really just a density control thing though my inner scientist protests that turning water to ice through pressure requires an astronomical amount of pressure and if water benders can generate that pressure through bending then they should be waaaaay more scary than they’re portrayed on the show.

                Anyhow.. you’d want a lot of Earth Benders to help out Venice.Report

              • veronica d in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                I suppose it’s really just a density control thing though my inner scientist protests that turning water to ice through pressure requires an astronomical amount of pressure and if water benders can generate that pressure through bending then they should be waaaaay more scary than they’re portrayed on the show.

                More scary than blood bending, cuz that was some evil shit.Report

              • North in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                Yeah that was crazy evil scary stuff.Report

      • Pinky in reply to JS
        Ignored
        says:

        Slippery slope arguments don’t prove anything, but it’s legitimate to raise them when a set of principles permit desired outcome A and also undesired outcome B.Report

        • Rufus F. in reply to Pinky
          Ignored
          says:

          I think they’re legitimate arguments, but it’s also legitimate to weigh likelihoods. It can be the case that X could lead to Y, but it’s exceedingly unlikely. That’s how I take the example that redefining marriage could lead to people wanting to marry their cat. It’s possible, but exceedingly unlikely that society will sanction person-cat marriages.Report

          • Pinky in reply to Rufus F.
            Ignored
            says:

            If you need to accept a series of principles to get to point A, and there are no additional principles that need to be accepted to get to point B, what is there logically or consistent with human history to make you think that point B is off the table?Report

            • Rufus F. in reply to Pinky
              Ignored
              says:

              I didn’t say off the table; I said exceedingly unlikely. I can extrapolate from what I know of human behavior and history that it is exceedingly unlikely that I will be forced at some point in the future to accept that a person is a tree or see someone legally married to a cat in my society. Not impossible, but really fishing unlikely.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Rufus F.
                Ignored
                says:

                My female dog is at my feet as I write this. What would marriage to my dog look like? Would my dog be allowed to inherit my property if I died intestate, or I hers if she did the same? Would I not be allowed to sell her or give her away? Would either of us be able to “divorce” the other? Would I have any greater say in medical decisions relating to her — including euthanasia — than I do now? Would she have any say at all in medical decisions relating to me? If I had sex with her, would our “marriage” be a defense to an animal cruelty prosecution? How would anyone know we were married? Presumably, marriage would still require the consent of both parties, and how would we determine if Bella consented?
                I suppose anyone could say, I’m married to my dog, but would that mean anything more than calling myself Bella’s daddy would? Either way she’s a spoiled little b***h.
                The argument that same-sex marriage would lead to human-canine marriage was always bad faith trolling, though, to be fair, we could pretend to take the logic seriously and argue just as easily that any sort of marriage would lead to human-canine marriage. It makes just as much, or just as little, sense.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                I do like to think there was one poor government worker who had to take calls though and explain to people why they couldn’t legally wed their iguana.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Rufus F.
                Ignored
                says:

                Might be a fun retirement gig. I’ll look into it.Report

    • Douglas Hayden in reply to Rufus F.
      Ignored
      says:

      I made it a little farther, but then I couldn’t stop hearing Another Brick In The Wall Pt II so I put on some Floyd and jumped to the comments.Report

  6. Dark Matter
    Ignored
    says:

    Most of their goals resembled South Park’s underwear gnomes:
    Step 1: Go to College
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: Profit

    +10 right there.

    Right behind that we have “money doesn’t matter”. Good parenting includes talking about money, and how to make plans, and how to evaluate facts.Report

  7. Andy
    Ignored
    says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t worry about this too much. The kind of weird things that float to the top of social media are an anomaly. As your kid grows they will learn to separate things out on their own with a bit of guidance from you.

    I have three kids which are now 17, 16 and 11. All they’ve really needed is the encouragement to live in the physical world along with reminders that social media is not an accurate reflection of the real world, or what’s important.Report

    • JS in reply to Andy
      Ignored
      says:

      “All they’ve really needed is the encouragement to live in the physical world along with reminders that social media is not an accurate reflection of the real world, or what’s important.”

