Wednesday, August 24, 2016

de Boer: The Contradiction Between Progressive Attitudes To (a) Sex Crimes and (b) All Other Crimes

   Insomnia's bad, so brain no worky...but this seems really, really good on a first read. I'm amazed and annoyed that I didn't think of this. Especially since it's very clear to me that (a) the left is too soft on violent crime in general and (b) it is too hard--hard to the point of insanity--on accusations of sexual assault and domestic abuse. They're obviously wrong about both things...but it's hard to even make the case that they're wrong about something without an outright inconsistency. "Progressives", it seems to me, generally won't admit to any error other than not being progressive enough... But what de Boer's argument shows is that they've gone too far to the left on at least one of the two issues. In fact, of course, they've gone too far to the left on both.
   I've noted before from time to time that "progressives"* are largely delusional about "the carceral state." There's no way to get the prison population down to levels that will make progressives happy without releasing a whole lot of violent criminals. Just releasing non-violent drug offenders will not do the trick. Progressives speak as if having a lot of people in prison is clearly, all things considered, an evil thing. It isn't. It depends on how many violent criminals you have in your society. It's bad to have a lot of violent criminals, of course...but given that you have  lot of violent criminals, it's better to have them locked up than not. Having lots of people in prison may show that you should be doing things differently--doing them in a way that helps bring down rates of violent crime (to the extent that that can be done with public policy). But it may be basically a good thing given your real and relevant current options.
   And, of course, the left is utterly crazy about sexual assault right now, as the way its being treated on campuses makes clear. The "listen and believe" madness really is off the loony scale. And this can't be blamed merely on the fringiest fringe of the academic left--the DoJ is enforcing something akin to that view as law on all public universities.
   How the contradiction escaped me is beyond me.
   At any rate, I just want to point out: since both views are crazy, we can't resolve the contradiction by adopting one of them and adjusting the other accordingly. Neither will work. The view that it's better to have violent criminals victimizing the innocent than it is to have high incarcerations rates is daft. And so is the trendy view of sexual assault according to which all accusations should be believed, burdens of proof on accusations should be radically lightened, and "victims" can decide months or hears after the fact that sex was non-consensual.
   Both views have to go.

* I've just decided to go ahead and use "progressive" to mean, roughly, bad liberal. Or rather, to mean something like: bad very lefty liberal or member of the rightward edge of the PC/identity politics left or liberal too weenieish to defend the term 'liberal' after it became a term of abuse.

Jessim, "Truth In Stereotypes"

