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The Morality of Penises

I’m not even trying to be funny with the title for this article–more is the pity, really, because it means this has to be discussed en sincera, which is a black stain on the intellectual rigor of our entire species. However, in the last week or so–since the Navy pilot drew a penis in the sky with the conntrails of his jet–the word “immoral” has been thrown around a lot. To be clear, the word “immoral” generally gets thrown around a lot anyway, usually at things that have nothing at all to do with morality (like homosexuality, transsexuality, etc.), but seeing it tossed with reckless abandon at someone having drawn a part of the human anatomy in the sky is among the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen, and seems most likely to be a remnant of a culture that once viewed sex as unclean.

#RiseOfTheMillennials, I like to say, because it’s true. That’s the kind of thing a millennial would do. The better question, at least for me, isn’t “Why is that immoral?” but “Why would someone do that?”

The answer should be obvious–to subversively attack the old school mentality that sex is unclean and that genitalia must be hidden at all costs. This is a mindset that millennials, for the most part, simply don’t have. Yet it is one shared by our grandparents and parents, usually. Without overly romanticizing what has happened (because there was indisputably an element of “Let’s troll people” involved), this was done primarily a gesture to say exactly that: “This is our world–or it will be soon.”

Honestly, there probably aren’t too many better symbols that represent the rise of the millennials than the penis. People thought the hippies were sexually liberated? The hippies wish they could be this sexually liberated. We’re talking about a generation for whom “gay” almost has no meaning–a generation that sees absolutely nothing gay about giving your friend a blowjob. This isn’t to say that every millennial would engage in that, but it is to say that even something like that would not make a person “gay” in the millennial paradigm. It’s hard to explain. “Gay” is just this word… Do you have relationships with men? Then you’re gay. Do you have sex, but not relationships, with men? You can still be straight. I’m neither condoning nor rejecting these definitions; I’m just pointing them out. These hard delineations of past generations are received by millennials with eye-rolling scoffs.

So what is the penis, in this context? Because it’s so much more than the male anatomy–but it is the male anatomy, too. The cartoon-ish, simplistic genital–the two circles attached to a rounded-end cylinder–caused people to flip out. Most millennials are not nudists–in this sense, future generations will be vastly more liberated than the average millennial, and make no mistake, widespread nudism is coming within a few generations–but also are not bothered in the least by depictions of penises. The millennial mindset is that having a penis is nothing to be ashamed of, and neither are penises things that must be hidden, whispered about, and mentioned only in quiet darkness. Say it with me now: Penis.

Our parents were notoriously uncomfortable talking about sex. My own “sex talk” with my father consisted of twelve seconds of conversation, with my father making the classic “index finger going into the other hand’s ring” gesture, and that was it. We’re a generation that was raised on porn and Cosmopolitan. Where our parents failed horrifically to provide any useful information about sex, the Internet and magazines picked up the slack, and, as a result, the average millennial probably knows more about sex than the preceding generations combined. Compare the porn of today to the porn of the 1960s, when our own parents would have been gleaning what information they could from porn because their own parents had taken them to watch cows have sex to give them “the talk.” To say the least, porn today is “liberated” compared to porn fifty years ago. You couldn’t find Japanese women doing bukkake fifty years ago. Today it’s just a 0.003 second search away. Past generations may have gotten a naked woman tastefully posed so as not to be too revealing.

Of course, porn should not be a primary source of sex education, but it has worked out that it is. I’d wager that, for 95% of people, their first encounter with sex was through pornography. It may even be 100%. I was in the fifth grade the first time I saw a woman spread eagle in a magazine. I didn’t know why it was so great, but I knew that I liked it. It wasn’t until the eighth grade that my father said a word to me about it–long after the stirrings of puberty had raised my interest in sex, and long after my initial exposures to sex. But porn is about masturbation–“Wam, Bam, Thank you, ma’am,” as they say. Porn is kinda contrary to the whole principle of sex education, because it’s not about showing boys and girls–and there’s no need to be coy, because let’s not pretend like it’s not 11 year olds and twelve year olds watching porn as their introductions to sex–how to properly have sex, how to seduce, how to be romantic, and, above all, how to give the female sexual pleasure. These are topics not typically covered in Lord of the G-Strings and Bang Brothers’ shorts.

Sex is not an uncomfortable subject for us. In fact, we rather like it. Many millennials have “fuck buddies,” not even of the opposite sex. It’s just natural to us. And one’s older sensibilities may say it is or isn’t natural (but I think we can reject such a claim as being unfounded and taking liberties with the definition of “natural” and “unnatural”), but most millennials just don’t see what the big deal is. People like fucking. In fact, people need to fuck. We’re biologically programmed to want to fuck. Fucking is critical to our existence. Look at your family tree. At every single one of those branches? There was fucking.

Apparently, previous generations treated this like it was some great secret, and sometimes like it isn’t even true. But oh yeah. Nanna got the “old in-out, in-out.” If she hadn’t, ol’ dad wouldn’t be here. And if mom hadn’t laid on her back once or twice, I wouldn’t be here.

Does this seem crass? Crude?

Not to most millennials. It’s just a fact of life, dude.

And that’s why the penis was drawn in the sky. And, for the most part, on the pillows shown above, although it does have to be pointed out once again that there is also a heavy trolling element to it. But it’s not just trolling. Trolling for the sake of trolling is just being an asshole.

But the penis is a symbol of that liberation. So asking “Why would someone draw a penis in the sky or on pillows?” is kinda a stupid question. “Why would someone get upset about a penis?” is a more intelligent question. Your existence required a penis. The reader would literally not exist if not for the penis*. That is what people are getting worked up over, it’s worth mentioning–a natural part of the human body that nearly half the world’s population has.

But the Children!

No one has ever demonstrated how seeing a penis or a vagina harms anyone’s “innocence” or sensibilities. In fact, the problem here is the prohibition of nudity. If you take someone and start clothing them since before they’re even able to talk, and you constantly beat into their heads that nudity is wicked, wrong, sinful, and shameful, then of course they’re going to freak the hell out the first time they encounter nudity. If you told a child from the time they were born that chocolate is a deadly poison, then they’d freak the hell out the first time they saw someone eating a bar of Hershey’s Chocolate, too.

It’s not the nudity or the genitalia that is the problem there–in those instances, the person is creating the very circumstances to cause the child to be freaked out. And there is no telling what effects it really has on normal human behavior to be popped out of the womb and immediately put into clothing–clothing that is worn at all times, unless one is totally alone. Yeah, someone raised like that would probably freak out and “have their innocence ruined” by seeing someone without clothes–because, to them, clothes have become normal, and seeing someone without clothes is the least normal thing they’ll have encountered at that point in their lives. But what made clothing normal and nudity abnormal?

Clothing did. Nudity, in and of itself, isn’t normal or abnormal. We made it abnormal. And I’m not even a nudist, because I was conditioned through all of my formative years to believe that wearing clothing was normal and natural, and that one should never, ever be naked, unless one was about to bathe (or, later, have sex–hint, hint). I could get past that, if I really cared to, but I don’t particularly care to.

As a point of reference, ask yourself why men are so much more likely to be shirtless around the house than women. It’s the same answer: conditioning. We’ve been conditioned that men being shirtless is mostly okay, but it isn’t for women. This applies to all clothing–we’ve been conditioned to think that wearing clothing is okay, and not wearing clothing isn’t. So yeah, seeing the other sex’s genitals for the first time could freak someone the hell out, by violently coming into conflict with years and years of psychological programming. Stop programming human beings to be freaked out by nudity, and they’ll stop being freaked out by nudity.

If any part of this discussion deals with morality, then it would be at this juncture–the morality of programming human beings to believe things before they are able to think, speak, reason, or walk. I would contend that this is probably immoral, but not enough to actually care to defend that position. But if something has to be justified, that would be it: programming humans (because it is programming) and brainwashing humans into believing that nudity is in some way shameful or disgraceful, from practically the moment of their birth.

But the penis?

It hardly gets more natural and normal than that.

 

* Obviously, if penises hadn’t evolved, some other mechanism of procreation would have, but it would be facing the same absurd scrutiny.

Shut Up, FFS–Arvin Vohra is NOT Why the LP Loses

First of all, before I get into this, it’s worth pointing out that the LP isn’t really losing. In fact, we just won a number of local and state elections. The LP has no national Congressional officials and has never won the White House, but Libertarians of all people should understand the power of local governments. Yet we seem to have the same fascination with the Federal Government that the Big Government Party has–it’s all that matters to us. “Meh” we say to LP victories in local elections. Anyway.

I’ve noticed that libertarian types lose perspective on popularity almost as badly as anime fans. There isn’t an anime fan out there who doesn’t think their favorite show is extremely popular, even though there may only be 23 people who watch it. Anime fans, of course, tend to obsess over their favorite show, steep themselves in its forums and discussion boards, surround themselves with merchandise and other fans. Just like libertarians do with our political obsession. And with our cryptocurrency fascination. It’s hard to keep in mind that, though a few people know what I’m referring to, when I say something like “lol, S2X just got rekt” on Facebook, less than 1% of my friends have any idea what in the world I’m talking about. Seeing people regularly blame Arvin Vohra for the party’s relative unpopularity reinforces this notion: libertarians generally have no perspective on our reach.

The Libertarian Party is a minor political force in the United States. Running against the two most controversial and despised candidates in living memory, the Libertarian Party’s candidates failed to secure a single electoral college vote, not even from New Mexico, which was the presidential candidate’s home state. When this happens to someone in one of the major two parties, it spells the effective end for their political career (see Marco Rubio losing Florida during the GOP Primary). Absolutely nothing was accomplished by the total selling-out of the party to Bill Freaking Weld and Republican Lites, during the most divisive election in my lifetime.

Many people are looking for reasons to blame for this failure. It’s all rather simple, really. We ran two milquetoast, unlibertarian candidates in an election that a foul-mouthed, uncouth shock jock reality show star celebrity won via social media and jarring tweets. Despite this, people continue to insist that foul-mouthed, uncouth shock jocks saying jarring things on social media are causing election losses. This is quite clearly bullshit, though. Those things caused Donald Trump to win the presidency. It’s for this reason that John McAfee almost certainly would have outperformed Gary Johnson, and likely would have brought in the mythical 15% to secure a spot on the debate stage. Arvin doesn’t need to be toned down. He needs to be shared and given a larger reach, because this is the Golden Age of Grotesque.

