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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Diary #427

A busy work week coupled with much cooler weather was a perfect remedy for anxiety, and taking a dear friend to dinner for her birthday made it even better.  Then on Saturday I went out to Sunset for the weekend (not just to see the pony, though that was a nice highlight), and when I came back I spent last night with Ghost Rider.  It isn’t often that I feel as much at peace with myself as I do right now; the warring forces in my head seem to have declared a temporary truce, allowing my soul one of those rare moments of calm I’ve had precious few of in this stormy, difficult incarnation.  How long will it last?  It’s impossible to say; I’ve never had one endure more than a year before.  But that was before I was willing to admit that sometimes unbalanced brain chemistry needs a little outside chemical aid to restore the balance, and before I was willing to admit that there are some things I simply can’t have, no matter how much I might want them.  Right now, I’m in a space where I’m finding a lot of joy in helping people I love, fighting the good fight, and building a legacy which may outlast me for a brief moment in the cosmic scale, like the faint reverberation of one beautiful note in a very complex symphony.  And after all I’ve been through over the past half-century, that is enough.

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Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?  –  John 18:38

I don’t think it’s controversial to state that Donald Trump is widely hated, and with good reason.  But a sizable number of people hate him so much that it becomes a kind of mania that some refer to as “Trump Derangement Syndrome”: they overreact to every single stupid thing he does as though he were literally lobbing grenades into kindergartens; they focus on inconsequential nonsense like his picky eating habits instead of focusing on his actual, dangerous faults; and rather than criticizing awful policies which definitely originated with him (like his disastrous tariffs) they blame him for schemes which originated with Obama, Bush the Second, Clinton or even earlier.  But the scariest and most dangerous symptom of this syndrome is misusing the word “fascist” to mean something like “overtly racist” while simultaneously sanctifying authoritarian terms like “treason” and licking the boots of anyone they think might hurt Trump, even sociopathic monsters like Kamala Harris and police-state organs like the FBI which have caused untold harm to peaceful people (while simultaneously vilifying its sister organization ICE).  Last week I even saw people on Twitter claiming that “lying to the FBI” is an actual moral evil (malum in se) rather than a mere arbitrary law (malum prohibitum), simply because they perceive some antagonism between the Orange-utang and the Spawn of J. Edgar Hoover.

First, let’s get one thing clear: lying to sociopaths who work to destroy people’s lives for violations of arbitrary laws made up by privileged douchebags completely disconnected from those whose lives they presume to micromanage is not a wrong; in fact, it is both a right and a sacred duty.  But even were that not so, the idea that factual truth is some sort of self-evident icon with the magical power to force the powerful to admit its veracity is so incredibly foolish and childish that one can barely conceive of an adult naive enough to believe it.  And yet, my stating that simple truth resulted in numerous attacks from people who no doubt also think that a polygraph is as infallible an instrument as Wonder Woman’s magic lasso.  The actual truth is that, when the government is involved, “truth” is defined by the one holding the gun, as explained in this series of tweets by Ken “Popehat” White:

…A very popular response to concerns about a perjury trap is the response “just tell the truth!”  This is rainbows-and-unicorns fantasy.  Certainly a liar is in jeopardy when testifying before the grand jury or talking to government agents.  But so are you, my friend.  Unless you’re perfect, and very lucky, and dealing with purely ethical and knowledgeable government agents.  Among the MANY dangers: the government is convinced that the truth is false; the government is lying; your memory is faulty; or you panic and make bad choices like some kind of HUMAN.  You might even get prosecuted for a non-answer that prosecutors decide was evasive, even if it wasn’t a lie.  Don’t believe me?  Ask Barry Bonds.  The “just tell the truth” response assumes, without basis, that the purpose of interviews is to gather information.  In fact, using interviews to create criminal liability is a primary feature of federal criminal investigation.  “Just tell the truth” presumes trustworthy questioners with pure motives and enlightened, near-perfect witnesses.  Neither assumption is warranted…

The point of interrogation is not to collect information; it’s to destroy the victim or turn them into a weapon against another victim, or both.  And the only thing you should do when faced with such interrogation is to shut the fuck up except to say, “I want my lawyer”.

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As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I’m a very affectionate person.  I touch a great deal, I like to hold hands when I walk with a partner or friend, and people I love are likely to hear me tell them so at least once every time I see them (and most of the times I text with them).  I don’t form romantic partnerships easily, and when I do they tend to be long-lasting (and devastating to me when they end); while they endure I enjoy spending time with my partner and having special things we do together, even to the point of having pet names and private jokes and all that good stuff.  I’m telling you all this so that you understand that I’m not actually biased against love or romance when I say that in the West in general and the US in particular, the “couple” has become a cultic totem second only to “The Children!” in repulsiveness and maladaptation.

