Tag Archive | immigration

Timing is Everything — Media Manipulation Part 2

And the media clearly knows that.

Much of what I hear on Facebook these days–aside from North Korea bullshit–is stuff about families being broken up by Trump’s immigration policy, and his harsh deportations. Yet, in reality, Trump has deported fewer people than President Obama did. In both absolute numbers and averages, Obama deported more people than Trump. But because the media chose not to report on any of that, people now being exposed to it are under the impression that it’s a new thing, and that Trump/Republicans are to blame for this “uniquely” awful problem.

I just watched a popular libertarian page say that they wonder if Trump will claim responsibility for the famine that is going to be caused by the “entire fields being left to rot” because so many people have been deported that there’s no one to pick the crops. I’m not even kidding. Those are the headlines right now: “Entire Fields Left to Rot Because of Deportation of Illegal Immigrants.”

But that’s been the case for years. The corn field right across from me is going to rot again–an “entire field left to rot.” This happens all over the United States, because the government just pays people to plant the crop, and doesn’t really care if the crop is harvested or not. The media didn’t report on it, though. Now they have. The result? Predictably, everyone thinks this is a new thing, brought about by Trump “deporting so many people.”

Two absolute falsehoods. Old news, really. But because it’s only now being delivered, people are manipulated en masse into believing that Trump is responsible, and that his “singularly harsh deportation policy” is responsible.

It’s scary, really, that people are so easy to manipulate. Because, two years ago, fields not being picked wouldn’t have been newsworthy. It still isn’t, really, except that it can be used to promote an agenda.

I would have hoped, and expected, if I had the interest, knowledge, and awareness then, in the mid 90s that the upcoming age of social media would have prevented this sort of thing from happening. It doesn’t seem to have abated, though, because not many people are sharing these experiences, but I know from firsthand experiences, having friends all over the United States and having been across most of the United States, that “rotting fields” are not new, and neither are they caused by a lack of illegal immigrants to be paid under the table for picking the crops. It’s actually quite standard. In the eons of human history, it has never been especially common that an entire society’s fields would be successfully picked–anything from weather to war to earthquakes to wild animals could destroy a crop. Yet now it is Trump’s fault.

I talked yesterday about how the media and the state are able to determine what you and I discuss, and I want to point out that I’m not asserting the state and the media are colluding together to control the conversation. They don’t have to, because the media wants your attention. It doesn’t really matter why they want your attention. They do. To get your attention, they’re going to talk about things most likely to interest you, and those will be the sensationalized things. That lunatic who we have as Secretary of Defense saying that he’s willing to annihilate the North Korean people would qualify, of course.

Another way of manipulating people, though, is to just withhold information. It’s inevitable that information will be withheld, and this is just part of human nature. Right now, your senses are taking in far more information than your brain can process, so most of it gets discarded. This has, on many occasions, resulted in strange things happening. Perhaps the most common is “hitting one’s funny bone,” which occurs when one collides with something and has no expectation of it at all. Psychologists enjoy playing with these quirks of the human brain and nervous system, and there are even a few television shows that exploit it. In one, viewers are asked to count how many times a person wearing blue jumps rope. Viewers, focused on counting, didn’t notice the man walk by wearing a giant chicken costume, because their brain discarded that information.

The media functions the same way, especially in today’s hyper-connected society. I could, if I cared to, find out exactly what conditions are like on the ground in Portland, Oregon, right now. I could find out the weather, the local issues, and could probably peer inside of a local restaurant as though I was there. How many people each day post something on Twitter and hope that it goes viral? How many people have family members killed by cops and attempt to spread it on Facebook and Twitter each day (note: at least three, just in the United States)? Yet these stories rarely gain traction. Just this month, an estimated 30 people have been killed by police officers. How many of them have you heard about? Probably “none.”

This is because there’s just so much stuff happening that it can’t all be talked about. The bulk of it is discarded as uninteresting and not newsworthy. Three years ago, a few rotting fields of crops across the United States was discarded as uninteresting and not newsworthy. But now! Now that the media has spent months telling us the previously-neglected horror stories of families being broken up by deportation, there is yet another angle that can be worked to push that agenda: finally mention the fields that have been rotting for years, if not decades, and people will come to the conclusion that it’s a new phenomenon, simply because they hadn’t heard about it before.

It’s clever, on their part, because they can’t be criticized for choosing not to report on something before. Something has to be discarded, after all, just like police officers can’t chase after everyone speeding on the highway. They can only go after some of the people they see speeding, just like we can only process some of the information our brains receive. The problem with police officers it that they appear to have racist motivations when determining who to pursue and who to ignore, given that a disproportionate number of black Americans are harassed by police each day. The problem with the media is similar: they often choose what to report on and what to discard based on their own agenda.