“Why didn’t people see this coming?” is a pretty good question, but “Why are people acting like this isn’t the case?” is a much better one. Did these “Arvin is destroying the LP” people not notice that Donald Trump just won the White House? Did they miss that development?

But even if all that wasn’t true, the idea that the vice chair’s Facebook posts are the reason people aren’t Libertarians is horrendously stupid. They’ve lost perspective on the kind of reach the Libertarian Party has. Quick, who is the Republican Party vice chair? Who is the vice chair of the Democratic Party? What is the vice chair of the Democratic Party talking about on Twitter? The only people who know the answers to these questions are politics-obsessed Republicans and Democrats. Even Libertarians, who are notoriously obsessed with politics, by and large can’t name the chair and vice chair of any of the other parties. And those are major parties that regularly bring in more than 40% of the votes.

The Libertarian Party’s reach is a tiny, tiny fraction of what the GOP and Democratic Party’s reaches are. And the vice chairs in these parties have tiny fractions of their parties’ reaches. The only people who pay any attention to what the vice chair of the party says are members of that party. John Q. Public has no fucking idea who Arvin Vohra is, nor does he give a shit what Arvin Vohra is saying on Facebook during a non-election year. We need to step back and get over ourselves. The core idea here is that the LP has a tremendous reach, and that Arvin Vohra, being the vice chair, has a nearly equal reach. This is stupid and incorrect. The only people who know who Arvin is are members of the party.

If we are so overestimating our reach and the reach of the vice chair that we blame him for our party’s failures, then we’re going to overlook and not address the actual problem. The problem isn’t Arvin, Gary Johnson, Bill Weld, or Nick Sarwark. The problem is obvious: a strong aversion to third parties, brought about by the fallacious myths that a vote only matters if the candidate its cast for wins, and that third party candidates can’t win. The latter is quite obviously a self-fulfilling prophecy–“Third party candidates can’t win, so I’m not going to vote for third party candidates.”

The former, of course, is equally stupid. A vote doesn’t gain value relative to the outcome, but relative to its effect on the outcome. If Donald Trump won by ten million votes and you voted for him, then your vote has much less value than if Donald Trump won by one vote and you voted for him. People understand this when you explain it to them. “The only vote that is wasted is the one that isn’t cast,” I said to a person once who said that she liked the LP but wouldn’t vote third party because it was wasting her vote. She agreed with the statement, said that she had never thought of it that way, and went on to vote for the LP.

If you voted for Donald Trump and he won by ten million votes, then your vote* was almost completely without value.

If you voted for Hillary Clinton and she lost by ten million votes, then your vote was almost completely without value.

If you voted for Donald Trump and he won by one vote, then your vote had extremely high value.

If you voted for Hillary Clinton and she lost by one vote, then your vote had extremely high value–you forced every single Trump supporter who voted to get out and vote. If even two of those had decided not to, your vote would have been the reason your candidate won. So while your candidate didn’t win, that doesn’t really matter.

LP Federal Fascination

As stated in the intro, Libertarians seem to focus almost exclusively on federal elections, seemingly forgetting that we’re a party that advocates that government, if it must exist, should be local and small, and this focus is so intense that many Libertarians continue to call the party a failure that doesn’t win elections despite having just won elections this very month. This is our Achilles’ Heel. We’ve let ourselves buy into the Federal Government Obsession.

We expect the Big Government Party to focus on federal elections–and they do. The Republicans and Democrats out there in the mainstream have no idea that an election just passed. I accidentally texted someone a few years ago telling her to vote in the election, and she replied, “What election?” I’d bet that most of the country has no idea that there was an election this month. But they’ll turn out in 2020, and they turned out in 2016. Why aren’t we taking advantage of this?

We know that they don’t pay much attention to local and state governments. Odd years should see Libertarians swept into offices in enormous numbers. Instead, I don’t know of many Libertarians who voted this month at all. If we play their Only Federal Elections Matter game, we will lose. We have been losing, and we will continue to lose, because they have an enormous aversion to voting third party. But they also don’t matter when it comes to state and local elections, not nearly as much. If everyone who voted for Gary Johnson had actually bothered to go and vote for Libertarians this month, we’d have won thousands of elections. Voter turnout during odd years is so low that it’s hard to even find stats on it.

Republicans and Democrats do not care about odd year elections. And they only partially care about non-presidential even year elections. Those are our times to shine, because we’re supposed to be the party that doesn’t care about the Federal Government, and that cares about local elections. Combine all of these things together, and the reasons for the LP’s failures become obvious:

  1. Mainstream voters have an extreme aversion to third parties.
    1. This is because they think their vote’s value is derived from the recipient’s victory,
    2. And because they think that third party candidates cannot achieve victory.
  2. Mainstream voters don’t care about odd-year elections, and only kinda care about non-presidential even years.
  3. Libertarians have almost fully adopted the same mentality, caring only about the Federal Government and outright ignoring local and state elections during odd years and non-presidential even years.

It’s got nothing to do with Nicholas Sarwark, Arvin Vohra, Gary Johnson, Bill Weld, John McAfee, moderates, centrists, anarchists, socialists, or anyone else. It’s the fixation on the Federal Government, where competition is extremely tight, and almost total ignoring of state and local elections. We shouldn’t need to win Federal Elections, because we should have taken control of local and state governments to such an extent that we could resist all efforts by the federal government to tyrannize the states and localities.

Want to achieve liberty in our lifetime? That’s how. Ignore the presidential elections entirely. We probably have to run a candidate, sure, but it should be a quarter-hearted effort at best. Instead, save our energy, money, and resources for odd years and non-presidential election even years.

 

* Ignoring the intricacies of the electoral college and the fact that the mythical popular vote doesn’t strictly determine the election outcome, but the electoral college does nothing but give your vote more value by creating the possibility of you being the one vote that flips your state from Red to Yellow, or from Blue to Red, or from Red to Blue, or from Blue to Yellow.

A Literal Lesson on Literally

If there is any single word that is horrifically over-used and incorrectly used, especially among millennials, that word would be “literally.” In perhaps the best piece of evidence that the ironic hipster culture has gone way too far, it is probably literally the word most often used figuratively rather than literally.

And it makes me figuratively sick.

It makes me metaphorically disgusted.

It makes me feel like I’m allegorically surrounded by morons.

These people are analogously comparable to zombies.

I would say I’m fancifully part of an age group that literally doesn’t know what “literally” means. And I haven’t even broken out the thesaurus yet.

No, Trump is not LITERALLY Hitler.

No, you are not LITERALLY dying.

No, you are not LITERALLY sick of Trump.

No, you are not LITERALLY rolling in cash.

And, as a reply to the post that inspired this one, Limewire was not LITERALLY LIKE having unprotected sex on the Internet.

Let’s reflect for a moment on that phrase. The statement was that “[Limewire] was literally like having unprotected sex on the Internet.”

At a glance, we can see that this is not, in fact, a literal statement. It’s a simile. As we learned in the second grade, a simile is an analogy that uses “like” or “as,” for the most part (in reality, it’s slightly more complicated than that, but let’s keep it simple for these people who evidently literally don’t know what “literally” means). As a simile, it is an analogy, which means it isn’t literal. This is because “x is figuratively true” is directly contradictory to “x is literally true.”

“X is literally true” means that x is true. It means the value of x is “true.” It means that whatever we’re describing as “x” is actually, seriously, and literally true.

“X is figuratively true” means that x is not true. It may be “true in spirit,” but not in actual fact. For example, the statement that “Trump is figuratively Hitler.” Quite obviously, this means that Trump is not Hitler. This is plain as day to anyone who knows that Hitler has been dead for 70 years (conspiracy theories aside). It is equally transparent to anyone who knows what it means for two distinctly different people to exist. So it is literally impossible for Trump to be LITERALLY Hitler–even if Hitler was still alive, the two are quite clearly different individuals, and it would require the warping of spacetime for them to be the same person.

Literal statements are observations–facts.

Figurative statements are assertions–opinions.

“Trump is literally Trump,” in addition to being a tautology, is an observation and a fact. Trump is Trump because “Trump” is the person we mean when we say “Trump.” The statement defines itself as true. This is the first of the Logical Absolutes–“x is x.” We don’t need to make an argument to show people that Trump is literally Trump. At most, we have to simply explain that Trump is the person we are referring to when we say “Trump.” “He is Trump,” we might say, pointing to him on the television. We don’t need to provide evidence (under normal circumstances*) that the person we are pointing to is Trump, because “Trump” is defined as the person we’re pointing to.

Contrast this to a statement like… “Taxation is literally theft.”

It is.

“Taking money or property from someone without their permission” is the definition of “theft.” That a government does it, instead of a random thief, changes nothing. Although doublethink and cognitive dissonance permeate American society, the fact remains that taxation is “literally” theft. The only escape from this is on an individual basis, with the individual who says, “No, because I gladly consent to taxes!” but even that isn’t the entire story, because they couldn’t deny consent if they wanted to, so they aren’t actually choosing to consent. “Taking money or property from someone without their permission” being the definition of “theft” isn’t an opinion; it’s what the word means.

Having now dealt with a statement that is not literally true and one that is literally true, let’s move on to a figurative one. As stated before, there is no fact here, so there is no “true” or “untrue” figurative statement. There’s a statement that one person believes or doesn’t believe. Let’s examine the statement that “Trump is figuratively Hitler.”

Is he?

It depends on what you think represents the essence of Hitler. I would say that extreme nationalism coupled with white supremacy, intense hatred of non-white people and GSM people, willingness to conquer, an unyielding desire to rebuild the “glory days” and take them further than ever before, and a remarkable ability to inspire passion in people (Hitler was probably the greatest orator of the 20th century, according to many people) is what really constituted “Hitler.” In literal terms, Hitler was a dude who lived in Germany from the late 19th century to around the mid 20th century, formed the National Socialist party of Deutschland, dissolved the Germany Parliament, took control of the government, successfully rebuild the German economy, started a bit of unpleasantness, and then killed himself. Seeing as Trump is none of those things, we can see, once again, that Trump is not LITERALLY Hitler.

