Monday, November 05, 2018

Who is to say

When people ask "Who's to say" I am always puzzled. Some things can be true or false even if there is no one to say that it is true or false. I happen to think that there are objective moral values. But if you don't believe in them, I only ask that you be consistent, and apply relativism to all statements, including. 

1) Homosexuality is wrong.
2) It is wrong to judge people for being homosexual.
3) It is wrong to impose your own moral views on others.
4) We ought to be tolerant.
If someone is intolerant, who is to say that they are wrong to be intolerant? Many people think the idea that morals are relative supports tolerance, but it actually undermines it. It turns out that there is, on that view, nothing wrong with being intolerant. 

100 comments:

Legion of Logic said...

The response is generally utilitarian as presented, hypocritical as practiced. Tolerance can't be proven correct, they might say, but the idea is that the more tolerant people are, the more people are happy, and everyone likes being happy.

That's fine. But then they get outraged and offended at "intolerance", which shows they consider tolerance to be objectively right.

Note that generally, tolerance and intolerance are synonymous with agreement and disagreement of an opinion.

John Moore said...

Maybe homosexuality is wrong and we should also tolerate it. Like, being blind is wrong, but I don't want to make laws punishing blind people.

David Brightly said...

Perhaps the moral endeavour is not some much to find the truth but rather to find what works. Objective moral values only emerge after an experiment lasting millennia, if then. In the meantime, we are free to try to persuade each other of whatever principles we think fit. And while there is no truth consistency is not a virtue.

bmiller said...

David,

And while there is no truth consistency is not a virtue.

Did you mean *where* there is no truth? Rather than *while*?

David Brightly said...

No, I do mean *while*. While the experiment is ongoing. I may be getting the relative/absolute and subjective/objective distinctions mixed up, but for me a moral relativist is someone who looks around and sees variation of moral value between and within cultures. The sense I have of moral objectivity is one of universality and uniformity of value, which is a possible, though maybe unlikely, destination of human development, I guess. I can't make sense of a notion of moral objectivity that arises from outside the human sphere. I lack the grounding beliefs that would support that view. For me, morality is something constructed by us that connects into the inbuilt moral sentiments of our biological nature. Victor will have to forgive me if I have got him wrong---I did find the piece somewhat opaque---but he seemed to be saying that, because the moral relativist thinks---indeed, can see---that his values may not necessarily 'apply' to other people, his contributions to the moral experiment are somehow less worthy. But this is to misunderstand the relativist's idea of the moral project. Even the relativist wants to live among people with broadly the same values. If I disapprove of thieving I don't want to live with those who don't care about theft.

Hugo Pelland said...

What's difficult in answering these questions is that we will always have some sort of contradiction to deal with. Assuming objective facts exist, we can concldue there are objective moral statements as well; that seems to follow logically. But at the same time, how can we get to know what these objective truths are? Who's to say, to use Victor's words. The challenge is thus to find these common grounds we can all agree on are objective truths and then try to buils from those to get more and more truths, including morality-related statements.

Joe Hinman said...



Phenomenology and Epistemic Judgement: answering Eric Sotnak

I answered this saying: "That is a phenomenological question. you are talking about Heidegger's 'being in the world.' What I am going to do here is to explain what this means and why it helps my argument, First let's explain something about Phenomenology.My understanding of Phenomenology is that we are allowing the sense data to suggest the categories off reality rather than forcing data into preconceived categories, For a more elaborate definition turn to the Stanford Encyclopedia:

One Brow said...

Tolerance is not a value, but ceasefire, a declaration of peace. To tolerate is not to approve, it's to acknowledge that this is not a battle to fight.

Steve Lovell said...

Legion,

You write that generally tolerance and intolerance are synonyms with agreement and disagreement.

This is very much NOT the case. I don't have any need to "tolerate" views with which I agree. It is reserved for those I disagree with.

Tolerance assumes a difference in views or preferences or that one person would want a different course of action to be taken than another.

Compare the ideas of "margin of error" and "within tolerance". We tolerate that which is within a certain margin of error (relative to our views), beyond that we stop tolerating. Of course how big that margin is or should be depends on the issue in question.

Legion of Logic said...

This is very much NOT the case. I don't have any need to "tolerate" views with which I agree. It is reserved for those I disagree with.

It's a different angle. From my general experience, both personal and observational, those who preach tolerance the most are also the quickest to label as intolerant anyone who has a different opinion from them. Endless accusations of bigotry.

From my own personal experience: I'm racist because I don't like illegal immigration, I'm racist because I didn't like Obama's progressive ideology, I'm racist for mentioning black-on-black crime, I'm sexist because I think the unborn are human lives, I'm sexist for not liking Hillary, I'm Islamophobic for mentioning that ISIS is an Islamic terrorist group, I'm Islamophobic for having sympathy for Israel, I'm transphobic for not agreeing that women can have penises or that men can get pregnant, and I support Nazis because I'm a conservative. All of these idiotic assertions are accusations of intolerance on my part.

And not only have I personally had all that gibberish thrown at me, but I've seen it countless times thrown at others who are equally innocent of the charges of bigotry and intolerance. On the flip side, when someone who preaches tolerance uses phrases like "token Negro" or Uncle Tom, no one on the Tolerance Team calls them out. When conservative women are trashed for daring to not think what the Tolerance Team says they should think, no one calls them out for their sexist intolerance of women's intellectual agency to have their own opinions, values, and priorities. Why? Because these people conflate disagreeing with them as intolerance and bigotry.

If you have an alternate explanation, though, I'll certainly consider it.

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion, on the one hand, there's definitely some issues with some on the far Left who throw around charges of bigotry for no good reason.

Otoh, the comment on transgender people is clearly transphobic... it shows a lack of empathy and understanding leading to, maybe, bigotry depending on what else you would claim after receiving more explanations.

But most importantly of all, what's truly ridiculous with today's conservatives, like you, is that you make it sound as if there's that great injustice against you. There are these evil people who are coming after you, and they are doing these horrible things to you, like... calling you names.

Sorry you have to suffer through that?

David Brightly said...

I've been thinking about the last two comments for a few days. Something interesting is happening here that is worth talking about. And at heart it's about our moral responses, so it remains on topic. Here is my account.

Legion says that he doesn't agree that women can have penises or that men can get pregnant. Someone has said, or Legion fears that someone would say, that this is transphobic. Legion feels that this term carries a degree of moral condemnation. He reacts indignantly to this condemnation thinking it unjustified---his original claim he sees as factual and not expressing a moral position.

Hugo then reacts to Legion's indignation. He agrees with the response to Legion's initial assertion: the comment on transgender people is clearly transphobic. Hugo's claim is, I think, that Legion is being too sensitive: they are doing these horrible things to you, like... calling you names suggests that he feels that there are greater injustices that Legion should concern himself with, maybe injustices done to the transgendered.

By my estimation we are now three steps up the emotional staircase. Some heat has been produced but little light. My question is, Do people agree that this is an accurate account of what has happened? I have tried to be neutral. I use moral concepts but don't take a moral stance on this.

Afterthought: maybe for Hugo, 'transphobic' carries no moral weight. It just means 'opposed to transgenderist doctrines'. So Legion's indignation would indeed be an over-reaction.

Hugo Pelland said...

David,

Your assessment is correct imho, including the 'Afterthought'; there's no moral weight to my statement regarding Legion being transphobic as I have no reason to believe he acts negatively towards transgender people. He's just making comments, ignorance-based comment implying some fear/disgusts of transgender people, so that's why it's transphobic, but they're nothing but comments so that doesn't make him look immoral. Just misinformed...

David Brightly said...

Thanks, Hugo, that helps. A couple more questions. Would you say,
1. 'transphobic' never expresses moral disapproval (or approval for that matter), or,
2. 'transphobic' sometimes expresses moral disapproval?
I take it that you would deny that it always expresses disapproval, in the same way that 'racist' and 'bigot' always express disapprobation?

bmiller said...

David,

Isn't a phobia classified as a mental disorder? Describing someone of having a mental disorder may not be a moral judgement, but I don't think it is intended as a compliment.

Hugo Pelland said...

David Brightly said...
" Thanks, Hugo, that helps. A couple more questions. Would you say,
1. 'transphobic' never expresses moral disapproval (or approval for that matter), or,
2. 'transphobic' sometimes expresses moral disapproval?
I take it that you would deny that it always expresses disapproval, in the same way that 'racist' and 'bigot' always express disapprobation?
"

Interesting question; I think I might have been too generous because I do think it always expresses some form of disapproval.

