Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Don't just do something; stand there until the problem is solved.

Russell Tovey has come under criticism for the following:
Example No. 1: In an interview earlier this week with The Guardian, “Looking” star Russell Tovey, 33, revealed that he was assaulted for being gay, spurring a change in his physical presentation, which his father encouraged.

“I feel like I could have been really effeminate, if I hadn’t gone to the school I went to. Where I felt like I had to toughen up,” he said. “If I’d have been able to relax, prance around, sing in the street, I might be a different person now. I thank my dad for that, for not allowing me to go down that path. Because it’s probably given me the unique quality that people think I have.”

The author of that column responds thus:
Can someone please tell Tovey that he’s not the only one who’s been bullied for being gay? In fact, this happens all the time, causing a suicide rate in the LGBT community drastically higher than the rate for our straight counterparts. But the solution to being bullied isn’t to “hit the gym,” as Tovey says. Rather, it’s our job as a community to speak out against old notions of how people are supposed to express their identities. It’s our job to stop the bullying.
Earlier, we read about anti-LGBT violence and self-defense:
"We need to look at the systemic inequalities that are causing people to be victims of violence,” .... “The solution to that is definitely not creating violence to end violence."
While I do not agree completely with Tovey's attitude, nor do I agree that the other side presents a complete real-world solution. Doing "our job as a community ... to stop the bullying" and "to look at the systemic inequalities" will not work overnight, if they do at all; in the meantime, what are people supposed to do?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Nice promises, if you keep them.

Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, gave her State of the Movement Address at the Creating Change Conference last Friday. She made some interesting points, but the sort of points that movement leaders should spend less time telling us that they believe and more time showing us that they believe.

Carey made the following observation about freedom, with which, as far as it goes, I agree:

The greater good, the greater truth we hold is that freedom is not a zero sum game. Sadly, there are those who believe otherwise. But I believe that your life is not diminished by my freedom to be whole. And, my life is not diminished by your freedom to be whole. I don’t become less of a human if more of your humanity is recognized.
Nonetheless, much LGBT activism seems premised on the idea that freedom is a zero-sum game. We have developed a reputation for demanding our rights at the expense of others' rights, the cake police being a prominent example. The LGBT movement's devotion to "tolerance" has become a punchline among people who should be our natural allies.

She later says,

I believe we need a new agenda for the next decade, for the future — a new agenda for all LGBTQ people and our families — that recognizes the breath and the depth of all we face. And there is no one organization, there is no one person that can or should create that agenda. Rather it will be held by all of us and will require of all of us to envision it, to create it and to fulfill it.

Next month you'll be hearing from us and other organizations about a grassroots digital and in-person campaign called Our Tomorrow that will engage people across the country in a conversation about their hopes, fears and ideas to inform the future of the LGBTQ movement.

That would be a welcome change from the movement's S.O.P. When I was more involved in mainstream LGBT organizations than I am today, I noticed that movement leaders cultivated the sort of "diversity" that, while ensuring that all of the right boxes were checked, was free from diversity of viewpoint. Unsurprisingly, those organizations were echo chambers whose participants could not imagine that opinions outside of the group-certified orthodoxy could have validity and sometimes could not imagine that any authentic LGBT person could even hold such opinions.

As a result, many LGBT people feel disaffected from a movement that they see as not speaking for them or even as directly opposing their liberation. I am not talking only about people who believe that their identity categories are not represented. This will strike some people as heresy, but people lumped into the same identity category can have widely divergent perspectives, opinions, and needs. Any movement whose leaders aspire to speak for "all LGBTQ people and our families" must reach out to people holding those widely divergent perspectives, opinions, and needs, however distasteful the goodthinkful may find doing so.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Thank you, Jeb Bush, for inadvertently helping to advance freedom.

Now that Jeb Bush's nanny-statism and hypocrisy on the subject of marijuana have been unmasked, even my progressive acquaintances are now recognizing (i) that Republican politicians, by and large, are pro-government and in particular pro-nanny-state and (ii) that that isn't a good thing. It helps that the issue is marijuana, on which my progressive acquaintances tend to be at least libertarianish. While they are hardly going to become anarcho-capitalists overnight, at least Bush has given them a valuable lesson in seeing past what "everyone knows."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Write your own opinion piece for the LGBT media with the new Write-o-Matic!

Haven't you always wanted to say something to the world in The Advocate, The Washington Blade, or some other LGBT publication? Of course you have. Now, with the new Write-o-Matic and a standard six-sided die, you'll be able to write an opinion piece in no time.

I. Choose a subject.

Throw the die and choose one of the following six subjects:
  1. "Not Everyone Is Physically Attracted to Me, and That's Unfair."
  2. "Democratic Politicians Are God's Angels on the Earth."
  3. "My Identity Group Is the Most Virtuous, yet Most Persecuted in the History of Ever."
  4. "Lesbians Can Do No Wrong; Gay Men Can Do No Right."
  5. "Bigger Government Is a Panacea."
  6. "My Freedom Matters; Yours Is Stupid and Pointless."
II. Choose an information source.

Throw the die again and choose one of the following six information sources:
  1. A data set taken under such questionable circumstances that it is worthless
  2. A data set cherry-picked to support your desired conclusion
  3. One anecdotal example
  4. Unfounded speculation
  5. Your own amazing powers of clairvoyance and mind-reading
  6. Something that's been reverberating in the echo chamber for so long that it just has to be true
III. Choose someone to quote.