Maybe what you mean by Hitler is “scary white leader who may or may not be racist and who sometimes says mean things.” If that’s what you think represents the essence of Hitler, hey, that’s your opinion. I would absolutely ask someone who made the statement with sincerity, however, that Trump is figuratively Hitler, to explain how they came to that conclusion, because I don’t see the connection. He could be somewhat analogous to Mussolini, but let’s be honest here… Millennials don’t know anything about Mussolini. To be clear, when people say that Trump is LITERALLY Hitler (and they mean that he is figuratively Hitler), I have a pretty good idea of what they mean: they mean that they think Trump is an extreme nationalist, white supremacist, anti-LGBT, warmongering, MAGA-spamming tyrant who is going to put everyone into the ovens.

Don’t believe me? They most certainly do think that. It has calmed down a lot, but I’ll never forget the day after the election talking to a Hispanic woman who confessed to be cowering in fear with her family in her home, crying. Teachers throughout the United States cried with their black students. No, this actually happened. Don’t forget that. One guy wrote an article with the headline “I’m disabled–imagine what Donald Trump will do to me!” They sincerely thought that the Holocaust was upon them, and they refused to listen to suggestions otherwise. They were fully hysterical, and firmly convinced that Trump was the second coming of Hitler. A year later, I would love nothing more than for these people to openly and publicly acknowledge how absurdly hysterical they were, to take it into consideration in the future, and to take measures to ensure that they are not so swept up in lunatic paranoid and political rhetoric again. Keep crying wolf, and when an American dictator actually rises, no one will take the claim seriously.

But this isn’t meant to be about Trump–figuratively or literally. Whether one believes Trump is figuratively Hitler or not isn’t the point here; the point here is that he is most LITERALLY not “LITERALLY Hitler.” Taxation is literally theft. You are not literally dying (except in the philosophical sense that everyone has an expiration date).

* Presuming some idiot is not making the argument that Trump is an imposter reptilian overlord wearing a Trump Suit.

 

 

A Comedy of Censorship

The irony of opening my daily subscription email from Rational Review, a libertarian news digest, and seeing an item from Newsweek about how Russia is planning to ban Facebook from its country unless Facebook stores the data for Russian users inside Russia, which critics are deriding as an attempt to censor and control the Internet, was almost too much hilarity for my brain to take before I’d ingested any caffeine. On the surface, the law actually makes a fair bit of sense (though I’d obviously not support it). Requiring companies not to store user for Russians outside of Russia is a protective measure–surely we can all see why we Americans wouldn’t want the user data of Americans stored, as a matter of routine, in Russia (especially given the anti-Russian hysteria, which is what I’m getting into).

Of course, Newsweek couldn’t help but stoke the coals of aforementioned hysteria by adding at the end of their article:

Facebook representatives told U.S. lawmakers that 80,000 posts from 470 fake Russian accounts disseminated information on its network and that it shut down 5.8 million fake accounts in October 2016.

Alas, we almost made it through one entire article that mentioned “Facebook” and “Russia” without playing it into the anti-Russian propaganda being peddled by lunatics across the United States. To give you some perspective on this addled stupidity, because, only counting photo uploads, there are three hundred million Facebook posts a day. If we include text-only posts, there are two hundred, ninety-three thousand (293,000) every single second. Eighty thousand in one month versus the nearly three hundred thousand made every second is a ludicrously low ratio–enough that it’s not worth mentioning and, indeed, Facebook should be ashamed for mentioning it.

I don’t care for the word “disseminated,” either. The media is notoriously no longer neutral. As I observed in an unrelated article about the mythical “popular vote,” bias in the media takes a number of forms, and the most subtle and insidious is the deliberate choice of loaded words. “Disseminated” is one such word. Almost any word would have been more neutral–perhaps “shared?” Or “posted?” Clearly, the journalists themselves only constitute half the problem; no editor who is good at what they do should have allowed that statement through. Not only is it loaded heavily, but it’s also stated poorly. Briefly, I’d have edited it to:

Representatives of Facebook reported to Congress that 80,000 posts from 470 dummy Russian accounts posted to its network, and that Facebook shut down 5.8 million fake accounts in October 2016.

I’d rate their version as a 4 / 10 (-4 points for blatant bias, -1 point for reuse of “fake” in a single sentence, and -1 for violating parallelism, which is far more important than people think).

Anyway, Newsweek in their article also failed to note who these “critics” are, but one has to give the benefit of the doubt and assume the critics are Russian. After all, it would just be silly for Americans to be accusing the Russian government of censorship when our social media titans are being compelled to report to Congress on what measures they are taking to censor their networks.

Recently on The Call to Freedom, of which I am a co-host with former libertarian vice presidential candidate Will Coley and recovering Republican Thom Gray (live every Sunday night at 10pm EST, and the encore airs Tuesday at 3pm EST at https://www.lrn.fm), I asked Thom Gray what the problem is with Russians posting on Facebook for either presidential candidate, a sentiment with which Will agreed, because it works just like anything else. If Russians, English, the French, the Spanish, the Catalan, or anyone else wishes to post to Facebook, then they’re basically allowed to do that*.

Maybe Facebook should implement a tool where users will never, ever see posts from people who live in countries other than their own.

Sounds horrific, doesn’t it?

This is the Global Age. In half a second, I can chat or play chess with someone in Russia, China, or Pakistan right now. We should be using this technology to communicate with one another, to learn what the other cares about, to learn what motivates them, and to learn that they’re people, just like us. That enormous ocean that once prevented people in the United States from recognizing that the Japanese circa 1940CE were real people was bridged by the Internet and World Wide Web, and we should be rejoicing in this, not freaking out, panicking, and seeking the isolationist approach. And let’s not mince words about this: what people are proposing is effectively isolationism.

In hindsight, I suppose it was always inevitable for the kneejerk reaction. We’ve seen it in countless other ways. Diversity and peace champions celebrate when LGBT people are allowed to exist in peace, but become regretful and remorseful when LGBT people start moving into their neighborhoods and in the vicinity of their children. Of course, similar things happened when black people began moving into certain neighborhoods, too, and when Mexican began coming into the United States. Satirical comedy South Park has drawn attention to this on at least two occasions, in the episodes “Goobacks” and “Here Comes the Neighborhood.” So it’s something we should all be familiar with.

Being able to communicate and interact with people on the other side of the planet instantly sounds great… until they post things you don’t like that allegedly influenced voters, who in turn voted in a way that you don’t like. So, once again, it absolutely must be said: the entirety of this Russian fiasco is the allegation that Russians influenced American voters. The contention has not been that “Russians influenced the election” since the audits of a few states in December of last year showed no irregularities. American voters voted for Trump. The allegation is that they voted for Trump because they were duped by Russians. So even if all the allegations are true, it changes nothing, because an American voter can take information from any source that they like and use it to cast their vote for any person that they like for any reason that they like.

Let’s imagine that the raving paranoids get their wish. Not only does Russia ban Facebook from its country (doing significant damage to the Russian people’s ability to communicate in the process, which, granted, the hysterical lunatics don’t care about anyway), but Facebook implements some sort of stern measure to keep Russian posts, where they might still exist, from appearing to the delicate, confused, sensitive, and gullible American masses. But oh no! Trump doesn’t run in 2020, and instead Ted Cruz wins the Republican nomination, whereupon he finds himself running against Joe Biden (the only standing Democrat that would have a realistic shot of winning the presidency). Unfortunately, Cruz wins the White House.

There are no Russians to use as a tool of challenging the legitimacy of Cruz’s victory and as a method of undermining his presidency. Who else might have such capabilities? The Chinese. I have very little doubt that the Chinese would be the next scapegoat. A few audits would show the voting results are more or less accurate (one has to wonder why they aren’t 100% accurate, though, given that they’re almost all electronic now), which would leave people unable to say that the election was rigged. They’ll resort to the tactic of saying that voters were misled, and it was the Chinese who convinced all the stupid, gullible people to vote for Cruz. Or perhaps the Democrat would win, and Republicans would try that tactic–with the “Obama is a Kenyan Muslim!” thing, they’ve certainly got a history of doing so.

We might go through this entire charade again, and it might culminate in the widespread elimination of China from Facebook. At that point, we could say, “Congratulations, America. You’ve effectively isolated yourself from 25% of the world’s population.” What would happen in 2024, when someone else inevitably won the White House, and the other side picked, perhaps, Brazil as the scapegoat? Or the European Union–unlikely though that is, since we have an enormous blindspot for Europe–see how Spain has invaded Catalonia and denied its right to self-governance, the most anti-democratic thing to happen in the last few decades in Europe, and yet we’ve done nothing to defend the Catalans from the occupying forces of Spain, and many people don’t even consider this a violation of democracy. Let’s face it, if Georgia declared independence from Russia and Russia invaded Georgia, Americans would be yelling and screaming about the invasion and violation of Georgian rights, and… Wait a minute.

See? It doesn’t matter how tyrannical and undemocratic Spain’s actions are. We can’t see them in the proper light, because they’re “western society,” too. So even though they have done to Catalonia exactly what we condemned Russia for doing to Georgia (and going even further, in fact, since Spanish police actually attacked people who were trying to vote, destroyed ballots, and other atrocious things), we don’t call them out on it. We also know that people in the UK, Italy, Germany, and other nations were posting on Facebook about the 2016 presidential election, and that they, too, were “disseminating information,” but we’re not freaking out about that, are we?

Russia is only our enemy if we make them our enemy. There is absolutely no reason we can’t get along with Russia as well as we do with Germany. In fact, we should get along better with Russia, seeing as Russia has never caused a world war–in fact, we once allied with them to fight those world wars–and I don’t think we’ve ever actually been at war with Russia. What is really our problem with Russia? It’s the same problem we’ll have with China in ten more years. They’ve committed two grave sins for which we cannot forgive them:

They refuse to bow to American supremacy, and they aren’t western.

That is the heart of American foreign policy. That horrible, racist, arrogant, entitled, and condescending attitude is the heart of all that the United States does on a global scale. The United States’ position on any country can be deduced by answering three basic questions:

  1. Do they bow to American supremacy? This includes taking no public issue with the USD, of course. There is almost no recovering from this–anyone who doesn’t bow to American supremacy is almost immediately an enemy, unless…
  2. Are they western and mostly white? Although we won’t seriously entertain the possibility that Greece, Germany, or the UK are truly “equal” to us, we will, for the most part, allow the European Union as a whole to consider itself equal to the United States. Individually, however, each country is considered inferior to the U.S., and we wouldn’t tolerate any suggestion otherwise. If 1 and 2 are both false, then #3 doesn’t even matter.
  3. Do they give us oil? Sadly, this is still an important consideration, although it’s not the greatest any longer. It is, however, the reason we’re always kissing Saudi Arabia’s ass, even though they don’t really bow to American supremacy.