Now, I’ve been part of couples for a large fraction of my adult life, and probably so have most of you reading this.  But in all that time, I have never tolerated a partner who attempted to own me, control me, or monopolize my time.  Jack’s childish jealousy was one of the reasons we fought so much and broke up so often, and even as a young adult I was never very sympathetic to girlfriends who whined that their boyfriends had interests other than them and didn’t want to spend every fucking free minute with them.  I’ve always disliked Valentine’s Day, and one of the reasons my relationship with Matt endured for 14 years was that he traveled a great deal and had interests other than me.  So when I saw these creepy things in a tweet recently, they reminded me of the hallucinations Greg Kihn’s character has when looking at the wedding guests in this video:

Sorry, couples; you’re not actually “one flesh” with a conjoined circulatory system, and it won’t hurt you to sit separately for the length of a domestic flight:

Alaska Airlines faces a public-relations storm after a gay couple were forced to give up their seats on a flight from New York City to Los Angeles…to make room for a straight couple.  Though the complainant …accepted an apology from Alaska, which said the outcome was a mistake [due to the gate agent’s being given incorrect information] and not reflective of any disrespect, dissemination of the incident on social media has damaged the airline’s image…as…gay-friendly…David Cooley, owner of a popular upscale gay bar in…West Hollywood…[was] on board [with his partner] in their assigned premium seats when a gate agent asked his companion to give up his seat and move to [steerage] so that another couple could sit together.  Although Cooley…protested that the two men were also a couple and wanted to sit together…the agent insisted that his traveling companion had to either move to coach or get off the plane…

NOBODY, single or coupled, queer or straight or asexual, should be forced to move from their seat so a “couple” can sit together.  What the fuck is that about, really?  “Hi, you need to move because these two people like to shove their body parts into each other’s orifices.”  Really?  Wanna sit together?  Plan ahead & get reserved seats; done.  And if you have those seats, as Cooley and his partner did, you shouldn’t be forced to move for those who didn’t (and certainly not moved from First Class back into the cattle car).  I’ve been separated from partners on planes because of circumstances (standby flying, last-minute plans, poor planning on our part or whatever) before and we lived.  But then, we weren’t the devotees of a weird religion which teaches that we somehow deserve precedence over other people because we habitually boink each other.

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Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.  –  Mao Zedong

I’ve written on many occasions about how government is at best a necessary evil, and how modern governments of large countries are so powerful that they couldn’t help harming people by the millions even if they wanted to, which they don’t.  The reason they don’t is quite simple, yet somehow most people are either unable or unwilling to see it:  the only actual power government has is to inflict violence.  Government is a non-producer; like any parasite it is wholly dependent on its host for sustenance.  And so the only way it can accomplish anything is to force others to do it by the threat of violence.  Every government operative is paid with money extracted from individuals or corporations, and the reason those individuals pay up is that government threatens to inflict violence on their persons (and/or extract the money by direct robbery) if they don’t.  An ever-increasing army of thugs and petty functionaries provides the muscle, and these operatives are paid with stolen money; like any criminals, their demands for loot inevitably increase over time, and because the government was foolish and/or uncaring enough to allow these thugs to form public sector unions (ie, unconstitutional organs of government not answerable to the subject population even by the charade of elections), they are able to demand more money, more power and more numbers with every passing year.  Naturally the government gives in, because without these thug armies it would have no power to force everyone else to obey its whims; besides, the government doesn’t pay them with its own money anyhow, and it can always demand more with its ever-growing power.  This is what anarchists call “the gun in the room”:  every single law derives its power from the open or indirect threat of violence, the spoken or unspoken “do what we say, or else“.  And while the American faction which claims the label “left” likes to pretend it’s more gentle and concerned for individual rights than the soi-disant “right”, the truth is that, as I wrote in “Against Conscience“:

A few years ago, Americans who like to imagine themselves as “the political left” eschewed the traditional label “liberal” in favor of the older term “progressive”; this is especially interesting since the progressive philosophy (which holds that the world should be ruled by experts who are “scientifically” trained to know what’s “best for society” and therefore have the right to impose their will on everyone else “for our own good”) is if anything the exact opposite of classical liberalism (which holds that each person has the right to self-ownership and self-determination).  In other words, the shift in nomenclature revealed the truth previous leaders tried to hide under the “liberal” label:  the only…difference between the American political parties lies in the fact that soi-disant “conservatives” think the all-powerful ruling elite should be made up of the wealthy and religious authorities, while soi-disant “progressives” think it should be made up of those “educated” for the task in state-controlled systems.  In practice, however, there is no difference at all.  Both flavors of fascism favor infinite expansion of government power with the ultimate goal of total establishment control of all wealth and every individual; both dole out bread and circuses so as to call attention away from what they’re actually doing…

Even so, I’m continually amazed at the obtuseness of white “leftists” who acknowledge that the police state disproportionately harms the poor & minorities, yet support ever more things being criminalized.  Somehow these people imagine that their censorship, gun control, bans on substances (e.g., tobacco & sugar) and behaviors they dislike (e.g., sex work and “revenge porn”), and other laws won’t also be enforced more against black folks, despite the blatantly obvious fact that such laws always are.

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It’s time to set aside childish things, and start dealing with one another like grownups.  –  “Childish Things

A friend of my family’s once said, “Maggie was born adult.”  Just about everyone who knew me (with the exception of my mother) felt that way to one degree or another, and I can remember being frustrated with what I perceived as childishness in the greater world from a very young age.  For example, I can remember being extremely annoyed with commercials during kid-TV programming (such as Saturday morning cartoons) claiming that some mundane task like tooth-brushing needed to be “fun”.  Even at that tender age, I understood that it wasn’t necessary for every single thing in the world to be “fun”; some things just need to be done whether they’re “fun” or not.  I had a similar reaction to the “condoms are sexy” campaign of the ’80s:  No, condoms are not sexy; in fact, they’re really kind of nasty.  But until something better comes along, they are necessary whether they’re “sexy” or “fun” or not, and anyone who would eschew a reliable protection against contagious disease because it isn’t “sexy” is a childish imbecile and a danger to himself and others (see also “consent is sexy“).

There are a number of similarly-idiotic words used to influence the intellectually immature, and I despise all of them.  The odious word “deserve” is used to sell luxuries and deny basic human rights; “privilege” is used to subtly excuse and shift the blame for tyranny; “fairness” is used as an excuse for entitlement; “love” is reduced to the temporary neurochemical derangement we wrongly call “romantic love”, and represented as the only valid reason for sex or marriage (when actually it’s just about the worst reason for engaging in either); and prohibitionists use moronic phrases like “selling their bodies“, “the commodification of sex is sad“, and “no little girl dreams of growing up to be a prostitute” as excuses for inflicting violence on adults for engaging in consensual sex.  “Dreams”.  Seriously.  And yet these people, who actually believe the fantasies of undeveloped minds should be given the same weight as actual facts in adult discussions, are not only treated as grown adults, but actually deferred to as though this pablum constituted valid logical argument.  See also “follow your dreams”, possibly the most inane, naive, and – dare I say it? – privileged bit of non-advice ever to adorn a bumper sticker, right alongside such wisdom of the ages as “Baby on Board” and “Virginia is for lovers”.  But it doesn’t stop there, oh no; as I wrote in “Childish Things“,

Worse and more foolish still is the belief that a nonhuman thing, either material or immaterial, can be “bad”…too many [people]…imagine that plant matter or technological devices can be intrinsically evil; that certain words or images can be literally harmful…that the mere action of taking a photograph of a naked person…is intrinsically inimical; that certain forms of human interaction can mystically harm the participants even if they freely choose to engage in the activity and suffer no physical damage; that magical vestments or talismans can grant power over other people or absolve the wearer of moral culpability for his actions; that official pronouncements from anointed leaders can make things vanish; and even that being given a spell-scroll of one variety can make a “dangerous” action into a beneficial one, while being given a different kind of rune-inscribed parchment can make an innocuous action evil…

All this arrant, primitive stupidity make me want to vomit.  Human beings have the right to control our own bodies & lives regardless of motive, whether anybody “loves” or “dreams” or “deserves” whatever, or whether or not our actions are “fun” for us or anyone else.