That agenda is clearly to manipulate Americans into disliking Trump and, in particular, his immigration policy, despite the fact that the numbers don’t bear this out, which even left-wing news sources admit. They’re perfectly free to admit this without hurting their narrative, though, because these are cold, emotionless, facts-based stories of numbers. It’s the personal stories that matter. It’s their focus on Juan Hernandez being deported from his wife and kids after 19 years in the United States that grabs people’s attention and is embedded in their minds. Similarly, news stories that properly cite that more than half of people killed by police are white, and the other half are divided among black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, middle Eastern Americans, and other Americans, have no impact, because the focus on the personal stories of black Americans who are killed by police do far more to construct the narrative than any raw numbers will.

Throw them a personal story that tugs at their heart strings, and it really doesn’t matter how many facts you throw out afterward that refute that personal story as an anomaly, or the agenda behind that personal story as flawed and biased. Once set, the narrative is set, and facts don’t change our minds.

Do I like Trump? No. I can’t stand Trump. Don’t take any of this as a defense of that buffoon.

Take it instead as a warning about manipulation. We must always be on guard against manipulation, because they are always trying to manipulate us.

Reductive Reasoning: Genders & Immigration

So I’m working on a new thing that I’m calling Reductive Reasoning. To my surprise, such a thing doesn’t already exist, and any searches regarding “reduction” and “reasoning” lead to reductio ad absurdum, which is certainly a type of Reductive Reasoning, but not the only type. I’m so intrigued by this idea, in fact, that I began a new book last night on the subject. I think I’ll provide this one for free, and the first draft will be finished around mid-April. Following a three month period of leaving it alone, I’ll begin the editing in mid-July, and should produce the finished version around the end of August. I’ve dropped other writing projects to pursue this one, because I think I’m onto something here.

Reductive Reasoning is all about sets and set theory, but, thankfully, doesn’t have to dive into the mathematics. In fact, it’s almost completely a logical exercise designed to separate fictitious sets from real items. There are countless ways in which this can be applied, and the book is going to spend most of its time providing these examples and explaining how it works. The interesting thing about this is that earlier I received an email from a colleague who was sharing with me an anti-transgender article from The Federalist, where I found myself immediately dissecting the assumptions and sets in my reply. The colleague wasn’t condoning the article; he just sent it as a point of interest.

Then, when I was working on this article about video games and RPGs, I found myself using it again, though only briefly. I mentioned that the definition of RPG must necessarily be a defining element–an element that is unique to the genre and ubiquitous in all games that are RPGs. If the element is not unique to the genre, or if the element is not present in all games that are RPGs, then we know that our definition isn’t adequate.

I’ve Got a Cat

Suppose I say “A cat is an animal that has fur and sharp teeth.” Here, obviously, my definition of “cat” is “an animal that has fur and sharp teeth,” because… that’s what “is” means.

We can immediately see that my definition is wrong. A dog has fur and sharp teeth. According to my definition, a dog is a cat. Similarly, hamsters have fur and sharp teeth, so, according to my definition, a hamster is a cat. Since we know that a dog is not a cat–because the entire meaning of “species” precludes the possibility that one species is another species, just as “is” has its own meaning–we also know that my definition is wrong.

For the most part, it’s irrelevant that my definition is wrong. However, suppose that I said “All cats know how to use a litter box.” It suddenly becomes very important to know what my definition of “cat” is. As I’ve provided my definition that “A cat is an animal that has fur and sharp teeth,” my statement is actually “All animals that have fur and sharp teeth know how to use a litter box.”

This statement is obviously false. Not only is a typical hamster incapable of using what we understand as a litter box, but you’ll go insane trying to teach a dog how to use one. My statement that “All cats know how to use the litter box” is built on the definition of what a cat is. It’s equally built on the assumption of what a litter box is, and what it means to use one. For the sake of keeping things simple–though I’ll probably delve into this in the book–“litter box” can be defined as “any small container filled with some sort of sand or gravel with the express purpose of being a repository for animal waste” and “using a litter box” means “releasing waste into the small container filled with some sort of sand or gravel.”

When attempting to determine whether my statement about cats using litter boxes is true, we must reduce it into its components:

  • What is a cat?
  • What is a litter box?
  • What does it mean to use a litter box?

These three things are assumed by my statement, and must be individually demonstrated and defined before the statement can be decreed as true or false. We’ve already defined “litter box” and “using a litter box” satisfactorily enough–there may be some problems with those definitions, but, for the sake of the argument, let’s just go with “common knowledge” here. The remaining question is, “What is a cat?”