I said "there's no moral weight to my statement regarding Legion being transphobic as I have no reason to believe he acts negatively towards transgender people", but I don't approve of someone making comments out of ignorance, like he does, when he could easily learn what he's talking about. It is demeaning to say ''I'm transphobic for not agreeing that women can have penises", which just shows willful ignorance and/or an apathy for transgender people and what they actually have to go through. Would he be the one causing transgender people trouble? I don't know, that's why I am not jumping to a very strong conclusion. But I do disapprove for sure, so perhaps that was a moral judgment in the same way that 'racist' and 'bigot' are after all?

Hugo Pelland said...

Actually, while we're on the topic...

As bmiller said, "Isn't a phobia classified as a mental disorder? Describing someone of having a mental disorder may not be a moral judgement, but I don't think it is intended as a compliment." My comment was certainly not intended as a compliment, but I am far from calling Legion mentally ill. He's simply using his instincts, what good ol' common sense tells him; men - penis, woman - vagina. Sorry but, the world isn't that simple... and I had no clue about that either just 6-7 years ago. I thought that transgender people were like drag queens or cross dressers.

To contrast, I do think that being transgender is a mental illness; it's a type of body dimorphism. I know that I need to be careful when/how I mention that though because it can be seen as transphobic, which is another problem altogether. But I am not transphobic at all because I think it's a mental illness that has no danger, no impact on others, and is relatively easy to cure: the transgender person just live their life the way they want. Why should I care if someone is dressing up as if they were born the way their brain makes them think they are, and even getting surgery if they feel like it? The problem really is just with the people around them who should not care that they look different, and move on with their lives. It's really not that complicated...

David Brightly said...

Hi BM. Yes, a phobia is generally understood as an irrational fear. But to say that X is transphobic is not to say that X has an irrational fear of transgender people or the transgender condition. And analogously for the terms 'homophobic' and 'Islamophobic'.

Hi Hugo. We agree that 'transphobic' expresses disapproval. Do you agree that when Legion says in the context above I'm transphobic for not agreeing that women can have penises he is expressing his indignation that someone has thought or might think the less of him for his uttering what he sees as a factual truth? I ask because you say that it's demeaning [of trans people] to say this, and that it shows a wilful ignorance of or antipathy towards trans people. I don't think this does follow from Legion's remark. You yourself say that the trans condition is a mental illness and I take it you see that as a purely factual statement, yet you don't see it as transphobic, though you are alert to the possibility that someone else might.

bmiller said...

David,

I think coining words with 'phobic' attached is an attempt to portray those with opposing views as mentally disordered. It's a form of rhetoric that, although false, is intended to influence the language and therefore the thoughts of a populace. Words do have meanings and people are influenced by them.

Hal said...

Hugo,
I do think that being transgender is a mental illness;

I don't agree. Mainly for the reasons given here from the American Psychological Association:

A psychological state is considered a mental disorder only if it causes significant distress or disability. Many transgender people do not experience their gender as distressing or disabling, which implies that identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder. For these individuals, the significant problem is finding affordable resources, such as counseling, hormone therapy, medical procedures and the social support necessary to freely express their gender identity and minimize discrimination. Many other obstacles may lead to distress, including a lack of acceptance within society, direct or indirect experiences with discrimination, or assault. These experiences may lead many transgender people to suffer with anxiety, depression or related disorders at higher rates than nontransgender persons.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), people who experience intense, persistent gender incongruence can be given the diagnosis of "gender dysphoria." Some contend that the diagnosis inappropriately pathologizes gender noncongruence and should be eliminated. Others argue that it is essential to retain the diagnosis to ensure access to care. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is under revision and there may be changes to its current classification of intense persistent gender incongruence as "gender identity disorder."

Hal said...

Here is a link to the APA site I quoted from:

Transgender Info

Hugo Pelland said...

Hal,

I think we do agree actually; I don't reject the professional lingo on the topic. That was just my clumsy amateurish way of putting it. I should have said that I see transgender folks as having a mental illness in the same way that I see left-handed people as having a handicap or someone with a visible birthmark on their skin. It's obviously a lot more meaningful for transgender folks but it's the same principle. It's something which is outside of the norm, not a choice and has no impact on anybody else. Plus, I used the wrong term because of my amateurish understanding; it's actually "gender dysphoria."

Hugo Pelland said...

David,

No you did not quite get my position here; it seems that comment boxes on a blog are not the best way to convey subtle thoughts. How shocking ;)

What I just replied to Hal might help clarify as I didn't mean that it's factual that being transgender is a mental illness. Not at all. That was just my opinion but it does relate to the fact that there is something abnormal going on with trans; their brain makes them self-identify as something different from their body. I am not trying to impose any labeling nor propose truths on the matter. Basically, I am trying to contrast my views with those of other progressives who see gender 100% as social construct. I think that's wrong as biology does have the strongest impact here.

Legion, on the other hand, does appear to make a factual statement, as you pointed out, and gets upset if his interpretation is labelled as transphobic. I see this as problematic because I don't see any humility nor willingness to understand. That's the big difference. I could be wrong regarding his views, and he could clarify, but his comment makes it clear that he thinks he's just being 'normal' in his view and he gets annoyed that others call him out for just being 'normal'. He is merely stating the obvious according to his statement and it's others who overreact but, in reality, he's the one who refuses to acknowledge that biological sex and gender identity do not match 100% of the time. He could at least just say that he isn't convinced, that he needs to learn more about it because this all sounds weird to him. But no, he chooses to whine about the insults he (supposedly?) receives.

David Brightly said...

Hugo, You did say, I do think that being transgender is a mental illness. In my book that expresses a factual belief, in contrast to a moral one which would be expressed with 'should' rather than 'is'. You've softened to saying that the transgender condition is an abnormality. That's still factual. So if both your and Legion's beliefs are factual why is Legion's transphobic and yours not?

One of the differences between us is that you are interested in people's views whereas I am interested in what they say. You say of Legion that he's the one who refuses to acknowledge that biological sex and gender identity do not match 100% of the time. You have no basis for this. It certainly does not follow from Legion's original claim (that women don't have penises). The latter says nothing about gender. And from what he has said here in the past we can be confident that Legion is sufficiently switched on to the world around him to appreciate that in a small if increasing number of people sex and gender do diverge.

BM, If this were the old USSR and the terms in question were given an official status handed down by the Union of Soviet Psychiatrists, or whatever, then I'd wholeheartedly agree. Instead they have risen up from our contemporary political culture where they do indeed play a rhetorical role in modifying attitudes. That's why I'm more inclined to see 'phobic' as meaning 'hating' rather than 'fearing'. To characterise a political opponent as held by an irrational fear would be to invite sympathy for him. An irrational hatred would invite quite the opposite. But I don't know the Greek for 'hate' either.

bmiller said...

David,

To characterise a political opponent as held by an irrational fear would be to invite sympathy for him. An irrational hatred would invite quite the opposite.

I'm not sure about that. We have words like misogynist etc to cover the hate angle and breaks down to woman hater, while homophobe breaks down to fearer of man.

Think I'll do a little research as to why the phobic label was chosen. I think it started with homophobic if I remember right.

bmiller said...

Found the origin usage here.

Weinberg coined the term "homophobia". He began contemplating it after remembering having witnessed abhorrence towards a lesbian friend while preparing to deliver a speech in 1965.[1][2] The word was first printed in Screw on May 5, 1969, followed by Time a few months later.[1] Gay Times stated after his death in 2017 that he invented it in 1965.[3] By 1972, Weinberg explained the use of term in Society and the Healthy Homosexual. He suggested that those who harbor prejudice against homosexuals, and not homosexuals themselves, are suffering from a psychological malady, an irrational state of mind. Weinberg, though heterosexual himself, became a leader in the ultimately successful struggle to have homosexuality removed as a diagnostic category from the DSM, the professional therapeutic handbook. He was instrumental in shifting public perception of homosexuality.[2]

It looks like it was originally coined as a hypothesis to account for a prejudice and was considered a mental disorder. So maybe it's morphed in the rhetorical realm to mean irrational hatred.

Hugo Pelland said...

David,

I think I see what you mean with your first paragraph, but I might phrase it a bit differently. We can have opinions about things that we know are factual, and we can also claim that we know something to be factually correct. That's the distinction I was trying to make.

So you're right that my claim that "being transgender is a mental" illness is on the factual side; as opposed to something like saying "I love transgender people". But I didn't claim to know that for a fact; it's just an opinion, something that could change. So that was the difference I was trying to express between a factual claim and an opinion claim. What is definitely a fact though is that it's abnormal to be transgender; not much to add here I suppose.

