Sunday, January 31, 2016

Knot For You

This is an important question, especially because it frames the cultural pressures surrounding marriage in the right way: Why don't we teach boys that they need to get married, the way we teach this to girls?
Emma Green, "Wealthy Women Can Afford to Reject Marriage, but Poor Women Can't"
I started to mull this question over, asking myself if there had been a time when the people around me sought to teach me that I needed to be married. And as it turns out, I can remember a time when people told me that I should aspire to marriage. But I wasn't a boy at the time. People tried to teach me that I needed to marry when I was an adult - once I had passed into my twenties and hadn't yet started to actively look for someone which whom to "settle down" or "share life with." After it began to dawn on family, and to a lesser extent, friends (and friends of the family) that I wasn't planning on marrying, as everyone had assumed I would, then they began trying to educate my on why I should.

Of course, people understand that once someone has graduated college and moved into the working world on their own, it's a little late for the sort of indoctrination that you can get away with on children. And so the tactics were different - and all over the map. One of my friends challenged my courage, another my capacity for selflessness, an aunt's co-worker framed it as a responsibility I owed to Black women and my father pitched marriage as the answer to having to do my own housework. But it was clear from everyone that I had violated an expectation. (Something I was well aware of. When someone erroneously assumed that I had a girlfriend, I never corrected them - that people found "the idea of nonsexuality more bizarre than deviant sexuality" was quite clear to me.)

In this, we could answer Ms. Green's question as follows: For boys, that they will find marriage to be important, that one day they will need to marry someone, is simply assumed. Everyone expects that, at some point, any given male child will want to find a partner and "settle down," and so there isn't the pressure to specifically set out to teach them this necessity. But that kind of falls flat, because it doesn't answer why we expect boys to gather this via osmosis, yet girls need to have the lesson taught and reinforced over and over.

Using my own experience for this is kind of iffy, because I was child in the 1970s, and even if I could recall all of it clearly, it still be decades removed from the experience of many, but I'm going to take a stab at it. But to do so, I'm going to alter the question a bit. In my understanding, both boys and girls were taught by the society at large that they should one day marry, whether as a rite of passage into adulthood, or just so that people didn't think that there was something wrong with you. What I would say was different about girls was that for them, marriageability also entered into the mix.

When I was a single twenty-something, and everyone had an opinion about the fact that I was unattached and planning to stay that way, it was made quite clear that the ball was in my court. Especially as concerned finding a Black woman to be a partner. All I needed to do was sift through the available offerings, find The Right One, and pop the question. I was the active party, the one who was expected to go out there and chose someone to pursue and/or wed. My understanding of the expectations for women was that they should concern themselves with remaining eligible to be chosen. While my being single was viewed, variously, as something between a quirk and a serious character flaw, it was never viewed as something that fundamentally lowered my suitability as a mate (leaving aside, of course, the simple fact that willingness has something to do with suitability). That particular trait was governed more by the facts that I had a college degree, a job and a car/apartment. But even then, when I was being pressed to complete my Bachelor's degree, find a job, and have a place/car of my own, these were things that were important more for the fact that they marked me as an independent adult - no-one pushed me to finish school because no-one would want to marry me if I didn't.

And so (and I understand that I'm guessing here), I would venture that, at least when I was young, the "need to get married" wasn't taught to girls as an end in itself, but as a proof of worth as individuals and/or women. And although it has that connotation for boys to a degree, what makes men worthwhile as individuals and/or men is based on other things than whether or not a woman would choose to marry one. In that sense, I think that, regardless of what one sees as the economic or personal benefits of marriage, that we're better off dropping how we teach it to girls, rather than broadening it to all children.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Loan of an Ax

“Exclusive:” Reads the subtitle of Al Jazeera America’s story on Carly Fiorina, below a smirking image of the former executive. “GOP candidate was paid by Merck at a time when anti-abortion groups criticized company’s vaccine production.”

What follows is a piece that seems to be devoted to making the case that Ms. Fiorina cannot be accurately termed a “pro-life” candidate because, during her time on Merck’s board of directors, the company sold vaccines derived from tissue that came from fetuses aborted in Europe nearly 50 years ago. Okay, I can live with that. But...