If they don’t have the audacity to not be any color other than white European and don’t have the audacity to refuse to bow to American supremacy, then we will tolerate them in much the same way that we handle cats and dogs. They’re quaint and cute little things that exist for our pleasure, and nothing else. If they do have the audacity to not be white European, to not bow to American supremacy, and to not sell us oil, then we don’t care much for them unless we can exploit them in some other way (like how we import cheap goods from China)–and even then we don’t like them, and merely tolerate them.

Our entire foreign policy is built on American supremacy. This is alarming, since the United States is almost certain to be removed from the #1 spot technologically, economically, and military within the next twenty years.

The Russia hysteria can be briefly summarized like this:

How dare Russians act like they have freedom of speech or something, by posting things on the Internet that gullible American voters might believe!

* Let’s not spend four thousand words clarifying that statement, k? You know what I mean.

Obfuscating Stupidity & the IP/MA Game

In his seemingly unlimited capacity to #trigger people, Arvin Vohra, Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party, recently posted this on Facebook:

“Guys, we shouldn’t speak badly of rapists. Many people rape, and they vote. If we attack them, they might not vote libertarian!”

That’s how some of you sound when you suggest we pander to public school “teachers” and members of the military welfare complex in order to not lose their votes.

Without going further, I’m sure readers will accurately assume the most common response to this. Of course, the widespread was one in which the commenter pretended to be excessively stupid by pretending not to understand metaphors and how they work. In fact, every time I think of this and how common it is, I’m reminded of Christ saying, “It is harder for a rich man to get into Heaven than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle.”

I suspect Americans today would ask, “Jesus, are you saying rich people are camels?!”

We saw exactly the same thing when Donald Trump, Jr. made his analogy using Skittles over immigration and refugees, when he said that “refugees are like a bowl of Skittles [or M&Ms?] where some of them are poisoned. Would anyone out there really help themselves to a handful?”

Predictably, the widespread response to this on Twitter was “Are you saying we should eat refugees?” The sentiment was so common that a news site, doing its typical crap of taking samples of tweets and compiling them into an “article,” used several different tweets that expressed that confusion.

The alarming possibility is that there are people out there who sincerely don’t understand how metaphors work. This is more plausible than it should be, given how few American adults actually read (anything more than Facebook posts and tweets]. The ability to read and process information is indisputably helped by reading (hence why people’s reading levels tend to increase the more they read), and Reading Comprehension is similarly helped by exposure. However, the ability to reason is also critical to understanding analogies, and I’m not sure that reasoning can be taught. One either knows how to think or one doesn’t.

Cue Joshua Smith, who fancies himself qualified to be the Chair of the national Libertarian Party (despite having no more qualifications than I have, and I’m imminently unqualified):

Wow, you just compared school teachers to rapists.

Just when I thought there wasn’t possibly any way you could get edgier and drive more people from the party.

Can’t wait for June 30th.

Joshua Smith was not alone in this idiocy. I called him out on this directly, of course:

You’re over here (at best) pretending not to understand a basic metaphor and how metaphors work. That is 100% worthy of condescension. Don’t obfuscate stupidity if you don’t want people to think you’re an idiot.

At worst, you legitimately don’t understand how metaphors work, which is more sad than funny. But I think I’m okay with being condescending of a grown ass man who claims to read philosophy but doesn’t know how metaphors work.

…and earlier, when he attempted to change the subject to “being an asshole”:

Don’t change the subject. This is about you deliberately feigning ignorance over something you know damned well that you understood.

Joshua continues to this point denying that he’s simply pretending not to understand how metaphors work. This is, as I’m sure you’ve observed, very common. It’s almost impossible to use any kind of metaphor in conversation with people these days, because they either knowingly pretend not to understand, they have convinced themselves that they don’t understand, or they actually don’t understand. There’s not much that we can do about the latter, except aknowledge their apparent mental handicap and stop trying to reason with them.

The middle group–those who understand how metaphors work but who have convinced themselves that they don’t, because then they can be outraged at the non-meaning they extract from the statements–are caught up in doublethink, and I think the logical absolutes are the only way to break people out of doublethink. They know that they understand, but they have forgotten that so that they can feign ignorance. I suspect Joshua falls into this group. They know that Arvin was not comparing teachers to rapists, but it doesn’t matter; they have forgotten that and convinced themselves otherwise.

The first group are those who deliberately and consciously pretend to be stupid, again because this allows them to be outraged and triggered over the meaning that they imagine.

Who can blame them? Outrage works. It’s a method of putting the speaker on the defensive. Instead of the point they’re trying to make getting the focus, they instead end up spending the entire conversation defending what they said and trying to explain that they did not, in fact, compare rapists to teachers.

So let’s break Arvin’s down. What is Vice Chair Vohra referring to? The actions of people in response to teachers and rapists.

On the one hand, we have the fictionalized hypothetical response of someone to rapists as effectively defending them, saying that we shouldn’t antagonize them because then they won’t vote for us. It’s not rape or the rapist who is the focus of this, but the person responding to the rapist. The person acting in this metaphor is the person responding to teachers and rapists; neither the teacher nor the rapist are acting here. They are not, therefore, the subjects of the metaphor, since they are not the ones acting.

Then Arvin pointed out that this person’s response is just as stupid when it is teachers to whom they are responding. There is no quantitative assessment of how “bad” rape or teaching are; there is just the assumption that both are bad, and this is not presented in any comparative sense. There’s no comparison at all in Arvin’s words to the act of rape and the act of teaching in a public school. The comparison is entirely about the way people react to rapists and to public school teachers. So in its most basic form, Arvin’s metaphor is quite clearly not comparing rapists to teachers; it is comparing how people react to teachers to how people react to rapists.

Understanding Metaphors

The first step to understanding any metaphor is to determine what, exactly, is being compared, and what it’s being compared to. “Cat is to mouse as bird is to worm” is a simile, and what is it comparing? Is it saying that cats are birds? Is it saying that cats and birds are the same thing, or that mouse and worms are the same thing? In fact, the relationship between the cat and the mouse is being compared to the relationship between the bird and the worm. None of the animals are being compared. Their relationships are being compared.

Now that we have determined what’s being compared, we have to identify that the comparison is. This can be difficult, and is dependent on the reader’s knowledge. Here, we are comparing the cat’s predatorial relationship with the mouse to the bird’s predatorial relationship to the worm. Presumably, we are doing this as an attempt to explain to someone that birds hunt and eat worms. So we’re using this analogy (a simile, though it contains neither “as” nor “like”) to clarify to someone the relationship between one of the two. As long as we understand cats’ relationship to mice, we can understand birds’ relationship to worms; as long as we understand birds’ relationship to mice, we can understand cats’ relationship to mice. Through this simple analogy, we have communicated a lot of information about the animals and their habits, and the listener can extrapolate their knowledge of one of the relationships to figure out the nature of the relationship.

So How Do We Respond To These People?

First, don’t let them take the offensive, as Joshua attempted to do by feigning stupidity, and then attempting to change the subject to whether it’s necessary to be an asshole. Their tactic is a weak, intellectually dishonest one of shifting the conversation onto their outrage (the poor little snowflakes), and it shouldn’t be allowed. At this point, there are two ways to handle the stupidity, and both need to be done. First, the metaphor needs to be fully explained. Sadly. Secondly, the person needs to be called out for acting stupid or being stupid, neither of which is acceptable for an adult. My seven-year-old nephew would understand the metaphor without somehow coming to the conclusion that we were directly comparing two things qualitatively. Have fun with these points, though, and combine the two together: explain the metaphor like you would to a five year old.

Don’t let up on this. Be ruthless. Keep in mind that this is a grown adult (and in this case, someone who fancies himself qualified to lead the national Libertarian Party!) who is pretending not to understand a basic and simple metaphor, unable to even figure out what is being compared. Reasons for doing this are complicated. The most obvious, as I said, is that doing so allows them to be outraged, which snowflakes love. But there’s more to it than that, I think–perhaps remnants of the high school attitude that it’s uncool to be smart and cool to be stupid continue on into adulthood. I know we can find examples of this on YouTube.

When Joshua went on to criticize me for being arrogant and condescending, I rightly pointed out:

Don’t obfuscate stupidity if you don’t want people to think you’re an idiot.

These are people are acting like idiots. They deserve scorn, ridicule, and shaming. We should not mock and belittle those with handicaps that prevent them from understanding simple metaphors, but that doesn’t come close to describing the bulk of these deliberate morons. Most of them aren’t stupid. They’re just pretending to be stupid (often with doublethink thrown in, because they want to convince themselves that their outrage should be directed outwardly, at Arvin, instead of inward, at their own past). For this, they should be laughed at, mocked, ridiculed, memed, shamed, and scorned. This scourge of people pretending stupid so that they can be outraged must be stopped. Our ability to communicate takes too severe of a hit if we can no longer use metaphors and analogies.

There’s a reason that Christ, the Buddha, Nietzsche, Plato, and so many other great people in human history communicated primarily in metaphors–they are unrivaled in their ability to clarify things for people. Losing the ability to use parables and metaphors so severely hinders our ability to communicate that it could very well be enough to send us into a second Dark Age. See? That’s a metaphor. It compares the dangers of the Dark Ages to the dangers posed by feigning stupidity so much that everyone becomes stupid and believes in their own stupidity. Someone responding to that with “Are you saying we’re going to experience famine?” would be appallingly moronic (another metaphor). Metaphors are extremely common.

Allowing people to be outraged because they’re getting away with pretending to be stupid will only exacerbate the problem. Why would Joshua pretend to be stupid? To be outraged. But why would he want to be outraged? What does he gain from that? Victimization. Typical of snowflake behavior (Don’t act like a snowflake if you don’t want to be called a snowflake, and being outraged over imaginary offenses is the modus operandi of snowflakes), he seeks and latches onto any possible offense he can find. It’s a way of playing the IP/MA (Identity Politics / Micro Aggressions) Game, because we reward victims so heavily and love them so much. It’s simple psychology and positive reinforcement. People see “victims” being rewarded for being victimized with adoration, “respect,” pity, and other positive things–often money and gifts, too.

Don’t let it stand. Always challenge it.