It's interesting because I had not quite realized that I was indeed making a claim that sounds factual, even though I really just meant "I think that..." and not that "It is the case that..."

Now, what's different with Legion's claim?

Let's go back to what he wrote:
"those who preach tolerance the most are also the quickest to label as intolerant anyone who has a different opinion from them.
[...]
I'm transphobic for not agreeing that women can have penises or that men can get pregnant"
The problem I have with this can be easily explained by changing it to something else, and I'll let you be the judge:
"I'm racist for not agreeing that black people are smart enough to vote or that whites shouldn't own them as slave."
"I'm sexist for not agreeing that women should vote or become CEOs."
"I'm homophobic for not agreeing that it's ok for men to fall in love with other men."
"I'm racist for not agreeing that interracial marriages are ok."
"I'm antisemitic for not agreeing that Jews are human beings."
Etc...
Now, would the ones who preach tolerance be wrong to label him as [relevant label] merely because he has a different opinion?

Another question, what does that mean:
"One of the differences between us is that you are interested in people's views whereas I am interested in what they say."
?
I think you might have misinterpreted my comments on how I want to interact with people here, rather than just reading what they quote, for a lack of interest in the contents of statements. Is that it?

David Brightly said...

Hello Hugo. I guess that you are inviting me to explain why I think the contents of what Legion did say should not provoke a moralising response when most of us would agree that the contents of your examples of what might be said definitely should do so. I'd say this. Legion's contents are either factual and true (there is black-on-black crime, the unborn are human lives, ISIS is an Islamic terror group, men can't get pregnant) or they are expressions of legitimate personal preference (I don't like Hillary or Obama's ideology, I sympathise with Israel, I am a conservative). Your examples of what wasn't said are either factually false (black people aren't smart enough to vote, Jews aren't human beings) or are already moral claims---lots of 'should's and 'Its OK's. A moral claim reasonably invites a moral counterclaim, as does peddling a falsehood. So there is a clear distinction between the two sets of contents.

Hugo Pelland said...

David, you missed the point, again, because you ignored what Legion preface his list with. Plus, you're either naive or purposefully malignant when pretending that stating "there's black on black crimes" and "women don't have penises" are just benign fact stating. These phrases are used in a very specific context.

Next, you didn't answer my question regarding what we're different about.

And in any case, what are you trying to get at? Are you really trying to defend Legion and his misplaced feeling of being under attack because he might *gasp* be insulted by someone for saying something? Don't you see that people like him say a lot more than just the few sentences he put here before they're labelled racist/sexist/islamaphobic?

I'll go further than that. I personally have used most of the things Legion listed above. Have I been called the dirty words he mentioned? No. Why? Because of the context and other things said around them. The one about transgenders was just the simplest because it's an obvious confusion of gender identity and biological sex.

Take something I read this morning, where a guy stopped some shooting, helped people, chased a suspect, pinned him down, waited for the cops to show up, only to... be shot by the cop right when they arrive. Guess why? Guess what the race of the 2 individuals was. And then, ask yourself whether pointing out that black-on-black crime is a bigger problem would be wise in that context?

David Brightly said...

Hi Hugo. I'm trying to get at our fundamental points of disagreement so that we might understand each other better. We seem to be close to one now. I don't see how context affects the meaning of these sentences. I can see that they can be more or less relevant within a context but that hardly justifies a moralising response. And maybe for some people these might be rather painful truths which they would wish weren't so. Can you explain to me how context comes into the picture? Or why women don't have penises counts as a confusion of gender identity and biological sex. It's not at all obviously so to me. Do you take it to be false?

Hugo Pelland said...

David,

What about the example I just gave; how can you not see the relevance of the context?

Regarding trans, did you follow the link Hal posted? I am not the right person to educate you... but I can try to shortly explain that the convention is that biological sex refers to gender at birth, while gender idenity is how a person wishes to be perceived as. Therefore, there are people who self-identify as women, who look to us like other women, but still have a penis, because going through with surgery isn't what all trans choose to do.

Hal said...

David,
I don't see how context affects the meaning of these sentences.

But what a sentence means and what one means by use of that sentence can be quite different. Context is needed for determining that.

"Bill's hat is not there." That could mean that Bill has gone for his nightly stroll. Or it could mean that Bill's hat is missing. Or that Bill really followed through on his promise to take his dirty hat to the cleaners.

David Brightly said...

Hugo, Your example would be more helpful if you hadn't left me to guess some of its crucial aspects. If gender and gender identity are about desires or self-perceptions I can't see how there can be 'gender at birth'. At birth there are no desires or self-perceptions to be had and biological sex can't be understood in these terms. And, sadly perhaps, some desires are not realisable. No matter how hard you may desire it I can't see you as a kangaroo. Unless, perhaps, we change the meaning of 'kangaroo'.

Hal, I would say that Bill's hat is not there just means that Bill's hat is not there, period. That Bill is out, or has lost his hat, or has taken it to the cleaners strike me as more like context-dependent inferences (understood loosely) or guesses that are compatible with Bill's hat not being there. But for this to occur the original sentence has to be saying something independent of context and speaker's intentions, no?

bmiller said...

I would guess the reason Hugo could say the same thing as Legion around his friends is because they are of the same tribe.

Legion is of a different tribe and so the same statement must have malevolent intent. "people like him say a lot more than just the few sentences "

Hal said...

David,
But for this to occur the original sentence has to be saying something independent of context and speaker's intentions, no?

Of course. One needs to know what a sentence means in order to mean something by it. And to understand what is meant by a sentence requires context. Weren't you trying to say the same thing above when you wrote:

"Do you agree that when Legion says in the context above I'm transphobic for not agreeing that women can have penises he is expressing his indignation that someone has thought or might think the less of him for his uttering what he sees as a factual truth? "

Outside of a sex education class or lesson what are the typical contexts in which a sentence like "Women don't have penises." is used? My experience, from reading comments on such conservative sites such as Redstate, it is used to attack or discredit transgender people. Am curious to know in which contexts Legion uses a sentence like that other than to claim he is being picked on.

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller,
"the reason Hugo could say the same thing as Legion around his friends is because they are of the same tribe."
No, it's because of what we say around any given sentence.

David,
I am confused as to whether you're autistic or something similar, and I don't mean that to be an insult, just a genuine question as to whether you struggle to read between the lines and infer meaning that is not explicit from certain sentences. Can you recognize sarcasm for instance? Again, not judging negatively, it's just that your responses show a strange disconnect.

For instance, obviously the example I gave was about a black guy being mistaken for a criminal and shot on sight. That's why it would be inappropriate to state stats on black-on-black crime right after. The 2 lines were consecutive in my paragraph... plus, in the USA (that's the context for this conversation and Legion's comments btw, in case that's not clear) there is a peoblem with unarmed black men being killed, not anynothe group. It does happen too, sadly, as was the case with a white lady tourist being shot earlier this year, if I remember correctly, but the general trends are profiling against blacks.

So, the point isn't that the stats on black-on-black crimes are false. That's a real problem yes. The point is that one will he called out as racist if they bring up that kind of stats in the context of a discussion on the problem of abuse of power & force by the police on black people.

Now, as for trans people, I think Hal's comment just above mine is on point. The other thing you mentioned though, regarding gender at birth and desires is bizarre and seems to me to indicate that you didn't read anything on the topic of transgender. Again, did you not follow the link to the medical definitions?

bmiller said...

Hugo,

Are you attributing to Legion the opinion that a black person who get shots by the police deserves it because black people commit so much black on black crime?

I've been reading his posts for quite a while and I've never seen anything like that. Do you have a quote you can point to?

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller,
Of course not... re-read if you care or I can explain for the 4th (?) time

bmiller said...

Hugo,

Of course not... re-read if you care or I can explain for the 4th (?) time

Sorry, but that is what it looks like to me and perhaps David too.
It looks like Legion mentioned a 'fact' in an unknown context that some people of the left took as being racist.

The the only context you provided would lead people to attribute to him the opinion that police were justified in shooting innocent black people because of they deserve it.

You led with this:
Don't you see that people like him say a lot more than just the few sentences he put here before they're labelled racist/sexist/islamaphobic?

You did not indicate that it was possible that he was *not* racist, phobic etc but instead deserved the labels. Since you didn't, then I am left to assume only what you mentioned.

Otherwise, why would you just assume when *he* says the same words you said he meant something different?

David Brightly said...