Since when is it Al Jazeera’s job to report on a candidate’s anti-abortion bona-fides? And I’m not even sure how this is relevant to anything. By this calculus, anyone who has an investment in or works at Merck cannot be called “pro-life,” because some fractional part of whatever income they derive results from these 1960s stem cell lines. Had Ms. Fiorina come out at some point and said that it was illegitimate to use fetal stem cells or tissue for any purpose, I could see it. But the article doesn’t claim that, and “[Debi] Vinnedge, [executive director of anti-abortion group Children of God for Life] said she believes Fiorina might not have been aware that Merck’s vaccines utilized stem-cell lines derived from aborted fetuses,[...].”

Add to this the swipe that the article takes at Ms. Fiorina over her apparently (wildly) exaggerated description of what was in the videos of discussions between Planned Parenthood personnel, and the whole thing begins to take on the appearance of a strange “bootleggers and Baptists” alliance, where the Al Jazeera reporters help Children of God for Life get out their anti-Fiorina message to pro-life conservatives, while at the same time reminding readers that Ms. Fiorina opposes Planned Parenthood. (Interestingly, the three authors of the piece had no other bylines between them when I checked, and the two of them that I was able to find other information on appear to both be firmly in the Liberal camp, based on their earlier projects.)

One could be forgiven for having forgotten that Ms. Fiorina was still a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Coverage of her candidacy has been fairly sparse, at least in the media outlets that I check in on. Which leads me to wonder why anyone would bother with a hatchet job in the first place. Surely there is something more substantive on her campaign to report on than the complaints of a little-known anti-abortion group.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Down The Drain

The situation with the water supply in Flint, Michigan seems to be another instance of a government being "too broke to care about right and wrong." It's not so much that the emergency managers and city council (or even Detroit water officials) were more interested in the bottom line than the health and welfare of the residents of Flint - it's that the emergency managers' main job was to make sure that Flint's finances were kept in order, and that's what they were being judged on. And the money that would have been needed to fix the situation - to reverse the decision to draw water from the Flint River rather than purchase it (at inflated prices, admittedly) from Detroit. Note that Flint's water supply was so bad that General Motors decided that the water was unusable for use on automotive parts, and switched their water back to Detroit.

Most of the coverage of this issue has been directed at the evasions, and outright falsehoods, given by officials in Flint, the State of Michigan and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Which makes sense - that coverage paints a damning picture of government failure to look after their citizens, or even warn them of the dangers.

"It's like what's going on in Greece," says state Sen. Jim Ananich, who represents Flint and has a newborn he takes to his in-laws' house in nearby Grand Blanc for baths. "How did we get to a place where we've cut everything? There's nothing left but the books balancing. What the city looks like after that doesn't matter. As long as there's less red and more black, we're in good shape."
Who Poisoned Flint, Michigan?
In the end, this issue came down to money. Part of the whole reason why emergency managers are appointed, and given so much power over the operations of the municipalities, is specifically that they aren't accountable to voters, and thus can't be pressured into promising, and delivering, expensive services to residents that there isn't the money to pay for. The story that I woud like to hear is how the finances penciled out, and what the financial pressures were - and the consequences of doing things differently would have been. Because that's the root of the problem. And until that peice of it is understood, this won't go away. The next municipality that has to grapple with issues of funding basic services will face the same sorts of decisions. And if they're deeply in dept and watching every dollar, they too might be too broke to care about right and wrong.

Stuck In The Middle

I was reading a piece on Al-Jazeera entitled "Donald Trump and America's Failed Center," and it occurred to me that the piece never really talks about the American center, in favor of hand-wringing over the fact that the United States hasn't adopted more leftist policies. Complaining that White voters haven't moved "to progressive visions for radical change and a more inclusive politics" is not "centrist." Simply labeling the Democratic party "center right" does not mean that anything to their left is "the center."

But that brings up an interesting question - what is "the Center?" And does it actually exist? There is a persistent idea in politics that between the political wings represented by the Right and the Left, there is a separate group that can be identified. But I'm not so sure about that. When the Air Force was introducing jet aircraft into general service, the found that there is no such thing as the "average" pilot. That is, when you measure a group of people (in this case, Air Force pilots) on a number of different characteristics, you will find that very few, if any, people fall into the median range on a significant number of them. What the meant for the Air Force was that building a aircraft cockpit for the "average" pilot made it a poor fir for nearly everyone, and what was needed instead were controls that could be independently adjusted for a fairly wide range of body types.

