Kaepernick’s Folly

America (the United States) is, generally, a very patriotic country. We don’t have very many symbols. We have a flag. We have a national anthem. We have a constitution, a declaration of independence, and a few other important symbols. Generally, we tend to be pretty proud of those symbols, as they represent something pretty special. It causes a lot of offense when someone deliberately tramples on them.

Our Independence Day is coming up this Sunday. It is a time of fireworks, picnics, and reflection on the things that make this country great. So, with that, and also with that woman who thinks she is smarter than she is who turned her back on the flag, I thought this would be a good time to tackle this topic. I know most of my readers are overseas, so for y’all, just take it as an opportunity to learn a bit about us and our culture. You can easily get a counterpoint if you want elsewhere.

I am not one for ceremony, and I realize that the symbols I mentioned are just that. We have a tradition of putting our hands over our hearts and standing for the national anthem. I don’t do that. We also have a tradition of, on occasion, reciting a pledge of allegiance. I don’t do that either. I consider them somewhat useless ceremonies. But not in a million years would I ever consider kneeling or turning my back for the national anthem, or ever desecrating or burning a flag. I recognize that our constitution gives people the right to if they choose, but to me, it’s not by any means an acceptable thing to do.

The fact is that this country has a very specific sense of unity. We are not a perfect country, and we have made many mistakes over the past two hundred and fifty or so years. There are some things in our past that we certainly should not be proud of. But the unique thing about our country is that its unity is not in any racial identity, as is the case with many middle eastern, Asian, or European countries. Its unity is not in any political identity, such as is the case with China or maybe Russia. Its unity is in the adherence to an ideal: that even though we are not and never have been perfect, that we will try our hardest to do right by our people and the world. And our national symbols represent that ideal.

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal,” as the declaration of independence said. Yes, they said men. It took us a while to shake off some pretty toxic ideas. But I think even the founders would be okay with most of the progress we’ve made since their time. That is what they built, and what we’ve tried our hardest to build on.

So when you kneel, or turn your back on the flag, what you are really doing – maybe unintentionally, and maybe ignorantly, or maybe deliberately – are insulting the symbols that represent that which makes our country unique. This country isn’t perfect, as I’ve said several times. We miss the mark in many ways. But our flag, our anthem, and our constitution are some of the few things that bind us as a cohesive people. It’s all we have. If you disrespect those, if you turn your back on those, if you insult those, if you say “eff you” to the millions of truly well intentioned people who would absolutely get behind fixing any issues that prevent true equality (not equity, that’s whole other thing), then all you’re doing is dividing and destroying the country.

Generally, you have the right to. That is both one of the greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses of this country- that you can speak against it and everything it stands for with impunity. And I’ll defend your right to do it. While, t the same time, I’ll be wondering why, if you hate it here that much, you don’t just find somewhere else to go that’s more in line with your vision of how things should be.

Honestly, I suspect the answer is “there is no such place.” And perhaps that’s something you should consider before you set about opposing and trying to take down the things that actually make this country great.

You can kneel if you want. You can turn your back if you want. You can even burn flags if you want. But that’s where you lose me. Just because I’m uncomfortable with ceremony doesn’t mean I don’t stand behind our symbols and what they stand for. There’s plenty of room for you at the table, but it’s your choice whether to sit down at it. If you stand on the other side of the room complaining that you don’t get to eat, well, that’s on you.

And that’s all I’ll say about that.

Phobias

A phobia is (or used to be) a very specific thing – a fear of something, sometimes crippling. You have acrophobia, the fear of heights. Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. Tristadekaphobia, the fear of the number 13. No one said the fear had to be rational, but it’s a fear.

This is why I never use the words “homophobia”, “transphobia”, etc.