Hal, I’m transphobic for not agreeing…, in the absence of any relevant context, has an obvious meaning. I’m admitting to a condition and offering some sort of explanation for my having it. This is not what Legion was doing. He was reporting a real or imaginary conversation fragment in which he first says or implies that he does not agree that … and someone subsequently says he is transphobic. When I quote from what he said in his report I have to give the context in order that readers don’t assume the context-free understanding of his words. This is quite a complicated situation. First there is a conversation involving Legion. Then he reports on what was said in a way that conveys its emotional effect on him. Finally, I quote from his report. Note that my explanation of what I wrote, including the when Legion says in the context above introduction to the quote, depends on the notion of a context-free understanding of a sentence. So I can’t agree with your to understand what is meant by a sentence requires context. Certainly not if this is taken as a universal claim, and possibly not if it’s taken as just a general claim.

So I very much doubt that Women don't have penises means any different on Redstate from what it means when one says it to one's children. But let's suppose that writers on Redstate are intending to attack or discredit transgender people. Can you explain how using this sentence works towards that end?

Hugo, Regarding your account of the news story you read Wednesday morning. Yes, obviously. My comment was by way of a mild rebuke. If the mainstay of one's argument is an example it's easier on one's readers, and hence more likely convincing, to make all the relevant details explicit. I note that you didn't give the colour of the policeman, either.

You say, The point is that one will he called out as racist if they bring up that kind of stats in the context of a discussion on the problem of abuse of power & force by the police on black people. Yes, that's my impression too. Why is that, do you think?

Why is it bizarre to point out that if gender is a psychological matter and if a baby at birth has no psychology, then the phrase 'gender at birth' is meaningless? It strikes me as a neat little argument. Which premise do you reject?

Hal said...

David,
So I very much doubt that Women don't have penises means any different on Redstate from what it means when one says it to one's children. But let's suppose that writers on Redstate are intending to attack or discredit transgender people. Can you explain how using this sentence works towards that end?

When used in that context it implies that the transsexual male is so stupid that he doesn't know that we use genital organs to differentiate the male sex from the female sex. It is obviously an attempt to mock or denigrate.


So I can’t agree with your to understand what is meant by a sentence requires context.

As I said above: what is meant by the use of a sentence depends upon the meaning of a sentence. I provided an example of that with the simple sentence "Bill's hat is not there." But you can only determine how one is using a sentence from the context in which it is being used.

I would agree that the meaning of a sentence stays the same regardless of context.

Hugo Pelland said...

David and bmiller,

First of all, sure, I was was not clear enough so I shouldn't assume it was all obvious. But at the same time, the full context doesn't need to be explicitly described around Legion's examples for 2 reasons:
1) He's whining about being labelled certain bad things. So even though it could be completely unjustified, and it does happen, I tend to assume there's more to it than just stating facts.
2) And we know there's always more to it as there's a background context at play here. We're in 2018 in the USA. We know what right-wing rhetoric sounds like. We know why they're called racists or transphobic.

Again, it doesn't mean it's always fair criticism, but saying 'oh but I'm just stating facts' makes me think it wasn't well presented in the first place and obviously ignoring the broad ongoing context. Which brings us to the 2 example topics here...

- Black-on-black crime comment.
We know there's an ongoing conversation in America about how Blacks are unfairly treated by law enforcement. We also know that black-on-black crimes is high. Both are problems. However, if someone is whining that they are being called racist in that ​ongoing ​context, isn't obvious that it's because they chose to focus on the black-on-black crime stats ​at the wrong time? Again, to be fair, there will be idiots on the Left who would argue that what I just wrote is also inappropriate because I dared to just mention it. ​But we can find extreme elements in any large enough groups... So the real problem here is that there is both a history of racist police officers (not just Whites, even Blacks can be harsher on other Blacks, so that was not relevant to ask) and of Blacks thus being disproportionally targeted by the police. It doesn't make other issues bigger/smaller, but it can be seen as racist to point out, in that context, that black-on-black crime is high as if that should partially mask the ugly truth of law enforcement's excesses.

- Transgender individuals.
​Not much to say here besides that you don't seem to be trying to understand David. What you say makes no sense if you have read the medical definitions currently in common use. And Hal explained clearly why mentioning 'women don't have penises' is obviously demeaning so make sure you get what he means; it's naive to think it's just some innocent comment. At best, it can be a display of ignorance like what you're doing David, but you phrase it as questions so that's why I say you're just ignorant, not transphobic.​

bmiller said...

Hugo,

1) He's whining about being labelled certain bad things. So even though it could be completely unjustified, and it does happen, I tend to assume there's more to it than just stating facts.

First if it unjustified it's not whining, it's pointing out an injustice.

Second, why would you assume the racist label is justified. Is it because you *know* Legion is racist and although he may have mentioned the fact in a statisitics course it is much more likely he mentioned it while he was was wearing white robes on his way to a Klan rally?

Actually it doesn't make any sense to me why anyone would bring up black-on-black crime statistics in a discussion of whether police discriminate against blacks.

Hugo Pelland said...

Well bmiller, we have now come full circle to the reason why I commented on Legion's post in the first place... "what's truly ridiculous with today's conservatives, like you, is that you make it sound as if there's that great injustice against you. There are these evil people who are coming after you, and they are doing these horrible things to you, like... calling you names.

Sorry you have to suffer through that?​"

​FWIW, I don't know whether Legion or any of you guys here are racist; probably not I would guess as there are very few outright racists nowadays, thankfully. But there is this thing called racial resentment; that's what researchers use to find correlation between certain views such as finding the Black Lives Matter movement to be extreme and dangerous and thinking that Blacks just need to work harder if they want to succeed as they already have the same chance of success. So it's only some of the 'comments' made that have racist undertone. Calling the person who made the comment racist is the same as saying 'what you just said was racist'; it's just a shortcut. Again, you need to be such a snowflake to care about the distinction...

Then, to your last point, of course it doesn't make sense why anyone would bring up black-on-black crime statistics in a discussion of whether police discriminate against blacks. But it also doesn't make sense to start a Blue Lives Matter movement shortly after a Black Lives Matter movement, but it did happen... same principle.

(Preemptively: No, it's not that police officers lives don't matter; they do and we already have laws that make their lives count more actually. They also have a really tough job, many get killed on duty, and I am super impressed by their dedication and they deserve more pay and more resources and especially more training. But, the timing was just so wrong and a not-so-subtle attempt at demeaning a group with a similar name.)

Hugo Pelland said...

Long comments tend to dilute the content, so I want to summarize what I find so absurd here:

Black person: I get pulled over more often for no reason, a greater portion us get arrested for minor drug offenses even if Whites use drugs just as much, some of us are arrested, beaten up, and even killed just because we looked suspicious.

White person: I get called names for just giving my opinion. Injustice!

Legion of Logic said...

I forgot about this thread for a long time, by the time I found it again there was too much to respond to for me to bother rejoining.

But Hugo, if your last comment is intended to in any way address anything I've said or intended in this thread, the point flew several miles above your head. My only point is that I find people woefully inept at correctly identifying actual bigotry. While I believe this problem is much worse on the left, the Christian right is also quite prone to it, as well. False accusations of bigotry and persecution fly all over the place, and from what I've seen most of it is unwarranted. From what I've personally experienced, certain topics can't even be mentioned no matter the context.

Anything specific I need to address still?

bmiller said...

I think he means that white people should not complain about leftists as long as there are greater injustices in the world.

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion,

Yes, I agree with that so that helps clarifying: "My only point is that I find people woefully inept at correctly identifying actual bigotry." I listened to Sam Harris' podcast on which he had Bill Maher a couple of days ago and they discuss just that, including how the Left is worst on that front for sure.

That being said, my comment still stand though so I will copy/paste it again for emphasis:
"what's truly ridiculous with today's conservatives, like you, is that you make it sound as if there's that great injustice against you. There are these evil people who are coming after you, and they are doing these horrible things to you, like... calling you names.

Sorry you have to suffer through that?​"

bmiller literally used the word 'injustice' ffs... that's such a gross exaggeration.
So no, bmiller, it's not about not complaining, it's about making it to be such a big deal that you label it as INJUSTICE. It's not injustice to call someone a bigot too quickly and it is indeed stupid to do so in the face of the actual, greater, injustices in the world today. You are making a mockery of the people who actually suffer injustices when whining about being wrongly accused of bigotry.

Now, if you were to lose your job over something like that, sure, I would agree, but is that common? No, and it would still not be like being killed or imprisoned!

Legion of Logic said...

Hugo: Otoh, the comment on transgender people is clearly transphobic... it shows a lack of empathy and understanding leading to, maybe, bigotry depending on what else you would claim after receiving more explanations.