      Honestly, I think kids know that pretty well. it’s the grown adults that can’t seem to tell that Twitter isn’t the real world.Report

      • North in reply to JS
        Ignored
        says:

        Yeah, the ones who are growing up with it? They’re the ones developing mental antibodies. It’s the ones for whom the technology is new that tend to produce the biggest dysfunction.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to North
          Ignored
          says:

          This is where the “you want to kill grandma!” criticism has real teeth.Report

        • JS in reply to North
          Ignored
          says:

          My entire tik-tok interests are:

          DnD.
          Ren Fest/cosplay stuff. (I’m happily obsessed with people doing transitions to ren fest garb to sea shanties. I’ll watch that all day)
          Gen Xer’s bitching.
          Some funny couples stuff that amuses me.
          LBGTQ+ stuff that fits my fairly narrow interests. None of the ones I follow are activists, other than by sheer dint of existing and out makes them controversial to a subset of people who apparently cannot mind their own business, and to whom the existence of anyone even slightly different than themselves is a terrifying threat. It makes me wonder how they survived to adulthood with such fear.Report

          • North in reply to JS
            Ignored
            says:

            I am more of a youtuber and don’t get what the distinction is between it and Tik-tok really. I suspect I’m also older than you.Report

            • JS in reply to North
              Ignored
              says:

              Wrong side of “mid 40s”. Tik-Tok is just…faster YouTube, really, with an emphasis on memes and trend progression.

              Sort of like vines, but it’s a lot of “Person A did this cool thing, here’s my version” and “Person B did Person A’s thing, here’s my reaction”.

              So the aforementioned transitions — a LOT of people were doing similar garb transitions at the same time, as they were inspired by others.

              Which of course got grabbed the “my brand is I’m SEXY” sorts to do their own, or perhaps vice versa. I dunno.

              I’m spending my time giggling over the “Help, my players formed an all gnome bard adventuring party called ‘My Chemical Gnomance’ and are acting like Motley Crue and have burned down two cities” DM complaints.Report

            • veronica d in reply to North
              Ignored
              says:

              It’s pretty straightforward. TikTok is the Dark Souls of video sharing platforms.Report

      • Andy in reply to JS
        Ignored
        says:

        I dunno, I see a lof of my kid’s peers get wrapped up in social media nonsense. And I remember back to my childhood when there wasn’t an internet and I got wrapped up into believing a lot of nonsense.

        My Dad taught me to be skeptical, but for a few years, I ignored that and wasn’t fully self-aware.

        I’m doing the same thing with my own kids, guiding them to be skeptical about stuff they see and read on the internet. So far it seems to be working…Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Andy
      Ignored
      says:

      My 9 year old sometimes talks like Pokemon are real, with such fevor that I occasionally check with him that he gets that Pokemon are imaginary and from a game and cartoons. I always get a solid affirmative, usually followed by a declaration of “Daddy! I choose you!”, and a thrown toy Pokeball.Report

  8. Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    If Ibram Kendi is the motte, here is the bailey:

    Tennessee Department of Education rejects complaint filed under anti-critical race theory law

    The complaint, the first directed to the state under the new law passed this spring, was filed by Robin Steenman, chair of the Moms for Liberty Williamson County chapter, a conservative parent group sweeping the nation.

    The group detailed concerns with four specific books on subjects like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, the integration of California schools by advocate Sylvia Mendez and her family, and the autobiography of Ruby Bridges, adapted for younger learners.</I.

    Oh, here is a delicious tidbit:
    the new law prohibits 14 concepts such as the idea that one race bears responsibility for past actions against another
    Apparently slavery happened, but strangely, no one race was responsible for it.

    Yeah. We DO need to make truth self-evident again.Report

    • Chris in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      Worth noting that they rejected the complaint for not following procedure, and have not ruled on the merits of the complaint.

      Not worth noting, but I’ll note it anyway: I grew up in Williamson County.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      Prohibit 14 concepts while saying 14 words.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      A German person doesn’t bear responsibility for the Holocaust. The German people don’t. Some German people do (or by this point, mostly “did”). I can understand why that law might make you nervous, but there’s nothing in that example that should offend you.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
        Ignored
        says:

        That would be a good argument if the books said such a thing.

        Do they?Report

        • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
          Ignored
          says:

          I don’t know, I’m not the one who quoted a few lines from an article as if it were a national crisis. Do they? Does the law restrict anything that should be taught?

          The statement “one race bears responsibility for past actions against another” is bigoted, race essentialism, or whatever the right terminology is to label something that’s truly wrong and shouldn’t be taught. Chip, trust me when I say this, you’re not responsible for slavery, and I’ll fight anyone who tries to teach kids that you are.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
            Ignored
            says:

            I don’t believe any school district is saying such a thing.

            But it won’t stop white people from banning any book that truthfully notes that almost all slavers were white,nor that racism invariably favors white people.Report

            • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
              Ignored
              says:

              Evidence? Somewhere? Anything that connects this article, this law, or those books to your theories?

              ETA: If you’re saying that US slavery benefitted some white people, I agree. If you’re saying that all slavery benefits all white people, on the other hand…Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                All racism did and still does in fact.benefit all white people.

                There has been a lot of writing on this point, essentially that no matter how poor a white person was, racism acted as a poor man’s aristocracy, elevating him above the highest black man.

                Read Pap’s monologue in Huckleberry Finn for a good sense of it.Report

              • JS in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Scalzi compared white privilege to video game difficulty levels.

                White male is “easy mode”.