If one imagines politics as working the same way, the problem becomes evident. While you might be able to identify centrist positions on many issues, and even find that a significant portion of the population holds a centrist position on any given issue, any given person may only be in the "center" on a very limited number of issues, if any. Therefore, there really isn't a large enough constituency for a broad slate of centrist positions for a single political party of coalesce around and elect candidates, and by doing so drive policy, on.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bang, Bang

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK? It's, like, incredible."
Donald Trump, speaking at Dordt College
While this statement has lit up the news media, and people are busy being shocked, shocked, that he said such a thing, Mr. Trump is merely pointing out something that has been true of American society for as long as there has been a United States, not to mention humanity in general - when people want something from you, they'll forgo hold you accountable for things in order to get it.

We have seen this in celebrity culture over and over - motion picture stars or recording artists time and again getting away with things that would land most of the rest of in jail or put an end to our future career prospects. It's common enough that the uproar over Donald Trump making that point doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Sure, Mr. Trump chose a particularly graphic and extreme example, and we're unaccustomed to people openly making the point that they're popular enough to get away with assault with a deadly weapon, but he wouldn't be the first person, and wouldn't be the last, to be popular enough that people would look the other way.

Of course, Mr. Trump's statement is unlikely to be literally true - and it's just as unlikely that he honestly expects that it would be. But it's the sort of over-the-top and bombastic statement that he's become known for, and it part of the reason why so many of his supporters back him. Again, he's ignoring social convention (or "political correctness," as Trump himself might term it), and simply making the point in a way people understand. And he's pretty much correct in the overall sentiment, which is that his backers don't really care about the things that they're being told about him by his critics, and are choosing to stand by him.

Donald Trump's candidacy is showing more staying power than many people would have thought it ever could, and in doing so is beginning to shake up the American political scene. It will take more than him making a throwaway remark about shooting someone to change that.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Like and Unlike Alike

I don't think I want a world that ignores my Blackness, my masculinity, my height, my weight, my family, my hometown, my language, or anything else that makes me, me. I want a world that acknowledges those qualities, embraces them, challenges me to constantly critique and improve them, and allows me the freedom to pursue my dreams precisely because I am all of those things and more. I want a world that understands the following: It is often the acknowledgement & celebration of our differences that enables & enhances our humanity.
Wade G. Morgan. "Differences, Equality, & The Oscars: A Reflection on Stacey Dash's Comments"
If we understand while while the acknowledgement and celebration of differences often, but not exclusively, enable and enhances the humanity of persons, then we can imaging a world that challenges people to constantly critique and improve their individual qualities, and allows people the freedom to pursue their dreams, but neither acknowledges nor embraces those qualities. Then we are left with a question, namely, would the freedom to pursue dreams, or the critique or improvement of the self be notably different if the rationale behind them were different? If they were precisely because of the shared humanity that we all have, and nothing else, would anyone be able to perceive the difference?

The question is an important one because it drives at the heart of what it means to be equal. In unequal societies, where factors such as sex, ethnicity, language, sexuality or what have you mean that some people have the freedom to improve themselves and pursue their dreams at the direct expense of others, are the remaining differences between individuals in the dominant group embraced and celebrated? Or are they often ignored - seen perhaps as important to the individual and those close to them, but without significance in the greater scheme of things?

If, during the long stretch of American history when the superiority of White Americans was taken for granted and encoded into law, White people acknowledged and celebrated their differing heights, weights, family backgrounds, et cetera, then it makes perfect sense to continue that tradition into today. And you could wonder, if this had been the status quo in the relatively recent past, why there is such a push to alter it today. Perhaps some suspicion would be justified.

But if they didn't care, if a White person from New Jersey were not seen as being any different than a White person from South Carolina, then perhaps we should ask why it should be considered important that the individual traits that make us, us be taken into account. For much (and in the minds of some people, all) of American history, to not be a member of the White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant class of American meant constantly being told, in innumerable ways, "You're different, and that's bad." Given this, it is understandable that we would want the current ethos to be one of "You're different, and that's good." But if others have not needed to hear this down through the years, why should we desire it now?