No lack of understanding or empathy on my part. The context of the conversation was back around when the whole epic bathroom scandal was ongoing, at Target stores and I think North Carolina? Anyway, one of my Facebook friends is pretty far to the left and he pretty much only comments on political events, and one of them at that time was how conservatives are bigots for opposing trans "women" being allowed in women's bathrooms and locker rooms. My position was that opposition is not "transphobic" because the whole point of separating men from women was for comfort, safety, etc. (I was only speaking of locker rooms, where people actually have to dress and undress without the same degree of privacy as a bathroom stall.)

The retort, as you have also done, is that they deserve empathy because they have a serious condition (which I agree), but where I disagreed was that the only reasonable form this empathy could take without being a bigot was to allow any man who claimed to identify as a woman into the same areas my daughter might be getting dressed in, even if they looked like me (hairy, bearded, devoid of anything one might mistake for feminine unless it's my girly fighting techniques). I said that what one IS takes precedence over what one IDENTIFIES as in this circumstance, as human males are by definition men regardless of any mental conditions they have that causes them gender dysphoria or such things, and the whole point of having separate dressing facilities was to separate men and women. When I was told that they were just as much of a woman as my mother (I was seriously told this), I stated that women do not have penises. Kaboom.

Now, if you still consider my comment to be "transphobic" even in context, then it's a textbook example of the failure of people to properly identify actual bigotry. I disagree that a trans person is actually what they identify as, per biology and the English language, and I do not agree that being expected to conform to a person's self-identification and to use incorrect pronouns regarding them is automatically a good thing, or if it ever is. This will be even more obvious if and when the left reaches the point where people can get in trouble for "misgendering" someone.

But most importantly of all, what's truly ridiculous with today's conservatives, like you, is that you make it sound as if there's that great injustice against you. There are these evil people who are coming after you, and they are doing these horrible things to you, like... calling you names.

So I should not call out the left for false accusations of bigotry? Because I'm going to.

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion,
"So I should not call out the left for false accusations of bigotry? Because I'm going to."
No please continue, you're right about that, but don't act like it's some form of injustice; it isn't, at all.

Plus, I'm not sure about the specific story you told... doesn't make you look informed, that's for sure.

Regarding pronouns, fun fact: we got a new hire 2 days ago who requests to be identified as 'they' who looks like a man who transitioned to a woman. I don't see why that's a problem, even if it is very unusual to me. But the strangest part was when telling my wife, as we are just the 2 of us, at home, so am I supposed to police my own language? It's not like I needed to discuss that person either and we don't work directly together so I will probably not need to be careful with my words anyway. Would that make you feel uncomfortable or something like that?

bmiller said...

Hugo,

Why is it just to falsely accuse someone of something they are not guilty of?

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller, why do you not care about degree?

bmiller said...

Hugo,

If someone does a person an injustice it is still an injustice regardless of whatever degree of injustice is being done to other people.

Because someone in the world is being tortured to death does it mean I shouldn't complain about being beaten with a club?

Of course the levels of injustice are not related, but neither is the fact I am being beaten.

Now of course this is an exaggeration but so is your apparent assertion that no one should complain of anything since other people somewhere are being treated worse.

Hugo Pelland said...

Well said bmiller, such wise words. Just one detail though; that I specifically said it's fine to complain. I was just picky on the choice of words used. Pardon my preference of not using injustice to describe unwarranted insults. I now understand why Whites and Blacks are both victims of injustice in 2018.

Hugo Pelland said...

Sorry, what a blunder... I meant 'Pardon my preference for not using'. I'm glad I caught that typo; it made the sentence sound like complete gibberish.

bmiller said...

Hugo,

Well said bmiller, such wise words. Just one detail though; that I specifically said it's fine to complain. I was just picky on the choice of words used. Pardon my preference of not using injustice to describe unwarranted insults.

If it's fine to complain about an injustice and unwarranted insults are an injustice, then why would you consider it *not* fine to complain about an unwarranted insult?

Legion of Logic said...

don't act like it's some form of injustice

Did I do this?

doesn't make you look informed, that's for sure.

What don't I appear to know, or what do I say that is wrong? Because it seems that the assertion of me being uninformed rests upon not agreeing with your perspective, which is sort of my whole point about tolerance and agreement.

Would that make you feel uncomfortable or something like that?

I'm very uncomfortable with the concept of being forced to say something I do not believe to appease others. To me it's no different than if I my belief in God made me want everyone in a break room to stop talking and eating while I prayed over everyone's food, even if half the break room occupants were not Christians. My beliefs do not trump yours, and my inner self should not shape yours.

Pronouns take the place of nouns to describe people and are used in specific situations - he/his/him for men, she/her/hers for women, they/them for a plural pronoun denoting a group. Suddenly I'm being told I must either call a man "her" or use a plural pronoun to describe a single person, or else I'm the controversial one?

Legion of Logic said...

My son is autistic and his therapists think I would have rated an Asperger's diagnosis had such a thing been common knowledge in northern Arkansas at the time, so I have some knowledge of that particular condition. Three general areas of autism therapy are personal, interpersonal, and public awareness. Personal is for dealing with the autism internally, such as how to cope with distraction, avoiding too much self-absorption, problems with external stimuli, etc. Interpersonal is for communication hurdles and understanding the expectations of society even if the rules don't make a bit of sense. And public awareness is so others know what autism is and the effect it has on those with it.

All that to say, the onus is primarily upon the person with autism to adapt to society, not the other way around. There are reasonable accommodations that society should make, such as increased efforts to assist people with autism, widespread education to prevent bullying or misunderstandings, or even more situational things like if a particular decorative item is distracting to a student and serves no real purpose, then it would be reasonable to ask that the item be removed or relocated to help the student.

What is not reasonable is if a person with autism is stressed by crowds, so they ask people not to congregate in public and then work to make social norms frown upon those that do. It is not reasonable to expect others to be silent around you in public if loud noise is stressful. Or one of mine, it would not be reasonable for me to ask all banks and offices to get silent keyboards and for women to not wear high heels, even though hearing high heels walking across a tile floor is literally enough to make me sweat. My inability to make eye contact has prompted me to explain to coworkers (and prospective dates) that making eye contact for more than a second makes me feel completely exposed and naked, so they can make fun of it and understand instead of thinking I'm creepy, but I don't tell them not to look at me. When I go to a job interview, I make eye contact because that is what's expected and the resulting stress is the price I pay to achieve the goal. I don't tell the interviewers to change themselves to accommodate me even though it causes me stress. I'm the one with the issue, not them.

That's how I view any such situation. Yes, I understand that gender dysphoria is probably worse than all but the most severe cases of autism. I understand that they are struggling and that society needs to be educated about what they are experiencing and to make all reasonable accommodations and efforts to assist. I do not agree that expecting others to break the rules of English grammar and to set aside their own views and observations and knowledge are reasonable accommodations. If I were to choose to do so, that's one thing, but the expectation that I do so is where a problem arises.

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion,

Great to hear you don't think you suffered some injustice when being called racist, transphobic and/or bigot. That long paragraph at the top of the thread sounded worse than it is then, thankfully.

Regarding what you got wrong, it's hard to tell from your recollection of the story; I don't have the full context. But if someone is trying to explain that someone looking on the outside identically to your mother is an example of a transwoman, and you reply that women don't have penises, well, that's missing the point entirely. It's not a matter of what you think here; see the link to medical definitions and standard conventions among specialists. Not my call, and relatively new for me as well.

Legion of Logic said...

But if someone is trying to explain that someone looking on the outside identically to your mother is an example of a transwoman

That's not what was said. Specifically, since Caitlyn Jenner got brought up, I was told my mom and Jenner were equally and fully women, regardless of their actual bodies, and I disagreed for obvious reasons. If instead it was a matter of my mom is a woman and Jenner is a transwoman then I'd have not said what I did, since there is a fundamental difference between those two things.

I don't care about "gender". I use man and woman for sex, masculine and feminine for gender. The APA appears to conflate the two so that a biological male can be a woman, and I consider that a definitional impossibility.

"But Legion, who are you to question the APA?"

Well, two things. One, psychology has a significant reproducibility problem, so I already know what they publish isn't necessarily so. But more importantly, studies have shown a vast left-wing bias within psychology, and further studies on the matter have shown that their bias influences both their areas of study and their findings. How seriously should I take them? I don't know, but currently they aren't on my trusted list.

David Brightly said...

Hello Legion, and welcome back to the discussion. My apologies for using your words in your absence.

Thank you for giving us that bit of your personal story. That was generous and brave. The calm and balanced way in which you told it speaks volumes. Well said.