                That doesn’t mean that easy mode isn’t hard — the easy mode of one game might be more harder than the hardest mode of another.

                it’s just that if you play the exact same game, being a white male is going to be easier than a black female.

                Your white male experience might be a Dark Souls ball-crushing experience even on easy, but swap your gender and skin color and — at least here — that just make it harder.

                Even IF some black guy wanders by playing Stardew Valley.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to JS
                Ignored
                says:

                it’s just that if you play the exact same game, being a white male is going to be easier than a black female.

                How does that work mechanically? If it’s something like Jim Crow is back, or the Klan lynches Blacks who are too successful, then that’s a problem. If it’s bad cultural habits having predictably bad outcomes, then that’s a different problem.

                “The exact same game” for my kids would mean “grew up with two married parents with minimal bad habits who care deeply about their kids’ education and train them in how to join the middle/upper class”.

                If “the exact same game” means “one unmarried parent with bad habits surrounded by other adults who teach bad cultural habits”, then it’s not really “the same game”.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                This sentiment is closer to the evil core of racism than anything I’ve ever heard on the right.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                But then again, we know, because you tell us, that your exposure to the right is limited to non-embarrassing folk.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                If we’re reaching back 2+ generations, then we’re dealing with history and not ethics.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                How about reaching back to lunchtime today?

                Seriously, everytime we walk down the street or into a store our whiteness, our maleness our cis-ness and fluency with English all confer benefits upon us that are denied others.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Then you won’t need to reach back 2+ generations to make your point, much less redefine what “truth” means.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky
        Ignored
        says:

        Germany has accepted responsibility for and paid reparations for the Holocaust. Was this a bad idea?Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      Oh, here is a delicious tidbit:

      An individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility
      for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex

      Apparently slavery happened, but strangely, no one race was responsible for it.

      Here’s the actual text of the relevant section of the bill. This is what Tennessee teachers are prohibited from teaching on the clock in public classrooms:

      An individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility
      for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex

      We’ve been over this before. This is the standard boilerplate that’s used in similar bills in numerous other states. You should know not to trust a journalist to get these details right. You should be familiar enough with the basic gist of these laws that that should have tripped a red flag.

      Look, I get it. You desperately want these bills to be about a bunch of dumb hicks trying to ban teaching history accurately, because if that were true, you wouldn’t have to defend this garbage on its merits. But it isn’t, so you just lie. You’ve just been repeating the same lie over and over again, no matter how many times you’re corrected on this point.

      You need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask why you’re so committed to defending something that requires you to lie so often.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Brandon Berg
        Ignored
        says:

        They are trying to ban the writings of MLK and Ruby Bridges.
        They aren’t hicks.
        They’re racists.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
          Ignored
          says:

          The people who refuse to make the “I have a dream” speech fair use are preventing people from sharing it with others.Report

          • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Great to see someone making my point for me. Saves a lot of work.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
              Ignored
              says:

              I said the same thing about the people who banned the “eskimo fish” Dr. Seuss books.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes, we know, which is the point.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                When *WE* do it, we like to point out that it’s still available for purchase on ebay, libraries, and it’s not illegal to own privately. Indeed, we ask whether it should be an obligation for every bookstore to sell every single book and every library to keep it on the shelves.

                This wide-eyed incredulity does not extend to others, however.

                And we wonder why our social capital is less than it was yesterday. “Racism”, we say. “White supremacy.”Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                The quest for BSDI always leads to bizarre and contorted equivalencies.

                In this case, a publisher voluntarily deciding to withhold a book is held to be equal to a state banning books in schools.

                A racial slur is held to be equal to a protest against racial slurs.

                But more than that, the BSDI has an underlying component of treating this as all just a joke, like anti-racism is just a big scam, some sort of hustle with white people as the victims.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I still have no idea how “both sides do it” is considered fallacious when it’s used to point out why oppositional players defect in an iterated game.

                “Those people are defecting!”
                “You defected.”
                “BOTH SIDES DO IT, HUH????”

                Yes. One of the best ways to ensure future defections is to excuse one’s own defections.

                In this case, a publisher voluntarily deciding to withhold a book is held to be equal to a state banning books in schools.

                Remember the argument about how the book wasn’t banned because people still had access to it?

                Well, people still have access to these books as well, Chip. Available on Amazon and maybe even your public library. “Banned” is not a word that applies.

                I mean, it might under an umbrella of stuff like Enlightenment Thought but that umbrella hasn’t covered stuff over here for a while.

                You want to get rid of limiting principles? You’re going to find yourself reading a lot of people quoting that line from Man of All Seasons that talks about the winds blowing.

                But more than that, the BSDI has an underlying component of treating this as all just a joke, like anti-racism is just a big scam, some sort of hustle with white people as the victims.