Mr. Morgan asks a probing question when he wonders: "Rather than assume that differences disable cohesion, what if we assumed that differences enable cohesion?" But there is another question that goes unasked: "What if we assumed that similarities enable cohesion?" Note that this is not the same as assuming that differences disable cohesion. There is no particular reason to suspect that just because either similarities or differences enable cohesion, than the other must, by definition, disable the same. It is entirely possible that both work, and perhaps equally well. And if Americans of the past used their similarities to enable cohesion, why would we assume that they taught their descendants in the present to do things any differently? Or that we will teach them to do so?

There would a distinct irony were it to turn out that the primary obstacle to cohesion was the very language of cohesion. But it would not be unprecedented. Irony has rarely been in short supply.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
Henry David Thoreau
We often forget this, I think, because we understand that those around us MUST hear the same drummer that we do, and therefore, the failure of others to keep pace with us is willful on the one hand, or born of some defect on the other. But there is space in our world for innumerable drummers, each making their own music, whether we hear them or not.

Of all of the things that we have confidence in, the twin beliefs that we are objective and clear of mind are perhaps the most dangerous, because they blind us to the idea that we do not always experience the world as others do. For all that we pay lip service to the idea that all people are individuals, we often ignore the fact that such individuality may be much more than skin deep.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Quotation

One of the things that I always find striking about quotes from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is that as often as we revere them, repeat them and pass them along to others, we seldom seem to put the same level of effort into living our lives by them. We hold Dr. King up as a great man, and treat his sayings as indicative of the highest wisdom, yet we always have our reasons for ignoring those words when the time comes to put them into practice.

When I was growing up, we told ourselves that returning hate for hate would show other people what it was like to be hated, and would thus show them the hurt and suffering that hate created, and then people would learn not to hate. Somehow, we believed this, even though the hurt and suffering that we received did not teach us not to hate - instead, we sought to rationalize our own hate, which was born of shame at the apparent weakness of feeling hurt and suffering. What we did not realize then, but I understand now, and Dr. King understood before I was born, was that shared misery does not always create empathy.

It is unfortunate that we do not instinctively recognize this.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


People do kill people, just like guns-rights advocates like to say, but they wouldn’t always be able to without guns.
Adrienne LaFrance. "Is There Such a Thing as a Safe Gun?"
"Guns" means different things to different people, and to the degree that there is a segment of the "pro-gun Right" for whom "guns" means safety, independence and liberty, there is a segment of the "anti-gun Left" for whom "guns" means the ability of people to engage in illegitimate violence and murder. And while these are perfectly legitimate understandings of guns, I don't know that they rise to the level of journalistic Truth.

It is accurate to note that people wouldn't always be able to kill other people without guns. But that's because, under certain conditions, you more or less require a firearm to do the job. But those conditions are a lot more specific than you might be lead to believe. Guns are tools, and therefore they share many of the traits that are common to tools. One of those traits is that they are opimized for specific tasks, but another of those traits is that they are not the only tool capable of carrying out those same tasks. (While we're on the topic, it's also worthwhile to point out that people aren't always able to kill other people with guns. "Guns" aren't a sort of remote control for human beings the comes with an "off" switch for disrupting human homeostasis. People regularly survive gunshot wounds.)

There are no "guns" in my apartment. But there is no shortage of other items in it that can be used to kill or injure another human being. True, I can't decide on a whim to go downtown and riddle a number of people with bullets - that specific sort of rapid mass assault is outside of the ability of the things that I keep in my home. But if I got it into my head that I wanted to kill a number of people, and I didn't need to have it done before going to bed this evening, the assorted bric-à-brac that I can gather up without leaving my four walls has me covered. And if I did feel the need to murder multiple people before turning in this evening, I could access that capability - I would just have to leave my apartment first.

Given this, the danger of too-tightly linking our capacity for murder with the ability to access firearms is that we act, and then don't see the drop in homicides that we'd be expecting. While I expect that we would see an immediate drop in the murder rate, to keep it down will require more. It's tempting to see the average American criminal as such an uncreative sort that they wouldn't know what to do if they didn't have guns at their disposal, but human history has shown us that where there is murderous intent, there is a way.

This isn't meant to be a defense of the status quo. The uproar that ensues when people talk about something as simple as background checks before purchases never ceases to amaze me. And the idea that if only more people carried guns with them, mass shootings would be less one-sided is laughable. But the problem that we have in the United States with homicide isn't simply one of access to a specific category of lethal weapon. The are social, economic and public health issues that we've been doing our best to ignore for some time now - I'm skeptical of the idea that we'd suddenly decide to tackle them once the National Rifle Association is out of the way.