Legion of Logic said...

David, I don't mind. I honestly forgot all about it, almost didn't join back in with the distance the discussion has gone.

I'm interested in trying to figure out how people on the left think, as my stereotypes of them are less than flattering and I'm trying to be more fair. A good example is Hugo saying that "women don't have penises" is a transphobic statement. Lots of ways that could go. Is it truly transphobic to state a fact, or is that somehow not a fact? Is it transphobic because it does not conform to progressive ideology, thereby rendering transphobia a meaningless term? Is it a statement that is only transphobic if it is within a particular disparaging context, and therefore not actually a transphobic statement in of itself?

If a Jew had a new neighbor move in, and the neighbor was a devout practitioner of one of several Eastern religious traditions, the Jew might look out his window one day and see a swastika on his neighbor's house, since it was often a positive religious symbol before the Nazis took it. If the Jew gets mad, is he justified in doing so if the symbol was not put up as an insult, but as a positive symbol of faith? That's how I view a lot of the left-right turmoil these days. Much of what is labeled as hate seems to actually be a difference of opinion or a different hierarchy of values, but few take the time to actually understand where the other is coming from.

Hal said...

Legion of Logic,
I don't care about "gender". I use man and woman for sex, masculine and feminine for gender. The APA appears to conflate the two so that a biological male can be a woman, and I consider that a definitional impossibility.

I've been trying to find where the APA conflates the two. You recognize that there is a difference between sex and gender. The APA is careful to distinguish the two also.
Can you quote something on the page I linked to above that makes you think the APA is conflating the two?

Also, I take it that a 'definitonal impossiblity' is a logical impossibility. I don't think it is logically impossible for a person with male genitals to want to assume the female gender roles our culture assigns.

But more importantly, studies have shown a vast left-wing bias within psychology, and further studies on the matter have shown that their bias influences both their areas of study and their findings. How seriously should I take them? I don't know, but currently they aren't on my trusted list.

Do you think there is left-wing bias in the APA's views on autism and Asperger's Syndrome?

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion,

First, I wanted to emphasize that I agree with what David said.

Next, the only thing I would correct here is that you said "Hugo saying that "women don't have penises" is a transphobic statement" when I said that it *could* be transphobic. I said I used something similar myself too when expressing concerns about claims that gender is entirely a social construct. If your interlocutor(s) had that latter view, they are flat out wrong, and that's not a matter of opinion...

But here's the problem that remains: it's really not hard to avoid being called a bigot or transphobic or racist, so I remain sketical of your original complaint I'm afraid... is it as simple as not writing short comments on social media that could be taken out of context? Like that series of 1-liner above...

Legion of Logic said...


Next, the only thing I would correct here is that you said "Hugo saying that "women don't have penises" is a transphobic statement" when I said that it *could* be transphobic


I was responding to this statement of yours:

Otoh, the comment on transgender people is clearly transphobic... it shows a lack of empathy and understanding leading to, maybe, bigotry depending on what else you would claim after receiving more explanations.

"Clearly transphobic".


is it as simple as not writing short comments on social media that could be taken out of context? Like that series of 1-liner above


Much like where I elaborated on the context of the transgender discussion, none of those "one liners" were stand-alone comments. They were perspectives that got brought up in larger discussions that flagged immediate accusations of whatever bigotry would be relevant to the topic.

Whether you choose to believe me or not is of course irrelevant to the fact that they all occurred, but I would say that the easiest way to avoid being accused of those things is to not disagree with leftists online. It is remarkably difficult to achieve while also engaging in what passes for debate on the Internet.

Hugo Pelland said...

Fair enough!

David Brightly said...

Hal, Following your comment I looked (with some trepidation) at RedState.com. They like the word 'stupid'. I found a recent article. No comments on RedState it seems but the article cites another at theFederalist.com which does have comments. Reading these I could imagine someone writing Women don't have penises, Goddammit!. This would not be an attack on transgender people, individually or collectively. Rather it would express exasperation that transgender activism should flout central moral certainties.

David Brightly said...

Hugo, I'm finding it hard to discern a principle behind your judgements. On the one hand you say it is inadmissible to situate the shooting of a black man by a white policeman against black-on-black violence in general because it diminishes the enormity of prejudiced abuse in the police. On the other hand you seem happy to contrast, and presumably diminish, Legion's conversational indignation with the indignities heaped upon black people. If there is a principle here you seem to be applying it asymmetrically.

Hugo Pelland said...

David, there are many things here so I'm not sure what you're talking about specifically.

Hugo Pelland said...

Oh but I could specify though that complaints of being called names isn't some grand injustice for sure. It's not just, maybe, but the word 'injustice' has a stronger meaning imho, and in common usage. That's what I find silly here...

bmiller said...

Hugo,

You said this:
Oh but I could specify though that complaints of being called names isn't some grand injustice for sure. It's not just, maybe, but the word 'injustice' has a stronger meaning imho, and in common usage. That's what I find silly here...

And also this:
"He's whining about being labelled certain bad things. So even though it could be completely unjustified, and it does happen, I tend to assume there's more to it than just stating facts."

You do know that an "injustice" is just an instance of an "unjustified" act right?
Or do the words mean something different when a non-tribal member uses them?

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller,
I was curious actually, so I asked around 3 people yesterday, without any context. I said: do you think that any action which is said to be 'unjust' is necessarily an 'injustice'?

All 3 kind of hesitated, saying that, well, technically it is accurate because that's what the word means, but in general we don't really talk about an 'injustice' if someone serves more wine to 1 person, for example, even if that was not 'just'. Not a huge sample obviously, but even after insisting 'but don't you see how that's what the word injustice means?' just to force the opposite opinion out of them, it didn't work.

So that's really all I meant. In general, I think the word 'injustice' is loaded and isn't the same as any unfair action. If someone makes an unjust comment, as in 'that comment wasn't deserved', I don't think the situation deserves the label 'injustice'. And as one of my friends mentioned, and I had mentioned that above too if you scroll up, the minute there are consequences, then it may well become an injustice. Someone being fired from a job for making a comment that was wrongfully labeled as sexist is an injustice.

It's just semantics and I get why it caused confusion, especially in the context of a blog where we can't clarify right away. As Legion explained, he didn't mean that there was some grand injustice going on when expressing the long list of things I saw as 'whining'. And it's also true that there are problems with elements on the Left who are over-sensitive about certain words or sentences. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area so, trust me, there are quite a lot of excessive leftists around...

Anyway, I think we clarified what Legion meant and I am pretty sure that, in person, most of us could have interesting discussions on all the topics he mentioned. I also think that he ran into some excessive folks who mistook his comments to mean more than they do. I am not going to lie though; the ongoing context around some of the comments make them look really bad, even after the explanations. The black-on-black crime comment and how I see a parallel with the Blue Lives Matter movement, for instance, is the worst imho. But intentions matter, and I don't think anyone here has demonstrated that they were racist or transphobic. There is a genuine intent to find common grounds and discuss disagreements and the reasons behind them.

Finally, regarding this:
"do the words mean something different when a non-tribal member uses them?"
Fuck off.

bmiller said...

Haha!

I don't think anyone will misunderstand your last sentence.

But I have to say that if the people you hang around with don't know that 'in' an 'un' attached to the beginning of a word means 'not' we are definitely not speaking the same language and perhaps are not of the same tribe. Either that or we are not educated.

The black-on-black crime comment and how I see a parallel with the Blue Lives Matter movement, for instance, is the worst imho.

Other than you, who on this blog made this connection?

Legion of Logic said...

The black-on-black crime comment and how I see a parallel with the Blue Lives Matter movement, for instance, is the worst imho.<

I never mentioned "Blue Lives Matter", nor have I in any discussion I've ever had as far as I can recall. It's not a very compelling rhetorical point.

Legion of Logic said...

Hal: 've been trying to find where the APA conflates the two. You recognize that there is a difference between sex and gender. The APA is careful to distinguish the two also.
Can you quote something on the page I linked to above that makes you think the APA is conflating the two?


On the one hand they do give accurate definitions of sex and gender, with the former being based on biology and the second based upon cultural factors, etc. But they also say this:

Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of being male, female or something else

Elsewhere they said sex was the biological status of being male or female. Here they are saying that it is a "gender identity" - not a "sex identity" - that describes one's internal feelings of being male or female. That's not gender, that's sex.
That looks to me like conflation due to equating male and female with masculine and feminine.

All through their article they use "gender" to describe being male or female, when it would be much more clear and conforming with past word usage to say male and female refer to biological sex, masculine and feminine refer to gender norms and other such contextually-based measures.

