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ilex's profile

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hubskier for: 423 days

a little holly plant growing on the windowsill

recent comments, posts, and shares:
ilex  ·  8 hours ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: "It is rotting American democracy from the inside out."

Look, someone has to represent the cows in Congress, otherwise you get too many pork barrel bills.

ilex  ·  10 hours ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: A Letter on Justice and Open Debate

In his defense, taken at face value this letter can read pretty harmlessly (if one does not read too close), and certainly not all its concerns are unfounded. On the other hand, he should know better than to read this at face value, goddammit.

The letter, ironically, uses the same tactic that cancel culture does. In the same way that one can go from "so-and-so ships two underage characters" to "so-and-so is a sexual abuser and a pedophile", so here we have "so-and-so is vocally opposed to uncritical support of police violence" becoming "so-and-so is taking away freedom of speech".

ilex  ·  10 hours ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: "It is rotting American democracy from the inside out."

I'd support mandatory voting with a required "No Choice" option so people can still exercise their freedom to not choose, but also voter suppression becomes much more difficult.

ilex  ·  10 hours ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: A Letter on Justice and Open Debate

    Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second.

One might be inclined to ask, if these reforms are overdue, and if we've been enjoying a set of moral attitudes and political commitments that espouse strong norms of open debate and tolerance of differences, to what extent the "needed reckoning" and the "moral attitudes" it has intensified are separable. If the extant politics of liberalism are truly good, why have they been incapable of bringing such a reckoning against our political systems?

    More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms.

This is a really good point: hasty damage control is not what the protesters are calling for and will not satisfy them. What they're calling for is for institutional leaders to examine their own power and the contribution of their institution to the current state of things, and many of them do not expect those leaders to deliver those considered reforms voluntarily.

    We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other.

And yet, as people are vocally demonstrating injustice and oppression, rather than picking up a hammer and trying to build something better, the signers use this moment to hand-wring about debate.

ilex  ·  11 hours ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: A Letter on Justice and Open Debate

    I guess manufacturing consent makes more money than Manufacturing Consent


ilex  ·  14 hours ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: US says international students must leave if classes are online

This is doubly frustrating as it's an open secret (if it was ever a secret at all) that international students are a big part of many universities' tuition; they're usually moderately wealthy and can pay outrageous prices. The net effect is that the government is trying to force universities to pretend there is no pandemic and to just go back to "normal" in-person classes.

If I were a devious administrator I'd make up a 1 credit hour "leadership" class that's in-person; students can sign up for it if they want to stay, but everything else remains online. Some residence halls already require students to take such a class to live in them so it wouldn't be that unusual.

ilex  ·  1 day ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Soon we’ll all be cancelled

On a different note,

    I don’t believe that anyone thinks Kevin Hart is a homophobe, or that Al Franken is a dangerous predator. And I definitely don’t believe they think Sarah Silverman is a racist.

It's not a comfortable truth, but since we've all grown up in a racist, sexist, homophobic society, we have got parts of those ways of seeing stuck in our heads too. That's not to say that self-flagellation is the appropriate response or that canceling people for being racist is inherently right.

But denying the problem, as the author does here, merely feeds the engine of cancellation. If someone says "You did X which is very wrong," reacting with "No I didn't!" is understandable, but prevents any further constructive dialogue on the topic.

ilex  ·  1 day ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Soon we’ll all be cancelled

This is an interesting topic, but a clumsy article. "Canceling" takes a lot of shapes, and there's a big difference between people yelling loudly about Louis CK being a sexual predator and your friend circle calling you out for making a shitty joke. If you want thoughtful commentary on the relationship between public figures and the public, maybe start with Ollie Thorn.

For the remainder of my time, I'd like to advance a preliminary thesis. The author identifies several aspects of "cancel culture": a dogmatic insistence on a very specific truth, inability to consider the context of words and actions, a crime-and-punishment approach to handling people who have done something wrong, and a resultant culture where people act based on fear. Think of the difference between "calling out" and "calling in".

What are all these aspects reminiscent of? Where did they come from? Because I guarantee you folks on twitter did not invent these whole-cloth over the course of the 2010s.

This particular way of seeing, to me, reeks of how Protestant American culture approaches "others". Think about how white society and the police "handle" black people. Think about how wealthy society "handles" the poor. Cancel culture is this same cultural heritage writ in the language of everyday people wielding their own power the way the powerful in our society wield theirs. That this happens in conservative/Christian circles is perhaps not surprising. That this happens among liberals and the left too shows that we have not thought through the implications of this way of thinking, that they still shape us in spite of our rejection of their overt values. The rise of modern-day fascism tells a similar story, c.f.