Libertarians and America-centrism

If there is one thing that nearly everyone who has studied the matter agrees on, it’s that United States global dominance is on the executioner’s block and cannot last forever. This has been said by Ron Paul, who repeatedly pointed out that the militaristic propping up of the USD is unsustainable, but libertarians are not the only people saying such things. It’s well-known that, around 2030, China will have passed the United States economically, and by 2040 technologically and militarily. Regardless of the angle we take–whether internal collapse or external excellence–the conclusion is inevitable: the U.S.’s enjoyment of its time as “the world’s only superpower” is coming to a close.

Earlier today, I defended points made by Libertarian Party Vice Chair Arvin Vohra (who routinely #triggers people who want to call themselves “libertarians” without actually abiding libertarian ideology, as well as those who cry “Muh marketing!” and threaten to take their ball and go home) by asserting that it really doesn’t matter whether Americans find Arvin’s statements palatable or not. He’s right. And the consequences of everyone else being wrong (e.g., the collapse of the USD and American military dominance) will happen whether people find his message agreeable or not.

In fact, the most common whine directed at Arvin is that he’s right, but they wish he would be more diplomatic in expressing it. They assert (without evidence) that statements like his are the reason the LP isn’t taken seriously, are the reason the LP doesn’t win elections, and are the reason the party’s membership is waning. These statements are made entirely without evidence and in full disregard of the obvious facts that the LP didn’t win elections long before Arvin came along.

The most glaring omission from such stupid statements like “This is the reason liberty will never be popular–Arvin is making unpopular statements” is probably the most American-centric thing a person can say. It’s true that Arvin’s statements are not typically popular among Americans, but Americans make up less than five percent of the world’s population. It’s absolutely stupid to act like that five percent is “all there is” or that the 5% are the only people who matter. It’s exactly that kind of attitude that makes people hate Americans–that horrific short-sightedness that cares only about what other Americans think, so much so that the speaker apparently isn’t aware that most of the world’s population isn’t American.

Are Arvin’s statements about the military unpopular? In America, maybe. We really don’t know. There’s been no study of that, so it’s impossible to make any credible analysis. Not much of the American population even pays attention to Arvin, and, of those who do, roughly half seem to be supporters. The other half, strangely, seem to follow him just to argue with everything he says. Being extremely generous, no more than 5% of the American population even knows who Arvin is, so even if we assume that half of those vehemently oppose Arvin, what we’re left with is half of 5% of 5% of 7,000,000,000. So even with unrealistically high numbers, no more than 8,750,000 of the seven billion people on the planet could possibly turn from libertarianism because of Arvin. And, again, since we’re using stupidly generous numbers, 8,750,000 of the seven billion people would also be turned to libertarianism because of Arvin.

And this is only in the United States. How do you think people in Pakistan react when an American political leader boldly speaks out against the crimes committed by the American military in Middle Eastern countries? How do the people of Russia react? The people of China? Half of Americans might get deeply upset that Arvin dared point out that the American military murders people, but the vast majority of Earthlings fiercely nod and agree–having seen and felt the sting of American bombs falling on their cities.

We can’t just zoom in on the United States and pretend like the rest of the world doesn’t matter–it most certainly does. And I know people would say, “But the American Libertarian Party isn’t running for election in the rest of the world! So it doesn’t really matter what they think in this regard!”

That’s wrong, though.

We are running for election with the rest of the world, and it’s an election for survival, peace, prosperity, and forgiveness.

The United States doesn’t exist in a bubble. And while it currently doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks, every indication is that we have only two or three more decades of this being the case, after which it won’t matter what America thinks. It’s hard to overstate the impact that being overtaken militarily, technologically, and economically will have, but, for the first time since its inception, the United States will truly be vulnerable to foreign aggression. And we won’t have the infrastructure, money, technology, industry, or military might to do anything about it.

The rest of the world is watching us put our vast industrial and technological might to use by picking on countries that can’t possibly pose a threat to us. They’re not happy about this. Even our oldest allies, like Canada, Australia, and the UK, aren’t happy with American hegemony these days. Saudi Arabia may be the only country in the Middle East that isn’t deeply pissed off at the United States. China certainly isn’t pleased with us, and neither is Russia. In fact, Russia drew a line in the sand around Assad and refused to let us topple him as we had done to so many in the past. That’s how fed up Russia is with our bullshit.

We have created lots of enemies, and many of them are eagerly waiting on the edge of the darkness, hungrily licking their lips and hoping for our defenses to fall, wishing to see us taken down a peg. And here’s the bad news: that is going to happen. There are only two ways of avoiding it, and we won’t pursue either course of action.

The best way of avoiding it is to stop the hegemony. Let cryptocurrencies thrive, withdraw all of our troops, and, at the very least, return to being a Constitutional Republic of limited government and pro-liberty. It would be even better if we went the Minarchist route, beyond classical liberalism, and best if we went full anarchism. All of these actions would create genuine prosperity, which would make us excellent trading partners, and which would in turn drastically reduce people’s reasons to want to see us destroyed. Because, of course, the thing about using might to enforce one’s position is that might fades, and, when it does, the previous ruler is overtaken and defeated. Look at Rome, Mongolia, the British Empire, and countless others, and know, without a doubt, that their people once thought that it would be impossible for their place as the rulers of the world to be challenged. We have the chance–but maybe not the time–to stop ruling with might, and to instead rule with peace, friendship, and liberty. We can lead the world not by bombing everyone and fighting countless indefinite wars, but by being loving and peaceful, and inspiring people to come to our land and enjoy the most freedom to be had anywhere on the planet.

The other, more immoral, way is to pre-emptively attack China before they can overtake us. I fear this is the route that we will ultimately go, probably around 2024 or 2026, when it is painfully obvious that, if nothing is done China will overtake us. I don’t think most Americans will be able to tolerate that, not when so many Libertarian Americans view the world in such American-centric terms that they don’t understand that “popularity in America” isn’t the same as “popularity.”

The United States is part of the world. It isn’t above the rest of the world, it’s not greater than the rest of the world, and it has no right to bully the rest of the world. We need to come down from our high horse now, not when we are knocked from it by competing countries that have overtaken us. The criminal who stops committing his crimes and apologizes before he is caught is forgiven to an infinitely greater extent than the criminal who only stops and apologizes after he is apprehended. And by the standards of almost everyone, the United States’ actions especially of the last 60 years have been indisputably criminal. Bombing hospitals, weddings, and the like…? We cannot hide from this. And one day–very soon–we will be punishable.

The Fall of Democracy

While I’m not particularly a fan of any state, as Winston Churchill rightly observed, “Democracy is the worst form of government–except for all the others.” While I’d nitpick a bit and point out that we don’t (and have never had) a democracy–we have a republic with universal suffrage–I’m going to use the terms interchangeably, incorrect though it is. This is because most people think we have a democracy, and I don’t want to confuse them unnecessarily. Because it doesn’t matter the nuances of what they consider “democracy” as much as it matters that, regardless of their definition, it’s being undermined across the world.

Take this recent passage from (I think) the Guardian:

The Madrid government sacked Catalonia’s president and dismissed its parliament on Friday, hours after the region declared itself an independent nation in Spain’s gravest political crisis since the return of democracy four decades ago.

A country where the government can dismiss elected officials on a whim is hardly a democracy, or even a democratic republic. The people of a given territorial area, if they have a government, are indisputably the ones in control of their government. It doesn’t matter whether a group of people whose lives are not vested in that area don’t much care for how the people in that area direct their government–the people of Barcelona don’t govern the Catalans; the Catalans govern the Catalans. The politicians in Madrid don’t govern Catalonia; the Catalan politicians govern Catalonia.

We should be as appalled and disgusted by the efforts of Madrid to govern Catalonia from a distance as we are when we look back on the imperialism of the British in India, because there is no difference except that the imperialized territory happens to be closer to the central government that denies them the exercise of their right to self-governance. Instead, we’ve found alarming condemnation of the Catalans right to independence from the same people who have generally been the loudest voices of anti-imperialist sentiments: the modern left.

That a people have the right to choose their government, to abolish existing political ties, and to eject foreign powers from their soil is washed away in a tide of addiction to political power. We see this addiction in the United States, as well, with the regular shift of power from Republicans and Democrats that precede a series of power abuses from one side of the aisle to the other. At any time after seizing power, either one could end the cycle of abuses, but they don’t. Democrats abuse Republicans, and are unable to see their actions as abuse, and are so vengeful upon seizing power, after suffering similar abuses by Republicans that Republicans also do not recognize as abuses, that they immediately do everything possible to use the power structure that had done them wrong mere months before, instead of dismantling it.

It’s difficult to explain this behavior. It’s very much like a marriage where the partners beat each order and periodically take turns on who is the abuser and who is the victim. When one has the upper hand as the abuser, it would be a simple matter for them to declare “No more hitting” (a rule that, for the sake of our analogy, would be obeyed). However, rather than taking that obvious measure, the abuser instead uses their momentum to pay back the other for their own abuses.

It would even be fair to say, “These lunatics deserve each other,” were it not for the spillover of their fighting, reminiscent of an Andy Capp-style scuffle that catches up innocent bystanders.

As indictments loom over the anti-Russian hysteria, it’s worth remembering that the charge, as I pointed out last night on The Call to Freedom, is not that Russians influenced the election. The accusation is that Russians influenced voters. The difference is supremely important: as I’ve pointed out before, what factors a particular voter uses when making their decision is no one’s concern but their own. Whether the person votes for Trump because Russians influenced him, because his dog told him to, because Trump had an R next to his name, because he thinks Hillary is “the devil in a pantsuit,” or because of some other reason, it’s nothing to us. That person has the unalienable right to vote based on whatever facts, emotions, and lies they want.

It’s not stated so bluntly, of course. The assertion is always that Russians “influenced the election.” This statement should be challenged any time it is said. It’s a lie and a euphemism. The contention is actually that Russians influenced voters, which caused the voters to vote in a way the speaker doesn’t like for reasons the speaker disapproves of. This should never be allowed to stand uncontested. Even if all allegations are true, the argument is that Russians influenced voters, and voters then influenced the election (by voting).

It’s an insidious way of challenging the legitimacy of the election by discarding whatever votes the person thinks were cast for reasons they don’t like. At the end of the day, the argument is that “If you are influenced by Russians, your vote shouldn’t count.” It shouldn’t be necessary to stop to point out this horrific violation of universal suffrage. It would also be amusing coming from the Democrat Party if it wasn’t so dangerous. I’d venture the statement that I haven’t seen such widespread attempts to undermine democracy, now that it has produced results that one side doesn’t like, in my life. We now effectively have a checklist of Legitimate Reasons You Can Vote For Non-Democrats, and anyone who has spent much time around Democrats knows there is no such thing as a legitimate reason to not vote for them. This is a blind spot Republicans also have, though they decry democrats’ reasons as illegitimate in different ways.