I don't think it is logically impossible for a person with male genitals to want to assume the female gender roles our culture assigns.

Me neither. But someone assuming female gender roles does not make them a woman or make me feel like I should refer to them as such. Being a woman is simply a matter of biology, even if you're the most manly lumberjack Brienne of Tarth woman who ever lived.

Do you think there is left-wing bias in the APA's views on autism and Asperger's

It's possible that it might become so, but I doubt it ever will. I have seen people calling for "neurodiversity", a movement mostly based on autism, calling for acceptance of the way we do things and trying to transition away from the current strategy of teaching autistic people to conform to the way society does things. So there is a push from outside psychology to consider autism a different way of thinking, rather than a disorder.

But, left-wing politics seems to be concerned with power dynamics, oppressed vs oppressor, the suppression of rights, etc. I think it's a stretch to consider autistic people oppressed victims of human rights violations, so I would expect autism to remain strictly of clinical interest to psychology and not a matter of social progression. I guess if enough autistic people took up the call for "neurodiversity", it might catch on as a trendy pushing of societal norms, but I don't foresee it making inroads into academia.

Then again, it's been a while since I looked into it since I don't care, so for all I know it may already have caught on.

Hal said...

Legion of Logic,
All through their article they use "gender" to describe being male or female, when it would be much more clear and conforming with past word usage to say male and female refer to biological sex, masculine and feminine refer to gender norms and other such contextually-based measures.

Ok, now I understand better why you think the article was conflating gender with sex. You think that the definitions of words like 'woman', 'man', 'female' and 'male' are fixed and should not be changed. It is similar to what happened in the same-sex marriage debate. Many people insisted that there was only one true definition of 'marriage': the union of a couple of the opposite sex.

I don't share that view so I could not see any conflation (or confusion) regarding the concepts of gender or sex in the article.

Language does change. And it is a normative practice.

But, left-wing politics seems to be concerned with power dynamics, oppressed vs oppressor, the suppression of rights, etc.

Well, as a liberal (or a left-winger) I am concerned about ensuring that all citizens be given the same opportunities to enjoy liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Will that goal ever be met? No. Life is unfair. People are imperfect beings that often behave irrationally and selfishly.

I see nothing wrong in seeking that for autistic people. My step-daughter has downs syndrome. Because of that I have a lot of personal contact with other people who have downs syndrome or autism. So I do know that given the resources and support a lot can be down to enable them to have very meaningful and productive lives. But that requires things like giving more money to public schools and raising taxes. Something that seems to be anathema to the Republican party.
And I believe strongly in the right of people to have an opportunity to vote. Seems to me the Republican party doesn't share that concern, it is so paranoid over the possibility that someone might vote illegally.
And I believe that science is right: there really is climate change caused by humans. We are starting to see the effects of that change here in California with the series of deadly fires. The Republican party denies climate change.
And I am concerned about the distribution of wealth in this country. I believe a healthy democracy requires a strong middle-class. I think helping to provide opportunities for the poor so that they can move up into the middle-class can help accomplish that. So obviously I don't agree with Republican efforts to prohibit new taxes and to reduce government programs such as food stamps.
Despite being an atheist, I think it important that people be given the protection to follow their religious beliefs. Unfortunately, because conservative Christians have so much power in the Republican party, it only seems concerned about religious issues that are important to that particular religious group.

Hugo Pelland said...

bmiller said...
"Haha!

I don't think anyone will misunderstand your last sentence.
"

Exactly! See, it made you laugh, it was obviously just some meaningless expletive but you didn't get offended by it. Now, what I don't know is whether you'll understand why I said that. Either you're a smartass and you'll get it, or you're not that smart and you won't. What you wrote was "do the words mean something different when a non-tribal member uses them?" and I hope you know the answer yourself because that was the whole point of this really long thread. Words do change meaning over time, they do require context, but no, they shouldn't mean something completely different just because they come from someone else; it's the context, intentions, tone, everything else but the 'member of the tribe' that matters. There are lots of nuances and stating that they change meaning because a non-tribe member users them is just funny because it's so wrong, so it seems to me that you were purposely condescending in stating that, so I thought it was also funny to say 'oh come on, you're just being facetious now'. And the short funny version of that was to just tell you to fuck off. But I am not sure honestly; if that sounds like gibberish to you, then you might not be a smartass after all...

Now, clarifications regarding the Blue Lives Matter comment as you didn't get it, and Legion didn't get it...
bmiller said: " Other than you, who on this blog made this connection? "
Legion of Logic said: " I never mentioned "Blue Lives Matter", nor have I in any discussion I've ever had as far as I can recall. It's not a very compelling rhetorical point. "
I know you guys did not say that; that is obviously not the point. Discourse really doesn't work well on blogs unless we spell out every single little detail... The point of mentioning Blue Lives Matter is that this is an example of a ridiculously bad timed movement, barely 1 year after Black Lives Matter was started and therefore just a few months after it went mainstream. It was the perfect ANALOGY to explain why mentioning black-on-black crime statistics is very likely to be seen as racist. The Blue Lives Matter movement, if looked at on its own, and just about the short description, looks very positive: An organization by cops, for cops and their supporters. Great! But then, why pick that name, that timing? There are lots of reasons, some are good, some are bad. The points will always remain though; it was horrible timing.

Therefore, the same question applies: why on Earth would you need to mention black-on-black crime statistics? When would that be relevant? Are you guys involved in some black community outreach and are trying to address that problem? No? Well, got to repeat then:

We know there's an ongoing conversation in America about how Blacks are unfairly treated by law enforcement. We also know that black-on-black crimes is high. Both are problems. However, if someone is whining that they are being called racist in that ongoing context, isn't obvious that it's because they chose to focus on the black-on-black crime stats at the wrong time? Again, to be fair, there will be idiots on the Left who would argue that what I just wrote is also inappropriate because I dared to just mention it. But we can find extreme elements in any large enough groups... So the real problem here is that there is both a history of racist police officers (not just Whites, even Blacks can be harsher on other Blacks, so that was not relevant to ask) and of Blacks thus being disproportionally targeted by the police. It doesn't make other issues bigger/smaller, but it can be seen as racist to point out, in that context, that black-on-black crime is high as if that should partially mask the ugly truth of law enforcement's excesses.

Legion of Logic said...

Language does change. And it is a normative practice.

I didn't give them permission to change it for me, nor do I see any reason to agree to their usage.

Legion of Logic said...

why on Earth would you need to mention black-on-black crime statistics? When would that be relevant?

This is an astounding line of questioning, as the outlandishly high amount of black-on-black crime is utterly devastating to blacks. Why would you NOT want to address it if black lives actually do matter?

Blacks make up only around 12-13 percent of the population, yet they are half of the murder victims in the country. That is HUGE, particularly when over 90 percent of the murderers are also black.

And this is from a USA Today article:

"In 2011, the last year for which the FBI has complete data, 1,668 blacks under the age of 22 were killed in this country. That's more than triple the 469 American servicemen and women killed in Afghanistan that year. An average of eight children was killed each day in 2011 -- and half of them were black -- according to the Children's Defense Fund.

In 2008 and 2009, black children and teenagers were just 15% of the nation's population but 45% of young people killed by guns. If that doesn't cause a churning in your gut, maybe this will: The leading cause of death for black males ages 15-19 in those years came from the barrel of a gun. Blacks in this age group were eight times more likely than whites and two-and-a-half times more likely than Hispanics to be killed by gunfire, the Children's Defense Fund said in "Protect Children, Not Guns," a 2012 report on effects of gun violence on this nation's children.

Even more shocking, the Washington-based children's advocacy group said, the number of black children killed by gunfire since 1979 is nearly 13 times more than the number of blacks who were lynched in this country between 1882 and 1968.
In Chicago alone, more than 270 children have been killed since 2007. And most of them were killed by other blacks, as are most of the nation's homicide victims."


Movements (and riots) get started whenever a white police officer kills a black man who was attacking him, but thousands upon thousands of dead, including children, thousands of families destroyed, lead to accusations of racism if brought up in any context whatsoever? I call BS. No matter how big a problem systemic racism in law enforcement is, it's a lake next to the ocean compared to the problem within the black community itself, yet the latter does not inspire anywhere close to the emotion. Why?

It's not racist at all to wonder which is truly the greater blight on black lives. Indeed, it seems much more likely that those who disagree are the racists, if anyone in the discussion is.

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion,

"No matter how big a problem systemic racism in law enforcement is, it's a lake next to the ocean compared to the problem within the black community itself, yet the latter does not inspire anywhere close to the emotion. Why?"
Because it's not because they are Black that they get targeted by other Blacks!