"Report Debunks 'Born That Way' Narrative And 'Transgender' Label For Kids

   I haven't read the full paper yet, but the summary at The Federalist sounds pretty reasonable to me.
   Of course I'm merely a reasonably-well-informed layperson with respect to the medical stuff. But on the philosophical side, there's really no doubt that the left's theory of transgenderism simply doesn't work.
   The report mentions something I've noticed before, which is that institutions have begun, in effect, encouraging children to believe that they're transgendered. That will be denied. The response will be: we've merely made it easy for kids to report what they actually are. But this isn't so. For one thing (and it sounds like this is one of McHugh and Mayer's points), kids really aren't one way or another with respect to sex, gender and so-called "gender identity" (I'm a broken record, but: that's a largely incoherent quasi-concept) at very young ages. Kids are simply indeterminate in many respects. (We're all indeterminate in some respects...but kids are much more so, and especially in these respects.) And there's a blurry line between mere acceptance and encouragement. In effect, the left is putting institutions and subcultures in place that say to kids:  "Are you transgendered? Are you? It's ok. It makes you special. There's nothing wrong with it. It could explain some of the uncertainty and anxiety you feel about these adult things you don't understand (sex and gender). Do you think you might be this special kind of person?"
   First, note that the official line on the left is that all of this is "socially constructed." That quasi-concept is a disaster of confusions...but, ignoring that fact and just aiming to cut the knot: if that's right, then social encouragement is tantamount to making children transgendered. Add to that another component of the left's theory: that being transgendered is a living hell...and you've got institutions that should be expected to have the effect of destroying kids' lives.
   Second, imagine that the far right were doing this with...I dunno...demonic possession or something. Or the ability to speak in tongues. No one would stand for that. Yet here we have the left taking an incoherent, barely-understood, entirely outlandish, unscientific, unproven theory...and building it in to schools and government.
   Third, at the borderline of illness, society can basically create such conditions. Somebody (Ian Hacking? Nicholas Rescher? Somebody?) used to write about this "disease" that suddenly gripped Europe in, like, the 19th century, where people would spontaneously walk extremely long distances--to other towns, to other countries. Just out of the blue, and with no explanation, with the trappings of illness (I don't know what happened...I never intended to do that...etc.) It was, in effect, a psychological illness fad. That's very probably what transgenderism is. There's little doubt that the trendiness of the thing is influencing some teenagers to claim transgenderism--"transtrenders" is the online term for them. And if we establish institutions that encourage it, we'll get more of it. That's not a complicated point.
   One important thing that undergirds all this is the real point that all this nonsense is ignoring: the old-school feminist point that the link between sex and gender is a lot more arbitrary than we used to think. It should be no surprise that there are feminine men and masculine women. And there really is nothing wrong with either of those things. What the left's theory of transgenderism gets wrong is: it gets the point almost exactly backwards. Instead of preaching acceptance for feminine men and masculine women, it preaches, in effect, that a feminine man is a woman and a masculine woman is a man. And that's batshit crazy. That would have been considered the bigoted view five years ago. In fact it is a bigoted view. And that's probably why the left's theory adds in the "gender identity" stuff--the relativistic/subjectivistic heart of the theory, inconsistent with all other parts, that says that you are whatever you think you are. That component allows it to avoid the uncomfortable and bigoted implication that all effeminate men are women. The theory leaves it all up to the individual...but then reifies the individual's subjective preferences and impressions, blowing them radically out of proportion and attributing to them consequences that they cannot have.
   This report will be rejected by the left because its conclusions are politically incorrect, and because it's by McHugh, who the left demonizes. And, hell, I haven't read it and don't know the medical and psychological stuff. So it might be bad. But--and here's the part that should worry everyone--there is no doubt that it will be attacked and rejected because there is a strong bias in favor of the left's theory of transgenderism that will lead to the rejection of any politically incorrect conclusion on this subject. Politics really does strongly infect psychology, especially its less-scientific quarters. And everybody should be worried about that.
   But, anyway, this, together with Rebecca Riley-Cooper's recent "Gender Is Not A Spectrum" gives me hope that maybe--just maybe--the resistance might manage to defeat the PC effort to suppress discussion of these issues. That's the big meta-problem here, as I keep repeating: serious discussion is verboten. To question any facet of the left's theory of transgenderism is to be "transphobic," which is a new kind of bigotry and the new worst thing you can be. It's kind of the left's version of Christianity's you are evil and will suffer eternal damnation if you don't believe. But that's been turbocharged to you are evil if you have any doubts at all. The former is a particularly fallacious ad baculum. We don't even have a name for the newer fallacy...but we really do need one...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Missouri: Clinton, Trump Virtually Tied?


Did Welfare Reform Work?

Either yes or no.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Texas Judge Temporarily Blocks Obama's Transgender Bathroom Directive

This is probably the right decision.  The position makes no sense, the arguments of the DoJ are a disaster, and this is exactly the kind of important social change that needs to be thought about carefully over a relatively long period of time rather than being rammed through.

Eli Stokols: What If Trump Won't Accept Defeat?