Let’s return to the bizarre continuation of events in Catalonia:

Violence has broken out on the streets of Barcelona as Nazi-saluting fascists draped in Spanish flags clashed with Catalan police wielding batons. Spanish officials organised a unionist march through central Barcelona today in which they claimed more than a million people took part to resoundingly reject Catalonia’s declaration of independence.

More thwarting of democracy, as more than a million people failed to grasp the basic idea that they don’t get to rule over Catalonia with all the subtlety of the British Empire in India. In fact, to demonstrate the horror of this position, let’s swap a few words.

Violence has broken out on the streets of London as Nazi-saluting fascists draped in British flags clashed with Catalan police wielding batons. British officials organised a unionist march through central London today in which they claimed more than a million people took part to resoundingly reject India’s declaration of independence.

There’s no way around that, though if the imagery of Nazis taking the side of the Spanish government to continue this imperialist governance from a distance isn’t clear enough, then it’s unlikely that parallels to the British Empire in India (especially after Catalan officials called for peaceful resistance–like Mohandas himself resisted British imperialism, in fact) will make it clear. The truth, however, is that even though the modern left in the United States has been successful in the public eye at presenting itself opposed to fascism, powerful central governments and state supremacy, even if that means dismissing elected officials (like another Nazi did…), are the key components of fascism. It is a shock to no libertarian that the modern left has found itself on the same side as Nazis, resisting self-governance, thwarting democracy, and attempting to impose colonial rule on who they consider to be subjects.

It’s conjectural on my part to say that the modern left is vehemently anti-independence, at least in regard to Catalonia, though they seemingly don’t mind invoking the sentiment when it’s their own independence and “right to not be ruled by a government with which they disagree,” such as with the Californian secession talk. They were opposed to Brexit, after all, and made the claim that Brexit advocates were motivated by xenophobia and, thus, their votes weren’t as valuable as Remain votes.

That seems to be an underlying thread–that a vote’s value is determined by the reasons for which it was cast. How valueless the vote becomes varies from one person to the next, but I’d venture the guess that most modern leftists would say that your vote should be thrown out if you voted for Trump simply because he’s white. We should never allow the mindset that a vote derives its value not from being cast but from the reasons for which it was cast to propagate, but it appears to be too late–there are already millions who say that Trump’s victory is illegitimate because racists voted for him, and that Catalonia’s independence vote is illegitimate because the other side stupidly opted not to vote, and therefore the votes cast shouldn’t count.

As I pointed out in the linked article, this is yet another method of thwarting democracy, by conscripting the uninterested and apathetic into the ranks of the “No” camp, shifting the focus away from the actual vote results and instead onto voter turnout. With the apathetic added to their numbers, those on the “No” side who refuse to vote (because they don’t want “Yes” to win, remarkably) outnumber the “Yes” votes. In this way, Yes Votes don’t merely have to outnumber the No Votes; they must also outnumber the apathetic, the No Votes, and  the No supporters who hid among the apathetic to mask their actual support level. It raises the bar so high (by automatically adding at least 20% of the population to their side) that it’s nearly impossible for Yes to have legitimacy by those standards. Considering that votes are not often landslides and are most often split around 45-45, it is obvious that adding 20 to one of those makes it almost insurmountable in any realistic terms.

The initially posted quote has the brazen audacity to describe Spain as a democracy in the very same paragraph where it talks of a central government dismissing elected officials. It is well known that Spain intends to send police and officials to replace the elected Catalan government. “Democracy.”

Not for Catalonia, clearly. The absurdity is highlighted by calling India a democracy because the parliament of the British Empire was elected democratically. Imagine the British Empire dismissing Mohandas (or whoever was in charge at the time they began calling for independence) and Indian officials, and then people having the ignorant nerve to refer to India as “a democracy” in those tyrannical conditions.

Independence and secession attempts are never recognized as valid by the ruling powers, or by its flunkies. Even as such people recognize that the American colonies, India, and South Korea had the right to independence, they fiercely rebuke Catalonia’s calls for independence. And as someone reminded me on my last article, the independence attempts of the southern states were also rejected. This led to the War For Southern Independence (then, as now, the reasons for independence were dismissed as racist, disregarding the many other grievances), which the secessionists lost. As a result, it was determined, in flagrant violation of the foundation of the very nation that crushed the independence attempt, that states do not have the right to independence. Despite the bulk of Americans saying today the the south didn’t have the right to independence, and that California doesn’t (and, naturally, there are those who say the south didn’t have the right, but California does), they recognize the legitimacy of India’s independence, and the United States’ independence from the UK.

What scares me most is the possibility that the American left’s attempts to thwart democracy will be successful, that Trump and Pence will be removed, and that they’ll do some kind of tyrannical thing to install a Democrat as president. This isn’t as far-fetched as one might think. It’s happened many times in history, and there’s no reason to believe the United States is immune. Such a turn of events would give political parties the ability to use political power (instead of votes) to remove people in another political party from office, setting up an actual tyranny.

It’s not that I like democracy or Democratic republics. I don’t. However, I certainly prefer them to unilateral despotism by a powerful political party that decides to remove elected officials from office over reasons that are basically fabricated and that, even if true, ultimately boil down to nothing more than “We don’t recognize the validity of your votes because we don’t recognize the legitimacy of your reasons.”

That being the case, I really think the Democratic Party should change their name. Republicans, too, but at least they aren’t quite as extremely unrepublican as Democrats are undemocratic.

Regardless, the question of our era is no different from ages past: “Who do we want to be?”

While we can certainly answer that question by hungrily proclaiming “Tyrants!” and using a democratic majority to seize total and unrelenting control of the political process, to rule barbarically over others, it wouldn’t be advisable, and I would bet my Litecoin that no ordinary reader finds that idea palatable. So why do we see so much of it? Why are people who consider themselves morally superior and righteous so giddily asserting that India has no right to declare independence from the British Empire?

Confusion.

Just behold the very first passage I quoted from a “reputable” news source. There’s no self-awareness at all, and no critical thinking. It is obvious that dismissing elected officials and sending in authorities to reassert control is antithetical to democracy; it is a violation of democracy every bit as much as Hitler’s (who was elected democratically) dismissal of the German Parliament. It is similarly obvious that removing Trump for things that aren’t in any sense an actual problem is the same sort of violation (As I’ve grown fond of asking, even if Trump and Putin meet up once a month to have sex, why is that a problem?).

If the modern left wants to demolish democracy (and the modern right would, too, if it was convenient for them; it’s simply not convenient for them right now), they should be honest about it. Stop calling this tyranny “democracy.” It blatantly isn’t democracy. Discarding the will of the voters, challenging the legitimacy of voters’ reasons, imposing rule from a far, violating the tenet of self-governance, and a McCarthyist witch hunt over Dem Russians! are directly counter to democracy.

As a method of allowing the people of a territory to quantify their will and enact it collectively, the Democratic Republic is the least evil. That is why I defend it. I’d similarly prefer not to be murdered, but if it’s going to happen, I’d prefer it to be a gunshot to the head, not some slow and torturous death. I’d like to have no state at all (and work toward that), but if we’re going to have a state, then it should be the least destructive and least tyrannical. This is the Constitutional Democratic Republic.

And it’s under attack by tyranny and fascism.

Protesting Votes

Of all the stupid things to come from the modern left (as opposed to libertarians, the true left), this recent trend of opposing a vote by protesting it and not voting at all may be the most stupid. Congratulations to Catalonia for its declaration of independence (given the foundation of the United States, if you request international assistance, the U.S. should have your backs). We won’t, because we’re too busy fighting in countries like Niger without any declaration of war while simultaneously starting fights with Syria, Russia, North Korea, and Iran, and because, despite living in a country that was literally founded by a declaration of independence, many Americans seem to think that “declaring independence” is a right that no longer exists.

It’s worth reminding people that turnout doesn’t really matter in a democracy and that refusing to vote is like saying, “I know we’re going to drive somewhere one way or another, but I’m not going to express any desire about where we should go.” It’s stupid on its face. If one guy shows up to vote “Yes” and thirty million stay home to protest the vote, do you know who wins?

The one guy.

Because that’s how democracy works. Yes, it’s bad, and yes, it’s stupid, but it’s the system that’s in place, and until that system is dismantled, it’s counterproductive to protest it. Can you imagine in the United States if people protested Trump’s campaign by not voting? It’s pretty obvious what happens then, isn’t it? Only the people who support the Trump campaign vote, resulting in a landslide victory. Just like in Catalonia, where (primarily) only the people who wanted independence voted, which predictably resulted in a landslide victory.

So why do people do it, if it so obviously and directly causes them to lose the vote?

For one, because the modern left has this weird thing where they don’t believe that actions have consequences. I’m not even kidding–just look at their support for price controls (in relation to Hurricane Harvey), in full disregard of the long, failed history of price controls. And their support for socialism, despite its body count in the hundreds of millions and history of economic collapse. The modern left has a somewhat tenuous relationship with reality. And then, of course, there’s this absolutely bizarre inability to notice that “not voting because you’d vote ‘no'” is basically helping “Yes” win.

The actual heart of the matter is, unsurprisingly for the modern left, more insidious and deceitful. While it’s true that they’re generally confused about actions and consequences (and a total lack of awareness of Defensive Voting), there’s a deeper, almost masterful masquerade being played here: it becomes impossible to distinguish the “would-be No votes” from general voter apathy. And they use this to great effect.

Indeed, the primary contention people had against the Catalan referendum was that “the no voters protested it by not voting at all, so the support for it isn’t sure what it appears.” This is almost an open admittance of their attempt to obfuscate their numbers by hiding among the people who didn’t give a shit either way. Regarding Catalonia, 45% of the population voted, with a 90% vote for “Yes.”

Their idea is that a large portion of each country is genuinely apathetic about results, usually between 25% and 40%. If forced to vote, there’s absolutely no way of knowing how these people would vote. They can be claimed for neither side, because their disinterest makes it impossible to, you know, gauge their interest.