My definition that a cat is any animal with fur and sharp teeth yields a statement that is obviously false–hamsters and dogs both meet that criteria. In fact, whether my statement is true or false depends entirely on what the nouns and verbs conjured even mean. Even using the scientific definition of a cat–a felis catus–won’t result in a true statement. “Any animal that is a member of the felis catus genus and species knows how to use a litter box” is still a false statement, or, at best, unfalsifiable. For whatever reason, not all cats will use a litter box, and so whether or not they even know how cannot be determined.

Immigration

Recently I pointed out on Facebook that “The United States” doesn’t share a border with Mexico. This is because “The United States” is a set, and sets aren’t real things. They’re imaginary human constructs that are often treated as real things, but aren’t. This is important, because the statement “The United States has every right to determine who can enter its borders” is just as open to reduction as the statement about cats. Does the United States even have borders? No. It’s a set of other states, and some of those other states have borders. California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas share a border with Mexican provinces.

So the United States can’t have the “right” to determine who can and can’t enter its borders, because the United States doesn’t actually have borders in the first place. Instead, we would have to say that California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas have the right to determine who can enter their borders.

Except we immediately have the same problem there, don’t we? These states are also sets without real existences. We treat them as real, but they aren’t. So the statement “California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas have the right to determine who can enter their borders” has to be reduced. And there’s no such thing as “California” or “Texas.” There are only sections of land with populations that we’ve artificially divided into different groups and that we treat as though they are real divisions. In reality, there’s just a large section of land, some of which is owned by individuals, and some of which isn’t owned by anyone but which is claimed to be own by the fictitious set called “the government.”

Well, “the government” isn’t a real thing, and so it can’t own property. It would be like if I gave my lighter to Casper the Friendly Ghost, and then everyone began acting as though Casper was the rightful owner of my lighter. In practice, I would contend that it constitutes a form of insanity to treat imaginary things as though they’re real; the only difference is that Casper is an imagined individual while “the government” is an imagined set. Who really owns my lighter, if I have given it to an imaginary entity?

No one.

Anyone who wanted to could take the lighter and then say that Casper gave it to them, and they would be just as correct to say that as I was to say that it belonged to Casper in the first place. We can attribute literally anything to a fictitious entity. “Casper hates black people,” I could say. “Casper doesn’t hate black people,” you could reply, “and actually worked in the Civil Rights Movement.” We’d have no problem recognizing any two people having a conversation about whether Casper worked in the Civil Rights Movement as being batshit crazy. And “government” is just as imaginary and fictitious as Casper. The only differences are that “the government” is a set and that a lot of us are batshit crazy enough to treat “the government” as though it’s a real thing.

When we get down to it, we find ourselves saying that “An individual who owns land has the right to determine who can enter that land.” This, too, is open to reduction and a discussion of the nature of property rights and ownership. That’s not my subject here; I only bring it up to point out that I know even this seemingly obvious statement is open to reduction–however, this statement also stands up to reduction if it is assumed that force, violence, and coercion are morally wrong.

So does the United States have the right to determine who can enter its borders? Obviously not. The United States doesn’t have borders, because it isn’t a real thing, and so it can’t have any characteristics. Do California, Texas, et al. have the right to determine who can enter their borders? Obviously not. These states don’t have borders because they aren’t real things, and so they can’t have any characteristics. Does an individual have the right to determine who can enter their property? Briefly, I will say “Yes,” though I’m aware that I have not, in this article, attempted to demonstrate that. Instead, I’m going to rely on common knowledge again so that I can move on to something else. In the grand scheme, yes, even “common knowledge” must be reduced, but I want to get to the next subject because I have shit to do.

Sex & Transgenderism

At one point in the Federalist article I linked above, the author says something like “This is a boy pretending to be a girl.”

Relying on “common knowledge” isn’t helpful here, because there is too much disagreement there. Here, whether one agrees with the statement or not merely depends upon their bias and what they believe to be common knowledge. However, we’re going to reduce it.

  • What is a boy?
  • What is a girl?

The quick-thinking person might say, “A boy is someone born with a penis. Duh. And a girl is obviously someone not born with one.” And they might roll their eyes in exasperation at how they were being asked to define something that they consider “common knowledge” or “common sense.” But not only is this not pedantic to ask, it is critical. The statement’s status as true or false depend entirely on these definitions; they are hardly inconsequential. Whether or not his person is a boy pretending to be a girl depends completely on what a boy is and what a girl is.