                It’s treating it like an iterated game.

                One where players are allowed to remember who defected last time. And the time before that. And the time before that.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Your vigorous defense of the censors here doesn’t even have logic to it.

                Schools have a mandate to teach history, so them pulling books is entirely different matter than a publisher pulling a book that has no serious historical value.

                But your strenuous defense is what I referred to, that the possibility of racist oppression being a real thing is discounted to the level of a child’s fairytale.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t think history should be censored. I think that it should be taught. Merely the correct version needs to be taught and not the incorrect version. People who want to teach the incorrect version are going to harm children and I want that harm prevented.

                What is so difficult to understand about this?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                There is a difference between fighting “racism” and fighting “inequality”.

                Equating the two just shows how limited racism is now days.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Indeed you did, back when that was the subject.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                If you don’t see the relevance, that’s your problem not mine.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Copyright reform now! Next up–cop unions or qualified immunity?Report

  9. Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    I agree with the OP’s proposition that gender identity and preferred pronouns are based on religion. This is why I disagree with much of the rest of the article.

    One of the “self-evident truths” upon which this country was founded is the individual’s right to pursue happiness. If it seems likely to me that being called “tree” rather than “he” will increase my own happiness, what concern is it of yours that I do so? It neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg; it costs you a small amount of mental effort to get it right as I asked of you.

    And you would gladly expend this effort to remember something about me if I let you know that I was an Evangelical Christian, a Catholic, a Mormon, a Muslim, or an atheist. And perhaps even moderate your own speech accordingly. For instance, by not telling me why your faith was somehow “true” and mine was somehow less so. You would keep that particular opinion to yourself. And we would get along better for it.

    If I told you I were gay, or bi, or ace, would you tell me I was wrong?

    If I told you I were a fan of the Green Bay Packers, or cheesy science fiction movies, or hoppy craft beers, or rare prime rib, or symphonic music, would you think I was in error somehow, and correct me in the interest of teaching “truth?”

    Of course not.

    “But these things are opinions, they’re preferences!” I anticipate as the objection. “Your gender is an objective fact, and you aren’t entitled to make up your own facts as you prefer. That would make you as erroneous as vax denialists or Flat Earthers.”

    To which I would say, my sex, the kind of reproductive organs developed by my body’s biology, is an objective (though, with modern medical science, at least superficially mutable) fact. My gender is not synonymous with that; gender is an affinity motivated by the unconscious sense of what is right and true, a purely subjective experience. It is at least partly what I want to do about my sex. Exactly the same as religion: there is nothing objective about religion.

    If the USA has any fundamental self-evident truth woven into our cultural fabric, it is that we tolerate one anothers’ religions as best we can. And the burden of tolerating another’s religious beliefs about their own gender identity is small.

    I think your (cultural, though not legal) duty as an American is to make that effort.

    (N.b., after initially writing this, I went back and used my Super Editor Powers to clean up the text that I wrote on my phone while having lunch.)Report

    • JS in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      Sex isn’t even binary. Not even by chromosomes, thanks to the existence of intersex people.

      The hangups about gender and gender identity really seem to be gay panic by people who know that openly shuddering in fright at the idea of gays is no longer so accepted, but it’s the same discomfort of “These people don’t fit in the straight cis box I want to exist, therefore they make me uncomfortable, therefore THEY MUST STOP because my comfort trumps all”.

      If you reach back to the 90s and the conversations about homosexuality that were popping up as consensus shifted, there was a really wide-spread “But what if someone of the same sex hits on ME” sort of fear, that frankly read as just as much gender based as sexual orientation based.

      I heard plenty of people boil down their fear of gays to basically “But what if they treat me like [the opposite sex]?” — it wasn’t just being hit on or someone lusting after them, there was a real component of being treated as the wrong gender. (Which is ironic given they’ve all gone into hating trans people who just want to…stop being treated as the wrong gender).

      And frankly I’m just tired of it. Other people are different. So what? Grow up and deal with it. Don’t be a jerk. Use the name someone introduces themselves to you as, the pronouns they prefer, and just get on with your life.

      And if someone out there identifies as a wolf, well — I’ll care when he keeps eating your chickens and peeing on your cars. Until then, if it makes him happy to wear wolf ears and talk about pack bonding, well — what’s it hurt me? And how is it MY business anyways?Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to JS
        Ignored
        says:

        Obviously, there are some things which are at least theoretically subject to objective verification, and sometimes those issues are of critical importance. “Is this water I’m about to drink pure or contaminated?” “Will the mRNA vaccine safely improve my resistance to COVID-19?” In such situations I say we are not obligated to humor flat Earthers who insist on calling their fantasies “true.”