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The 4th of July is now a memorial rather than a celebration, and the Spirit of ‘76 is nothing but a ghost.  –  “The Spirit of ’76

Humans have a rather pathetic tendency to mistake form for substance, and to confuse symptoms with causes.  So if I had thought about it hard enough, I probably would’ve been able to predict that eventually Americans would realize they were living in a fascist police state, but that they’d do so long after such a state was established and reach the conclusion for completely wrong reasons.  It’s become fashionable to refer to Donald Trump and his government as “fascist” due to his openly-racist rhetoric, but the US government has always been racist since its inception, and as I wrote almost a year ago,

…fascism has a specific meaning, namely rule by a coalition of political, corporate and military or paramilitary interests.  [Americans] seem to think US fascism started with Donald Trump, which is patently absurd.  Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Lawrence Britt’s seminal article on the 14 defining characteristics of fascism; you’ll note that most of these describe American government as far back as the Reagan administration, and a few of them as far back as the FDR administration.

I might also point out that FDR openly admired Mussolini, and Hitler openly praised FDR, right up to the point when that tyrant historians celebrate as one of the “greatest presidents” decided US interests would be better served by joining the Allies.  Furthermore, though the anti-Trump crowd loves to style themselves “The Resistance”, they also unironically talk about government officials committing “treason” (you know, the charge used by tyrannical governments for executing actual resistance members), obsess about Russian agents more than Joe McCarthy did, and blindly support candidates every bit as fascist as Trump (though, admittedly, saner and more polished).  Moronic blue hat/red hat partisanism has rotted Americans’ brains to the point where they actually blame the other party for every ill they can identify, even when a few minutes of research on the internet will demonstrate that our current tyranny is solidly bipartisan.  Our idiotic, shallow, appearance-obsessed culture is long overdue for collapse, and when it does “the ash left behind [may] provide…fertile soil for new (and gods willing, healthier) growth“.  The moribund American Empire will produce no more good in the world except by its collapse and replacement, and though I grieve the innocent blood which will be spilled, it isn’t like US policies aren’t spilling rivers of innocent blood right now.  The sooner it happens, the better for the world; the end of this monster who once promised so much can’t possibly come soon enough.

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As many sex workers and clients know, having a degree and/or certification is no guarantee that a therapist will not be completely clueless about sex work.  Disinformation about our work and lives is so widespread, and the stigma against properly investigating it so entrenched, that it’s possible for someone to earn a PhD in psychology or social work or whatever without even having a passing acquaintance with anything resembling a fact on the subject.  Moreover, interest in psychology is not equivalent to a belief in human rights or a desire to promote happiness and sexual health; there are just as many control freaks dressed up as therapists as there are dressed up as teachers, doctors, clergymen, judges or any other “authority” figure you can name, and people like Melissa “13” Farley and Dominique “Body Fluids” Roe-Sepowitz are perfectly happy to design fake “studies” to “prove” whatever anti-whore belief they want to lend credence to.  So when a sex worker or client goes looking for a therapist, they’re much less likely to find an Alyxx Berg or a David Ley than they are a misogynistic quack who insists that literally no woman is capable of making pragmatic decisions about sex, and knows nothing of any of the copious research disproving myths about sex work, sex workers, clients, third parties or any other aspect of the demimonde.  Therapists well-informed about sex work are so rare, in fact, that when I see an excellent article like this one by Katie Bloomquist I experience a palpable sense of relief that there are at least some members of the psychiatric community who live in the real world rather than in some Victorian fantasyland of male sexual predators and helpless, asexual female victims:

Assuming therapy clients who pay for sex have traits of sexual narcissism and feel “entitled” to women’s bodies is based on harmful myths and stereotypes about those who pay for sex.  As systemic mental health providers, being curious about the needs the client is getting met when they pay for sexual services is key– is it an emotional need?  A physical need?  A need to express a type of sex that is not “allowed” in the relationship”…Examining the systemic function the behavior of paying for sexual services plays usually reveals more about our clients’ needs and wants in their relationships and sex lives…Conversely, the antiquated notion that women should only have sex with men “for free” is based on male entitlement to women’s bodies and grossly gendered ideas of emotional and sexual labor.  This notion is also based on gendered assumptions…that women who engage in sexual behavior in exchange for money are either deviants or victims, as the stereotype of women who have any type of sex is that their sexual behavior must be “intimate” or “emotional”.  Gendering sex in this way is inaccurate and harmful – as it often results in female-identified people being expected to provide sex and intimacy “for free” and discounts emotional and sexual labor as a valuable type of work…

This isn’t Bloomquist’s only article on the subject, and informed therapists are not as rare as they were even ten or twenty years ago.  But they’re still rare enough that when I see reality laid out like this in a short, concise article, it gives me hope that many years of hard work by activists and ethical researchers is finally beginning to have lasting cultural impact.

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