The thing about those words, is, I think they started out with that connotation. Many years ago there were many people who were afraid of homosexuals, to the point of causing serious bodily harm due to ignorance or malice. Of course no one supports that, but it was at least a correct use of the word. Some people were fearful. They was how they were raised, I suppose. That has mostly but not entirely gone by the wayside now. Sincere congrats on that level of progress, by the way. I certainly don’t support hurting anyone based on any choice or characteristic and anyone who does is roundly condemned by me.

But then the meaning of the words morphed. They stopped being about a fear, and started being about philosophical differences. Think homosexuality is bad because it doesn’t lead to making children (A point of view that is defensible but I am not advocating for it here)? Oh no, that’s homophobia. Think transgenderism is bad because it messes with the ability to have children (again, a defensible view but I am not advocating it here)? That’s transphobia.

But it’s not. It’s something else. It’s a legitimate difference of opinion. It’s not fear.

My point of view isn’t that important, but I tend to think for myself. The left has some pretty insane things, but some right things as well. And the same for the right. I don’t much like it when conservatives profess love and don’t treat others as they pretend they do. There are some truly hateful people out there, and I don’t condone that. But not everyone who has differences of opinion are hateful or fearful. Some have thought the issue through and simply disagree. But pointing everyone with the brush of a phobia demeans that disagreement – which is probably the whole point. Can’t have people out there thinking you might be wrong, can you?

But those two words aren’t what triggered this post. They’re mainstream enough that opposing them is swimming against a tide of ignorance. This is something I’m used to, but I recognize a losing battle. No, this is about the word “fatphobia”.

Something I heard defined the other say as “wanting to intentionally lose weight”.

Now here’s the thing. I’m overweight. Not frighteningly so, I’m a tall guy and just have a bit of a paunch. But overweight nonetheless. Recent health news has meant that I need to lose this weight and I intend on doing so.

But according to some folks, that makes me fatphobic. I’ve been hit with a slur for wanting to be healthy.

And why should I take these people seriously again?

I understand that losing weight is a struggle. I’m right in the middle of that right now. But absolutely no one who knows what they’re talking about thinks being obese is good for you. Some folks are pretty healthy for their weight, and everyone is different, but all things being equal, being a “normal” weight is far better than being overweight.

That is the reason I’m making this post.

I kinda don’t care what you call me. In actuality, sticks and stones, and all that. But calling me fatphobic for wanting to lose weight is just too far, and I’m not taking any of that seriously. If you want to be healthier, lose weight. If you don’t, don’t. But leave me out of it.

I Don’t Care what you Think your Identity is

My train of thought gets kind of complicated – when it’s not derailing.

Following on from my last post about boundaries, this leads to another set of thoughts about consent. There is a train of thought that has gained popularity lately that if two or more people consent to something, it’s none of anyone’s business.

Generally, I actually agree with this.

But it has its own set of difficulties.

So let’s take that idea and stretch it a little bit.

Starting with the basics of consent, you have two people “doing the nasty” in a way that I, as a third party, wouldn’t approve of. The two people have consented and I’m being left alone. Alright. Consent is a perfectly good benchmark in this situation. Stipulated.

Let’s stretch this a bit now. Let’s say that these two people are “doing the nasty” in that same way I wouldn’t approve of, but now they’re doing it in front of me. Let’s also say, for the sake of this discussion, that I have no reason to expect them to do that in this particular place or time, I’m just minding my own business, and there are two people being disgusting. Now my consent has become an issue, as I didn’t consent to participating in such an event, even if my participation is just limited to seeing it happen in front of me. Consent has just become much stickier (pardon the pun), because now there are three parties that should consent, and two of them have ignored the third. This is the situation that many people find themselves in in “Pride” or other similar events. We don’t care, but they’re insistent on shoving it down our throats, pardon the expression.

Am I harmed? Not really. I can walk away from the situation. It is, however, a violation, and I didn’t consent. This is the very reason that there are public decency laws, amongst other types.