        The OP bakes into its reasoning the assumption that gender identity falls within the category of matters which are objectively determinable. Suffice to say that I propose that this assumption is incorrect.Report

        • JS in reply to Burt Likko
          Ignored
          says:

          “The OP bakes into its reasoning the assumption that gender identity falls within the category of matters which are objectively determinable. Suffice to say that I propose that this assumption is incorrect.”

          Yep. It’s really, really not. It’s not even binary. (Hi! Genderfluid here!). Never has been, really. You can find trans people and genderfluidity throughout multiple cultures in history. Culture dictates how open it is, but doesn’t make it not exist.Report

    • Zane in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      This is beautifully written, Burt. Thank you for making the comment.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      “It neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg…”

      It’s amazing how often people hold this as a defense of their own perceptions/perspectives, and promptly forget it when it comes to someone else’s.

      For the sake of argument – flat earther’s impact others not at all, except to be annoying. If they suddenly got enough cachet to affect science curriculum, then perhaps*…

      Anti-vaxers, on the other hand, put others at risk by not getting themselves or their kids vaccinated just because, so there is some leg breaking going on.

      *I had a biology teacher in High School who was very clearly not a fan of evolutionary theory, but he taught evolutionary theory as required, even if he still had to make little comments about “Our Creator”.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Oscar Gordon
        Ignored
        says:

        Seems reasonable enough to prioritize dealing with ideas pervasive enough to pose actual threats over those obscure enough that they don’t actually affect anything even if they potentially could.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      I appreciate the Jefferson reference. The exact same defense of religious pluralism has come to mind in terms of this issue weirdly enough. I might have even said if my neighbor wants to live as a man, a woman, or a furry, it neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      “If it seems likely to me that being called “tree” rather than “he” will increase my own happiness, what concern is it of yours that I do so? It neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg…”

      Does it pick your pocket or break your leg if I say “no, I’d rather call you ‘he'”? What if my “happiness” is based around not calling people “tree”? Whose “happiness” holds trumps?Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        If your happiness is derived from intentionally doing something that causes me unhappiness, then you are a sadist.

        Sadism is a less universalizable basis for assessing utility than respect: if we apportion utility on a sadistic principle, everyone will behave sadistically and there will be less overall utility. Including for you, because more people will behave sadistically towards you, responding to the incentive which you created.

        Therefore, in your scenario, you ought to defer to my wishes, not the other way around.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Burt Likko
          Ignored
          says:

          “If your happiness is derived from intentionally doing something that causes me unhappiness, then you are a sadist.”

          What if my “happiness” is based around not calling people “tree”? It makes you unhappy that I won’t call you “tree”, and it makes me unhappy when you sue me for discrimination and ten thousand people hear about it on the internet and review-bomb me. Which of us is the “sadist” there?Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to DensityDuck
            Ignored
            says:

            “when you force your concept of morality on me, it makes me unhappy, therefore you are a sadist”

            There’s nothing about that statement that implies who is on which end of it.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck
              Ignored
              says:

              I wouldn’t mind people forcing actual morality on me but when they force their aesthetic preferences and call it “morality” then it’s irritating at best and when they force their matters of taste on me and call them “morality” it’s sadistic.Report

            • Burt Likko in reply to DensityDuck
              Ignored
              says:

              Q: I’ve done rule utilitarianism for you; would you like to move on to deontology next?

              A: No, because breaking my rule of ignoring you has only served as a reminder of why I imposed that rule on myself in the first place.

              Do your own moral analysis. Or not. I don’t care.Report

    • Dark Matter in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      If it seems likely to me that being called “tree” rather than “he” will increase my own happiness, what concern is it of yours that I do so? It neither picks your pocket nor breaks your leg; it costs you a small amount of mental effort to get it right as I asked of you.

      Depends on how much that “small amount of mental effort” costs as a percentage of my investment in you.

      If you’re a family member, then fine.

      If you’re one of a hundred people I’m processing in a line and I’d like to spend one second per person, having a minute conversation on this subject is you attention seeking and a total waste of my time.

      If you’re a fellow engineer at work, then I need to learn a special rule that applies to you only and it’s always going to be jarring. When I had co-workers transition genders I put them in the other mental box and call it a day. Gender mostly doesn’t come up at work so there that.

      How jarring it will be depends on how often I need to interact with you. If it’s constantly I imagine I’d learn. If it’s once in a rare while then it’s always going to be jarring/annoying/attention getting (which I assume is the point).Report

  10. LeeEsq
    Ignored
    says:

    There is a theory that people used to be a lot harder in the past when a simple cut from gardening could result an infected wound with a 50/50 chance of killing you, no really the first person to get pencilin was dying from a minor gardening accident when he got the shot. This leads some people these days to complain about how weak modern people are becuase of this or that.