However, if a “No” camp refuses to vote, then they’re immediately mixed in with these apathetic voters, inflating and conflating their numbers. Instead of the actual vote results, the turnout itself becomes the measurement of success or failure. The number of “Yes” votes becomes irrelevant, because the number of “non-votes” exceeds the number of votes. The vote becomes illegitimate in their minds because less than 51% voted, so the “majority” doesn’t exist.

This overlooks the obvious fact that only people who actually voted have their votes counted and that people who don’t vote don’t have their votes counted.

The modern left has a desire to undermine democracy–or, to be more precise, the established and hitherto agreed upon rules by which we’re playing the game. Gary Johnson did this, too, by crying about the unfair debate restrictions, despite having no objection to following them until it became clear that he wouldn’t win the privilege of being on the debate stage. It was only then that accusations of unfairness came about.

Hillary Clinton, of course, basically wrote a book crying about the rules, not to mention the widespread attempts to decry the entire election as illegitimate because of magical 1337 Russian HaXorZ. When this failed due to an unfortunate and inconvenient lack of any evidence at all, they shifted to bizarre hopes that the electoral college would discard the actual will of voters and install Hillary anyway. When that failed, they decided to target the voters themselves by alleging that the portion of the population that elected Trump is too stupid to think for themselves and were manipulated by Russians into voting for someone the left didn’t want them to vote for.

The rules of universal suffrage as a method are pretty simple: every adult has one vote, and can use it as they wish. There are essentially three positions on any given Yes/No issue: Yes, No, and Indifferent. Indifferent voters are indifferent and therefore their “votes” aren’t counted–which is fair, because their votes aren’t cast. Not voting isn’t a vote for “No.” It’s a vote for “I don’t particularly care what the result is, and therefore I will do nothing to sway the decision toward one outcome or the other.”

A true Protest Vote can, in fact, be found among the electoral college. The Texan elector who voted for Ron Paul comes to mind. The two in Maine who refused to vote for Hillary also come to mind. A Protest Vote is actually cast. I cast my Protest Vote for John McAfee. Not voting isn’t a Protest Vote; it’s just not voting.

One would expect elected officials to be capable of making this gargantuan step of logic, but it evidently “takes in a field too vast for their narrowness of view and proceeds with mightiness of reason they cannot keep pace with.” In the Democratic method, votes are only counted when they actually exist. Votes are what matter. It doesn’t matter if that takes the form of direct democracy or an electoral college where each state has allotted votes proportional to their population and the direct democracy merely determines how the state uses its allotted votes. Despite this, a reported ten of eighty Catalan officials “protested the vote” by leaving during the session.

This is not a vote for “No.”

It’s an abstinence. It’s abstaining from the vote. Their reason for doing so may be important to them, but it’s not important to the actual vote results. The only way a democracy can find out what people want is by polling them (there’s a reason voting locations are called “polling places”). For all intents and purposes, refusing to vote because you don’t want “Yes” to win, in addition to being counterproductive and silly, is, from the point of view of the democratic system, no different from not voting simply because a person doesn’t care.

So what we really had in Catalonia was some 39.5% of the population voting “Yes” and 59.5% of the population abstaining from the vote. The reason that “No” advocates chose not to vote is that they saw the results of Brexit and the 2016 American election and knew that, if they voted, then their numbers would be clearly known, and if their numbers are clearly known then they can be easily compared to other known numbers. The solution they’ve found, instead of risking losing the election fairly and squarely, is to blend in with the 20-40% of any given population that doesn’t vote at all. If you assume even that 80% of the population wasn’t apathetic, and if you assume that everyone who didn’t vote but… would have?… would have voted “No,” then, at best, we get a tie of 39.5% to 39.5%. And keep in mind that this assumes a relatively low degree of apathy; the turnout of the Spanish general election in 2011 was only 68.9%, and 66.5% in 2016. The turnout for the UK in 2010 was about even with this, at 65.1%. Given that Brexit saw a turnout of 72.2%, which is an increase of 7.1%, we can assume the same turnout increase would have accord in Catalonia, given the importance and divisiveness of the issue.

Even if we assume a turnout increase of 10%, we’re only looking at 76.5% turnout, which is certainly below the threshold needed to overturn the 39.5% Yes vote. We’d need roughly 90% turnout with 90% of those people voting “No,” which certainly wouldn’t be the case.

And none of these assumptions hold water anyway–they’re full of holes. Turnout for the Catalan referendum was not 76.5%; it was 45%. It’s true that the Spanish central government told “No” advocates to not vote, and that should serve as a warning to all future people that “not voting” is not equivalent to “voting no.” In a Democracy, The Vote is supreme. I’m not a particular fan of that, but it’s the rules we’ve agreed to. Until we actually change those rules (by getting rid of the state, preferably), it doesn’t make any sense at all to ignore those rules and pretend like there won’t be any consequences.

There will be.

You’ll lose the vote.

Corporate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

As part of the “moving to Keene, New Hampshire” process, which you can speed up by buying my ebook for $2.99 or the paperback for $7.49, I’ve also been seeking a job there, since that will speed up the process far more than anything else. After receiving a series of promising emails, I found myself conducting a phone interview, at the end of which the person said, “Thank you, sir.”

Now, this is a bit more serious than “RAWR DID YOU JUST ASSUME MY GENDER?” I’ve of course applied to the job as myself; one of the primary reasons for moving, actually, is that I’m transsexual, although I know that, realistically, I need vocal surgery and minor cosmetic surgery. Despite my best efforts, and use of very expensive vocal training regimens, I’ve met with no success (though I have become a much better singer, so good that I’m considering picking music back up) in feminizing my voice. Hell, eating large amounts of Hostess mini donuts is doing nothing to help me gain weight, either, which is badly needed.

So I was faced with a problem. Realistically, I know that it can create problems in a service-driven industry. Whether the employer has an issue with it or not, clients might, and individual businesses can never be compelled to continue using one vendor or another. It’s why I continue to work as a male: the clients would unanimously fire me here. Will that problem exist in New Hampshire?

Because I can’t expect the employer to risk losing clients by having an employee who makes them uncomfortable. And my voice is clearly still so off that I was called a “sir,” though I’m not surprised by that. There’s a huge mental block there that I’ll get into some other time. Realistically, I know that I need to continue working as a male until I’ve made the money (which shouldn’t be much of an issue in NH) to afford the needed surgeries. Until then, it has the potential to create issues with clients.

But what about once I’ve had those surgeries? Being a male to them one day and female the next is likely to create even more issues.

“Thank you, sir.”

Motherfucker.

How to handle this delicate issue when the vast majority of potential employers will simply refuse to discuss it in any meaningful sense, for fear of saying the wrong thing and inviting myriad lawsuits?

Yet it had to be discussed: “Thank you, sir.”

I know the SJWs out there would contend, “At most, you should have corrected him and requested he refer to you as ‘ma’am,'” and, yeah, perhaps. But that doesn’t sit well with me, and never has. It’s disingenuous and dishonest. And it invites even more problems. Following that correction, they’d certainly have googled me (honestly, I’m surprised they haven’t already). And I don’t know, but I imagine reservations would be extremely high about hiring someone who felt they had the right to be treated as a female despite not conforming sufficiently to gender expectations.

I unambiguously take the stance that being considered a female is something that I have to earn, not something to which I am entitled. Other people have expectations of female and male, and their expectations are as valid as anyone else’s. Since I’m the one who wants to be considered female, the onus falls to me to conform to their expectations, not to make them conform to mine in full disregard of their own. And this served as proof that I haven’t achieved that. Hey, no biggie–it means I have more work to do, which I already knew anyway.

But how to handle the matter now?

It immediately became clear to me that I should have sent my resume as a male, but I didn’t. Again, that’s the primary reason for the move, so I didn’t think twice about it; when I applied for a job, I did it as Aria. It just seemed normal and natural to me, not worthy of second guessing. But even if I had, I’m transitioning, and the day is inevitable (and not as far away as it used to be) that the male persona is forever put to rest. There is an entirely different, and heightened, degree of difficulty transitioning in a single job–being a male (albeit unusual) to the employer and clients one day, and a female the next. It’s actually easier to be a non-passable (I’ll not apologize for that phrase) female one day, and a more passable one the next. People are already prepared for it at that point, are already getting used to it, and it’s much less jarring.

So, ultimately, I think I made the right choice: apply as a female and tough it out, unpassable in several critical regards, and, in time, get those issues handled (cosmetic surgery is likely limited to brow bone decreases, so it’s not major and shouldn’t be expensive). With many of the employers clients being government agencies, it’s actually not terribly likely to be a problem for clients. But there is still a problem at hand:

“Thank you, sir.”

Merely mentioning my gender identity could be enough to cost me the job, for exactly the same reason that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell existed in the military; it immediately creates the danger of legal action. By mentioning it, I’d put them instantly into a No Win situation. Either they don’t hire, and then there’s the threat of lawsuit on the basis that they didn’t hire me because of my gender identity, or they do hire me simply to avoid the risk of that lawsuit. Of course, I’m an anarchist. Government is a weapon, not a tool. I didn’t sue a realty company who let their dog bite me twice in a service call, and that was the most solid lawsuit most people have ever heard. But I don’t think that’s right. But while I know there’s no chance I’m trying to bait them, a la Dale Gribble in King of the Hill applying as a waiter to Hooters, there’s no possible way they could know that. A company I’ve worked with for seven years asked me to put in writing that I would not seek any legal action, after all–the threat is very real, too real, and cannot be discounted. I know it exists, and they know it exists. Though I’d never, ever use such a vile weapon to force others into certain actions, they have no way of knowing my principled stance against such things, nor any reason to believe such claims. Yet there it was.

“Thank you, sir.”

In their zeal for anti-discrimination protections, liberals have created Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Even mentioning this disparity between my birth sex and my gender, the mention of which became necessary (as I don’t think anyone would dispute), violates that policy and places everyone into a minefield that is impossible to navigate. Say the wrong thing, bam. Lawsuit. Don’t hire me, bam. Lawsuit. Don’t respond, bam. Lawsuit. Suggest clients may have an issue with it, bam. Lawsuit.

I need them to be open an honest about whether it could impair client relationships, but they can’t be. Even if it would cost them half their clients, they simply can’t tell me so. They have to lose those clients with a smile on their face, resenting me all the while, because I’m protected by the violence of government action. They can’t fire me, because then, however roundabout, they’d be firing me for being transsexual. Nor can they use fear of that for reason not to hire me, for the same reason.