Okay, let’s stretch it again. Let’s say that someone has modified their body in a way that makes it clear that they view themselves in a specific way. So far, so good. They consented to that, there’s no reason whatsoever to condemn that action. Let’s say they have added goat horns. Now, they walk up to someone else and demand that they be treated as if they were a goat.

Now consent gets very tricky. The person who is approached has no interest in treating the person as if they were a goat, as they aren’t one. The third party person did not consent to their worldview which specifically states that humans cannot be a goat being challenged. They still believe that humans cannot be a goat. But right in front of them is someone who is telling them that they identify as a goat, and that therefore they have a right to demand that someone else, without their consent, treat them as a goat.

And this is the problem – and the obvious problem – with self-identification. Many times the person who is self-identifying knows what they are. And just as often, they don’t.

So here’s the issue. The person who is standing in front of the person with goat horns does not see a goat. They see a mentally ill person who thinks they’re a goat. Why should that person be expected to treat mental illness as if it’s not?

So I’m sure you’ve already extrapolated what I’m saying to some modern social issues. Don’t. I was specifically avoiding those. My point is not to condemn any particular type of self-identification (except, perhaps, trans-goatism) but it’s instead to point out that demanding that your form of self-identification be respected without concern for what it actually is is a problem with consent. Others have not necessarily consented to how they view your self identification. And if you want them to do so, you have to negotiate.

Now, let’s apply that to a real world situation. Specifically, transgenderism. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how and when I would use the preferred pronouns, and this is what I’ve kind of come up with. If you’re making a good faith attempt to pass, I’ll go along with it. I won’t necessarily agree, but I’ll go along with it.

Caitlin Jenner, for example, I think I would call “she”. Not because she asked me to, but because she’s obviously making a good faith effort to pass, doing a reasonably decent job of it, and I’m good with that. Do I think of her as a “she” inside my head? My business, but I think it’s fair to say “maybe not”. That’s not your business.

Now there’s this person named Danielle Muscado who called himself a “she”, but has not transitioned (or at least hasn’t the last time I looked, which was a while ago). You would walk up to him on the street and never know unless he told you. That’s a “he”. He fails the negotiation. If he transitions at some point, then I will renegotiate, and maybe use the preferred pronouns.

Point being, I get to consent. It’s my choice.

Note that I used the name, though. In all cases will I use the preferred name. The legal name is not really something I consider something I need to consent to. I could. I could choose to “deadname” someone and there’s not a damn thing they could do about it. But I won’t. It’s not really respectful and while names can be gendered, they usually won’t. It’s still my choice, though. You get to ask. And I get to say yes. Or no.

Self identification is a wonderful thing. If someone wants to say they’re the opposite gender, or a goat, or a cheese sandwich, more power to them. But I don’t have to consent, and you can’t make me.

And that’s how we come full circle to boundaries. I don’t just get to choose what to let into my boundaries. I also get to choose which ideas. And this is why boundaries are so important.

Why I am Now a Disney Shareholder

Recently, I have decided to get into buying stocks.

Honestly, I don’t buy stocks to make money. I think timing the market is dumb, I think chasing the market is dumber, and I’m not particularly interested in buying and selling stocks on anything but a long term basis.

So why did I buy a share of Disney and two shares of Coca-Cola recently?

Here’s the truth about stocks: most people don’t really know what they’re for. Many people treat stocks speculatively, and there’s certainly an argument to be made for doing so by those who wish to do so, but a stock is actually a share of ownership in a company. By buying those stocks, I became a part owner of Coca-Cola and Disney.

And shareholders have the kind of voice with a company that non-shareholders don’t.

I’m not stupid. I have no illusions that a one share stockholder like me is going to have any kind of outsized voice in the company. Truth is, I’ll have very little voice. But it still buys me a voice I wouldn’t have otherwise. And the price of buying the voice in the company is one share of stock.

They don’t have to listen to me, but they do have to let me speak. Owning a share grants me that much, anyway.

And I will tell them, in no uncertain terms, that their anti-racist woke tomfoolery is stupid, harming the value of my share, and they really should stop it.