All that said, it seems like the online communities I spend time in have, to some extent, matured out of cancel culture. I see a trend towards having a more constructive outlook and spending more energy on supporting people and having good-faith discussions than on being incensed at assholes being assholes.

My hope is that Hubski follows this trend too.

ilex  ·  1 day ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Soon we’ll all be cancelled

It seems reasonable to me to reject a viewpoint that widely misrepresents scientific consensus and advocates against peoples' bodily autonomy, a position that goes against much of feminist thought. I'm heavily in favor of criticizing "the liberal mainstream", but if I found my criticism being supported and amplified by conservatives opposed to queer rights, you bet I'd be taking a long look in the mirror first.

ilex  ·  13 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: June 24, 2020

My school is insisting on an on-campus fall semester with recommendations that people socially distance and wear face masks. No enforcement, though, and it isn't clear what faculty could do if they wanted to make stricter rules for their classrooms. Also no real discussion of what is going to happen in lab-type classes that typically come with lots of close human interaction.

Two years ago, they changed a policy to require graduate research assistant tuition waivers to be funded from their grant money. This affected a lot of students who were funded through small grants or whose grants forbade their money from being used for tuition funding. And it meant that a particular research consortium on campus restructured how they did grant funding for students which meant that I lost funding for the semester a couple weeks before it started. We got pissed off and talked a bunch and they decided to roll back the policy pending further research.

In May, the university silently reinstated a worse version of the policy, and now we have to do this all over again. Hopefully it doesn't immediately affect me as my funding is different now, but friends are very worried.

ilex  ·  14 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: John Berger: The Nature of Mass Demonstrations

I mean, the CHAZ seems to be a pretty clear example that the protests are, in fact, a surprisingly successful rehearsal of a revolution. Sure, not everyone wants it, but the point of the demonstration is to show people what is possible in a very non-theoretical way. Given the proliferation of other autonomous zones in other cities, it seems that people are learning from Seattle's demonstrations.

In quite a few cities, electoralism has failed to control the police: many of these demonstrations are being held in cities with Democratic leadership and the police have universally stepped up the brutality in response and defied or used loopholes in rules and laws meant to restrain them. It's perhaps understandable that demonstrators aren't excited about more of the same approach. A ballot initiative that passes is only as effective as the people implementing it, and politicians seem wishy-washy on the whole defund/abolish point still.

See also this reading on legibility which is a salient issue at this point. Black people in particular have been denied state legibility systematically; describing their needs in language the state understands is thus a challenge.

A friend looked into recalling the Seattle mayor by ballot and found that it'd be a pretty difficult process, especially given social distancing right now. Not sure how similar that is to getting a ballot initiative, though.

ilex  ·  18 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: “Is that your Bible?”

I'm going to start working on a longer post on this because I've recently started a conversation with one of my sisters and it's drawn out some memories I hadn't seen in a while and it would be good to have those saved while I can still recall them.

It's a lot to talk about because, as you said, it's a whole worldview, and unwinding one of those that you were exclusively exposed to as a kid is not a short process. It's been a decade and I'm still not really done. And it touches on some quite personal details, so there will be parts you'll just have to take me at my word for.

But, the really short version is: I moved away to college, which gave me a social and institutional structure that wasn't tied to church and family. My parents had heavily tied the truth of young earth creationism with the truth of christianity, and learning physics and biology disabused me of the former, so I felt that the latter was maybe suspect too. By dint of making woman, queer, and non-white friends I narrowly avoided falling into New Atheism or alt-lite libertarianism (although it certainly did help that those groups tended to fall for some of the same conservative fallacies I was by that point quite allergic to).

Ironically, the christian groups I grew up in pay lip service to a lot of good ideals; perhaps my saving grace was that I took those ideals a bit more seriously than everyone around me.

ilex  ·  18 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: “Is that your Bible?”

So, I too grew up in a fundamentalist christian family, going to church, learning to evangelize from the likes of Ray Comfort, believing in a literal six day creation about 6-10 thousand years ago, etc. etc. I get it. My parents and siblings are still there; the reason I'm not is my parents made the mistake of letting me go to a state university instead of a christian one.

It seems to me that the negativity you're expressing here requires you to buy their "false christians" argument. You see christians who equate "being christian" and "supporting Trump" as the ones who matter to you; the rest are less significant. I see a bunch of christians realizing that maybe Trump has been pulling the wool over their eyes and that they don't actually want four more years of this guy.

And from my outsider's perspective, that's good news. I'm interested in christianity as a social, economic, and political structure. If christians are starting to question their politics, that means a slow shift in what those church structures support. If Trump is inadvertently starting to fracture the Religious Right, even if that just means a depressed conservative vote rather than votes for progressives, that's a good thing.

That all said, November is months away, and this very well might all be rearranging the deck chairs on H.S.S. Four More Years.