    My theory is that humans weren’t really that much tougher in the past and prepared to face the real world and it’s hardships because they weren’t raised on Disney or something like that. I really believe that most humans aren’t that tough and were never that tough. The reality is that you add lots of undiagnosed and poorly understood mental health problems in the past. Looking at all the tombstones of parents grieving for their kids before they turned five is pretty much solid evidence that humans were psychological wrecks for a lot of our history.

    So the issue isn’t that people are less tough than we were in the past. Most humans never faced hardship with stoic resignation. The issue is that we are making a world where humans can thrive as we are rather than some imagined idea of toughness and the school of hard knocks.Report

    • JS in reply to LeeEsq
      Ignored
      says:

      Or shorter: “My dad beat me as a kid when I didn’t pay attention, I don’t see why I can’t beat the ADHD out of my kid”.

      Even though…NOT doing that leads to better outcomes.

      But corporal punishment has a certain brutal simplicity that appeals to many MUCH more some complicated thing that was DIFFERENT than how you were raised.

      Hell, I’ve met people whose parents got angry — legit mad — that they raised their own kids a bit differently than they were raised, because they felt it was some weird sort of attack. Because apparently choosing a different parenting method was saying that said grandparents screwed up raising them.Report

  11. John Puccio
    Ignored
    says:

    Thanks for sharing this Becca.

    I’m two decades down the road as.a parent. Despite best intentions to raise my 2 kids to be self-resilient and resist the current culture of entitlement, the societal pull towards “my truth” and 2+2+5 is an overwhelming force.

    You do the best you can and when they truly, finally, cut the chord, you trust they will figure it out. If anything, with the pragmatic grounding you instill in your children, it should give them an advantage over their snowflake cohort.Report

  12. Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    Further: if this topic interests you, and you haven’t read it yet, Kurt Anderson’s Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire ought to be on your holiday gift-to-yourself-or-to-tell-others-you-want-it list. However, good Readers, be aware that the majority of the fantabulists Anderson takes to task in his book are of either the religious or politically conservative variety. One is left with the notion that no one has a monopoly on basing public activities and lives on wishes, realities, hopes, fears, and dreams rather than evidence, logic, science, history, and plausibility, but that also doesn’t mean the struggle a balance of equivalently pernicious myths: some fantasies turn out to be more dangerous than others.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      I just watched the video on that link, and it seems very different from your description of the book’s contents. The author makes a strong distinction between the belief in the unproven, which has been historically American, and the disbelief in objective reality, which he dates from the hippee 1960’s. In this, I think he’s closer to the spirit of the original article than you are.Report

      • veronica d in reply to Pinky
        Ignored
        says:

        It is possible to be both 1) Christian and 2) a rational believer in science. For example, (to my knowledge) it is current Catholic doctrine that the earth is billions of years old and that evolution happened. Generally the approach is to say that God gave us rational minds to learn about the world. We should use our minds thusly.

        It’s not just Catholics. My father is a Lutheran minister who believes the earth is billions of years old, evolution is plausible science, and that in general science can be trusted. He also believe in the “love and mercy” parts of the bible far more than the fire and brimstone parts. I respect him quite a lot.

        I’m fine with this sort of thing. I’m not a Christian. I don’t believe in God, but I have no problem being neighbors or friends with someone who does, provided they are a rational sort of Christian. There are facts in the world available to our senses or (at least) understandable by empirical science. We should learn those facts and act accordingly.

        There are also values. The bible says a lot of things, some quite lovely, some quite horrible. You can pick which parts you want to focus on. My father chose the love and charity parts. Others choose otherwise.

        ####

        There is a popular Christian story about a man trapped on a roof during a flood. I expect most of you have heard it, but for anyone who hasn’t, the man repeatedly rejects relief efforts, from the coast guard and similar people, saying that “God will save me.” When he dies and goes to heaven, he asks God why he didn’t save the man. God responds, “I sent all those people to save you!”

        Insert obvious metaphor about the vaccine. Anyway, moving on …

        ####

        Contrast.

        After hurricane Katrina, one of the major evangelical figures asserted that the hurricane was a punishment sent by God because we had become too accepting of gay people. The evangelical wanted us, as a society, to be less accepting. His logic was if we don’t oppress gays, then God will kill us. The guy who said this had a lot of influence. He had “friends in Washington,” and plenty of them.

        The point is, this kind of hate has disproportionate political power, way more than some tenderqueer who thinks themself a tree.

        ####

        Are there more “otherkin” or are there more people who believe that God wants gay people violently executed, and that the US government should act accordingly?

        I suspect there are far more of the latter. Anyone who wants to talk about a general rise of delusional thinking in the US, and who focuses on the former group rather than the latter group, probably has an agenda that will, in practice, favor the latter group. After all, if trans people are all delusional freaks who are destroying society — well maybe it’s okay to treat them horribly.