There are some more companies that I will buy as money becomes available. I will buy Nike, American Airlines, and Twitter, as well as few others. And I’ll make a bit of a pain of myself with them as well. If I’m going to spend that kind of money to get a voice, I fully intend on using it.

I call this shareholder activism, and frankly, I don’t know why more people don’t do it.

Though I guess I’ll shortly find out.

The honest truth, though? I never had any intention of making money with these stocks. I bought them for the voice. And I have no intention of ever selling them. But I guess a dividend is a nice little bonus, small as it may be.

The Importance of Speaking

In the next day or so I am planning a post about my cat. So do rest assured that I am not yanking this blog over to one that talks exclusively about social justice and woke idiot topics. I have a few things I have to do first, but after that, I even plan on going back to (gasp) some Japanese topics. Nonetheless, some things must be said, and this is as good a forum as any to say them.

I am aware that WordPress could censor me. The domain is purchased elsewhere (that is a weakness I may have to deal with soon) but I possess both the skills and the ability to self-host this domain. In fact, the WordPress platform, when self-hosted, would be much more customizable and I’ve been considering doing that for other reasons. Quite frankly, it is only WordPress hosted out of convenience. If this blog goes away, it will be back.

Now, all that said, why am I speaking out on something that is so potentially risky?

The simple answer is, because someone has to.

I am more careful than it appears about what I speak out on. I try to keep my criticisms specifically aimed at the idiot cultural Marxist liberals who would be most upset about what I have to say, and keep them specifically away from those who might actually have some legitimate beefs that are being hijacked by the idiot liberals. As I mentioned in my last post, there is of course racism – that’s not in doubt and that’s not the issue. The issue is that I am being told what to think, and am being indirectly and implicitly threatened if I choose not to buy what they’re selling.

But that’s the thing – “if I choose”. It is a choice. I get to choose not to buy what they’re selling, and I get to choose to say that I’m not buying what they’re selling, and I get to choose to bear any consequences that idiots might want to dish out for stating that fact. This is a really important mindset, folks: Everything is a choice, and there is absolutely no such thing as there being no choice. Even if someone were to come up to me and put a “pew pew” to my head, and say “your money or your life”, that is still a choice. And it’s a perfectly valid choice. My money, or my life. Which do I value more? I’m being “offered” that choice, and I get to make it.

Obviously, as with the above example, the choice that you’re being offered is not necessarily between two good things. One might be worse than the other, but the choices are still bad.

So here’s the choice the Woke Idiots are offering me: Don’t speak up and get along ok in the world, at the cost of my self-worth and my self-respect, or speak up and suffer the small but not nonexistent possibility of consequences that range from censorship to much worse. It’s a choice I get to make. Suffering consequences is not guaranteed (and the outcome may even be good, depending on who reads this and who is in my corner, see Karlyn Borysenko and Candace Owens) but it’s a real possibility. BTW, I don’t listen to either of them, as much as I may agree with them their participation in the culture wars is particularly grating, but I’m glad they’re talking.

I choose my self respect.

It is far more important to me to be able took at myself in the mirror than to not have people who could make my life difficult angry with me.

That is why I haven’t, and why I won’t, shut up. The choice has been offered, the choice has been made, and it really doesn’t matter at this point which consequences are to be brought to bear. I’ve already decided, and it is not a decision that can be easily taken back, without hating myself quite a bit more than I already do. I’ve chosen to speak, and I’ve chosen to accept whatever consequences there may be (though I hope they are either none or positive), and that as unwavering a decision as I am capable of. Could I break in the future? I dunno. Maybe, I guess. Everyone has their breaking point. But I just can’t imagine staying quiet anymore. It’s not worth it.

I choose to speak. I hope you choose to speak as well. Even if you disagree with me.