Well, that definition clearly doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. There exists a medical condition where boys can be born without penises and/or without testicles. The statement “This is a boy pretending to be a girl” becomes “This is a <person born with a penis and testicles> pretending to be <someone who was not born with a penis and testicles>.” But this statement is obviously not true, per the link I just provided.

If the person has any intellectual integrity at all, they’ll sigh in exasperation, admit that they’re previous definition doesn’t hold up, and might say, “Then a girl is someone born with a vagina, and a boy is someone who wasn’t born with a vagina.”

Again, though, this definition doesn’t hold up. It’s a bit rarer, but there have been born girls without vaginas. By the latest definition, this woman born without a vagina is actually a boy.

Frustrated and probably getting angry, the person might turn to what they learned in 8th grade Biology: “A boy is someone born with XY chromosomes, and a girl is someone born with XX Chromosomes.”

Until recently, I would have accepted that definition tentatively, because I lacked the knowledge to dispute it, but in fact human sexuality isn’t anywhere near that simple. It turns out that every single cell in a person’s body has its own sex. This means that, far from having “all XY chromosomes,” a boy can have anywhere from 0% and 100% of their cells having XY chromosomes. So no one is born “with XY or XX chromosomes,” because everyone is born with some combination of cells featuring both XX and XY chromosomes in virtually any conceivable ratio. So the statement “This is a person born with XY chromosomes pretending to be a person born with XX chromosomes” is similarly false–the statement isn’t scientifically valid and isn’t applicable to anyone.

What we find, as we continue reducing and continue digging, is that the entire argument is built upon the assumption that there is such a thing as “a boy” and “a girl,” and that these things are clearly defined along some delineating characteristic. Basically, “boy” is a set and “girl” is another set, but the person–any person–making the claim will be unable to provide any definition that doesn’t either apply to “boys” that the definer himself would dispute as being boys, or would not apply to boys that the definer himself would call “boys.” A hermaphrodite, for example, born with both a penis and a vagina, would count as a “boy” per the person’s first definition, but the person would adamantly deny that a hermaphrodite counts as a boy, even though his own definition means the hermaphrodite counts as a boy. Similarly, a male born without a penis would not count as a boy per the person’s first definition, though the person would adamantly insist that such a person counts as a boy, even though his own definition means the penis-less baby doesn’t count.

Any definition given for a set must include all members of that set and must exclude entities that aren’t members of that set. Otherwise, the definition is wrong and the set is improperly defined. Since the set itself isn’t defined properly in the first place, any statement made about that set must be either false or unprovable. As an example, any definition for “boy” must include all members of that set, at the very least according to the person defining it, and the definition must exclude all girls. The person must be able to delineate the set about which they are making a truth statement. Before it can be said that “This is a boy pretending to be a girl,” both “boy” and “girl” must be unambiguously and all-inclusively defined into their different, non-overlapping sets. Not only did the writer of that article fail to do that, but everyone would fail to do that, because it can’t be done.

The Absurdity of Citizenship

It’s hard to find any ground on which one can stand in regard to the issue of immigration, illegal aliens, and citizenship. The first real snag that comes to mind in thinking about citizenship is that it’s probably the most asinine concept we human beings have ever come up with. If we place two houses along the Mexican/U.S. border, one house exactly one foot to the North of the border (and thus in the United States) and the other exactly one foot to the South of the border (and thus in Mexico), this difference of a mere two feet become a distance that might as well be two thousand miles.

A person born in the house one foot south of the border will be a citizen of Mexico and visiting his neighbor two feet to the north on a whim would be a crime. I have a hard time finding anything more inane than labeling people based on the geographic location of their birth, especially when the label is theoretically so clarified that a distance of one foot can be the difference between a Citizen and a Criminal.

I find it hard to believe that there is anyone who truly believes that the person born one foot to the south is any different from the person born one foot to the north. Even over a span of millions of years, natural selection and adaptation wouldn’t cause two human beings who were geographically separated by only two feet to show any real differences. Is there some difference between the two people that should label one as a criminal for not filling out mounds of paperwork just to travel to California? Of course there isn’t.

Since one’s geographic location at birth has no more impact on a person than the position of the constellation Aquarius at the time of birth, it follows that the only real difference between these two people would be the label that we stick on them: one is, by an arbitrary distance, a Citizen and the other is, by an arbitrary distance, not a citizen. These are simply labels, though, and we can choose to apply or not to apply them however we see fit.

We’ve chosen so far to apply them, despite the fact that a person’s birthplace has no impact on the person beyond that label that we apply. We can’t use the argument that the person’s parents weren’t citizens of the United States, either, because the same problem applies to their supposedly being non-citizens (I.e., we’d be judging their parents’ citizenship status based on the location of their birth).