A good journalist provides quotes, so throw the die again and choose the person whom you'll quote:
  1. Someone who has no special expertise in the subject but who can be counted on to agree with you
  2. Someone who has no special expertise in the subject but to whom you owe a favor
  3. Someone who fancies her/himself to have special expertise in the subject but who gets it wrong
  4. A politician who cannot do anything about the issue
  5. A politician who is now taking a position directly contrary to her or his record
  6. A random person on Twitter
IV. Choose a product placement.

That politically correct happy talk about anti-capitalism is all very nice, but the bills won't pay themselves, so throw the die again and choose a product or service to plug engage in serious journalism about:
  1. A bar, restaurant, or other nightlife spot
  2. A counseling service
  3. An item of popular culture
  4. An item of geek culture
  5. A car
  6. A wedding service
V. Write.

Now write that opinion piece and become famous. Caveat: Under no circumstances should you express an original thought.

See also:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Someone actually wrote this: Unbiased samples, how do they work?

This article about chubby chasers provides a perfect example of how not to research one's topic, although I suppose that the author is ahead of the game by actually researching, when so many others in the LGBT media are content simply to speculate. He describes his data set and the conclusion that he draws:
I have to admit, it’s rare to find a gay guy who happens to be a Chubby Chaser. But trust me when I say they exist. During my research, I perused Craigslist, Grindr and other social apps, and believe me, Chubby Chasers are alive and well, but what saddens me most about the whole thing is that they feel a need to hide. They’d rather have casual sex so they can satisfy a part of their fantasy, while ridding themselves an opportunity to start a relationship (which is what they really want) out of fear of being judged.
So he "perused Craigslist, Grindr and other social apps," and the guys he finds would "rather have casual sex"? Gosh oh golly, I wonder what those two things could possibly have to do with each other.

See also:

What are gay men up to? How not to find out

What are gay men up to? How not to find out (2)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Someone actually wrote this: Big Tobacco and Big Marijuana

In response to the movement to legalize marijuana, Dr. Samuel Wilkinson writes,
We should not overlook ... valuable lessons from our experience with another legal drug: tobacco.

[parade of horribles about tobacco]

The formula for success in profiting from a legal drug is simple and has been clearly outlined by Big Tobacco: Identify a product with addictive potential, aggressively market it to as large an audience as possible, develop technical innovations to allow for and promote increased consumption, and deny or minimize potential costs to human health. The marijuana industry is poised to copy this formula, with dire consequences.

He offers the following solution:
If we are intent on legalizing marijuana for recreational use, lessons from the tobacco industry and the Dutch marijuana experiment suggest that we do so in a way that does not pit corporate incentives against the interests of public health. Similar to efforts in Uruguay, production and distribution should be done solely by the government so as to ensure that there is no corporate incentive to entice more people to consume marijuana in larger quantities.
In doing so, Dr. Wilkinson commits the nirvana fallacy by comparing the private sector in practice to government as it works only on paper. Anyone who thinks that corporations have incentives to do undesirable things, but that government does not, has to assume away not only the examples of state ABC stores, state lotteries, and state dependence on tobacco revenue, but also just about all of human history. As an aside, people have accused me of attacking a straw man for mocking exactly the argument that Dr. Wilkinson actually makes.

Dr. Wilkinson closes:

While the health effects of marijuana are generally not as severe as those of cigarette smoking, the consequences — including addiction, psychosis and impaired cognitive abilities — are nonetheless real. Notably, these effects are most pronounced in children and adolescents. Claims that marijuana legalization will make it easier to prevent use by minors are not backed by scientific or historical evidence. The most prevalent drugs consumed by teenagers are those that are legal: alcohol and tobacco. This should give us pause to consider the optimal way to legalize marijuana — and indeed whether other states should consider legalization at all.
The concern over "whether other states should consider legalization at all" is the perfect-solution fallacy, as the author's own example of teenage consumption of alcohol and tobacco shows.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Free markets in action (yes, another Barilla post)

The right-thinking people routinely tell me that free markets are powerless against bigotry and that only government can protect us. Yet The Washington Post, citing the Human Rights Campaign (and the latter is not exactly known for its libertarian bias), reports,
Not long ago, pasta-maker Barilla was just one more major company that had run afoul of the gay rights movement, a distinction it earned last year when its chairman said he would never feature a same-sex couple in an ad. If gays didn’t like it, he added, they could eat something else.

But in a sign of how toxic it has become for a company to be viewed as unfriendly toward gays, Barilla has made a dramatic turnaround in the space of one year, expanding health benefits for transgender workers and their families, contributing money to gay rights causes, and featuring a lesbian couple on a promotional Web site.

* * *

The remarks grabbed headlines around the world and prompted boycotts in the United States, where the firm has 30 percent of the pasta market with $430 million in sales in 2013, and elsewhere. Harvard University dumped Barilla from its cafeterias, gay rights groups promoted names of other brands of pasta, and Barilla’s competitors seized on the opportunity to present themselves as more forward-thinking, with Bertolli Germany posting a comment on its Facebook page promoting “pasta and love for all!”

So no law was needed to enforce goodthink. Instead, private parties, acting freely in the marketplace, convinced Barilla to change course.

Social conservatives have left some amusing comments. It seems that they are so outraged that Barilla has caved in to a boycott that they will punish it by boycotting it. Um, okay.