I Will Not Apologize

Right now, there is this particularly insidious idea that people like me, who are, shall we say, of the historically majority skin color in my country, need to somehow acknowledge and apologize for my “complicity” in “systemic racism”.

I will not do that. That is my line.

Is there systemic racism? I don’t believe so, as defined by the Woke Warriors, but I am willing to stipulate that there is racism. Some people are individually treated poorly for the color of their skin, or for other reasons besides. Where that is extant, it of course needs to be dealt with. And I think nearly everyone else in my country that shares my heritage feels the same way – and those who don’t aren’t going to be treated very well.

But as I don’t believe there is systemic racism, at least not of the type that some people are putting forth right now as a form of cultural Marxism, I will not behave as if I believe that there is because other people tell me so. I will not acknowledge my “complicity”, because I don’t believe myself to be complicit. I will not acknowledge my “racism”, because I don’t believe myself to be racist. I will stipulate that there may be some “unconscious bias”, but since the very nature of unconscious bias is that it’s unconscious, I’m not going to worry too much about that until it is specifically brought to my attention.

If you don’t like what I just said, that’s fine. I respect that. If you want to change my mind, however, let me tell you what you do not do. You do not tell me that I’m wrong, that I am all these things, because you said so. You do not tell me that I am a rotten person because I said what I just said, because I will ignore you. You do not threaten me physically, because for multiple reasons you won’t like how that turns out – I live in Texas and we don’t do that here. Keep it in Portland.

Now, here’s what you can do. You can listen to me, understand where I’m coming from, and then you can say “I hear you, this what I hear you say, have you considered this perspective?” Then I will listen. I may not change my mind, but at the least, if you approach me respectfully and with an open mind, then I’m probably going to give what you have to say a fair shake. And if you haven’t changed my mind, you can rest assured that I have at least taken what you said into account and have integrated it into my worldview in some form. Quite honestly, while I don’t agree with the idea of systemic racism, I think I understand it, and I think I can at the very least understand why some feel they don’t get a fair shake. But that is a far cry from my saying “you say it is true, and you are a minority, therefore I cede to your viewpoint”. It doesn’t work that way.

If you don’t like this approach, one of fostering mutual understanding, then I really don’t actually care what you have to say.

Here is the maximum you have any right to expect of me, and the maximum that I will consider it your right to from me. I will treat you as a person, and I will treat you like an individual. I will refuse to discuss anything political, racial, or social justice related in any context in which I do not know you personally (or in the context of a semi-anonymous forum for this purpose such as this blog). I will treat you as I would trust anyone else – with colorblindness and equality. If you demand anything else from me, you will not get it, and I cannot think of any form of coercion that would be sufficient to pretend otherwise. I have enough self-esteem and self-worth to not bow to any other human being, no matter what they believe of me or believe they can expect, demand, or coerce from me.

You can treat me like a person, whether or not you think I am complicit in some form of systemic racism or other nonsense, or you can leave me alone. I choose to treat you like a person. But I won’t bow to you. And if you think that’s complicity, well, have at it. See if I care. Hint, I don’t.

I imagine Disney wouldn’t hire me at any point in the future. So sad.

The Unbearable Arrogance of Wokeness

I am not, and will never be, “woke”.

I don’t even really need to go into what the term means, as that’s not even really germane to the conversation. The word itself should be sufficient to not want to go anywhere near it. Without even knowing what it pertains to, it’s an arrogant word. It says that you are awake while everyone else is asleep. It says that you are superior to those who are not “woke”. It says that being “woke” is a desirable state and that those who are not “woke” are in a less desirable state.

Basically, it is a divisive and arrogant word.

And those who self-describe with it are divisive and arrogant.

Those who are truly “woke” would never label themselves as such, because they would recognize the division and dualism the word engenders, and would consider using it to be utterly stupid and distateful. However, even if they did consider themselves awake while everyone else is asleep (which is not entirely an irrational thing to think in some cases), a truly “woke” person would then think about what would be needed to wake someone up. They would then realize that the only way to wake someone up would be to appear in their dreams. Or to put it another way, they would recognize that first you would have to make the other person aware that they were asleep and that waking up would be a desirable state of being. You do NOT do that by putting them down for being asleep.