   One thing I disagree with in here is the claim that no candidate or party has ever questioned the legitimacy of the outcome of a national election. I'd say that's exactly what the GOP was doing in 2000. The Democrats' central argument was: We should count every vote and cheerfully abide by the outcome because such an attitude is central to the very idea of American democracy. The Republicans' central argument was: Give us the Presidency. Now.
   The GOP made it very clear that there were not going to give up, and that they did not give a rat's ass who had actually won, nor who had the most reasonable case. They got their supporters fired, up, they put together astroturf riots, they intimidate ballot-counters, they intimated that worse violence might be in the offing. Turns out they mostly won anyway...but what's really telling is what they were gearing up to do before that became clear. After Florida 2000, the GOP should not be considered a serious party with an actual commitment to democracy. And yet here we are...
   At any rate: it's basically happened before.
   I've dismissed worries about Trump "refusing to accept defeat" (as if he's going to have a choice...) up until now. But I started reflecting on Florida 2000 this morning, and now I'm all agitated and concerned. Not that I think they can do anything about the outcome...but because I think they can yet again weak our political institutions by casting doubt on them. In the past they've been perfectly willing to undermine American democracy and the faith and good will that sustains it in order to achieve narrow political goals. That's what Rush Limbaugh's career is built on. They'll be willing to do it again this time. They're tantrum could be epic...but it won't be contentless; it'll aim to convince people that our democracy is rotten.
   And that's the heart and soul of irrationality: giving up on the general because it doesn't yield a result you like in the particular. In this case: we won't get the (maniacal, idiot) president we fuck the whole institution of American democracy. This is one way you know you're dealing with extremist lunatics: they refuse to be bound by universalization principles. They want to think what they want and do what they want in each particular case...and consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds... Any attempt to bring order to the chaos of their thoughts is just another sign that You Don't Get It.
   Well, now I'm all pissed off about something that hasn't happened and may not do so.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Anti-Trump Violence In Minnesota

Website Issues Apology After "Triggering" Readers With Positive *Sausage Party* Review

At Heat Street
Make sure to skim through the tearful apology itself. (Archived, so no hits)
It's actually somewhat difficult to believe that these people are being serious...but they certainly seem to be. One of the things they are apologizing for seems to be that a white person wrote the review, but one of the characters in the movie is an animated "Latinx" lesbian taco. you can see...there's...I dunno...all sorts of privilege or...uh...I'm going to go with...uh...rape culture? Or...something?
Anyway, though they're apparently serious, they also seem to be unaware that they are parodies of themselves. Reading stuff written by these people is like reading something written by Scientologists. They're living in a fantasy world, obsessed with the details about the interactions of non-existent things and categories.

Big in Japan

Ahhh...ignoring politics currently.
This is better.

New Political Science Initiative Calls For Evaluating Research Before Knowing The Results

This is very, very exciting.
(h/t Statisticasaurus rex)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Is Trump's Charlotte Speech Trouble?

   There were several parts of that speech that would have grabbed me pretty hard if given by a sane candidate. I'm concerned that there may be an actual "pivot,", and that it could be trouble. There were also the standard crazy parts, though. Maybe instead of gaining saner people he'll just lose crazier ones. But his support seems pretty inelastic...
   At any rate, I'm less sanguine about this race than I was a day ago.

Not Ransom

   My guess is that the cash sent to Iran isn't ransom. Apparently there were two different streams of negotiation that didn't cross--which is even less like ransom than I'd guessed. I'd guessed that there was one big negotiation with lots of parts, and no 1-to-1 correspondence between any two parts on different sides. My not-very-well-thought-out view was that the best question to ask was: is this an established, accepted way to negotiate? Have such deals historically been categorized as ransom payments? This is the kind of case Republicans love to scream about. They're well-known for holding Obama to a different standard, and complaining about things he does even though they happily tolerate them in Republican administrations.
   But if the two different streams of negotiation story is true, then the cash is even less like ransom than I'd thought. In fact, if the streams of negotiation really were fully distinct, it simply isn't ransom at all.
   And withholding a payment negotiated for other reasons until hostages are released is not paying ransom.
   This is all pretty clear as far as I can tell. Of course I'm assuming that the administration's account is true--but that's a different issue.
   Republicans won't believe it, but their ODS is basically terminal at this point. I doubt most people will believe it, either. But that's a political/rhetorical matter that doesn't go to the truth of the administration's account, obviously. They're already more angry about this non-ransom payment than they've ever been about Reagan's actual ransom payments.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Some French Towns Ban "Burkini"

I sorta understand the rationale...but damn, Jack, ya can't micromanage how people look. Of course the religion is micromanaging how women look...but their participation is voluntary. It's up to them. I might try to talk them out of it, but legislating against it seems kinda nutty.