Yet it’s completely true. No amount of denial will change that, and no amount of good feelings would change my I.T. company in Mississippi going under because I worked as a female. All the liberal protestations that “gender identity shouldn’t matter” won’t make it not matter. It will matter. It does matter. And we can work on that, sure, but we can’t outlaw it, not as we’ve done, because that closes off honest communication. That conservative woman to whom it matters is as right as the liberal man to whom it doesn’t. Now, though, that woman simply can’t discuss it, and we can’t talk to her. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell reigns. She must grit her teeth and act with secret motives to avoid lawsuits and government bludgeoning. If she doesn’t want to work with a transsexual person, she has to keep that to herself, and fire them over something else. The issue goes unaddressed, and she continues unreached and unpersuaded.

“Thank you, sir.”

The reality is simply that it matters to some people, whether it matters to the potential employers or not, and we all know that. A client needs to give no reason for firing a vendor. They simply stop calling, and start calling someone else.

“Thank you, sir.”

But I can’t mention it, can I? At most I can inform them that I prefer to be referred to as a female. No further explanation, no consideration of their wants and needs, and no recognition of the fact that, you know, I share this planet with seven billion other people, many of whom disagree with me about various things. We have to deny the existence of those people. We have to deny reality itself, and behave as though x is true when we know very well that x is false.

So what did I do?

I laid it out in an email that friends criticised as being overly long. But they don’t understand. This is a matter that I live. It’s tertiary to them; they’re spectators. I live and breathe it, and I know it’s a sensitive and delicate issue, not to mention that bringing it up at all places everyone involved into a minefield where the slightest misstep, as far as they knew, was a legal explosion.

And even despite my lengthy email (it wasn’t really that long–three paragraphs, which I consider damned good for an issue of this complexity and sensitivity), they asked for clarification on a few things.

Because I expressed a willingness to work as a male. Though I don’t like it, I recognize that it may be the path of least resistance for them, and that’s a fair compromise, I think. Maybe they could still employ me post-transition, and maybe they couldn’t; we could cross that bridge later. But I recognize that being a non-passable female could create problems for them, and could harm their business. It’s WRONG to demand them unilaterally take that risk.

But they can’t even admit that it could create problems. Whether it would or wouldn’t, they can’t admit it, nor can they openly factor it into the decision of whether to hire me. Would it be a factor? Who can say? Rest assured, it wouldn’t be their personal issue with transsexualism, but their recognition that clients may have an issue with it. Therefore, hiring me would not be good for their company, because it wouldn’t be good for their client relationships, because their clients may have problems with it.

Nothing can be done about that, because they aren’t allowed to say, “Okay, yes, we think it’s prudent that you work as a male for the time being.”

They aren’t allowed to say that.

I’d rather work as a female, but I’m aware that stepping stones are a thing, and we must sometimes be uncomfortable today to secure comfort tomorrow. It’s why I’m a capitalist. That notion of investing in the future–it’s exactly the same here. Working as a male for a strong, vibrant, well-paying, successful firm in New Hampshire is an investment in my future, and one that I don’t mind making, although I’d rather avoid it. Working as a male for six months there while I save up the money for vocal and cosmetic surgery is a small price to pay considering the rewards–a much better job, a much better area, freedom to be me…

But I can’t make the decision. Government and liberals have made the decision for me. I’ll work as a female, because they can’t tell me otherwise. The only way I could make a choice at all would be if I chose to work as a male. I can’t choose to work as a female now; working as a female now would be a product of government coercion, not my personal choices. And yet, without them being able to admit even the existence of potential problems, contacting them and telling them to consider me a male by another name would be construed as flaky, uncertain, and unstable; it would be far more damaging to my employment prospects than anything else.

“Thank you, sir.”

When they replied, it predictably contained mention of Equal Opportunity Employment, and the assurance that being transgender (I went with transgender because, generally, it’s more palatable) would not factor into their decision. Upon reading it, inwardly I sighed. I know enough to know that my email was very clear in those regards, but the gauntlet was tossed back to me: “Are you saying you wish to delay the interviewing process until you’re finished transitioning?”

Motherfucker.

Thank you, sir.

No, and they knew I wasn’t saying that. And I know they knew I wasn’t saying that, and they know I know that they knew I wasn’t saying that. They were more cleverly saying that they’d have nothing to do with it, that they would under no circumstances say “Don’t transition yet, then, if you feel it could create problems.” Instead they were saying, “We have no comment.”

Because they’re not allowed to comment, regardless of the reality in New Hampshire. Is it as big a deal there as it is here? I don’t know. If it is, they can’t admit it, and we can’t address that problem together. They airlifted themselves right out of that minefield, but the mines remain there. If it could be a potential issue for clients, that’s something that, at most, they’d have to discuss among themselves in secret, or keep to themselves entirely.

Instead of working through the problem together, if there is a problem, then they’ll simply not hire me, and will give any number of other reasons for that. Because they aren’t allowed to state the reason, if that’s the case, and so we can’t compromise to deal with it.

It’s not “Thank you, sir.”

It’s “Thank you, liberals,” said with a deep-seated, resentful anger for creating an environment where potential pitfalls and issues can’t be discussed openly and honestly.

 

Economic Self-Interest

So the Nobel Prize in economics was recently awarded to Thaler, who showed that economic actors (i.e., “people”) don’t always act rationally, or in their best interests. While I have not read his award-winning work, that isn’t even important, because there are two underlying assumptions that don’t hold up, and that must be true for the hypothesis to be true: first, that rational and irrational behavior are different things, and second that “best interests” can be definitively measured.

Without going further, everyone should by now be identifying the scientific woo in the assertion. As I’ve written about before, rationality and irrationality are two sides of the same coin–that which we value, we value for emotional reasons, yet it is only rational to care (emotion-based) about our values. That’s rather circuitous, so let me explain with an example. Let’s say that I love chocolate milk, and that I’d be willing to pay $5 for a bottle of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup if only one remained at the store and I was competing with someone else for it. It is only rational that I put my desires first, and therefore only rational that I seek out and attempt to acquire the chocolate syrup. But why should I care about having chocolate syrup, and why should I care whether I am happy (with my desires fulfilled) or unhappy (with my desires unfulfilled)? Why should I care whether I am happy and acquired the chocolate syrup, or unhappy without the chocolate syrup?

We have a strong tendency to separate the two things, but they cannot be separated. There is no rational reason that I would care whether I am happy or sad–only emotional ones. Yet it is only rational that, if my emotional state matters to me, then I would attempt to keep my emotional state positive. If I care, then it is only rational that I do things that satisfy that concern, but there is no rational reason that I should care except that I care, and that, since I care, it only makes sense for me to do things to satisfy that concern. See? It’s all circular. Rationality and irrationality are woven together, inseparable; no one ever “acts rationally” and no one ever “acts irrationally.” They perpetually act both rationally and irrationally.

Suppose I run into a burning building to rescue a cat. Many people would say that I had behaved irrationally. Yet others would say that, because I care deeply about cats (no, really, I do, and I would rush into a burning building to save one), it is only rational that I would do everything in my power to save them. Yet there is no rational reason that I should care about cats–I care about them for emotional reasons, hence the use of the word “care.” Yet is it not irrational for an untrained person to rush into a burning building for any reason? Is it not irrationality–emotion–my love for cats–that inspired my behavior, even though it’s got an overwhelming likelihood of being against my best interests (survival)? And, if so, why should my survival be considered a rational goal?

On the surface, it would certainly appear that it is only rational for a person to want to keep themselves alive, but is it? No. Such a want–a desire–is motivated entirely by emotional concerns: a fear of death, a love of life, whatever. There is no rational reason to want to continue living, but look what we are doing–we are calling it irrational to rush into a burning building because it could lead to death. We are assuming that it is rational to want to continue living, but that assumption is flawed; there are only emotional reasons. So we are not using “rationality” in its accurate, true sense when we ascribe it as a value to certain actions; we are labeling a broad range of actions with “self-preservation” as the ideal goal–a goal that we put as the ideal only for emotional reasons.

For what rational reason does an individual, group, or species conclude that their survival and procreation are valuable? There isn’t one, and that’s the assumption upon which his idea is built–that there is. There is absolutely no rational reason that I should care whether I live or die, whether humanity lives or dies, or whether the entire freaking planet lives or dies. Why? Positive and negative statements are value statements, and they are made according to unknown, subjective, individual-specific criteria and weighed for emotional reasons, not rational ones.

Before anyone can say that actors occasionally act rationally or irrationally, they must define what these words mean. Apparently, “rationally” in this context means “in their best interests.” According to whom? And by what criteria? Plenty of people would say that habitual drug users are acting against their best interest by continuing to do methamphetamine, but are they? Who is to say that the short-term high of meth isn’t a sufficient reward for them to outweigh the longterm damage? Who is to say what is in their best interests and what is not? Who in the world has the omniscience to make such a statement, and then to present it as science? This guy won a Nobel Prize for “demonstrating” that Person A occasionally acts against Person A’s best interests.

What?

What in the bloody hell are we considering to be in Person A’s best interests? Economic stability? Amassing untold wealth? Getting lots of pussy? And then why are we considering those things to be in their best interests? And even if we could somehow come to a universally agreed upon criteria of what is and isn’t in someone’s best interests, this doesn’t even begin to answer the question of whether they’re acting in their long-term best interests, but against their short-term best interests (as I do each time I buy cryptocurrency). How in the world can we ever attempt to say scientifically that Person A has acted against their short-term best interests and against their long-term interests, according to this gargantuan list of factors and concerns that we have by fiat determined to be “best”?

And this guy won a Nobel Prize for this.

In actuality, what Thaler has proven is that “By the criteria of what I consider to be ‘best,’ people occasionally do things that will not yield the results of what I consider ‘best.'” It doesn’t matter if his criteria is economic stability, productivity, long-term survival, or anything else–why in the world should his values, or even the majority’s values, dictate that another person has behaved irrationally? No, Thaler. You have demonstrated that people occasionally do things that you feel are not in those people’s best interests. That’s all you’ve demonstrated, and that, as science, is meaningless and useless.

If you define their “best interests” in the way that you prefer, then it’s no surprise that you’ll find people occasionally act against the “best interests” that you’ve defined, because not everyone is trying to achieve whatever goals you have outlined; not everyone cares about those same things. It’s not in my economic and financial best interests to take time out of my workday to write this article, but I care about whether science is actually, you know, scientific. Is it rational that I care about that? Well… It’s no more rational than your estimation of what is and isn’t in other people’s best interests.