But that’s what wokeness has degenerate into.

Hell, it’s not even gramatically correct!

I personally think that anyone who calls themselves “woke” is admitting tacitly that they are divisive, stupid people who are not aware of, or do not care, exactly how arrogant and not woke they actually are. I think anyone who calls themselves “woke” would be better off thinking about exactly what that word means, recognizing that they should stop using it, and then stop using it.

Is it arrogant of me to say this? Maybe, I guess. But you know what the difference between me and a “woke” person is?

I think “woke” people are still human. Stupid and arrogant, maybe. But still human.

Divisive language leads to divisive actions. Divisive actions lead to discrimination. Discrimination leads to dehumanization. Dehumanization leads to hatred. Hatred leads to murder. And murder leads to genocide.

And it all starts with the arrogance of thinking you’re “woke”. Stop it. You’re making it worse.

Why I am not an “ally”.

There is a reason I keep myself semi-anonymous on this blog.

Don’t get me wrong. You could probably track me down if you wanted to put forth the effort. There are enough clues in this blog to get a general idea of where I live, etc. But I’ve intentionally made it difficult. I did this because I want at least some freedom to say what I want to without fear of some moron going to my workplace and trying to get me fired. I doubt it would work, as my workplace is better than most at respecting everyone, including folks like me, but I don’t need the trouble. Even on Facebook, I don’t broadcast who I work for, and I deleted my LinkedIn profile, again, for that reason.

I did this because social justice warriors are short-sighted idiots who would rather shut down opinions that they don’t agree with than debate them on their merits.

Are there some opinions that are beyond the pale? Yeah. I think any right-thinking person would agree that supporting the actions of a certain German dude with a distinctive mustache should never be tolerated. Personally, I try to separate the actions from the person (until he killed his dog, I doubt his dog cared), but even so, that’s intolerable. However, I think those that hold that opinion should be allowed to express it – even if only so that the rest of us know what they think and can avoid them.

But there are many other opinions that do not rise to that level of malevolence, and sane people can disagree with them. There are quite a few debates going on right now about all sorts of different topics, and I happen to hold my own opinion on them. I won’t go into them right now except to say that they generally are directly opposed to what leftist orthodoxy things they should be. I didn’t come to these opinions through hatred or malice, I came to them by thinking through the problem and coming to a different conclusion.

So why am I not an ally? Well, the first answer is, this isn’t a war. Or shouldn’t be, anyway.

But the second answer is that the idea of being an ally is predicated on the idea that I must support someone in some aspect of their identity in such a way as they deem appropriate. If I were to, for an example, call myself an ally to women, I would be ceding control of my autonomy to them, because they would then have a right to dictate what is appropriate in my behavior, words, and thought. I’m not interested in ceding that kind of control to any group. How I think, speak, and act towards someone or a group of people is a negotiation, not something that may be dictated. Want to be treated in a certain way? Act in a way in which you prove you deserve to be treated that way, and I’ll likely cooperate. Don’t, and I won’t.

But allies don’t get that freedom.

This is why I refuse to consider myself an ally of any group. It’s the same reason why I refuse to keep my mouth closed when it would probably be better for me if I did. I’m not willing or prepared to cede my personal autonomy at the altar of social justice. If I think a cause is worth supporting, I’ll support it. If I don’t, I won’t. But ultimately, that’s my choice, and it’s a choice I refuse to cede to anyone else, no matter what pressure is brought to bear.

Keep in mind that in this post I am not speaking against or for any aspect of social justice (except for the concept of allyship). I’m simply stating that I reserve the unequivocal right to decide whether to do that for myself. And, sadly, even that can be enough to get one in trouble. But given my personality, there is little to be done about that..