        Similarly, if there really is a vast global conspiracy of Jews who want to destroy masculinity and make us all impoverished and addicted to porn …

        Fill in the blanks. We’ve seen this before.

        ####

        Are there more “otherkin” or are there more people who believe the election was stolen and that democracy can no longer be trusted and that violence is the only way to preserve their “way of life”?

        I could go on. You all should get it by now.

        ####

        Historically, trans people have tried to understand and articulate our situation in a variety of ways. Back in the day, a common refrain from trans people was they had a male/female soul, but born into a female/male body.

        Personally, I don’t believe in “souls,” never mind gendered souls. However, I understand what those people were trying to communicate. They were trying to put their internal experience into the only conceptual frame they had.

        In the early twentieth century, as scientists began to understand what hormones were and how they worked, many trans folks speculated that they maybe had weird hormones. This turns out to be false — at least when observing hormone levels in adults. (There are speculative theories about pre-natal hormone levels and brain development.) But people were trying to understand. There is nothing “anti-realism” or “anti-empirical” about any of this.

        In some indigenous societies, there was the idea of “two spirit” people. These were basically trans folks, but they expressed their condition in the social and religious beliefs of their society. In South Asia, there are the Hijra.

        In the west we have “trans people.”

        And yet, some weird kid on TikTok wants to be a tree, and thus all trans people are crazy — not only crazy but an actual menace to society, one worth focusing on.

        But we can ignore these vaccine deniers and election deniers and those who think God will punish us if we suffer a gay to live.

        These choices are not accidental.Report

        • Pinky in reply to veronica d
          Ignored
          says:

          I agree that it’s possible to be both rational and Christian. Kurt Andersen would disagree, though, and I suspect Burt would too.

          There’s a limit to what’s knowable by reason and/or observation. Both are typically repeatable processes, where someone else can come along and review the steps in your argument or recreate the conditions for observation. Reason and observation have limited value outside certain frameworks.

          A person of faith can believe in the provable and the unprovable. No one can believe in the disproven, though. They have to deny the validity of the proof or deny the existence of a single reality. That last item is the central point of the original article.Report

          • Burt Likko in reply to Pinky
            Ignored
            says:

            A person may certainly be Christian (or any other religion) and rational at the same time. A person might be atheistic and irrational at the same time too.

            Religion offers a social support group for the professed beliefs. These come in all sorts of flavors, most of which are entirely innocuous and many of which are benign.

            I’m not sure what specific belief in the “disproven” the OP condemns. The OP conflates sex and gender. That’s at best out of step with contemporary understanding that people express and act upon their sexualities in more than two (admittedly common) ways. Less charitably, it can be read to conflates rationality with heteronormativity, and this offering a reason to condemn the non-cishets among us as irrational and thus crazy, a point Veronica has already made.Report

        • Dark Matter in reply to veronica d
          Ignored
          says:

          thus all trans people are crazy — not only crazy but an actual menace to society, one worth focusing on.

          The Church needs to justify it’s existence and be in charge. A good way is to have an enemy. The best enemy will be scary, weak, and rare.

          Rare because if there are too many then you’ll lose more people than you gain. Kicking one person out of the church often means kicking out their friends and family. Losing people is losing money.

          We used to have witches. Then we had gays. Now, with the end of the closet, gays are too common. Thus the pivot to anti-trans.

          I’m not sure if the Left handed were before or after witches but there was a time when they were “sinister” (literal meaning: Left handed).Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Pinky
        Ignored
        says:

        I read the book, and he’s at pains in the book to distinguish between mainline religions and the ones that encourage actions based on bizarre beliefs and imminent doomsday theories. Those pre-date the kooky 1960’s.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Burt Likko
          Ignored
          says:

          I don’t think that’s the important distinction in this discussion. That’s a distinction that outsiders might find interesting, but it doesn’t deal with a rejection of reality, just an espousal of a bizarre interpretation of reality.Report

          • Burt Likko in reply to Pinky
            Ignored
            says:

            “…it doesn’t deal with a rejection of reality, just an espousal of a bizarre interpretation of reality.”

            Po-TAY-to, Po-TAH-to.Report

            • Pinky in reply to Burt Likko
              Ignored
              says:

              Seriously? That’s stupid. There’s a huge difference between believing what lies beyond your senses and denying your senses.Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                Which is why it matters that one distinguish between mainline religions and the ones that encourage actions based on bizarre beliefs and imminent doomsday theories.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Burt Likko
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s not…look, usually if a conversation is this unsuccessful, the participants need to clarify something.