When it comes to the issue of murder in the United States, "guns" are not a "Why." They're a "How." And although they're the "How" that most immediately comes to the mind of most people - most people aren't murderers. Seeking to cast "access to firearms" into the "Why" column, and then make it the dominant entry there because that's what occurs to us risks blinding us to the real reasons - and that's not what journalism, or even accurate advocacy, is designed to do.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Best People

For any given event in this world, there are people who made it happen, people who watched it happen and people who wonder what happened (among others - like most reductions, I think that this one leaves out a lot of people). Anyone who tells themselves that they are always in the first group is flattering themselves. No single human being is so important that nothing of substance can be made to happen without them. Therefore, no matter how proactive we may be, we will never escape being observers of the things done by others, or being left to wonder about the things that we could not observe, but the consequences of which impact us.

Throughout our lives, we move between the three groups - and more besides. There are people doing significant things who did not see fit to involve me, and would rightfully resent my efforts to include myself in their activities. Ms. Ash may have seen herself as a lesser person for allowing others to do as they please without her involvement, but I am okay with it. And that is what stands out to me about this quote - the idea that only the people who make things happen are "doing it right." But down that path lies, if not madness, being an eternal busybody who refuses to allow life to go on as it will.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Double Edged

It's a simple enough sentiment - and one that helps one to stay sane when dealing with the Internet and Social Media:

Talking in public is not agreement to talk to everyone in public. It doesn’t mean it’s open season on your time and energy. You don’t have to talk to anyone you don’t feel like talking to.
You Don’t Need a “Good” Reason to Block
But here's the thing - that goes for everyone else as well. And I think that this is something that many of us have trouble remembering. It's all well and good to affirm a person's ability to set whatever boundaries they choose and to tell them that you'll back them up when they arbitrarily decide to engage with one person and not with an other - but with that comes the idea that others are going to do the same. When you tell someone that they're allowed to assume that when others press to engage that their goal - consciously or unconsciously - is to bog them down and distract them from creating a world that is better for them, it does them a disservice to ignore the fact that others are allowed to assume the same of them. We like to presume not only that we are the heroes of our own stories, but that we are evidently so - to the degree that we can assume bad intentions on the parts of people whom we find disagreeable, taxing or just plain wrong - but that the same cannot be said of us.

In the end, we wind up with a system that encourages people to see themselves in one light, and everyone else in another. Which is often the root of the problem to begin with.

Monday, January 11, 2016


In a blunt critique by Christina Cauterucci of, Ms. Kelly is quoted as saying of Ms. Winfrey,

“In all her years coming up … [Winfrey] never wallowed in any sort of victimhood. She didn’t play the gender card and she didn’t play the race card. She was just so good we couldn’t ignore her.”

First, whether she knows it or would be willing to admit it, that statement suggests Ms. Kelly believes a significant number of people of color have succeeded by playing the race card, or by demanding things they weren’t qualified for due to past victimization. I find this extraordinarily offensive. It probably reflects her personal opinion about the hot-button affirmative action issue, and definitely plays well with her staunchly conservative audience. But from someone yearning for broad appeal in the 21st Century, I agree with Christina Cauterucci that it’s a decidedly outdated and isolating stance.
Rachel Jones. Megyn Kelly and “The Curious Case of Color-Blocking”
I don’t know Megyn Kelly from a hole on the ground. I don't think I'd heard of her until her very public dust-up with Donald Trump. Therefore, I don’t have any background into her thinking about race and gender. She may very well look down on other women and non-whites as wallowing in victimhood of one sort or another - it’s an opinion that exists in the real world, and there’s nothing about being a journalist (or anything else) that precludes someone from holding it. The fact that a statement she made about Oprah Winfrey “suggests” that she “probably” believes it, however, is not enough to take her to task for.