But it is just because they are Blacks that some of them are unfairly targeted by cops. And it's that racism which is, in part, the cause for a lot of the misery of the Black community that cause the horrors you just described. So that's why it is indeed almost always irrelevant to mention black-on-black crime statistics as something much worse than systemic racism that has existed for centuries and, even though it's much better now, still exists today.

Legion of Logic said...

Difference in opinion, then. I see it as far, far worse, and a problem that needs to be addressed much more urgently.

Interestingly enough, to bring it full circle, I'm called racist for...not agreeing! The heart of my thesis.

Hugo Pelland said...

No, it's not about your opinion! It is a fact that black-on-black violence is a much bigger problem, yes, just like it is a fact that hearth diseases and cancer are by far the most common causes of death in the USA. Does it mean we should talk about cancer when someone wants to raise awareness about suicide?

Because that's the problem here; nobody is saying that violence against Blacks by police is the greatest issue in the world right now, but it is serious enough to warrant attention. So raising other issues that have nothing to do with that can be seen as racist given that they point out some statistics that are worse among the Black community specifically. And again, that's why it isn't true that you would be called racist for mentioned theses statistics in any and all context.

The hearth of my thesis is that it's not that hard to not be called a bigot or a racist regardless of your opinion but, the more I read you what you write here, especially given the Asperger's diagnosis or the eye contact comment, the more I understand that it might indeed be difficult for you... so I do empathize with that and I hope you can try to understand what I am trying to 'teach' you, for lack of a better word. I know it might sound condescending but I don't know how else to put it. Basically, unlike bmiller and SteveK (sorry, not sorry) I always see what you write, even when I disagree, as being smart and logical but sometimes tone deaf and out of touch with the vast variety of people around us.

In other words, there must be a combination of you running into idiots from the extreme left and you not being able to adapt your arguments accordingly. But you are certainly not called a racist ONLY for not disagreeing every time. It's not that simple. Which does go full circle to that long paragraph at the beginning...

Legion of Logic said...

Does it mean we should talk about cancer when someone wants to raise awareness about suicide?

If someone says that suicide is the biggest problem that cancer patients face, then yes, cancer statistics instantly become relevant. Especially if I see movements springing up and media attention focused on suicide among cancer patients, and neither on the problem of cancer itself. Makes me think one is seen as politically useful and the other not, maybe.

As I said before, I don't just say these things out of nowhere. I generally respond to things that I find rather egregious, and often don't respond at all to things I agree with. A discussion of police bias against blacks is hard to disagree with in of itself so there would be no point in trying to counter it, but fantastical hyperbole is irresistible, which probably lends credence to your statement that I may only be arguing with idiots in the first place haha. Could be I'm an idiot too for engaging them, hmm...

But you could be right. If my reactions do vary from the "norm" then maybe not only am I talking intellectual gibberish at them from a political standpoint, but there may be an emotional disconnect too. Maybe that's why my participation in political discussions leads to so many fascinating destinations!

Not sure what to do about it, but something to keep in mind I suppose.

Hal said...

Legion of Logic,

I didn't give them permission to change it for me, nor do I see any reason to agree to their usage.


"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less."

bmiller said...

You forgot the rest of the story.

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all."

Legion of Logic said...

When the official arbiters of language inform me I've got it wrong, or new science shows my understanding of biology is wrong, then I might be willing to call a male a woman. Until then...

bmiller said...

A common complaint from conservatives is that the left is constantly and deliberately attempting to change language to decieve people into accepting leftist ideas. In other words "Doublespeak"

Sort of Orwell's "doublethink" and "Newspeak" rolled into one.

The article mentions Conflict Theory and Noam Chomsky's opinion that indoctriniation is "the essence of democracy"".

It seems this is actually a tendency that comes from leftist traditions doesn't it?

bmiller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bmiller said...

Legion,

As an aside.

Speaking for one of those people around us, I don't see your comments as being "tone deaf and out of touch with the vast variety of people around us."

I think you have demonstrated a very logical, methodical and emotion-free expression of your thought process. I think it is very important to put rationality before emotion so you do not fight for the wrong thing.

David Brightly said...

Perhaps those on the conservative side of this discussion could allow themselves to psychologise a little. Does everyone know of the work of Jonathan Haidt? His lectures on YouTube are worth watching. Maybe start with this TED talk. The central chapter of his book The Righteous Mind is available here.

Hal said...

bmiller,
A common complaint from conservatives is that the left is constantly and deliberately attempting to change language to decieve people into accepting leftist ideas.

I would reject the notion that it is meant to deceive others.

Nor would I restrict it to the left. Seems to apply across the political spectrum.

As I mentioned earlier, that was what religious conservatives were doing in the same sex marriage debate: claiming that there was only one true meaning to the word "marriage" and that they knew what it was.

bmiller said...

David,

Hey, I must be a liberal because I am in *awe* of Michelangelo's David.

bmiller said...

Hal,

As I mentioned earlier, that was what religious conservatives were doing in the same sex marriage debate: claiming that there was only one true meaning to the word "marriage" and that they knew what it was.

Yes, those conservatives were much like Alice in her meeting with Humpty Dumpty.

Hugo Pelland said...

Legion,
Quick inline response to mention that I think that was a great summary and how you're certainly not an idiot to engage in any conversation! Imho, better too much of that than not enough, in general, even if the quality matters too of course...

Hugo Pelland said...

David,
Haidt is great; very smart and nuanced. He came to give a talk at UC Berkeley-Haas about the challenges of having a form of Capitalism that is good for society as a whole. I stayed after so I also got to talk to him a bit :)

bmiller said...

David,

Did you have anything particular in mind of Haidt's work or thought that is relevant to this topic? Or was it just a general promotion of his work?

David Brightly said...

Hello Hal,
...claiming that there was only one true meaning to the word ‘marriage’. If religious conservatives allowed the debate to be seen as a linguistic issue then I think they made a tactical error. What was at stake was the character of an institution that to religious eyes had been ‘ordained by God’ and to others had been proven down the generations. Of course, if the institution changes then its name takes on a somewhat different sense. But the fundamental issue is the nature of the institution. Likewise, if we reclassify a man who is uncomfortable in his skin as a woman we cloud the important biological division of the sexes; we introduce moral hazard into situations where for good reasons the sexes are traditionally segregated; and we break logical invariants that encode the meaning of terms---it’s no longer true that every woman was once a girl, for example. To the conservative mind the saving of some by no means universal hurt and pain does not trump these considerations.

David Brightly said...

Hello BM,
It seems to me that in discussions like this we reach the boundary of the domain of reason and cross over into the domain of feeling. Haidt's work offers us a way of thinking about that frontier. For example, I don't understand why some of Legion's examples provoke a moral response in progressive minds. I don't share their moral psychology, as it were. But suppose we see things in terms of Haidt's sanctity/degradation foundation. I understand what this is from my own personal makeup and responses. Suppose for the progressive mind the fight against inequality and racism is sacred. Anything that diminishes or besmirches this is a blasphemy and provokes the corresponding moral reaction. We can now see where the reaction is coming from, as it were, even though the reaction doesn't occur in us in the same circumstances. It's as if we all have the same repertoire of potential moral sentiments but we vary in to what external circumstances and to what degree they become attached. Which brings us back to Victor's original question: Who is to say?

Hal said...

David,
If religious conservatives allowed the debate to be seen as a linguistic issue then I think they made a tactical error. What was at stake was the character of an institution that to religious eyes had been ‘ordained by God’ and to others had been proven down the generations. Of course, if the institution changes then its name takes on a somewhat different sense. But the fundamental issue is the nature of the institution.

As far as I can see, you are making a distinction without a difference. To say one is claiming they know the true meaning of "marriage" is no different than saying one is claiming they know the true nature of the institution of marriage.

Both (the use of words and human institutions) are essentially normative practices. And both are arbitrary and determined by humans. Please note that when I use the word "arbitrary" I don't mean to imply that something is random. My usage is closer to this definition from Merriam-Webster: "based on or determined by individual preference or convenience rather than by necessity or the intrinsic nature of something."

David Brightly said...

Hal,
Both (the use of words and human institutions) are essentially normative practices. And both are arbitrary and determined by humans. Yes, indeed. That's why to speak of the one true meaning of 'marriage' sounds rather silly. One shouldn't take 'ordained by God' too literally. Rather it means proven to work for the crooked timber of human nature over countless generations. So there is a sense here of an evolutionary adaptation, and so not at all arbitrary, and tinkered with at our peril.