All in all, there are only two differences between a “natural U.S. citizen” and a “non-U.S. citizen.” The first difference is that the latter’s parents were not U.S. citizens. The second difference is that the latter was born in a geographic location that is not part of the arbitrarily-defined borders of the United States. To the first, judging the individual’s parents as “non-U.S. citizens” is based exclusively upon their birthplaces and their parents’ birthplaces and their parents’ birthplaces, ad infinitum. Since this is asinine from the start—because a person’s birthplace is probably the most irrelevant detail we can use in judging a person—we have to look at the second reason the individual is a “non-U.S. citizen.” And… look at that! The second reason is exactly the same as the first reason: it is based entirely on a person’s birthplace and is completely inane and arbitrary!

Is a man born in California any different from a man born in New York? Is a woman born in Florida any different from a woman born in Washington? Of course not, to both questions. There will be cultural and manner differences, but these will be slight. They’ll also be insignificant, having no impact whatsoever in how society “values” that particular individual.

I am stricken with confusion when I think about the fact that the “Land of the Free” doesn’t grant citizenship to everyone who enters its borders. Why should we have requirements that must be met before a person can become a citizen of this country? The tests that must be passed are difficult enough that the vast majority of naturally-born U.S. citizens would fail them. Should we not give the Citizenship Test to everyone, even those who are born within the United States—if we are going to give it to anyone? Should we deport to somewhere else everyone who fails the test, even if they were born in the United States? If not, why should we deport to somewhere else anyone who fails the test? Why require a test at all?

Natural U.S. Citizens didn’t earn their Citizenship. I didn’t earn my citizenship. I was born within the United States, and that apparently gives me the right to live on the part of the Earth that is called the United States. I did nothing to earn my Citizenship. If I had been born as a Mexican, then it would be a crime for me to live on the part of the Earth that is called the United States. What madness is this? If anyone must “earn” their Citizenship, then everyone must earn their Citizenship. If not everyone has to earn it, then no one should have to earn it.

Why should my being born in the United States make it any easier for me to live and function in the United States? Is it because I pay taxes? Well, if we got rid of this asinine Citizenship concept, then anyone who wanted to could come to the United States and be equally qualified, because they’d have to find a job and with that job they’d be required, just like everyone else, to pay taxes.

We shouldn’t simply allow anyone who wants to come to the United States and be a Citizen. We should go further and treat everyone on the planet with the same rights, privileges, and respect that we would extend to other United States citizens. We shouldn’t place any significance in where a person was born or what the citizenship statuses of that person’s parents were, because this is the most irrelevant and meaningless factor that goes into defining “who” a person is.

Citizenship as a whole divides the world into “Us and Them,” which, if you pay attention to the things I write and say, is a gigantic problem and a mentality that must be abolished. That mindset is an abomination to our species; we are better than that. Citizenship and immigration divide the world into two groups: Us… and Them.

If you ask a conservative what their problem is with illegal immigration, they’ll rattle off some bullshit about how they don’t like it when immigrants break the law. You can easily reveal their underlying “Us and Them” mentality by following up with a simple question: “Okay, so what if we just made it legal for them to walk over here? What if we got rid of all the red tape, and let them just walk over here legally?” They’ll reject the idea. They’ll scream about how “them dang illegals, they done went and

jerbs

What are they really saying, though? They’re saying “No, we want to be able to control who allowed to be one of Us. We want to control who can be in our group. We want to keep them out. We want to keep Us doing better than them.” I mean… There’s no other way to slice it. That’s simply what they are saying.

Detour: Me and “They”

I say “they” a lot. It’s something I’ve known for a while, and I’ve just kinda ignored it. I criticize people all the time, though, for thinking in “Us and Them” ways. What’s the difference between them saying “they” about some people, and me saying it about all people? Well, it makes me a minority of one, first of all, and means that my only loyalty is to myself.

Groups demand loyalty. My god, do they demand loyalty. And if you do anything that suggests you aren’t loyal to the group, they will turn on your instantly and viciously. The “Progressive” group is tremendously guilty of this, and they do it brazenly and openly, justifying everything from religious bigotry to outright racism because their group is the one doing it, and they are loyal to their group.

But it’s not really that they see others as “them” that is the problem here, is it? As I said–the problem is that the group demands loyalty. The problem is the mob mindset of us. It’s okay to see everyone as they when you are a minority of one, not forced to go along with a mob. It’s the mob that creates the problem; it’s the Mob of US that causes the division, intolerance, and bigotry. After all, if you’re just a you, just an individual with no group membership, then you lack the mob that is necessary to enforce division.

They isn’t the problem.

Us is the problem.