One of the recurring problems that the United States’ history of discrimination has created is the continuing expectation of prejudice. Megyn Kelly’s complementary statement aimed at Oprah Winfrey was significantly wordier than it needed to be, but, as quoted by Ms. Cauterucci by way of Ms. Jones, doesn’t actually include any accusatory language. Yes, there is the implication that there are people who wallow in victimhood, and play the gender and race cards, rather than being too good to ignore. But we understand that this actually happens in the world, just as there are people who used Jim Crow to their advantage to elevate themselves to places that they would have otherwise been unable to reach. But the fact that the implications of a statement suggest that someone probably believes something is different from direct evidence that they believe something.

Yes, overt racist and sexist sentiments are, for the most part, out of fashion in the modern United States - there are people who can still get away with dealing in direct “isms” in the public sphere - but compared to 50 or 75 years ago, the landscape is much different. But tribalism in humanity is unlikely to have died so easily. And this suggests that there are people who would like to go around saying that significant women and minorities have advanced themselves through demands for things for which they are not qualified, but don’t, because they’d rather not suffer the consequences of doing so. The expectation that people harbor prejudicial attitudes, and, importantly, want to communicate those attitudes to others, can lead us to scrutinize people’s words for evidence of what we expect to find. I understand the stereotype of the typical Fox News viewer as an older White person who waxes nostalgic for an imagined past in which everything was wonderful and White males were the only people who truly mattered. And I understand the idea that as a media personality for Fox News, there is a certain expectation that Ms. Kelly holds at least some of the attitudes that are attributed to Fox viewers. So I understand the rush to judgement when Ms. Kelly’s words appear to fit the expected pattern.

But it’s still a rush to judgement, one encouraged by our own understanding that we live in a world where people routinely rely on coded language to put down people they don’t like, while at the same time retaining deniability. There are times, however, (and likely very many of them) when those denials are authentic, because it's unrealistic to presume that other people are no less hung up on prejudices, and other people’s understandings of them, than we are. If we understand that the systems through which advantages are handed out is game-able, if not openly corrupted, why would we expect that other people wouldn't see things the same way? If we have an expectation that race and gender are important to other people, why do we expect those other people won’t realize that - and if we understand that it’s bad for race and gender to be important to someone, of course they are going to present themselves, however clumsily, in the light in which they wish to be seen. If we recognize that, we can cut them a break, rather than using it to bootstrap our own prejudices.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Saturday, January 9, 2016


A foggy winter morning in the Puget Sound.

Friday, January 8, 2016


Ill intent and disingenuousness poison language by tainting its elements, from words to entire conceptual frameworks, with the idea that those elements exist, in whole or in part, simply to mask the hatreds and prejudices of anyone who utters them, and are thus reliable indicators of bias and/or malice.

This has the effect of not only declaring entire sections of language off limits in polite company, but it denies people access to avenues of communication that are not replaced; and it often does this unilaterally.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What Do We Want?

I was pointed at an article on Slate that examines the standoff, orchestrated by Ammon Bundy, over federal land in Oregon. One of the topics that author Jamelle Bouie engages is the activist response to the differences between the response to the armed men in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge and police responses during encounters with people like Micheal Brown and Tamir Rice.

In any case, why won’t they shoot at armed white fanatics isn’t just the wrong question; it’s a bad one. Not only does it hold lethal violence as a fair response to the Bundy militia, but it opens a path to legitimizing the same violence against more marginalized groups. As long as the government is an equal opportunity killer, goes the argument, violence is acceptable.
Is the Oregon Standoff Evidence of a Racial Double Standard?
But I think that this misstates the activists case and intent. As I understand it, the goal is not equal opportunity killing - by rather equal opportunity caution. Bouie points out that after the disasters that were Ruby Ridge and Waco, federal law enforcement is much more careful in dealing with militia movements than it had been. Had police entered into many of the interactions with Black men over the past few years with more caution, you could argue that fewer of them would have ended in bloodshed, and the cases of open police misconduct would be much easier to recognize.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Lock Picking

While many people are quite enamored of their Bullshit Detectors, and will be quick to tell you how effective they are, an aversion to bullshit can also be a very effective way of locking oneself in an Echo Chamber. Therefore, attempting to shame people into silence, by warning them away from what we consider bullshit may have the effect of ensuring that we are surrounded only by people who will say things that agree with what we already believe. Sure, most of us believe that we can tell the difference between new and plausible information and outright bullshit, but being too confident in our ability to remain objective in the face of information that might contradict what we already understand to be true is what allows our Bullshit Detectors to become the locks on the Echo Chamber door.