                Consider four things: genetics, Methodism, original Mormonism, and Mormonism today. Genetics is a field of scientific study. It doesn’t take any position on issues outside its field of study. It’s based on observation and reason. Methodism is a branch of Protestant Christianity. It has beliefs about things outside the realm of observation and reason, none of which conflict with science. Mormonism as taught originally had some pretty wacky beliefs, but none of them conflicted with anything known to be true. Today, when we have the field of genetics and can prove that the Native Americans have no genetic tie to a supposed thirteenth tribe of Israel, Mormonism is in conflict with known truth. The contemporary Mormon practices his faith in a more conventional way than his predecessor, but he’s more adversarial toward truth than his predecessor.

                Does this analysis make sense to you?Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t know what to think of the veracity of your description of contemporary Mormonism. As a practical matter, contemporary Mormons act generally like members of other mainline Christian denominations. I don’t know what the contemporary Mormon’s position on the idea that Native Americans are the descendants of the Thirteenth Tribe, though I expect that he probably just doesn’t think about it very much.

                What confuses me about our exchange is that we seem to agree that there are some religious beliefs which aver to disclose Truths about things that are objectively unprovable. The existence of a soul resident in a human, and one or more “places” where that soul “goes” upon the bodily death of that human, for instance. Since souls seem to have no mass nor any measurable energy but instead are “spiritual,” this is a proposition which is not susceptible of objective proof or disproof.

                If a religion says that we have souls and those souls have various spiritual fates depending upon some sort of calculus or judgment based on our actions and choices in life, that too is not susceptible of objective proof or disproof.

                But, if a religion says that a faithful adherent is immune to the bites of poisonous snakes, that’s a rather different matter. That’s crossing the line into something that can in theory, and from time to time tragically in practice, be objectively disproven.

                So I think we both understand the concept of that which is provable and that which is not, and that religious beliefs come in both varieties. I think we both understand that religions that confine their preachings to the non-provable, numinous propositions about things like souls and the resolution of moral questions are going to be more likely to be “mainline” and those that insist upon belief in objectively disprovable things like the immediacy of the Apocalypse or the power of prayer alone to to cure various diseases and ailments demand their adherents to act contrary to objective reality.

                And so does Kurt Anderson (which is what this discussion was about to begin with).

                I claimed that Anderson is “at pains in the book to distinguish between mainline religions and the ones that encourage actions based on bizarre beliefs and imminent doomsday theories,” and you said this distinction “doesn’t deal with a rejection of reality, just an espousal of a bizarre interpretation of reality.” Yet it seems to me that you have argued precisely the opposite, that this is an important distinction to make. This foray, concerning whether contemporary Mormons still adhere to the scientifically-disprovable belief that Native Americans are genetically descended from the Israelites, appears to be precisely aimed at the question of whether Mormonism is a mainline sort of religion dealing with mainline religious issues (morality and faith in the numinous unprovable propositions like the existence of souls and heaven and angels) or if it crosses the line into kooky reality denialism, which can and sometimes does demand dangerous actions based upon objectively false claims of fact (like faith in God will make a man immune to rattlesnake bites).Report

              • Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko
                Ignored
                says:

                But really, oughtn’t we be having this discussion to offer thoughts on the point of the OP?

                The OP argues that things like gender and humanity are objective facts, and therefore people who identify as other than what they objectively are engage in a kooky, potentially harmful way.

                To which I said, first, “What does it cost you to honor someone else’s request to be addressed in a non-standard way? It’s harmless, so just do it as a matter of ordinary interpersonal respect.” Then in a second comment, I pointed out Fantasyland as a more exhaustive demonstration than I wished to make here that kooky, weird, and potentially harmful contra-reality beliefs have a long tradition in the United States and that tradition overlaps to a substantial degree with certain, shall we say, “extreme” religious beliefs. These turn out to be mostly Christian but not exclusively so, which oughtn’t be surprising in a nation that is mostly Christian but not exclusively so. Point being, we’ve been living with people who insist that their fantasies are reality even when their beliefs are objectively false, since at least the time the Pilgrims colonized Massachusetts.

                Maybe you and I are having a semantic disagreement about something we really don’t disagree on. We seem to agree that some, but not all, religious teachings demand dangerous contra-factual behavior, and other religious beliefs don’t, and that the safer ones tend to be beliefs about things that aren’t objectively provable.

                As to the OP, a person’s self-identification is not objectively provable. If the only cost of a person self-identifying in a way that most people around them are going to disagree with (e.g., “My dude, you are pretty clearly not a tree,”) but it doesn’t harm anyone to go along with it, then just go along to get along.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Burt Likko
                Ignored
                says:

                “This sad little lizard told me that he was a brontosaurus on his mother’s side. I did not laugh; people who boast of ancestry often have little else to sustain them. Humoring them costs nothing and adds happiness in a world in which happiness is always in short supply.”

                Lazarus Long (R.A.H.)Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                “Does this analysis make sense to you?”

                I’m sure it makes sense if you’re a sadist.Report

              • Pinky in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                I’ve given up on this subthread, but I’m curious what you meant by that.Report

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