Might Trump Simply Have Peaked At The Right Time For the Primary?

   The GOP primary race seemed to be one peaking candidate after another...could it have been that Trump was just the one who peaked at the right time? Maybe he isn't really a window into the soul of the Republican base... Maybe he just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
   Though his peak did seem to last longer...though the guy peaking at the right time would probably have a longer peak...
   Just thinking out loud.

Tom Nichols: How The P.C. [Thought?] Police Propelled Donald Trump

   Not sure how much of a factor this was...but I do suspect that it was a factor. I mean, P.C. (or "social justice"-ism, or whatever) is very, very bad. And it drips (or shrieks) with disdain for all who disagree with it. Trump is the only candidate speaking out against this. Liberals are largely either on board with P.C., indifferent or ambivalent to it, or silent about it out of groupthink and/or fear of "shaming." Obama has spoken out against it, but, honestly, not a lot. I thought what he said was very pointed and right on the mark...but, though a word to the wise may be sufficient, a word to the loons is not.
   As I've said, I suspect that Trump will make the P.C. problem worse--it's firmly ensconced in the cultural salients controlled by liberals, and anything Trump likes will be anathema to most liberals for a long, long time. Nevertheless, he's basically right--perhaps accidentally so, perhaps not--about the PC problem. I say "basically" because I'm not sure he's really right about anything other than  PC: bad I'm not even sure he knows what it is. He indiscriminately labels anything left of conservatism as PC, which isn't even close to being right. And that's another way in which he's helping them out--he's reinforcing the myth that PC is just ordinary liberalism. (Contrast this with Obama's very pointed remarks against the very heart of PC-dom).

Transgender Bathroom Access In All Federal Buildings Based on Incoherent Rationale: Will Unisex Restrooms Become Mandatory?

   I'm not sure what to think about the actual policy, but the rationale is based on a blatant blurring of the sex/gender distinction. This is basically what the gender studies left has been doing for years now: insisting on the sex/gender distinction when it helps lead to the conclusion they want, and ignoring it when it doesn't.
   The point is that no law against discrimination on account of sex entails anything about gender (except insofar as there is some middling-strong correlation of gender with sex). However, the most salient point here is that, if this stands, it seems extremely unlikely that we can legally maintain sex-segregated restrooms and locker rooms. Which means that a liberal/leftist activist DoJ (and DoE) obsessed with a tiny minority of people, deploying a false--and, in fact, incoherent--theory of transgenderism is using patently invalid reasoning to achieve a pre-determined, ideologically-driven conclusion that, if applied consistently, will force us to give up an institution that is based in important biological realities, that is not obviously discriminatory, and that most of us will be very uncomfortable to see the end of.
   I do think that there are cogent arguments against sex-segregated public restrooms. I suspect that they are weaker than the opposing arguments--but they're non-trivial. What's so infuriating about all of this to me, however, is that most of the arguments being used to extend the arguments in the transgender direction don't work at all, and commit us to crazy versions of relativism / social constructionism. If applied consistently, that is. Though another thing that's afoot here is a certain ad hoc approach to these matters. Certain conclusions are deemed correct prior to evaluation of the reasoning, then arguments are accepted ad hoc in order to persuade people that the conclusions are rational. Of course accepting an incoherent metaphysics with respect to practical matters does give at lest some kind of rhetorical boost to those metaphysical positions. And courts may not be as willing to accept inconsistency once the first step has been if these propositions about sex-segregation get accepted, there's a decent chance that courts will order us to take them to their logical (in the narrow sense) conclusions. That is: public facilities fully integrated by sex. We might avoid that by pleading harm to women--which is a reasonable point. Needless to say, mere considerations of irrationality, or bad philosophy, or harm to men are unlikely to do the trick...
   As a sidebar: even if I'm wrong about all of this, the liberal tendency to support virtually any claim made by virtually any group that represents itself as a sexual (where that includes preferences) minority will go wrong at some point. I'm not sure that liberals are as irrational as conservatives on this issue--but this stuff is putting them in the ballpark.
   RIP reality-based community...

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Oregon State To Force "Social Justice" Training On Freshmen

The left certainly does love brainwashing kids.